I’m sure you know the drill. I can’t remember which blog wrote about it first, so apologize for not giving the credit where credit is due. I was leaving on vacation, so decided to put off my rant till I got back. If you’ve read enough opinionated blog posts on this topic and don’t feel like indulging me, I don’t blame you.
Anyway, the deal is this: starting March 30th, as an Amex Platinum cardholder, you will be able to bring two guests with you to Centurion lounges at no cost. Family, friend or enemy, the relationship no longer matters.
Here is the current policy, bolding is mine:
“Platinum cardmembers may bring immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and their children under 18) OR up to two companions into The Centurion Lounge, and immediate family OR one (1) companion into The Centurion Studio.”
Note that supposedly, if your spouse is an authorized user on your Amex Platinum ($175 additional annual fee), they will also be able to bring two complimentary guests with them.
Obviously, this mostly hurts families of four or more. So, as a blogger who supposedly caters to families, you probably think I would be outraged (shocked! disgusted!) by this change. Wrong. But read on before you decide to unsubscribe.
It’s Amex’ right to restrict access to their own lounges
Look, I’m no fan of Amex. I’m still in the middle of fighting with them over 200K MR points, and they are making it as difficult as possible for me (a rant for another day). But even I have to admit that they are within their rights to make this change.
Centurion lounge access is not an entitlement program. It’s not Amex’ concern that families will now have to skip the lounge or pay an outrageous fee ($50 even for an infant). It’s their program and they can do what they darn please. Frankly, if it’s such a big deal, they should limit it to just one guest.
Many people are complaining about overcrowding, so Amex is trying to do something about it. I can’t comment on this issue since I’ve only been to one Centurion lounge, but I’m certain there is some truth to that. It appears that Centurion lounges have become a victim of their own success.
Delightful Centurion Studio in Seattle airport
Time will tell if showing the middle finger to families will help alleviate the overcrowding issue, but Amex has to do something. I would if I was in charge and constantly got slammed with complaints from single business travelers, who are their bread and butter when it comes to profit. After all, they are the ones who put substantial spending on Amex credit cards. Most normal families do not. They just hang on to Platinum for the perks and use Chase combo for everyday spending.
Why Amex did it the wrong way
Here is where Amex messed up. They provided very little notice on this change. It is my strong opinion that if someone signed up for Amex Platinum before the changes were announced, they should have access to Centurion lounges under the old rules till their card comes up for renewal.
I seriously doubt this will happen, but I think they owe it to new cardholders. To me, Centurion lounge access would not be a swaying factor, but I’m sure it was for some. At the very least, they should issue a set of one-day passes so families can utilize this perk a couple of times during the upcoming year.
Children haters need to chill
After this change was announced, there was a level of jubilation in the hobby I haven’t previously witnessed. You would think Chase did away with 5/24 rule based on all the excitement from my fellow childless brethren. I’m sure some were breaking out champagne to celebrate Amex new policy.
While I definitely hope that your post-March 30th Centurion lounge experience will be as zen as you think it will be (no sarcasm), I seriously doubt it. Most families don’t travel that often, so you will probably still have to deal with overcrowding. Sorry! The truth is, travel can be stressful, and no Centurion lounge can compensate for that.
Also, I would like to encourage you to show a little compassion. Try to put yourself in the shoes of those who got burned by this change. Wouldn’t you be a little upset, especially if you signed up for Platinum card under the old rules? Don’t tell me that families don’t belong in the lounge. It doesn’t say that anywhere in the terms. We have just as much right to be there as anyone else. After all, why would Amex add play areas if they didn’t want families to use them?
I totally get that kids can be obnoxious. I will admit that mine fall in that category. They can be loud, especially when super excited about the snacks in the buffet. That’s why my husband hates going to airport lounges. He says it feels like we are on display. And he is not wrong. We are the zen-destroyers. I do my best to control the kids, of course, but there is only so much I can do.
Honestly, I’m mostly interested in complimentary food. So, if the kids get too loud, we’ll get the heck out of there as soon as we get some snacks, I promise. Yes, you’ll have to put up with us for an hour or so. But if I have to pick between saving $30 or irritating you (a perfect stranger I will never see again), I will choose $30 every day of the week and twice on Sunday. #Sorrybutnotsorry
The only way to solve the problem of noise is to build a two-level lounge, one for business travelers and one for families. You’ll have to take it up with Amex. Otherwise, we’ll probably be mingling in the same space, at least till my family is done with food.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.