I had an opportunity to see American Express Centurion lounge Miami last night and try the food since I was invited to the pre-opening party there.
American Express has begun operating their own network of “Centurion lounges,” which are a step above what travelers have become accustomed to from US airline-operated lounges.
The American Express Centurion Lounge Miami – which officially opens on Thursday June 4 – is the 5th in the U.S.
The others are:
There’s an additional known lounge with a more modest concept coming to Seattle in just a few weeks. And more airport leases are being negotiated.
How to Access the American Express Centurion Lounge Miami
American Express cardholders with a same-day boarding pass can access based on their card type as follows:
- Centurion and Platinum cardholders: Cardmember may bring in their spouse and children or two guests
- Other American Express cardholders: $50 per adult (children complimentary when accompanied by paying adult)
The lounge is located in the North Terminal which primarily services American Airlines. It’s at gate D14, adjacent from one of the two Admirals Clubs in the D terminal.
There’s an elevator bank up to the fourth floor where the lounge is located.
The entryway, being scooped up the elevator and into a different world than the ret of the Miami airport is dramatic — but in my view not as dramatic as the entry to the San Francisco lounge.
When you walk in you’ll face a check-in desk with the signature American Express ‘living wall’ behind it.
The space overall, and the furnishings, are unmistakably in the ‘Centurion lounge’ style and consistent with the other US lounges, although with its own unique art (no life sized photo of Meatloaf here).
The single most striking thing for me about the Miami lounge is its views. There are floor to ceiling glass views overlooking airport operations and spanning across much of the lounge.
My only concern about the lounge is crowding. While the amount of seating during the pre-opening was limited, to facilitate standing interaction (and with some areas closed off for staff to us, and as a private area because apparently there were a couple of ‘Housewives of Miami’ and another tv star in attendance but I had no idea who they were), my biggest reason for concern over seating is just that the terminal is large and American’s operations are significant.
The American lounges are hugely overcrowded in Miami, I often can’t find a seat in either the D15 or D30 Admirals Clubs. I expect that this lounge will get busy too. Still, the lounge is about the square footage of San Francisco’s and has more seating than San Francisco does.
There are seating areas immediately to your right and left when you enter the lounge, these are the best bets for finding seating when the lounge gets crowded because many people will miss them. These are semi-circular areas and one side has views into the terminal.
There’s a missed opportunity in outdoor space off the bar — there’s even a (locked) door there. I’m sure if there was any way to work out using the space American Express would have found it. But it taunts me.
Food & Beverage
Centurion lounges in the US each pair with a local celebrity chef, and the Miami’s lounge’s chef is Michelle Bernstein. I loved the original brisket in Dallas, the chicken at New York LaGuardia. But I think the opening dishes here are some of the best they’ve done at a Centurion lounge.
Apparently the menu concept has changed. When the Centurion lounges opened they had a set menu, and varied them seasonally. There’s no longer a fixed menu that you’ll get every day. Instead there may be as many as 60 total items that they will vary throughout the week so that frequent visitors don’t see the same time on each visit. That, to me, is an improvement especially with the number of times I go through the Dallas lounge.
The opening menu will stay consistent over the first month in Miami, as they get used to their routine, and I’m told the full set of items the kitchen produces will transition every six months.
I thought that the beef short rib, and the chicken, were both fantastic. The chicken was fried, boneless, and I got a sense of black pepper and cumin. The mint pea soup was really interesting as well.
I didn’t get a chance to try the salads. (This wasn’t a sit down dinner like they did for the pre-openings at LaGuardia and San Francisco, and as a result I didn’t try much.)
There was dessert, but I didn’t try that either.
There’s a consistent basic wine menu now across Centurion lounges, with some small variation by lounge. They’ve taken feedback based on which wines customers ask after. And they’ve learned to present the grape varietals first in descriptions, people want to understand wine by type of grape rather than the name of the wine.
Variation by lounge is contingent on what they’re allowed to bring into the airport — where they can buy from, and at what price, some airports have restrictions that all retailers have to have access to the same bottles at the same prices which limits the ability for American Express to negotiate discounts with local wineries.
The lounge’s wine menu for the night was actually incomplete, as not everything had cleared TSA yet.
Centurion (Black Card) cardmembers have access to one thing that Platinum and other American cardholders do not: better champagne.
Kids Room, Shower Room, and Spa
The Miami lounge features a kids room like Dallas, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
There are combination lock lockers near the entryway.
There’s a shower room, and in the bathrooms the toileteries are L’Occitane.
Like Dallas, the Miami lounge features an Exhale spa.
A New Favorite Lounge?
I love the ‘wine wall’ with fantastic wines in the San Francisco Centurion lounge. I visit Dallas Fort-Worth most often. The Star Alliance lounge in the Tom Bradley terminal at LAX has that outdoor seating area, with fire. So in an absolute sense the Miami lounge – while certainly ‘best in the Southeast’ – may not be my favorite overall.
However for sheer contrast with the rest of the terminal I may like the American Express Centurion Lounge Miami best. If a lounge provides an escape, an alternative to what’s offered in the airport, then there are few places where a quality lounge offers such a stark difference as this American Express Centurion Lounge Miami. It’s precisely that gap with the rest of the airport that makes it special.