Amex Centurion Lounge Guest Policy Changing

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American Express just announced new changes to its Centurion Lounge admission policy. The previous policy allowed Centurion and Platinum Card cardholders to bring in two guests or immediate family members. So if you you entering with your spouse and two children all four of you were allowed entry without any additional fee. But not any longer.

Amex Centurion Lounge American Express
Centurion Lounge entrance at LGA.

The new policy restricts admission to only two guests per card holder, regardless of whether or not they are family members. If you want to bring in an additional guest, you’ll need to shell out $50 per person. The changes will come into effect on March 30, 2017. 

The new changes are already posted to the Centurion Lounge website and read:

Please note: Beginning March 30, 2017, The Centurion® Lounge guest policy for Platinum Card® Members will change. All Platinum Card® Members will be limited to two total guests at no additional charge. One-day passes for any additional guests, including immediate family members, may be purchased.

In a statement explaining the rationale for the changes to The Points Guy, an Amex spokesperson stated:

“As our Centurion Lounges have quickly become one of our Card Members’ favorite Card benefits and continue to increase in popularity, we have increasingly heard from our Card Members that our lounges are becoming overcrowded at times.

Our new guest policy is intended to help alleviate the overcrowding issues and ensure that more of our Card Members are able to continue to enjoy the great space and amenities that our Centurion Lounges have to offer.

Under the new policies, Platinum Card Members can enter our lounges with up to two family members for free, as well as continue to purchase day-passes for any additional guests or family members.

Please also note that the two family member policy applies to all our lounges (with the exception of Delta), so it’s now consistent across most of our 1,000 plus global lounge collection.”

The issue of overcrowding in Centurion lounges is not anything new and has been a major complaint for some time. It’s not uncommon to struggle to even find one place to sit during peak hours. Luckily, in my hand full of visit to the Centurion Lounge here in Houston, I’ve found the crowds to be mild. However, I’ve had some pretty miserable experiences at other Centurion lounges like at LGA.

Empty Centurion Lounge at IAH.

So there was a real need to do something to curtail the crowding issue. I personally thought Amex would limit the guest policy to just one guest (and I wouldn’t have a problem with that at all), but I think they like the idea of keeping things consistent with the new Priority Pass guest access which as of last week allows two complimentary guests.

Others have proposed implementing annual limits on visits and forcing people to pay after they surpass their limit. I’m not sure what the best policy would be but restricting families to only two guests will at least do something to thin the crowds (although on the surface it doesn’t seem like much). 

Cocktail at the MIA Amex Centurion Lounge.

This is obviously a blow to families of four or larger who frequent these lounges. I’ve only had one bad experience where a family (of four) single handedly ruined a lounge experience for me by allowing their kids to run and scream throughout the lounge but that was in Tokyo at a first class ANA lounge. Outside of that, I haven’t noticed families being bothersome inside lounges, so I don’t definitely don’t think they are a rampant problem.

While I do feel for families who this policy will affect, at the end of the day someone had the feel the brunt of a policy change, and I don’t think families are atop the list of customers that the Centurion Lounge experience is meant to cater to (although there’s certainly overlap). So from a numbers perspective, I imagine this makes sense for Amex.

Amex Centurion Lounge
Centurion Lounge bar.

If you have four or more members in your squad then you might consider adding your spouse as an authorized user for $175 (you can add up to three for that price). Each authorized user will be able to bring in two guests so you should have no issue taking the whole family along.

Hopefully these changes will do some good and many people will start experiencing less-crowded Centurion Lounges. With the newly increased annual fee on the Platinum Card that might just happen a lot quicker, too.