Review: Delta Sky Club LaGuardia Airport Terminal C

On a recent trip to Chicago, I had an early morning flight out of LaGuardia Airport on Delta Airlines. Delta uses the majority of gates in Terminal C and also has two Sky Club lounges in this terminal. Since I find myself using American, United, or Southwest for most of my travels out of LGA, I’ve never had the opportunity to use a Delta Sky Club. Presented with an opportunity for this particular trip, I arrived earlier than usual so I can experience what they had to offer. As an AMEX Platinum credit card holder, I get complimentary access to Delta Sky Club lounges if I am booked on a Delta flight. Unfortunately, I can’t bring in a guest free of charge. They would have to pay the discounted rate of $29 if they were to accompany me.

Seating Area

Even though my flight was at 7:10 a.m. and I was there by 6:10 a.m., the lounge was certainly not as empty as I thought. I’d say about 30% of the lounge was filled up. There were pockets of empty spaces and it didn’t take much effort to find a desirable seat next to the window. Most of their seats have plug outlets and USB ports and if you want to sit facing the tarmac to watch airplanes land and take off, they have window-facing seats as well.

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The view from Delta Sky Club if you get a seat next to the window

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This particular Delta Sky Club was like one giant room with a pillar here or there that might act as a buffer for privacy but not much else. Compared to the Centurion Lounge in Terminal B which is my go-to lounge at LGA, this lounge was massive. I purposely didn’t have breakfast at home so I can sample the food at this lounge.

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I had a bagel, chickpea salad, boiled egg, and some coffee. The chickpea salad was very good and flavorful. Certainly, something different to have in the morning if you’re not used to having a salad at 6:30 a.m. Since I got there early, their bagels were pretty fresh and seemed to be sourced locally. They had a variety of bread, bagels, and muffins among the bakery items. They also had a nice selection of cereal, parfait, and fruits. What they didn’t have were hot breakfast items that the Centurion Lounge is known for. I understand that there are some Sky Clubs that have this option and hopefully Delta brings hot breakfast to their NYC Sky Clubs soon. Their coffee was Starbucks Coffee and it tasted fine.

Business Center

DeltaSkyClubPrinterDeltaSkyClubNewsPapersDelta Sky Club does not provide computers but they do have an area in the back of the lounge that has a printer and a semi-private area that has the daily newspapers. They certainly have the space to add a few desktops and it would enhance the lounge if they did.

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This Delta Sky Club had the fastest internet speed I’ve tested at any lounge. This is perfect for business travelers and with the number of guests that fill the lounge during peak hours, their increased bandwidth serves them well.

 

Conclusion

Overall this was a pretty decent lounge. Delta could definitely improve certain aspects such as adding hot breakfast items, adding a couple of desktop computers, etc. If you need to spread out and get some work done, this is a decent place for that. As an AMEX Platinum credit card holder, would I recommend someone pay $29 to accompany me to this lounge? No, I would not. I would give this the nod over most United Clubs I have visited but it’s simply not at the level of a Centurion Lounge and it has a long way to go before it gets there. Since Terminals B and C are not physically connected at LaGuardia, you do have to take a shuttle between the two. The one advantage the Sky Club has is that it located past security unlike the Centurion Lounge. This removes the fear of having to deal with a long security line after exiting. I would rate this lounge a 3.8/5 with a strong potential to improve if Delta makes a few changes.

Review: The Updated Centurion Lounge Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

The Centurion Lounge at DFW moved to a larger 12,000 square feet space in September of 2018, expanding their footprint by an additional 3,000 feet. Their old lounge was excellent but it certainly felt crowded at times so the additional space should help alleviate that. Rather than going up the escalator to enter the lounge as it was previously, you will find the entrance to the lounge on the ground floor. This will lead to an elevator which you take to the second floor to enter the lounge. To enter the lounge, you need to be a holder of the AMEX Platinum Card, AMEX Business Platinum Card, or the AMEX Centurion Card. Other AMEX cards won’t get you in.

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Food (Breakfast)

My wife, son, and I were here during breakfast hours and I remember how great the spread was the last time I was here back in 2017. The items may have changed but the breakfast was still awesome.

Breads

The sweet corn muffins were excellent. My wife loved the oatmeal with granola.

Granola

fruits

Centurion Lounge always delivers with their fresh fruit offerings.

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Salsa and tortilla chips for breakfast? Why not?

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Goat cheese egg frittata.  This was the best part of having breakfast here. Delicious and you’re probably going to get up for a second serving.

In addition to the items pictured above, there was also pancakes and fresh juice. Since there were multiple people behind me, I refrained from taking a picture at that particular time.

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The espresso machine can make a variety of beverages. I got their latte and it was delicious.

Seating Area

As you would expect with the lounge that has expanded by more than 3,000 square feet, seating was plentiful and not once did I feel like the lounge was overcrowded. Certain sections of the lounge were more trafficked than others but in general, there was plenty of seats for everyone.

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They had different types of lighting to suit everyone’s needs.

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Bar area

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Conference table

Business

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For those that need a conference room, Centurion DFW has one.

Kids Room

This is one of my favorite aspects of this lounge. They had a dedicated children’s playroom and it was perfect for my 5-month-old son as he was able to enjoy his first ever visit to an airport lounge.

 

 

Miscellaneous

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The restrooms were clean and there was also a dedicated shower area that you could utilize upon request at the front desk.

This lounge also has a spa where they give you a complimentary massage. I forgot to measure the Wi-Fi speed but I can assure you it was fast. I have not visited a Centurion Lounge where connectivity was slow. The old Centurion Lounge was among my favorites and AMEX has delivered and improved the experience at their newly renovated Centurion Lounge at DFW. Just keep in mind, AMEX no longer allows passengers who have landed at their final destination city to use a Centurion Lounge in that particular city. Prior to the rule change, if Dallas was your final destination, you could still visit by showing your boarding pass.  I think this is a fair rule change to alleviate crowding concerns. AMEX also won’t allow you in if your departure time is more than 3 hours away. I believe this is also a change for the better. As far as this lounge, it scores a perfect 5/5 and continues to be my favorite Centurion Lounge I have visited thus far. There are a few others under construction and I’m looking forward to visiting the one in JFK once it opens later this year. That lounge will be the largest Centurion Lounge at 15,000 square feet.

Chase Adds JetBlue as a Transfer Partner, Loses Korean Airlines

Chase added JetBlue as an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner today, a few days after losing Korean Airlines. JetBlue is one of my favorite U.S. airlines and one of the few that isn’t packing their planes with seats at the expense of leg-room. They provide free in-flight Wi-Fi, free cable TV, and serve gourmet snacks on the flight. I have not flown on their transcontinental premium cabin called Mint just yet.  It is a product which many travel enthusiasts have rated as the best business class service for domestic flights in the U.S. JetBlue routinely has flash sales and when the cash price of a ticket is cheap, so is the redemption using their frequent flier miles for that particular flight. If you’re based in the Boston, NYC, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles areas where JetBlue has a vast network, you will benefit from this partnership the most. You can transfer UR points into JetBlue if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you have the AMEX Platinum or Gold, you can also transfer AMEX Membership points. Most of the time, the transfer rate is 1000 AMEX points for 800 JetBlue TrueBlue miles (right now its 1:1 as a promotion) so I would advise against using the AMEX option at the non-promotional rate. Chase has it as 1:1 but also remember to use the Chase Portal and see if you can get a better redemption if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You get 1.5 points per mile by booking through their portal and it’s certainly possible that the UR travel portal may be the better redemption option versus transferring to JetBlue.

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Unfortunately, this comes a few days after the news that Chase has dropped Korean Airlines as one of their transfer partners. For international and long-haul travel, this was a very valuable SkyTeam transfer partner as you were able to get great travel redemption’s on SkyTeam alliance partners such as Delta, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Aerolineas Argentinas, and non-alliance partners such as Emirates. From the continental U.S., it was possible to fly from the East Coast to Hawaii for 25k miles round-trip, a bargain when you consider the cash price frequently tops $1k. Here is to hoping that Chase adds another transfer partner that has a vast international network such as Korean Airlines.

Review: The Langham, New York City

Thanks to my cousin Salma Hatia for this detailed review on The Langham.

This was my 2nd time staying at the Langham in NYC, but my 1st time staying at the Langham as an AMEX Platinum Member—which was a whole new experience! Don’t get me wrong, I had a great first stay, it was what I expected for a 5-star hotel, however as an AMEX member I felt like the experience was so much better—like, seriously, who was I?When I checked-in, they immediately upgraded me to an executive suite with a kitchen on the 21st floor because I was an AMEX Platinum member. Along with the upgrade, they told me that I had a $100 credit to use on whatever I wanted, like the spa or room service, complimentary breakfast for 2 at their Michelin-star restaurant, Ai Fiori, and late checkout at 4pm, which was clutch because our flight was at 5:30pm on Sunday.

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When we went up to our room the first thing me and my cousin immediately noticed was the view through the large windows—we were able to see down 5th avenue and we could see the beautiful Chrysler building.

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View of Bank of America Tower and the Conde Naste Building (with H&M sign)

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Beautiful view of the Chrysler building and looking down on Fifth Avenue

The 2nd thing we noticed was that we had a powder room—when does that ever happen? Needless to say, we had more than enough room. We even had some of our friends and cousins come up to hang out with us in the room, 6 adults and a baby were hanging out comfortably. All the cafes around us were closed, so we ordered lattes from room service (using my $100 of credit) and they were excellent!

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Full kitchen via AMEX Platinum upgrade

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Views of Manhattan from the bathroom

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Soap, shampoo, and conditioner were all Chuan, a holistic proprietary brand owned by Langham

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Another huge selling point for the Langham is their location. The hotel is centrally located in Manhattan, so we were able to walk to most of our destinations on Saturday. We walked to Washington Square Park, Times Square, and the Highline. The next day, we had to check out by 4pm and catch our flight at 5:30pm so we didn’t have a lot of time to waste. We woke up at 8am and called the doorman to arrange a ride to central park at 11am using the hotel car service (which is free!).

Pro Tip: The hotel has a Jaguar that will drop you off wherever you want to go up until 59th street, they start taking appointments in the morning at 8 am, and it is on a first come first serve basis.

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Jaguar that’s provided for guests of The Langham

After we had our ride set up, we got ready and cashed in on our complimentary breakfast at Ai Fiori—which was phenomenal! My cousin and I decided to order a couple of things and share. We ordered the buttermilk pancakes, uova in purgatorio, and the house potatoes —everything was phenomenal. You can see the picture below.

Breakfast

If you asked me what the stay was like after my first time, I would’ve said it was great—all the basics of a 5-star hotel. But, staying here as an AMEX platinum member really made this experience next-level amazing, to say the least! It is rare to have a travel experience where you don’t find yourself compromising on something, whether it be the room, service, or location. But I can truly say that there was no compromising at the Langham NYC, everything was at the top of its game—the room, the service, the amenities, the location, and the (free) food were all a 5 out of 5.

 

How to Avoid Ticketing Fees on Last Minute Award Redemptions

For all you last-minute travelers/procrastinators, there are many frequent flier programs that penalize travelers if they book an award redemption close to the departure date. For example, if you book a ticket using miles on either American or United and your departure date is less than 21 days away, you will have to pay a $75 ticketing fee. Sometimes this fee will wipe out the value of a redemption and on the rare occasion, it will be more than the entire cost of the ticket were you to pay in cash. Delta doesn’t charge a ticketing fee but will charge additional 5k points per one way ticket (and even more for business class). Alaska Airlines does not charge a close-in ticketing fee and neither does JetBlue.  Southwest does not charge a ticketing fee but the number of miles required will increase significantly. If you have status with an airline, that might be enough to skirt around the close-in booking fees. There are a couple of ways to bypass the close-in fee and I’ll demonstrate how.

Using British Airways to Book on American Airlines

  • I talked about the benefits of using British Airways Avios to book on American Airlines here.
  • One valuable aspect of British Airways Avios is the ability to redeem it on American Airlines as close to a few hours prior to departure.
  • British Airways has a distance based chart so certain redemptions can be made using fewer miles.
  • If economy saver award tickets are available on AA.com, they will usually be accessible through British Airways.

Here is an example of the exact same flight from Albany, NY to Chicago (ORD) and the costs associated with the two different programs.

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ALB2ORDAA

If I were to book this one-way ticket using AA miles, the cost is $12,500 miles plus a $75 ticketing fee (the mandatory 9/11 security fee is $5.60 making it $80.60). Now let’s see the price using British Airways Avios…..

ALB2ORDBA

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No $75 ticketing fee and only 7.5k Avios as opposed to the 12.5k AA miles that would have been required. It is important to note that if you have a connecting flight, it will cost double the Avios for a trip since BA charges 7.5k per segment. I’d still rather dish out 15k Avios rather than 12.5k AA miles with the $75 ticketing fee tacked on.

Using Singapore Krisflyer Miles to Book on United

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If I want to book a one-way flight to Chicago for this Friday using United miles, it’s 12.5k miles + $80.60

  • Similar to AA’s policy, United also charges a $75 ticketing fee for flights booked within 21 days of departure.
  • Singapore Airlines allows you to book via United up until 24 hours prior to departure if saver award redemptions are available on United.
  • Unlike the American Airlines example, this ticket cannot be booked online. You need to call Singapore Airlines reservations and they will book it for you. Just make sure you have a Singapore Krisflyer frequent flier account set up prior to calling.

Both British Airways and Singapore Airlines are transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Singapore Airlines is also a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou points. If you are booking on United Airlines via Singapore miles, DO NOT transfer any points into Singapore Airlines until you have confirmed seat availability for your travel dates on United. Transfers into an airline’s frequent flier program are not reversible.

Wide Open Award Availability to Maui on Delta Airlines via Flying Blue

Even though the cost of airfare has gotten much cheaper over the last decade to places such as Europe, destinations like Hawaii still have round-trip airfare that routinely exceeds 4 digits. Due to its location, Hawaii does not have service from an ultra low-cost airline such as Spirit or Frontier.  This, in theory, would bring down airfare from legacy carriers such as American, Delta, and United. Southwest has announced that they will start service to Hawaii later this year but the impact it will have on airfare remains to be seen. With that being said, there are still sweet spots within award travel that can get you to Hawaii for bargain redemptions. If you’re a holder of the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred, American Express Platinum or Gold, or the Citi Prestige credit card, you also have the ability to transfer those points into Air France and KLM’s frequent flier program called Flying Blue. If you search up award tickets on http://www.flyingblue.com, you will see plenty of award availability on their Sky Team partner, Delta Airlines, to Maui from coast to coast. A one-way ticket can be had for just 15k points or 30k round trip per person. Here are some examples of the award tickets I found for April and May:

 

New York City (JFK) to Maui

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Plenty of dates available for 15k departing JFK to Maui with a layover in Los Angeles or Seattle

 

Maui to New York City (JFK)

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Multiple days for the trip back can found for 15k points

 

Chicago (ORD) to Maui

ORD2OGG

 

Maui to Chicago (ORD)

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Los Angeles (LAX) to Maui

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Los Angeles has plenty of days for the 15k award redemption. Possibly the most of any city

 

Maui to Los Angeles (LAX)

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If you have any the aforementioned credit cards and have accumulated enough points, this would be a great way to get to Hawaii. If you don’t have any of the above credit cards but you’re interested in one, make sure you apply only when you are certain you are going to be spending enough over a 3 month period to get the bonus points. For example, both Chase cards require $4k spending over 3 months to get the 50,000 point bonus while American Express varies depending on the time of the year. The bonus from these cards can put you right on the doorstep for a trip to Hawaii.

Lounge Reviews: Centurion Lounges at Miami International Airport and Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport

Over the last 10 days, I was fortunate to transit through two airports that feature a Centurion Lounge. You can read about the Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport right here and the Centurion Lounge at Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport right here.

Lounge Review: Centurion Lounge Buenos Aires Ezeiza Aiport

Over the last few months, I’ve been quite fortunate to transit through airports that feature an AMEX Centurion Lounge. Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina happened to be another one of those airports. Centurion Lounge access is complimentary for those holding an American Express Platinum card. You can read about the benefits of the AMEX Platinum card right here. Cardholders are also allowed to bring in two guests so my wife also benefited.

This lounge is located in Terminal C past immigration/customs and security. Take the elevator or stairs up to the second floor right past gate 15 and you will find the lounge entrance. entranceBA

Upon entering the lounge, the staff at the front desk will ask for your AMEX Platinum card and boarding pass. Once they have that verified, you’re good to go.

FoodBA

The food options were sweet croissants, wheat and white bread, cheese, pastrami sandwiches, and banana nut muffins with powdered sugar. Not quite the selection I’ve seen at other Centurion Lounges but certainly better than many non-Centurion Lounges I’ve visited. Fresh orange juice and apple juice were also available.

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The beverage cooler was fully stocked with soft drinks and adult beverages.

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Common area

This lounge had plenty of seating and did not suffer from being overcrowded when I was there. Perhaps traveling on a Sunday which also happened to be New Year’s Eve had a lot to do with that.

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Dining area of the lounge

One thing I noticed and appreciated about this lounge was the attentiveness of the staff. They would check on tables every 2-3 minutes to make sure any dishes and soda bottles and cans were removed.

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Plenty of empty seats in the common area. Big time plus

I loved these seating areas that had pseudo curtains. Nice touch

 

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The lounge was equipped with Apple iMac’s. It might be the first lounge I’ve seen featuring Apple. Being a long time Apple guy, I appreciated this.

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They had a room for the kids as well. Centurion Lounge is doing a hell of a job making their lounges kid friendly. I didn’t want to take pics in there while kids were there (that would be creepy) so I waited until it emptied out.  During my 2 hours there, it was certainly being utilized for most of that time.

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Great job by AMEX for remembering the population that may become future AMEX Platinum cardholders.

 

 

SpeedTestBA

The internet speed was very solid. Fast enough for business travelers and certainly fast enough for casual browsing.  Great job AMEX.

Overall, I’d give this lounge a 4.5/5. It could use a slightly enhanced food selection but it scored well on everything else. Plenty of seats, spacious,  Apple iMac’s, playroom for children, and solid WiFi speeds. The staff was very friendly and really worked hard at keeping the lounge free of clutter. If you’re an AMEX Platinum card holder and you’re flying out of Buenos Aires (EZE), be sure to give this lounge a visit.

Lounge Review: Centurion Lounge Miami International Airport

Prior to my flight to Buenos Aires Argentina, I had some free time at Miami International Airport. I heard many great things about the Centurion Lounge at MIA so as an AMEX Platinum card holder, I figured I might as well give it a visit.

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This lounge can be found on the fourth floor of the north terminal near gate D12.  If you have been to the Centurion Lounge in Dallas, this one offers some of the same services and amenities. It’s roomy and there is plenty of space available. First thing I did (like I do at every lounge), I surveyed the food offerings.  Since there were many people in front of me and behind me, I didn’t want to act like a first timer and take pics (I’m really sorry). But the offerings were lamb, Indian style chickpeas or chole, salad, brown rice, and apple crumble for the dessert. I sampled everything but the lamb and found everything to be delicious. Again, I wish I took pictures and perhaps next time I won’t care whether people are around me. The espresso machine had various offerings such as latte, cappuccino, espresso, etc.

 

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If you are more of a tea person, they had you covered as well

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As I mentioned above, there is plenty of seating available. Many of them give you access to USB and plug outlets. The cushioned seats are very comfortable if you need to stay there for a few hours.

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If you want to sit near a window and airplane watch, plenty of room for that as well.

 

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Shower availability is really convenient for those who have arrived from a far away destination and want to freshen up before a connection onward.

 

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You can even get a manicure and pedicure done in the lounge

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I love the family room aspect of the lounge. Keeps the kids busy while the adults can adult.  I wish more lounges would do this.

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This was my one major issue with this lounge. The internet speed is unacceptable for a brand that touts itself as business friendly. Those are some dial-up caliber speeds that I encountered and in my two hours spent at the lounge, the speed only got worse.

 

CenturionSpeedTest

 

Overall, I’d rate this lounge a 4/5. It has just about all the comfort, food offerings, and amenities you would need in a lounge. It gets knocked down a point due to poor WiFi connectivity. If that issue is addressed, this lounge would be a perfect 5. Fix it American Express!

Credit Card Review: American Express Platinum

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The AMEX Platinum currently has a 60k membership points bonus if you spend $5k within the first 3 months of opening the account. This card also has a steep annual fee of $550 (not waived the first year) so it’s not for everyone. The 60k points could easily net you $1,200 worth of travel and cover your annual fee for 2 years if you didn’t derive any other benefit the card offers. AMEX membership points can be transferred to a multitude of airlines and hotels.  I received an upgrade offer from AMEX a few months back that offered 60k points and I jumped on it. I still rate the Chase Sapphire Reserve as the best among the premium credit cards. However, the  AMEX Platinum might actually be of greater value for some of you. Here are some of the benefits you can get with the AMEX Platinum:

1) 60k bonus points after spending $5k over the first 3 months

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AMEX Membership Rewards points have a lot of value because of the multitude of airlines and hotels they have as transfer partners. Among the airline partners: Delta, Etihad, Emirates, Singapore, British Airways, Iberia, Air France/KLM (via Flying Blue), etc. Hotel transfer partners include Starwood, Hilton, and Choice hotels.

 

2) Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check

global entry      tsaprecheck

AMEX will reimburse you the $100 fee for Global Entry or $85 for TSA pre-check. If you are in a major metro area, Global Entry is the way to go since it automatically gives you TSA pre-check. I’ve had TSA pre-check for about a year now and saves you from the inconvenience of taking off your shoes, removing your laptop/electronics from your carry, and going through X-ray machines.  Plain and simple, it saves a lot of time. Both of them are good for 5 years.

 

3.  $200 in annual airline fee credits

For this benefit, you have to select a particular airline and you would get reimbursed for incidental fees such as checked bag fees, in-flight internet, and in-flight food purchases. It’s not nearly as valuable as Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit, which covers everything from airfare, hotels, tolls, parking fees, etc. However, there is a way to get around this if you desire credit towards airfare instead. If you use this card to purchase $200 worth of American Airlines gift cards from AA.com, AMEX will treat it as an incidental purchase and credit you back the $200. Here is a screen shot below:

AMEXAA

It only took two days for them to reimburse me and I was able to put the gift cards to use a month later. I don’t think this trick works for any other airline. This was far more beneficial in my opinion since I don’t end up checking-in $200 worth of bags in any given year.

 

4. $200 Uber credit annually

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This is a really nice perk that can really help offset the annual fee for those who find themselves using Uber on a regular basis. AMEX gives you $15 Uber credit for each month and in December, they give you an extra $20. Just link the AMEX card with your Uber account and use that as the method of payment.

 

5. Complimentary Boingo Hotspot

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We still live in a world where many airports still don’t offer complimentary wifi access for more than a half hour.  If you don’t find yourself transiting through one of these airports often, this perk may not be a huge deal. However, if you’re frequently traveling or connecting through airports such as Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway, NYC’s LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark, or LAX in Los Angeles, this might be of great value. These airports offer complimentary low speed wifi for 30-45 minutes. By the time your website is done loading, you have half the time left. This perk allows you to have complimentary access to Boingo’s higher speed internet, which would usually costs $7.95 per use.

 

6. Complimentary Access to AMEX Centurion Lounge

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If you are a traveler that routinely transits through New York’s LaGuardia, Seattle-Tacoma, Miami, Dallas (DFW), Houston (Bush Intercontinental), San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Philadelphia, having Centurion lounge access is an awesome perk to have. You get complimentary drinks, snacks, meals, massages (DFW), really high speed wifi, and a place where you can unwind between flights or just get some work done. You can also bring two guests free of charge. To get an idea of what the Centurion Lounge is like, you can read my review of the lounges at LaGuardia and Dallas-Fort Worth right here and here.

 

7. Complimentary Access to Priority Pass Lounges

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Here is another valuable perk to have if you find yourself at airports that have lounges that are part of Priority Pass.  Priority Pass has over 1,000 lounges at airports all over the world. There are even restaurants such as Timberline’s Steak and Grille (Denver International Airport) that are a part of Priority Pass. At Timberline’s, each guest gets $28 worth of credit towards food. So you and two guests can actually get $84 off an entire check.

 

8. Complimentary Access to Delta Sky Club (When Flying on Delta)

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If you fly on Delta frequently,  add this to the list of perks that comes with the Platinum Card. You would have access to Delta Sky Club lounges from coast to coast. Just show them your boarding pass and AMEX Platinum card and you’re in.

 

        9. Gold Status for Hilton and Starwood Hotels

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If you play your hand right, this benefit can cover the entire cost of an annual fee and then some. Having Hilton Gold status makes you eligible for free upgrades at any Hilton Hotel. You also get complimentary breakfast and high speed WiFi.  A couple of months back, my wife and I took a trip to Maldives and stayed at the Conrad in Rangali Island. Hilton gave us a complimentary upgrade from a water villa to a retreat water villa during our 4 nights there. The value of our upgrade was over $500. This doesn’t even include the complimentary breakfast, lunch, and mocktails we enjoyed as Hilton Gold members.  Add that to the value of the upgrade and we derived well over $700 worth of value simply by having Hilton Gold status.  I haven’t put the status to use at any Starwood hotels just yet, but I’ll keep you posted if I do.

 

10. Earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on Flights Booked Directly with Airlines or via AMEX Travel

This is the highest earning credit card for booking flights. You also earn 5X the points for booking a hotel through AMEX Travel. For the flights, you can’t book it via Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, or any other third party site. For the hotels, it has to be booked via AMEX travel.  I’m really hoping in the future they just give you the 5X for all travel related purchases. Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 3X Ultimate Reward points on anything travel related. It doesn’t matter if you booked on Expedia or directly from the hotel/airline.

 

 

 

If you are going to apply for the the card, do it during a time when you know you’ll be spending $5k over 3 months. Due to its exorbitant annual fee, this card isn’t a long term keeper for a leisure traveler who only travels once or twice a year or an individual who doesn’t travel for work. If you find yourself in a scenario where you can derive the benefits and perks routinely, this card can be extremely rewarding.