I have found that airport lounges the world over have improved a lot in the last decade of traveling. Standards vary of course depending on the market, space and resources, but the trend is towards fresher, cleaner, more modern as these spaces look to capture discerning travelers.
The American Express Centurion Lounges are head and shoulders above the competition from my perspective, especially if you enjoy exclusivity. They are few in number (currently with 3 in the pipeline for Denver Los Angeles and a second at JFK) but have steadily increased in the past few years. I have to say I look forward to long layovers or arriving to the airport early when I know there is one along my path.
The Reasons Why:
- The lounges are beautifully appointed. Modern furniture, plenty of outlets and a healthy sense of design are always the norm. It doesn’t feel like you’re at the airport (in a good way).
- Food is fresh, hot and always with appropriate diversity for any dietary preference. Drinks are really all you could want or imagine from an open bar.
- Some lounges have specialty facilities like massage rooms and refreshment facilities.
Lounges have a boutique feel with a variety of spaces large enough to accommodate the cardholders. (There is a little known policy that they can restrict access to a certain amount of hours or persons). This hasn’t happened to me on any visit, but it is possible especially during holiday travel at peak hours.
The biggest selling point for the American Express Centurion Lounge it that it keeps the feeling of exclusivity that many other lounges have lost with the massive expansion of credit card travel perks. The only way to access AMEX Centurion lounges are to be a Platinum card holder or one of that person’s two guests accompanying them. The card has a steep annual fee, but it is well worth it if you travel and take advantage of the benefits. It also gives access to other lounge reward programs in for all the places you won’t have the option to indulge.
Currently these are the Centurion Lounges active:
New York JFK