TIP: People Behind the Desk at American Express Lounges Can Do More Than Just Check You In

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American Express has their own network of airport lounges, aside from the Delta lounges that Platinum cardmembers can visit when flying Delta and aside from the lounges the included Priority Pass gains entry into.


Entrance, Centurion Lounge, Dallas

There’s the Las Vegas lounge, the New York LaGuardia lounge and Dallas. There are lounges in Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Houston.

These lounges are much nicer than most US airline lounges, and indeed most airport lounges in the U.S. They’re nicely designed, offer decent cocktails, and best of all have real hot food items on a buffet designed by local celebrity chefs. Some of the lounges have showers, and even complimentary spas (Dallas, Miami).


Centurion Lounge Spa, Dallas

American Express prides itself on service, and when you arrive at one of their lounges you’re checked in at the “Member Services” desk. I’ve only seen staff there checking boarding passes, American Express cards, and photo IDs (and of course in Dallas and Miami, making spa appointments).

I was curious what else they did, so I asked around, and it turns out quite a lot. You can really lean on the staff there for more than just scanning a boarding pass, which is something I suspect most guests don’t realize, so I became curious about some of the things that the staff have done recently for members in some of the various clubs across the network.

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve learned.

Las Vegas: Turning Irregular Flight Operations Into an Opportunity

Over a recent holiday weekend, a guest in the lounge found out their flight was cancelled. This was doubly disappointing because it was their birthday. They weren’t going to be able to get out until the following day, so the Member Services folks in the lounge helped put together arrangements to make the most of the extra day in Las Vegas.

Availability was tight over the holiday weekend but they managed to book a suite for the night and desirable dinner reservations at the last minute. They also sent truffles to the guest’s room and a surprise cake at dinner to celebrate their birthday.


Kids Room, Centurion Lounge Las Vegas

New York LaGuardia: Manhattan Dinner Reservations Guests Couldn’t Get Themselves

A group had flown to New York to try several restaurants but were shut out of bookings at one they really wanted to try. The American Express agent in the LaGuardia club rang the restaurant and got them in.

The restaurant was booked solid for weeks, but American Express has long maintained a program to do this. The club agents can help.


Bar at the Centurion Lounge, New York LaGuardia

San Francisco: Tracking Down Missing Luggage

I’ve had Cathay Pacific lounge agents, and Thai Airways lounge agents, track down checkde luggage for be and have it re-tagged mid-trip. Cathay has actually done it frequently for me, this has involved travel on separate tickets and multiple carriers where the original airline wouldn’t check all the way through to my final destination and where I didn’t want to pick up my bags mid-trip to re-check them.

But I’ve never had this done in the U.S. Agents in the San Francisco club, though, helped a cardmember whose bag had been mistagged by the airline. They were concerned not just that they wouldn’t get their bags, but also that they had medication in it and wondered if that could get replaced.

The American Express member services agent worked with the airline to locate the checked bag and get it retagged so it would arrive with the passenger on their trip.


Centurion Lounge San Francisco

Seattle: Confirming New Flights After a Missed Connection

A guest in the Seattle club told member services that she had missed her flight connection and the airline had her standing by for a later flight and stuck in the airport for several hours.

The agent left the club to speak with an airline agent in person, and got them to confirm the seat.

I’ve often said that, especially during irregular operations, it’s important to “hang up, call back” — if you don’t like the first answer you get, speak to someone else who might be more sympathetic. Sometimes some passengers just aren’t well-situated to do that calmly and clearly. So here’s a case where the agent became the passenger’s advocate and handled it for them.


Centurion Studio, Seattle

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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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. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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Comments

  1. I love the link for the card at the end of those heart warming yarns. 😉

    Surprised there weren’t exclamation points sprinkled in.

  2. My experience is that they’re mostly useless. They won’t help with anything related to your flight/reservation even as a cent cardholder.

  3. This post reads like an Amex press release. Plus that’s an old and not representative picture of the SEA Studio.

  4. I have to say Miami is awful from the lack of seating, food selection and long shower waits I keep telling my I’ll never go back but I go In and come right back out.

  5. AMEX is not what it used to be. I have since dumped my cards and just gotten status with Hotels, Airlines, Lounges, Priority Pass, and Clubs directly. Even their Diamond service for shows is a joke and overrun by Scalpers.

  6. The Centurion lounges are the main reason I continue to carry a platinum card. Nice to know that the people working the lounges can take on some of the concierge roles the card also offers.

  7. Gary do you proofread anything even a single time before you post?

    “The American Express agent in the LaGuardia club rang the restaurant and good them in.”

    And there is no Dallas Centurion Lounge, that would be Dallas/Ft. Worth or DFW.

  8. @Josh G – no, I don’t (that’s what I have you for – thanks!), and you can buzz off on your constant kvetching about use of the shorthand ‘Dallas’

  9. These are my unfiltered thoughts, @Josh G, I do not employ a staff or other writers. It’s 100% authentic. Plus I have you to point out typos, why pay for it?

  10. It makes sense to have the desk agents add value when we pay so much for the Amex Plat. Other cards are adding more value and increasing the competition, so Amex needs to do more to stand out from Citi, Chase, etc.

  11. I don’t appreciate all the negative comments and criticism that has been posted. Is there a way to ban these serial critics from the comment section? This is free blog and no one is forcing people to read it. I am a huge fan of Gary’s and greatly appreciate all his work.

  12. Gary: I’m an occasional international traveler, and I don’t quite grasp the article about lounge agents helping to get your bags re-tagged?…I understand the problem of flying on two different airlines, and the first airline won’t check your bags all the way to your final destination, and therefore having to claim and re-check your bags at a connecting airport.

    Do you ask the lounge agent at your departure airport to get the bags re-tagged before your first flight takes off?…If so, why can they get your bags re-tagged when your departing airline won’t do it when you check in?

    Les

  13. @Les Ahrens – Say I check in with Bangkok Airways in Koh Samui, flying to Bangkok. And I’m connecting on Cathay Pacific. So Bangkok Airways checks my back onto Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. But they won’t check it beyond Hong Kong. So when I get to Bangkok, I have Cathay Pacific pull the bags and retag them to my final destination.

  14. That is awesome about the New York dinner reservations. I know at times it can be hard to get into some of the most popular restaurants. I wonder how often they are successful at getting them?

    I’ve only been to the Dallas Club so far but I was totally impressed by how friendly the staff members were. They made me feel welcome.

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