American Express has updated the terms and conditions of its Platinum card to restrict guests in its Centurion Lounges starting in 2023. Calling this a “devaluation” may be too simplistic, but calling the policy an attack on families is eminently reasonable.
American Express Restricts Guests For Platinum Cardholders In Centurion Lounges
American Express will no longer permit Platinum cardmembers to bring two guests into the lounge at no additional cost:
- These changes go into effect on February 1, 2023
- Both primary cardmembers and AMEX Platinum authorized users will continue to receive lounge access
- Guest access is available…for $50 each.
- Platinum cardmembers who spend over $75,000 per year on the card will continue to receive lounge access for two guests at no additional charge.
- Centurion (Black) cardholders will continue to be permitted to bring guests and visit the lounge either before or after their journey (versus only before for Platinum cardholders)
Not A Devaluation For Everyone, But A War On Families
My point is simple: American Express is telling families like me to take our business elsewhere. As much as I enjoy Centurion Lounges (and I truly do enjoy them), the idea that $50 per child for my children is proportionate to the amenities they consume is absurd.
And it’s not like I can add my children as authorized users, since you must be 13 years of age or older in order to be added. Thus, American Express suddenly becomes worthless when I travel with my family unless my wife and I dump the kids outside the door (not going to happen…).
It is what it is. Do I like he change? Not at all. I think American Express “throws the baby out with the bathwater” by going from two Platinum guests to zero and charging so much for passes. Frankly, it is not children that crowd lounges, it is single travelers. That likely won’t change, especially as business travel starts to return.
I know some of you will be rejoicing today over this news. And I’m not going to lie: even if this reduces crowding a little bit, it is a positive enhancement, not a devaluation, for those cardholders who travel alone. I get that.
But for those who are willing to pay the $550 annual fee (rumored soon to be going up to $650 with more worthless credits) and have children, this is a blow. My son Augustine, for example, travels only a couple times per year. It’s not like he was hanging out in the Centurion Lounges every Thursday evening on the way home from work. He’s only been in Centurion Lounges on four occasions over his fours years on this Earth. But it was sure was nice to be able to hang out in these lounges.
I appreciate that American Express is trying to control crowding. Perhaps this was the only way. But I feel that by totally eliminating guests instead of reducing Platinum guest allowance to one or offering a number of passes to be used throughout the year, American Express fundamentally disrespects its Platinum members with families.