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American Express has just let me know that the Centurion Lounge at LAX (in the Tom Bradley International Terminal) will be reopening its doors today. Unlike a lot of other Centurion Lounge reopenings, however, the LAX Centurion Lounge’s reopening will be far from normal.
So far, American Express has reopened 8 of its Centurion Lounges around the United States and as far as I can tell, all of these lounges are open in full. Yes, these lounges all have restrictions in place to allow for social distancing and there are new procedures in place to help reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus but, to all intents and purposes, the lounges are open for guests.
That’s not the case for the LAX Centurion Lounge.
Amex says that due to local government directives, the Centurion Lounge at LAX is not allowed to offer in-lounge seating or dining so, in effect, it’s not actually allowed to operate as a lounge at all. Instead, the lounge will be offering what American Express describes as “grab-and-go pre-packaged food and beverage options for Card Members to enjoy outside of the lounge“.
I have no doubt that there will be a chorus of “this is ridiculous” from certain segments of the population and there will almost certainly be a vociferous condemnation of the local authorities (by some) for keeping rules in place that don’t allow the LAX Centurion Lounge to open in full…but I don’t really care about any of that.
I have two main thoughts/questions here:
- If the local authorities don’t think the lounge should be fully open then that’s fine with me. I’m not in possession of the facts that they have at their disposal so I’m not about to start criticizing them for their stance.
- What is it about the LAX Centurion Lounge that means it can’t allow eligible cardholders to remain inside when, according to the American Airlines website, its Admiral’s Club in the adjacent terminal is apparently open for guests?
I haven’t been able to find out the answer to my own question (update below) but I have to assume that there is some key difference between the LAX Centurion Lounge and the Admiral’s Club at LAX T4 that means one can accept guests while the other cannot.
Update 3 November 2020: This is the response provided by American Express when asked why select lounges at LAX are allowing guests to enter and stay but the LAX Centurion Lounge can not/will not:
“The priority is the health and safety of our Card Members and colleagues. We work closely with local governments, health authorities and our airport partners to ensure we’re following state and local health and safety guidelines. We will continue to evaluate these practices on an ongoing basis and adapt as needed.”
That doesn’t really shed any more light on this situation so, for now, I feel I have to give Amex the benefit of the doubt.
Assuming that local restrictions really are the reason the Centurion Lounge can’t open and that this isn’t a case of Amex hiding behind the local rules, some kudos is due here.
It doesn’t sound like Amex had to open the LAX Centurion Lounge but it chose to do so anyway (albeit in a very limited manner). It looks like it would have been incredibly easy for Amex to say that the local rules made it impossible for the lounge to reopen and, assuming that’s really the case, no one could really have argued with that. Instead, however, it has chosen to find a way to offer a service to cardholders in the Tom Bradley Terminal while keeping in line with the local restrictions.
Is this a perfect outcome? Of course not…but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Amex appears to have made a genuine effort here to give its premium cardholders at LAX what service it can. That’s something that deserves some praise.
Who Can Access Amex Centurion Lounges?
Access is restricted to the following cardholders:
- Platinum Cardholders
- Business Platinum Cardholders
- Centurion Members
- Delta Skymiles Reserve Cardholders
- Delta Skymiles Reserve Business Cardholders
Holders of various American Express Platinum Cards and Centurion Members can access the lounges together with up to two guests regardless of what airline they’re flying with.
Delta Skymiles Reserve Cardholders (both varieties) can only access the Centurion Lounges when flying with Delta.
For flyers originating at an airport with a Centurion Lounge, access is granted a maximum of 3 hours before their scheduled departure time. For flyers connecting at an airport with a Centurion Lounge, that limitation is waived.
The LAX Centurion Lounge is reopening its doors today but only to allow it to offer eligible cardholders a takeaway food and beverage service. Local rules are apparently preventing the lounge from reopening as normal so it looks like we’ll have to wait for those rules to be changed or lifted before the lounge will reopen fully.