The Secret to Always Finding Space in the American Express Centurion Lounge Dallas

I love the American Express Centurion lounge in Dallas. I transit DFW more than any other airport. Depending on the day of week American has 14 or 15 flights a day between my home airport in Austin and their hub at Dallas Fort-Worth.

When the lounge first opened it was a marvel: good quality chef-inspired hot food, good cocktails, a complimentary spa and showers not to mention stylish furnishings.

The problem is that it’s gotten more and more crowded.

There are American Express Centurion lounges at US airports already in:


San Francisco Centurion Lounge

The next lounge will be opening in Houston.

These lounges are fundamentally better than US airline lounges, which is why passengers want to use them. They’re open to American Express Platinum and Centurion cardmembers and two guests or spouse and children. Other American Express cardmembers can purchase access (except in Seattle) for $50. Space in airports can be tough to come by and is charged at a huge premium. Making the space work for a Centurion lounge is a real challenge, and more or less they’ve taken what they’ve been able to get. So when 8000 or 9000 square feet is available, they’ve taken it, there aren’t a lot of 15,000 square foot space available in already-mature terminals.

One Mile at a Time wonders what should be done about the crowding, and suggests limiting guests, excluding authorized cardmembers from accessing the lounge (so primary cardholder only), and limiting the number of free visits a cardmember can have in a year.

Among a series of bad options I like the idea of limiting the number of visits, charging cardmembers for visits perhaps after their first 20 in a year.

But I also like taking matters into my own hands and I’ll share with you what I do, fully realizing that readers may wind up taking the option away from me…

I like meeting rooms.

In Dallas, to the right of the reception desk is the kids room. But just before the door to the kids room is a door to a room that’s almost always dark inside. No one ever goes in. There’s a plate on the wall beside the door “meeting room.”

That’s your refuge. No matter how busy the lounge is, there are no seats available anywhere, the meeting room has always been empty whenever I’ve gone into the lounge. Empty, that is, until I get there.

It’s an interior space, it doesn’t have the openness of the rest of the lounge. But it’s a quiet and private space, a place to bring your plate back from the buffet and to get work done. So that’s what I do. In some ways as an interior space it’s like the secret room in the American Airlines club in the A terminal…

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 InsideFlyer.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. Nice tip, Gary. Do you have to reserve these rooms, similar to how you have to reserve conference rooms in other airline lounges?

  2. Most lounges don’t appreciate people using the meeting rooms as their lounge nor people that do reserve them walking in and seeing someone/a mess in the room.

    Little decorum is always appreciated by us that use these rooms

  3. Agree with Ghostrider. Kind of sleazy especially when a room is reserved and now there is confusion

  4. Is anyone really getting “work” done in these lounges? Lets admit it, everyone is there for the free drinks and food, and no one really cares about privacy etc as long as its reasonably easy to find a place to sit with your pile of free food.

  5. Bill and Ghostrider, you don’t get to be one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel without bending the rules….

  6. I find the suggestion intolerable that would limit the number of visits. That is one of the perks of being a card member. And if you are using he card for all of the air travel they are benefiting even more.

    Gary has anyone ever entered the room and say ” I have this room reserved”

    By limiting access you will also hurt the staff at these location. I for one tip fairly well when at the CC.

  7. yup, reserved the meeting room last week when it was standing room only in LAS. fyi, they will allow you to reserve it for 1 hour use.

    it’s still a pretty crappy ambiance in the meeting room though compared to how it should be…

  8. Rooms are not always free. It would be nice to have stated in your article that one should always ask before walking into the conference rooms, I sometime use a vacant room for a phone call, but even in the clubrooms where they have known me for years I always politely ask if I can use for a phone call. Like most I think it’s rude to “share’ your phone call in public.

  9. @J – sometimes the lounge is the only place I can get some “desparation” work done – the last minute stuff people ask for and you know the wifi on the airplane is not going to cut it (I am oh-for-two on my last two wifi purchases on AA and SWA). I need to remember the meeting room option – sometimes I need a quiet place where I can think and not be disturbed.

  10. Seeing as nobody is using it, I guess it’s no big deal. BUT, I don’t like that it can’t be used because you want to eat there. It’s a totally reasonable thing to want to do — just like eating in computer lab, while you work is a totally reasonable thing to want to do; still, that is totally obnoxious to anyone else that wants to work without the delicious smells, and obscene noises made by all the food crunching and lip smacking.

  11. I’ve had conference calls in the meeting room in the Houston centurion lounge. It’s quiet and you don’t have to worry about folks looking over your shoulder on your work laptop. I’d probably be slightly annoyed if there was someone using it just to eat if I actually need to have a meeting.

  12. Have used the DFW lounge’s room for work, and it was a welcome relief as I have to set up the computer and peripherals and transmit data on a secure connection with all files encrypted. The staff were exceptionally kind to bring me a plate of food and a glass of water without being asked to do so. Since I had missed lunch due to multiple flights and no meal service on planes anymore in first class, and it was 8 o’clock at night, I took them up on their offer. So yes, I have eaten in that room. I will not use it however just to eat. The place is so crowded these days, that I have rarely seen it vacant, so Gary must be traveling at off hours. Generally I’ve seen the room occupied by at least 2 people, and usually they have drinks and maybe a snack, but they are clearly conducting business as well. I would respectfully suggest that those travelers who use the Centurion Lounges be mindful of other travelers’ needs. Ultimately, it’s not about “scoring” a quiet private spot for your self alone, possibly depriving another fellow traveler of a much needed work space. What goes around . . .

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