American Express Centurion Lounge Las Vegas – the Original is Still Very Good

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I’m a big fan of American Express Centurion lounges in US airports, which I get complimentary access to as a Platinum Card from American Express cardholder.

I was in Las Vegas the past couple of days, and I stopped off in the lounge on arrival for a quick bit to eat and freshen up, and on departure for a meal so that I wouldn’t have to rely on what US Airways would have on-board my flight.

Naturally, where there’s an American Express Centurion lounge it’s about the best place to be in the airport.

What Is An American Express Lounge?

American Express has begun operating their own network of “Centurion lounges,” which are a step above what travelers have become accustomed to from US airline-operated lounges.

I consider the American Express Centurion lounge in Dallas my favorite lounge in the U.S.. It’s one of the two I visit most often, along with my home American Airlines Admirals Club at Washington National airport.

Other contenders for best lounge would be the New York JFK Virgin Clubhouse, first class section of Lufthansa’s club, and British Airways Concorde Room.

There’s a Centurion lounge also at New York’s LaGuardia airport. And additional known lounges in the pipeline for San Francisco and Miami. Others will surely come.

Access:

  • Centurion and Platinum cardholders: Cardmember may bring in their spouse and children or two guests
  • Other American Express cardholders: $50 per adult (children complimentary when accompanied by paying adult)

I keep my Platinum Card from American Express largely for access to the Centurion lounges. Here’s a full review of the card that explains why the signup bonus and airline fee credit make the card a no-brainer to me. (American Express even added a couple additional benefits since I reviewed the card.

Ambiance

The lounge is a world apart from the Las Vegas airport. Through the blue doors is a much more stylish place to relax, work, refresh and eat.

Plenty of places to work or relax.

There’s a kid’s room as well, similar to the one that the Dallas Centurion lounge has.

The lounge has far from deserted when I’ve been there, but even when full there’s been space to make your own.

Food and Drink

The Las Vegas Centurion lounge’s name chef is Scott Conant of Scarpetta restaurants. So you’ll have a clear theme. The food is all good, high quality, although I don’t find it as much of a standout as some of the dishes in Dallas and New York LaGuardia. I do much like the Smoked Chocolate Budino with Cinnamon Ash & Sea Salt, though.

In addition to food of course there’s a full complimentary bar.

Verdict and Plans for the Future

American Express Centurion lounges are stylish and functional. There’s nooks and crannies to sit and work. There’s good food and drink. And there are plus features at many like a spa and showers.

The only thing they lack compared to an airline’s own lounges is the sort of help with rebookings and upgrades that your operating carrier can provide.

The Las Vegas lounge is well-located, by terminal 1’s gate D1. It’s the original US offering, so a good lounge with good food and drink and it has a kids’ room. It doesn’t have the spa of Dallas, or food as good as LaGuardia (though the very best food item was the original brisket in Dallas). Unquestionably it’s great for an airport lounge in the US, even if I prefer the other Centurion lounges. And I can’t wait for more.

American Express should have 5 lounges open in the U.S. by the beginning of 2015 — San Francisco coming online by the end of the year and Miami by early next. And more lounges to come (a goal is to be in all major cities in the U.S.).

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I was there a couple of weeks ago and have obsessed about the Panna Cotta every since. Do you know if they give out recipes?

  2. Are there any cards with a low annual fee that give you continuing access to any lounge? I would love to have one that I keep in my wallet just for lounge access, but I don’t travel enough to make the $450 worth it. I also have too much dignity to call up Amex and beg for them to take charges off as “incidentals.” I recently signed up for some credit card offers that come with a couple passes (annually) but none of them offer anything unlimited that I’ve come across.

  3. “I keep my Platinum Card from American Express largely for access to the Centurion lounges.”

    Let’s see… you must have AAdmirals Club access thanks to Citibank’s recent generosity. So let’s cross off DFW, unless you’re desperate for midday showers and entree food?

    I can’t picture you visiting Los Vegas more than 3 times a year.

    And let’s say you visit LGA 17 times in a year.

    So the $450-$200=$250 annual fee means you’re paying $12.50 a visit? How many finger sandwiches are you eating???

  4. @stvr – I visit DFW *very* regularly. I don’t know that i get my money’s worth in free food, that’s not so much the metric, I do think in general a lounge visit to a decent lounge is worth > $10 though.. not the exorbitant one-off prices they charge though 🙂

  5. Gary: is your speculation about “every major city” for a lounge a personal speculation, or one that AMEX is saying?

  6. I don’t understand the business model for the Centurion lounges, especially since cardholders are allowed to invite guests/family.

    Is the rollout of these lounges meant to keep existing cardmembers from cancelling or to attract new cardmembers. Was the churn on the Plat card so high that they had to offer something more tangible to justify the annual fee?

    These lounges presumably cost more to open and operate than the typical airline lounge given the free food and drinks, but staffing might be a bit lower due to the lack of reservations support.

    @Gary, in terms of usage, how crowded are these Centurion lounges relative to an AA lounge? How does the size compare to an AA UA or DL lounge?

  7. Oh yeah, personally, I would value a lounge visit at more than US$10 (especially if food, drinks, and peace and quiet were included) but below what the airlines typically charge.

  8. @john size and crowded varies a lot, i have certainly been in airline lounges where you couldn’t get a seat and also where they are empty — i have never not been able to get a seat in a centurion lounge, but i’ve also been there when empty. they’ve done a great job with figuring out how much space they need and finding the right space. although i would love it if they were always empty and just for me!

  9. Heather,
    Google Scott Conant’s Coconut Panna Cotta. Several websites have the recipe. Conant also has several cookbooks.

  10. Hey Gary – Any chance you can post the current menu? Wondering if the chef’s signature spaghetti from Scarpetta is one of the dishes.

    Hey Everyone – Has anyone accessed the LV Centurion lounge from the international terminal (E) ? I’m told you do not have to go back through security but rather take a tram between the two.

  11. Thanks Gary – The one at the club had goat cheese and a sauce, so I don’t think it’s the same, but I’m going to give a shot. I tried to find a phone number for the lounge to call directly, but no luck.

  12. I have a Delta AmEx Platinum card. Departing Las Vegas with my girlfriend about 5 weeks ago, there’s no Delta Lounge in LV, so I called AmEx (number on the back of my card) the day before departure and asked about access to the Centurion Lounge. The agent said generally no access for my card, but he issued me a $100 credit on the spot, and said I should just pay the standard $50 per person for access, which I did. Thus my girlfriend and I were effectively comp’ed, and as Gary said, this lounge is a few notches above your average SkyMiles lounge.

    Gary: thanks for the heads-up on your blog about this lounge!

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