American Express Centurion Lounges Now Offer Mobile Check-in. First Step Towards What?

American Express announced the acquisition of LoungeBuddy in March and it wasn’t super clear what that would mean. We were told only that there would be “additional [unspecified] ways” that American Express will “become an essential part of our…digital lives.”

Now we have the first way. American Express has rolled out mobile check-in for Centurion lounges.

Platinum and Centurion cardmembers can begin the check-in process up to 30 minutes prior to lounge arrival using the “Find a Lounge” tool in the American Express app. Cardmmebers still have to show their photo ID and boarding pass at the desk when they arrive.


Dallas Fort-Worth Centurion Lounge

Currently you show your eligible American Express card, ID, and boarding pass. So this just cuts out the step of scanning your card, which really doesn’t take any appreciable amount of time. Any bottleneck getting into a lounge comes from standing in line behind other guests, some of whom have questions or may be booking a spa time at the Dallas or Miami lounges.

Zach Honig points out that this will be useful to customers who don’t have their physical Amex cards with them, saving time getting looked up at the desk.

My hunch is it will take more time to pre-register than it will just to have your card swiped. I don’t really see this as a time saver. Instead I wonder if it’s a precursor to a new more aggressive crowding management solution.

Back in September Josh McKay, American Express Vice President of Global Premium Product Benefits, said they’d be rolling out a feature for cardmembers “to book lounge visits with the Amex app and allow the company to manage lounge demand in real time.”


Dallas Fort-Worth Centurion Lounge

At the time American Express walked back the statement, suggesting that booking via app is an example of something they’ll consider not something they planned to implement. However now it’s here. The question, I think, is whether the feature will be used in the future to pre-reserve a limited number of spaces in the lounge.

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. I guess it’s harder to get turned away (does that still happen?) if you say “But I checked in via the app”? But yea, I don’t see any appreciable time-saving benefit.

  2. Does it only work if you are on location? I opened the app, selected DFW and chose the Centurion Lounge but it didn’t offer a check-in option (I’m not in Dallas – was just checking it out).

  3. @daniel – this will lead to walkups not being allowed in because the full allotment checked in on the app.

    AMEX makes the decision to drop their cards easier and easier.

  4. One plus of app checkin is not having to carry the plat/centurion card. I normally carry only my gold card and this means I don’t have to remember to carry a card for lounge access.

  5. I’m sick and tired of companies that believe they must “become an essential part of my digital life.” I don’t think so.

  6. It’s pretty clear that AMEX wishes to switch to digital-only check in at some point. While in the short-run it could result in walk-ins being turned away, ideally it will help others avoid lounges at peak capacity. I would much rather be find out ahead of time that the lounge is at capacity than be turned away at the door.

    I also recently had the unfortunate experience of walking across the Mexico City airport to discover the Centurion Lounge was closed for renovation. An app would have prevented this.

  7. People are already getting turned away. Seattle has a wait list more than just occasionally. If they need to try new systems to more effectively manage demand, then I’m all for it. As much as I would hate it, the solution may be simply to jack the annual fee until enough people cry uncle. Their lounge system is clearly flooded with too many customers, so a blunt but effective tool may be to raise prices to the point they can adequately serve all customers. I wouldn’t pay much more than $550 now, but once the CLT lounge opens (home airport), the card would be worth considerably more to me.

  8. I hope I never get turned away upon presentation for check in. If that were to ever occur, I’d have a strong incentive to cancel my membership immediately.

    If AMEX can sell an unlimited amount of credit cards inducing and enabling access to their lounges, I should not be turned away. If they want to sell more lounge access than their lounges have the capacity to handle, they should allow members to access airport restaurants in affected airports at affected times with whom they have an overflow-situation agreement.

  9. Agree with John 100%. And, I ask, how much digital data are the companies sponging up, packaging, and selling, while they are being part of my digital life.

  10. Years ago, I wandered into the Centurion lounge in DFW on a layover with a colleague, and we sat at the bar. Eyeing a bottle of Veuve in an ice bucket, I asked the barkeep for a glass. He asked to see my card, which I showed, saying, “I would have had to show this to get in, right?” and he countered by saying that the Veuve was only offered to “real” Centurion members, and Platinum members were offered an inferior bubbly. At that time, I had been a Platinum member for over 30 years, so I cancelled my membership and downgraded to a regular green Amex card, not about to lose my good credit. Ever since, I gladly pay cash for my drink of choice at a PUBLIC airport bar-which are never as crowded as the Centurion lounges anyway. American Express and LOYALTY are not 3 words that belong in the same sentence. Hello Visa Sapphire!!

  11. I don’t see the harm, since I do occasionally forget to bring my Platinum card with me. (I don’t usually keep it on me, since I mainly use it to book flights, and not much else).

    But yeah, I can see this becoming a way to ration limited lounge space.

  12. @Mike Saint: open the app, select the Platinum (or Centurion, I suppose, if you have one), click/tap on “Membership” in the bottom center, then click on “Find an Airport Lounge”.

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