Centurion and Escape lounge improvements

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Many have reported that American Express is making some changes to its lounge network. The biggest change is that guests will no longer be free as of 2/1/23; cardholders will pay $50 per adult guest or $30 per child age 2-17. Additionally, there are improvements coming to international Centurion lounges and Escape lounges are rebranding as “Escape Lounges – The Centurion Studio Partner”. Platinum cardholders still get access to both Centurion and Escape lounges, but now Delta Reserve cardholders also get access to Escape lounges. That’s a nice deal for Reserve cardholders as Escape lounges tend to be pretty nice.

Escape lounges tend to be a nice step above the average airport lounge (and certainly better than most domestic airline lounges).

International lounges in Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Sydney, Mumbai, Delhi, São Paulo, Mexico City and Monterrey will be improved to offer food, drink, and service more comparable to the US Centurion lounges. Note that the Hong Kong lounge is already said to be on par with US Centurion lounges (I passed it by when I was at Hong Kong airport in late 2019 and later regretted not checking it out for comparison). This change makes sense if there had been inconsistency with these lounges as I imagine the majority of Amex cardholders with access are accustomed to the US Centurion lounge experience.

The new guest policy stinks and if it is applied to Escape lounges as well (since they are re-branding under the “Centurion partner” flag), that will indeed be bad news. To be a fly on the wall the first thousand times a cardholders shows up at the lounge with a colleague only to be told that it’ll cost $50 to get them in. The $30 fee per child makes sense as a disincentive to have children in the lounge (which will surely be a positive change for those who prefer a childless lounge), but it obviously makes lounge access a poor deal for those who frequently travel with their kids. A cardholder traveling with a spouse and two kids would need to pay $110 to get into the Centurion lounge, which certainly doesn’t make lounge access feel like a benefit in that situation.

For solo travelers, these announcements are a net win since they will likely mean less crowded lounges in most cases.

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