American Express Centurion Lounge Coming to Chicago O’Hare Soon?

Earlier in the month an alert reader spotted a popup American Express Centurion lounge display at LAX. That turned out to foretell a coming Centurion Lounge at the airport, at least according to an LAX employee newsletter.

Alert reader @tarheeljason tweeted me about an even more extensive popup at Chicago O’Hare.

I asked American Express spokesperson Melanie Backs about the display, and she responded:

We’re doing 2 pop up events, one in Chicago and another in Seattle. They are meant to promote the Centurion Lounge Network and spread a little Amex Holiday Cheer to travelers.

We’ll be doing a series of Holiday events in our official Centurion Lounges as well starting in December.

As with LAX, Chicago is also an important hub for our Card Members. We’d love to have a Centurion Lounge there if we can find the right space.

I passed through Seattle yesterday and didn’t notice a pop up there. I did visit the Centurion Studio and found it fairly empty (granted a Tuesday mid-afternoon, but the beginning of a heavy holdiay travel period). And I also found slightly upgraded food, there were sandwiches.

We know of course that American Express is seeking to build its own network of lounges in major airports, rather than relying on airline partners alone to provide lounge access to their premium cardmembers.

We know also that American Express is providing a superior lounge product compared to US airlines, with quality meals and beverages and in some locations even complimentary spa treatments. The lounges can get busy because eligible cardmembers want to go there.

Centurion Lounge Spa, Miami

We also know that they’ve tested a smaller lounge concept, the Centurion Studio, in Seattle and that it could provide the blueprint for lounges in mid-sized airports as well.

There are American Express Centurion lounges at US airports already in:

Building out a lounge network takes a good deal of time — finding the right available space, negotiating with the airport, and in major hubs there’s often a single carrier with substantial interest in and say over how unoccupied space gets used (and that carrier may not want to be ‘shown up’ by American Express — American Airlines was vehemently opposed to the American Express Centurion lounge in Dallas).

They seem to have prioritized major airports, especially ones where passengers aren’t predominantly flying Delta. Delta is an American Express partner, and Platinum and Centurion cardmembers have access to Delta SkyClubs when flying the airline same day (for themselves, guest access is paid).

I’ve shared American Express’ letter of inquiry to Denver Airport, expressing Denver as a priority and indicating that there were specific locations in United’s terminal they were interested in. The next lounge that will open is Houston.

American Express Centurion Lounge Dallas

I read the American Express statement on a Chicago O’Hare lounge as suggesting:

  • They’re serious about O’Hare. It’s obvious they’d be interested, but they must be in real discussions with the airport since even the popup would be require working closely with the airport. So relations between O’Hare and American Express at this point are good.

  • Amex has chosen O’Hare in particular for this display. And that’s for a reason.

  • No lease has actually been signed, so there are at least some bureaucratic hurdles to clear, because otherwise American Express would be making an actual announcement.

So I’d rate an O’Hare American Express Centurion Lounge as likely-to-highly-likely. Once a deal is done it will probably take a year to come to fruition so we won’t be visiting it any time soon. But it’s great to see them continuing to grow the network.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was told at the DFW lounge several months ago, that the plan was to open at least another 20 lounges. I suspect they want to open lounges at all the major US airports.

  2. As a Chicago guy with the AA Exec card, I’d quickly drop this for the AmEx Platinum. Citi doesn’t have a concierge worth anything so would welcome the switch. My only added comment: Hurry up American Express!

  3. Been a card member for about a decade in Chicago. Running out of reasons to keep paying the fee after dropping all the benefits I used (companion ticket, points advance, AA club, free delta access for family). A centurion lounge would be a game changer for me and keep me for the next decade.

  4. I live in Chicago and definitely would love to see a Centurion lounge in ORD, would definitely validate the AMEX Plat charges.

  5. Thanks for the informative article. I just received a promotion for the Platinum card, which includes Centurion Lounge access . This means I’d have to switch from my AmEx Fidelity Rewards card, which I find to be a great card with no annual fee and cash back. As a Chicago traveler, it makes no sense for me to go to the Platinum until they set up a lounge in ORD.

  6. Sadly, not much word of this lately… Will we hear about a Centurion Lounge at ORD again?

  7. As a Citi AA exec cardholder I’d gladly switch to platinum. I just received an Amex 100k points platinum offer but, without a lounge at ORD, it makes no sense. Come on AmEx! Hurry up!

  8. As they say, no lounge in Chicago, no reason to pay a $450 annual fee.

    I can buy lounge cards on Ebay for $15 to $30. I travel 7 to 10 times a year and the cost is less for me to buy the cards.

    That being said, I’d pay the annual fee for the convenience of not having to buy cards on line.

    Coincidentally, the main cities i travel to are Miami, New York and San Francisco.

    Hurry up and cut through the red tape of Chicago and their unions.

  9. I’ve been a loyal platinum card member for years. It’s becoming difficult to justify the fee after losing benefits that attracted me to it…AA club, companion ticket, points advance, Etc. AND…still no Centirion Lounge at O’Hare? Why did you take away the AA club…??? What’s going on? Help us loyal customers out Am Ex!!

  10. What I charge for American Express card. and cant use the lounges available in domestic there is no point in keeping the card they are losing me as customer and on top of that everytime I call and I’m on hold for at least 20 to 40 minutes then I get disconnected the customer service people never call me back. so I ask why am I paying $450 a year for this card.

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