Airports

The Complete Guide to American Express Centurion Lounges

By
Melanie Wynne
|
Freelancer
entrance to the Amex Centurion Lounge at LAX.
February 2, 2022
|
8 min read

If you like a swanky airline lounge that puts the rest of an airport to shame, you’re gonna love American Express Centurion Lounges—as long as you’re good with the concept of first-come, first-served. First introduced in 2013 to compete with international airline lounges, these posh, departure-only lounges have become so popular that (credit-card-dependent) access is limited to three hours before your same-day departure time. Several of the Centurion Global Network’s 21 lounges have already been expanded, and more expansions are planned by the end of 2022. 

Centurion Lounge amenities vary, with some including perks like tarmac views, conference and phone rooms, Exhale-branded spas, and unique relaxation rooms. However, every Centurion lounge includes a member services desk, locally-inspired cuisine (usually designed by a popular local chef), a family room or area, high-speed wi-fi, a computer bar and print-fax-copy services, and magazines and newspapers. Cocktail menus for all Centurion Lounges are designed by New York City mixologist Jim Sheehan (of New York City’s Please Don’t Tell), and the wine program is curated by Food & Wine writer and sommelier Anthony Giglio. Swanky, right? 

Here's what you need to know.

How to get into the American Express Centurion Lounges

Only cardmembers of the following American Express credit cards can receive (complimentary) access to Centurion Lounges:

  • American Express Platinum 
  • American Express Business Platinum 
  • American Express Corporate Platinum 
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve 
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business
  • Centurion (aka The Amex Black Card)

Can you pay to enter an Amex Lounge? 

Nope, unless you’re the accompanied guest of a cardmember of one of the above-listed credit cards. 

What info do I need to show to enter a Centurion Lounge? 

American Express Platinum and Centurion cardmembers must show their valid credit card, a government-issued ID, and a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for same-day travel. 

Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers must show their valid credit card, a government-issued ID, and a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight that’s been purchased with any American Express card issued in the US. 

Note that you can use Amex’s mobile app to check in to any Centurion Lounge. However, you’ll still need to show your ID and boarding pass separately, and it’s advisable to have your credit card physically on you, just in case. 

Can I enter a Centurion Lounge after my flight lands? 

No, because these are departure-only lounges. To gain access, you’ll need to show (in addition to your credit card and ID) your onward boarding pass, and it’ll need to have an originally-scheduled departure time that’s within three hours of your arrival time at the lounge. 

If you’re an all-access Centurion cardmember, though, you can enter a Centurion Lounge anytime it’s open, regardless of whether you’ve just landed or have yet to depart. 

Waitlist procedures at Centurion Lounges

Capacity limits at Centurion Lounges vary according to state and local governments as well as health authorities, so you might have to wait to gain entrance to one. In this case, staff at your  lounge’s member desk will ask for your name and cell number, and you’ll get a text when it’s your turn to enter the lounge.  

How to bring a guest to the American Express Centurion Lounge

Through January 2023, all American Express Platinum cardmembers can bring up to two complimentary guests, and each additional guest will cost $50. On February 1, 2023, this policy will change, and these cardmembers will be charged $50 apiece for each guest ($30 each for children aged 2 through 17, with proof of age). 

American Express Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers can bring up to two guests for the cost of $50 apiece. 

Note that all guests can only enter and remain in Centurion Lounges while they’re accompanied by the cardmembers that provided them access. 

Airports with Centurion Lounges

  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Delhi-Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Las Vegas McCarran/Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)
  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Melbourne Airport (MEL)
  • Mexico City International Airport (MEX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Monterrey International Airport (MTY)
  • Mumbai International Airport (BOM)
  • New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport (ARN)

Centurion Lounges in US airports

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)

Amex Centurion Lounge at CLT.

Location: Intersection of Concourses D and E (mezzanine level)
Hours:
7 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Accessible airside to all gates at CLT, this 13,000 square-foot Amex lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows offering great views of the tarmac. The Southern-leaning cuisine by renowned local chef Joe Kindred is some of the best in the airport. There’s plenty of comfy seating, lots of USB and power ports, the ceilings and flooring have been well padded for sound control, and three dedicated phone rooms feature some of the lounge’s coolest decor, each one designed to reflect the shoreline, mountains, or flora of North Carolina. 

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

Amex lounge at DFW.

Location: Terminal D (opposite Gate D12)
Hours: 7 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

What this Texas-sized lounge lacks in natural light, it makes up for in amenities. There’s tons of seating, from couches to comfy cubes and chaise lounges. Laptop-friendly chair setups have small side tables, and you’ll find a conference room, three phone rooms, and a couple of common computers. The Southwestern cuisine is created by acclaimed Dallas chef Dean Fearing, and you can enjoy it at plenty of dining tables or a dozen seats at the bar. Storage lockers are a welcome perk, as are the three showers, soundproof family room, and Exhale Spa offering 15-minute treatments. 

Denver International Airport (DEN)

Location: Concourse C (just past Gate C46)
Hours: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.

A whopping 14,650 square feet, the outside of this enormous lounge is emblazoned with a living wall you can spot from across the concourse. Inside are dedicated work, family, and dining areas, two showers, and only one phone room. Unique amongst the Centurion’s lounges is a game room that includes a pool table, and a Colorado-centric craft beer bar. Northern Italian-inspired cuisine by Denver chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson (of Frasca Food and Wine), with a menu that includes some all-veggie dishes and gluten-free carbs. All of DEN’s concourses are connected post-security, so the lounge is relatively convenient to any gate via the airport train.

Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

amex lounge at houston airport.

Location:  Terminal D (near Gate D6)
Hours: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Well hidden behind Terminal D’s duty-free shop, this 8,500-square-foot lounge is convenient to Terminal D or E departures; terminal A, B, and C departures will likely need to take IAH’s inter-terminal train. Multiple seating areas include pillow-padded cubes and a few comfy chaise lounges. There’s a soundproofed family room, a shower, and a hot/cold buffet with Chinese-inspired cuisine by chef Jason Yu of Houston’s Theodore Rex. In January 2022, the lounge debuted a new relaxation room offering complimentary access to Calm-branded meditation and sleep-focused content. 

Las Vegas McCarran/Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)

amex centurion lounge at LAS.

Location: Concourse D (across from Gate D1)
Hours: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

This first-ever Centurion Lounge underwent expansion in 2021, going from 9,000 to 13,400 square feet. There’s a soundproofed family room and a conference space, as well as copious amounts of seating for lounging, semi-private working, and dining. Upscale comfort-food cuisine is by Vegas chef Kim Canteenwalla (Honey Salt, Andiron Steak & Sea), and rather than the Franke coffee machines found in most Centurion Lounges, this outpost uses an arguably swankier Eversys SA setup. 

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Location: Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT, entrance on Level 4)
Hours: 6:30 a.m. - 11 p.m. 

Temporarily closed for repairs in early 2022. LAX’s TBIT, where the lounge is located, is accessible airside from Terminals 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Zig-zag seating configurations invite social distancing, and though there are no phone or conference rooms, the noise-buffering workstations may just help you focus. Cuisine is by locally treasured chef/baker Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery, Mozza, and more. In addition to an Exhale Spa, there are two wellness rooms, dubbed Sunrise and Moonrise, that use light exposure and color to help you adjust to wakefulness or rest. 

Miami International Airport (MIA)

Miami airport Amex lounge.

Location: Terminal D (near gate D12)
Hours: 5 a.m. - 10 p.m.

This 12,300 square-foot lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the American Airlines gates, as well as a family room and Exhale Spa. In addition to a dedicated cold buffet,  

there’s delicious Latin-influenced cuisine by famed Miami chef/restaurateur/caterer Michelle Bernstein. Note that unless you’re departing from Terminal D (where the lounge is) or E, you’ll have to take a second trip through security. 

New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Location: Terminal 4 
Hours:
6 a.m. - 9 p.m.

At 15,000 square feet spread over two levels, the JFK lounge is huge. Amenities include a one-of-a-kind Equinox-branded stretching/relaxation gym, family-friendly TV room, floor-to-ceiling tarmac views, and six phone booths. Three bar areas include a Prohibition-era-themed speakeasy, and the two buffets serve farm-to-table cuisine created by chef Ignacio Mattos (of Manhattan’s Estela). Set post-security in Terminal 4, a hub for Delta and a bunch of international carriers; if you’re departing from a different terminal, leave time to re-clear security there before your flight.

New York LaGuardia Airport (LGA)

american express lounge at LGA.

Location: Terminal B, Concourse B-C (third floor)
Hours: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Set in LGA’s Central Terminal, this lounge is an island of calm amidst the airport’s ongoing $8 billion overhaul. That said, anyone not departing from Terminal B (such as Delta’s Terminal C and D fliers) will need to contend with LGA’s infamous time-eating road traffic on an airport shuttle bus. Relaxation areas are lined with couches and cushioned chairs, and counter seating abounds, with a long wall of tarmac-view stools and 11 others at the bar. The Indonesian-French menu by chef Cedric Vongerichten (of Manhattan’s Wayan) presently offers the best food you’ll find at LGA. 

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

centuroin lounge at PHL.

Location: Terminal A West (near Gate A14)
Hours: 5:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

You’ll find both community and semi-private workspaces in this 6,300-square-foot lounge, as well as a shower room, a conference table, and lots of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows. The dining area includes half-booths and high-top tables, and the delicious Israeli cuisine menu is the handiwork of Philly’s famed chef Michael Solomonov, owner of Zahav. 

Good news: even if you’re departing from another terminal, you can still walk to this Terminal A lounge without having to re-do security. 

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

PHX amex lounge.

Location: Terminal 4 (upper level, across from Gate B22)
Hours: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Though this is one of Centurion’s smaller lounges, it still spans the width of PHX’s international Terminal 4, and the adjacent Escape Lounge offers flexible overflow space. Seating ranges from almost-private relaxation pods to cushy couches, co-working tables, and a tarmac-view dining room full of long counters and 2-tops. Locally-sourced Mexican cuisine is created by chef/owner Doug Robson (Gallo Blanco, Otro Cafe). Each terminal at PHX has their own security, so unless you’re leaving from Terminal 4, factor in extra time to go through security twice. 

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

centurion lounge at SFO.

Location: Terminal 3, Concourse F (opposite Gates 74 & 75)
Hours: 5 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Expect a crowd during the early-morning rush hour on weekdays, especially around the buffet and the one shower. There’s a kick-ass wine-dispenser wall (because duh, Napa and Sonoma) where a coupon gets you five tastes; a tiny, full-service cocktail bar has just four seats; and the Indian-influenced cuisine is designed by on-the-rise Bay Area chef Ravi Kapur. Convenient for United flyers (Terminal 3 is their hub), but less so for Delta flyers who’ll have to schlep from Terminal 1. Can be used without re-clearing security if you’re flying from Concourse F or G. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)

seattle airport amex lounge

Location: Concourse B (across from Gate B3)
Hours:
7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

The smallest of Centurion’s U.S. lounges (3,100 square feet) and the only one without a food menu designed by a popular local chef, SEA’s instead offers a rotation of desserts, sandwiches, and healthy snacks with Seattle-sourced ingredients. The four semi-private cube seats don’t have power outlets, but there are lots of other seating areas where power is plentiful. There’s a single shower, tarmac-view seating by the bar, and the lounge itself is accessible from any security checkpoint at SEA. 

New Centurion Lounges planned for 2022

A new lounge at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan/National Airport (DCA) is slated for late 2022, as are expansions of the lounges at SFO and SEA. Lounges planned for 2023 and beyond currently include Atlanta’s ATL, the nation’s busiest airport, and Newark’s EWR; once completed in a three-story, 50,000-square-foot space in Terminal A, this EWR outpost will be the largest-ever Centurion Lounge.  

Centurion Lounge Covid policies 

Contactless check-in is available at all Centurion Lounges via the Amex mobile app, but you’ll still have to show your ID and boarding pass at reception, where staff will be behind a clear partition. 

Capacity at Centurion Lounges is limited according to state and local governments as well as health authorities, and most seating has been configured to enable social distancing. 

Masks must be worn at all times, unless you’re eating or drinking. In some lounges, cocktail offerings have been limited to reduce wait times and allow social distancing, most offer buffet-style dining, and some provide pre-portioned plates of food.

All showers have been closed until further notice. Exhale Spas have temporarily reduced their offerings to non-practitioner treatments (e.g., Theragun massages, digital meditations, etc.), and all spa equipment is sanitized between appointments.

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Frequently asked questions about American Express Centurion Lounges

Is everything free at Centurion lounges?

Yup, everything is free at Amex lounges. But be sure to factor in the annual fees of the American Express cards required to enter: $550 for Delta SkyMiles Reserve, $695 for Platinum, and for the by-invitation-only Centurion card, $5,000—plus a $7,500 initiation fee.

Are Centurion lounges worth it?

Yes, because even in the US, these lounges rival the best international airline lounges. They enable you to start off a flight experience in a sleekly-designed space that provides quality food and drink, as well as access to power outlets, comfortable seating, TV, reading material, office services, clean restrooms, and possibly more. (Just know that everything in these lounges is first-come, first-served, and you’re unlikely to be the only person in one.)

How many Centurion lounges are there?

There are currently 21 American Express Centurion lounges around the world. 13 of them are in the US.

Which Amex lounges are open?

All the US lounges are open, with the exception of LAX, which is temporarily closed for updates. Internationally, EZE, LHR, MEX, MTY, GRU, and ARN are open. Meanwhile, HKG, MEL, BOM, and SYD are temporarily closed.

Do you tip at Centurion lounges?

Tipping is accepted and appreciated, but not expected.

What’s the best Centurion Lounge?

The best Amex lounge is the Centurion lounge at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), for its large array of amenities, including storage lockers and an Exhale Spa.

Last Updated 
February 2, 2022
The Complete Guide to American Express Centurion Lounges
Melanie Wynne
Freelancer

Passionate about travel, wine, and words, Melanie has visited 67 countries. She grew up in Washington, D.C., went to NYU Film School, spent 23 years in LA, returned to D.C. for a bit, learned to make wine in Sonoma County, and is now in Richmond, VA. The former Travel Editor for The Points Guy, she's written for Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, and more.

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