Earlier in the month an alert reader spotted a popup American Express Centurion lounge display at LAX. That turned out to foretell a coming Centurion Lounge at the airport, at least according to an LAX employee newsletter.
Alert reader @tarheeljason tweeted me about an even more extensive popup at Chicago O’Hare.
I asked American Express spokesperson Melanie Backs about the display, and she responded:
We’re doing 2 pop up events, one in Chicago and another in Seattle. They are meant to promote the Centurion Lounge Network and spread a little Amex Holiday Cheer to travelers.
We’ll be doing a series of Holiday events in our official Centurion Lounges as well starting in December.
As with LAX, Chicago is also an important hub for our Card Members. We’d love to have a Centurion Lounge there if we can find the right space.
I passed through Seattle yesterday and didn’t notice a pop up there. I did visit the Centurion Studio and found it fairly empty (granted a Tuesday mid-afternoon, but the beginning of a heavy holdiay travel period). And I also found slightly upgraded food, there were sandwiches.
We know of course that American Express is seeking to build its own network of lounges in major airports, rather than relying on airline partners alone to provide lounge access to their premium cardmembers.
We know also that American Express is providing a superior lounge product compared to US airlines, with quality meals and beverages and in some locations even complimentary spa treatments. The lounges can get busy because eligible cardmembers want to go there.
Centurion Lounge Spa, Miami
We also know that they’ve tested a smaller lounge concept, the Centurion Studio, in Seattle and that it could provide the blueprint for lounges in mid-sized airports as well.
There are American Express Centurion lounges at US airports already in:
Building out a lounge network takes a good deal of time — finding the right available space, negotiating with the airport, and in major hubs there’s often a single carrier with substantial interest in and say over how unoccupied space gets used (and that carrier may not want to be ‘shown up’ by American Express — American Airlines was vehemently opposed to the American Express Centurion lounge in Dallas).
They seem to have prioritized major airports, especially ones where passengers aren’t predominantly flying Delta. Delta is an American Express partner, and Platinum and Centurion cardmembers have access to Delta SkyClubs when flying the airline same day (for themselves, guest access is paid).
I’ve shared American Express’ letter of inquiry to Denver Airport, expressing Denver as a priority and indicating that there were specific locations in United’s terminal they were interested in. The next lounge that will open is Houston.
American Express Centurion Lounge Dallas
I read the American Express statement on a Chicago O’Hare lounge as suggesting:
- They’re serious about O’Hare. It’s obvious they’d be interested, but they must be in real discussions with the airport since even the popup would be require working closely with the airport. So relations between O’Hare and American Express at this point are good.
- Amex has chosen O’Hare in particular for this display. And that’s for a reason.
- No lease has actually been signed, so there are at least some bureaucratic hurdles to clear, because otherwise American Express would be making an actual announcement.
So I’d rate an O’Hare American Express Centurion Lounge as likely-to-highly-likely. Once a deal is done it will probably take a year to come to fruition so we won’t be visiting it any time soon. But it’s great to see them continuing to grow the network.