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American Express has announced that its next international Centurion Lounge will open at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 in 2019. This will be Amex’s first Centurion Lounge in Europe and the first international lounge to be opened since the Hong Kong Centurion Lounge opened in October 2017.
London Heathrow Amex Centurion Lounge
The new Amex Centurion Lounge will be located past security in Heathrow Terminal 3 and, according to Amex, will “offer an exceptional level of luxury including the premium facilities and services that Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers have come to expect“.
The card issuer has also said that the lounge will come with a “bespoke offering specific to the UK”….which presumably could be anything from a Gin bar to afternoon tea service to a pair of Beefeaters guarding the entrance 🙂
Amex says that the choice of Heathrow for a Centurion Lounge makes logical sense when you consider how many of their Platinum and Centurion card holders pass through the airport every year.
Few details about the lounge have been released but we do know that it will cover 7,000 square feet which, to give you some perspective, will make it a little over half the size of the Qantas lounge in the same terminal.
As is the case will all Centurion Lounges the London space will offer complimentary food and drinks, shower facilities, wi-fi and work areas…but apparently it will also feature “curated amenities influenced by British hospitality, culture and style“….which could mean just about anything.
Access to the London American Express Centurion Lounge will be for Platinum and Centurion card holders only. Platinum Card holders will be allowed two guests while Centurion Card holders will be allowed to bring in immediate family or up to two guests.
London Pop-Up Centurion Lounge
American Express is bringing back the concept of an end of year pop-up lounge that we first saw in 2017….only this year the space being used is slightly bigger.
Amex has hired out Unit 6, Langley Street near Covent Garden in the heart of London which will open as a pop-up Centurion Lounge from 13 to 16 December between 11:00 and 18:00 on all four days.
The pop-up lounge will offer some respite from the hoards of shoppers outside and will provide complimentary snacks and beverages, a gift wrapping service, charging stations and family programming (whatever that is).
As with the full-sized Centurion Lounges, access to the pop-up is for Platinum and Centurion card holders only with each being allowed to bring two guests.
The American Express Centurion lounges were a breath of fresh air when they bust upon the scene here in the US a few years back because they were so much better than the regular airline lounges/clubs that we had sadly become accustomed to.
The spaces looked modern and fresh (not something one would readily associate with a large number of Admirals Clubs back then!), the food was complimentary and edible, the drinks were good and the staff smiled…it was a good time to be an Amex cardholder.
Over the years, however, the Centurion Lounges have become victims of their own popularity and overcrowding has become a serious issue (to a point where I don’t bother visiting the Miami lounge any more). Amex has attempted to address this by changing the entry criteria (anyone with Amex card could buy entry at one point) but things haven’t really got any better…there are just too many Platinum card holders using these lounges and they appear to be bringing in too many guests.
The good news is that I don’t expect this to be an issue in London.
Terminal 3 needs a new good airport lounge about as much as Donald Trump needs his confidence boosting – the choices in place are already pretty good. The Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge is reasonably new and not a bad place to relax, the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge may be on the small side but is still a great place to spend some time before a flight, the Qantas First/Business Class lounge is almost 14,000 square feet in size, sits across two floors and serves a great G&T and, just in case you have to rely on Priority Pass to get you into a lounge, the No.1 Lounge is pretty good too (although it can get crowded).
I suspect that a lot of flyers who would traditionally choose the Centurion Lounges over the airline lounges in the US won’t be quite so quick to do the same in London – this may be the first Centurion Lounge that isn’t an abomination during peak times.
Another thing to bear in mind is that Amex may have to make a bit more effort with its London location that it has had to here in the US. Most Centurion Lounges in the US are comfortably the best lounges in their terminals/concourses but there’s going to be some actual real competition at Heathrow Terminal 3 – it will be interesting to see how Amex handles that.
It’s good to see London getting a Centurion Lounge at last and I guess it’s being located in T3 because that’s where a lot of US-bound flights depart from (Delta, Virgin Atlantic & American Airlines are all tenants at T3)….but this isn’t going to be a game changer like other Centurion Lounges have been.
T3 already has a number of very good lounges that flyers can use so the Heathrow Centurion lounge will only be of real significance to four types of traveler:
- Platinum/Centurion card holders who don’t have access to oneworld lounges
- Platinum/Centurion card holders who ordinarily have access to the oneworld lounges but aren’t flying on a oneworld airline
- Platinum/Centurion card holders who need to guest two people into a lounge
- Centurion card holders who need to be able to guest their immediate family (2+) into a lounge
Considering the nature of Platinum/Centurion card holders and the nature of the flights departing from Heathrow T3 I don’t expect there to be a large number of the travelers (of the types listed above) passing through Heathrow on a daily basis….and that should be good news for anyone using the new Centurion lounge because they may actually be able to find a seat.