I wrote this morning that several readers have been commenting that some American Express Platinum card web pages have stopped referencing lounge access with American Airlines as a benefit. Some readers report that they’ve even seen paper applications, not just web pages, that make reference to US Airways and Delta lounge access but not to American lounge access. And I’ve even gotten concerns from Business Platinum cardholders and Mercedes-Benz Platinum cardholders that they’ve been told they would not have access.
This last bit about people being turned away seemed wrong to me — a given rogue agent can make a mistake of course, and at the very least several American Express websites still do list the benefit. I figured it was an error, but it was possible these agents had heard something they had just misinterpreted, like that the benefit would be going away.
So I reached out to contacts to find out what’s going on. And I’ve been told unequivocably that the American Express Platinum card (and Centurion card) are not losing access to American Airlines lounges.
First, I was told by American Express,
No changes to Platinum lounge access. Admiral’s Club is still a Platinum partner, I know they regularly update the web pages, benefit still mentioned here
Well, I’m the conspiratorial type. And I know that my readers are. So I pressed further, I didn’t want to read this as ‘American Airlines lounge access is still a benefit’ (but won’t be as of some date in the future).
So I followed up. I asked them to confirm “for avoidance of doubt” that there has been no decision by either American Airlines or American Express to terminate the lounge access relationship for Platinum cardholders.
And they happily confirmed this, adding that they are “not sure why anyone would have been turned away” from an American Airlines lounge using one of the various flavors of American Express Platinum cards.
American also got back to me with:
Admirals Club lounge access is still a benefit of the Platinum and Centurion cards, and there are no changes to announce to this benefit.
So there you have it. American Airlines lounge access remains a benefit for Platinum and Centurion cardholders who are flying American same-day.
Neither company’s statement made explicit assurances about the future, at some point there’s a contract that will have to be renegotiated. “No changes to announce” is not the same as “there will be no changes.”
Purely in the realm of speculation, reading the American Express comment I tend to think that websites usually get refreshed for a reason. If there’s any doubt about the course of negotiations, I can imagine that now that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explicitly regulates credit card marketing, a card issuer would not want to make forward statements about benefits which would induce cardholders to apply and that they couldn’t deliver on.
My guess is that a lawyer somewhere in Amex pulled the information down, and in particular from communications aimed at potential cardholders. And it’s anyone’s guess whether things will change in the future, but it’s pretty clear that nothing has changed as of now.