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.
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.
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.
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.
The beverage cooler was fully stocked with soft drinks and adult beverages.
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.
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.
I loved these seating areas that had pseudo curtains. Nice touch
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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.
If you are an AMEX Platinum card holder, one of the best perks that comes with the card is complimentary Centurion Lounge access to any of the locations across the US. Platinum card holders are also allowed to bring two guests free of charge. If you were to pay for access, one day passes cost $50 per person.
The Centurion Lounge at New York’s LaGuardia airport is located on the 3rd floor in terminal B. The lounge is located pre-security and the staff will recommend you depart the lounge and arrive at security 45 minutes prior to departure, particularly if you don’t have TSA pre-check.
It might be a bit confusing at first but you will see many signs that point you towards to the elevators that take you up to the 3rd floor.
When you enter the lounge, the friendly staff at the member services desk will ask you for your AMEX Platinum card, a form of ID, and your boarding pass. Once you’re in, your free to move about. The first thing I checked out was the food options……
If you arrive at the lounge between 10 am and 6 pm, personal space might be difficult to find. I was fortunate to find an empty sofa my second time visiting this lounge. No such luck during the first visit.
If you have the AMEX Platinum card and you have a layover or some time to kill, the Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia is worth checking out. This is especially true if you are laying over or departing from terminal B. This lounge has a decent food and drink selection, comfortable personal space (if available), free WiFi, and staff that will do everything they can to make your stay comfortable. It’s also a great spot to get work done. One drawback for this lounge is that it is located pre-security. I would highly recommend taking a glance at the security lines prior to going to the lounge so you have a better idea on when to depart the lounge and arrive at security.
Although I have not been to the United or American Airlines Admirals lounge at LGA, I have heard anecdotally from people who have that the Centurion Lounge beats them in food and comfort. Perhaps in the not too distant future, I will have a chance to visit one or both and give a detailed review. In the next day or two, I’ll post a review of my recent experience at the Centurion Lounge at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.