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I was in the Phiadelphia airport’s Centurion lounge this past week. I hadn’t been since the lounge’s pre-opening event in October.
It’s the smallest club after Seattle, and there aren’t many lounge options in Philadelphia besides the Admirals Clubs (Priority Pass cardholders can use the Minute Suites in the A-B connector).
The lounge was packed. Fortunately I got a seat, and next to a power outlet no less. The men’s bathroom is showing wear but overall the lounge has held up well over the last 7 months.
The manager there shared that Air China has visited the Philadelphia airport twice in the past few months to talk about Philadelphia – Beijing flying. It’s a strange route notion to be sure other than that Chinese airlines squat on routes so that other carriers won’t be allowed by their government to operate them, although that’s been speculated to change.
There’s a Yoga Berra line, he may have been talking about Centurion lounges, that they’re so busy nobody goes there anymore. I often skip them, but in Philly OTG concessions have completely taken over many gate areas so waiting comfortably at the gate is hardly an option.
American Express tried to cut back crowding by limiting guests and by no longer selling guest passes. That hasn’t been enough.
Fortunately American Express is expanding their lounges in Dallas and Miami (and I shared a trick for the Dallas lounge two years ago), and the new Denver lounge will be 40% larger than the current Dallas one, the New York JFK lounge will be slightly bigger still, and LAX will be as big as expanded Dallas.
I still doubt it will be enough. They’re popular with travelers because they’re better than the lounges that were already in the airport before American Express opened them.
However with high demand comes real wear and tear on the spaces. For instance, here’s the bathroom wall in the Miami Centurion lounge this week – a hole, with toilet paper stuffed into it.
I reached out to American Express to ask about their maintenance program for the lounges. A spokesperson told me,
While we’re continuously expanding our Centurion Lounge network, we do also always want to ensure Card Members have a positive experience when they visit each location.
We have extremely high standards when it comes to each lounge and its upkeep. We have a global team dedicated to ensuring we meet the standards for our customers, and fixing maintenance issues when they occur. We will be sure the team in Miami is alerted about the below and that this is promptly repaired.
And indeed the wall was repaired in under 24 hours from when I brought it to American Express’ attention.
[…] When you build a nice airport lounge it’s going to be busier than you expect even after accounting for the knowledge that it’s going to be busier than you expect. People come to the airport earlier. They stay longer. They go out of their way to reach the lounge by changing terminals. Add in that the food and drink is actually pretty good in American Express Centurion lounges and they’ve become so busy nobody goes there anymore. […]