During a business trip, I spent a considerable amount of time in the new American Express Centurion Lounge in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s my review.
Membership and Access
Many large international airports host lounges both specific to airlines and available to the general public for a fee or membership. Some lounges are offered with a membership to Priority Pass, Charlotte has two, which can be confusing since American Express eligible cards also include a Priority Pass membership.
This lounge access is limited. American Express Platinum and Centurion card members are the only guests that can access Centurion lounges. I used my Business Platinum Card from American Express to enter the lounge.
I also was required to present a boarding pass within three hours of my arrival at the lounge. This rule is malleable in the case of irregular operations and delays.
The Centurion Lounge’s location was a bit difficult for me to find, despite frequenting Charlotte on a regular basis. Located near a new food court between terminals D & E, the signage is limited but with some effort, it can be found. The sign pictured below indicates the elevator that will take guests up to the lounge.
The lounge opens at 7 am and closes at 7 pm currently. This was American Express’s 11th location. Regardless of class of service, the Centurion Lounge is open only to American Express Card members at the Platinum or Centurion card level.
Upon entry to the AMEX Centurion lounge guests are asked to check-in, providing their boarding pass for a flight departing within three hours, and their American Express eligible card. In normal circumstances, guests are offered an opportunity to schedule in a time for a shower if they’d like one. During my visit, this option was not available due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Other Centurion lounges, like Dallas/Fort Worth, additional services including manicures and pedicures or neck/shoulder massages may be available as well.
Food and Drink
The bar at this particular Centurion lounge is located in the back right corner. The bar offers a number of non-alcoholic beverages and a full bar with highly trained mixologists, Jim Meehan has created a number of signature cocktails specifically for the lounge. The lounge also features a menu from Chef Joe Kindred, a North Carolina legend.
The bar has some of the best views in the lounge, not only of the gates but also a beautiful view of the city in the distance.
While the lounge opened with locally-inspired meals such as buttermilk fried chicken, the lounge took on a menu I recall from the San Francisco location. Purely for research purposes… I tried everything. Clockwise from top left, a wedge salad with ranch (not Bleu cheese to my delight), a tomato pie (quiche), fruit salad, chicken curry, mashed potato puree, and banana pudding. Despite visiting early in the day, this particular site does not include breakfast with cereal, milk, bread (toast) though this review was conducted during COVID and protocols may have changed.
Rooms and Space
There were several separated spaces for travelers to spread out. Nearly all of the seats and couches offered a small work table. There are several private phone rooms that offer guests the opportunity to speak in private but freely, without disturbing others.
I often travel with my family and prefer family rooms when they are available. It allows my daughter to be the seven-year-old she is without drawing the ire from others or disturbing their visit. While she is generally well-behaved, giving her the space to enjoy her time in the lounge too benefits everyone.
Some Centurion lounges provide gaming systems (Xbox, Playstation) but Charlotte Douglas International does not appear to be such a location.
When I visited the Centurion Lounge CLT, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The airport lounge experience during COVID can be hit or miss. It’s also hard to justify the high prices that card companies (like American Express) charge when examined against what the credit card offers during these trying times.
However, I have loved my experience in most of the AMEX Centurion lounges I have visited, and Charlotte makes that list. The staff was helpful, the food was very good, and there was plenty of space for business and leisure travelers alike to enjoy themselves as well as great views from the Mezzanine level. Among Centurion lounges I have not visited but plan to like the Las Vegas location and I look forward to adding Hong Kong to my list of Centurion lounges when the world again re-opens for travel.
What do you think? Have you tried the American Express Centurion Lounge at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport? Did it exceed or fall short of your expectations?
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