Austin Getting a New Lounge For American Express Platinum Cardmembers

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A new Austin airport lounge has been under development. It will be an independent lounge apart from the American, United, and Delta clubs that are already open there. They solicited a bid for the space back in the early spring, and the airport selected MAG (“Manchester Airport Group”) USA which runs Escape lounges. These are pay per use and accessible free to Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers.

The new Austin airport lounge will be approximately 8000 square feet and on the mezzanine level of the main terminal across from gate 16, which is six gates away from the American and United clubs.

According to city documents the lounge will feature “high-quality food, drinks and other
airport lounge amenities” and will be designed “with a ‘Zoning Concept’ theme [where e]ach zone will be named after a recognizable Austin neighborhood and will feature Austin inspired design, e.g. Downtown District, South Congress Café, Rainey Street.”

A local Austin chef will curate the menu “using local purveyors” and the space will have meeting rooms as well as a non-denominational prayer room.

Escape Lounges Are Fantastic

Escape lounges are generally underrated. Their ambiance and food is generally much better than other common use lounges like The Club which are typically accessible via Priority Pass (Escape lounges aren’t). Here’s my review of the Escape Lounge Reno. The hot buffet was excellent.

Will The Escape Lounge Also Be A Centurion Lounge?

One item stood out to me from a city rendering of the lounge: next to the Escape lounge logo is this an American Express logo?

The new 9500 lounge at the Phoenix airport also run by MAG USA is a combined Escape lounge and Centurion lounge. The Austin airport facility is 20% smaller, and requires specific use of space such as a prayer room that may squeeze out this possibility, but the recent MAG-Amex collaboration and the blue logo piqued my interest.

Potential Fly In The Ointment For An Austin Airport Lounge

The City Council was expected to formally approve the award on January 23 however this has been delayed to February 20th because Airport Dimensions, which operates lower quality ‘The Club’ lounges, filed a protest arguing that the city should accept lower rent from them since they are better positioned to meet government Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise standards.

The airport authority expects that this one month delay will give them time to work through the challenge and award the lounge to MAG USA. However even if the challenge prevails and the airport winds up with a The Club it’ll still have a shared use lounge accessible to Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers via Priority Pass. Indeed it will be open to Priority Pass customers receiving their membership via Chase, Citibank, and other sources as well. The lounge just wouldn’t be expected to be as nice.

A Great Antidote To New Major Airline Lounge Restrictions

This is a great antidote to airline policies that try to keep their lounge members from flying other airlines by restricting club access to those members flying the airline same day. This now policy, adopted over the last couple of years by American, United, and Delta, transforms the airport lounge from a membership club to a subscription-based service for when you fly the airline. (American and Delta exempted lifetime club members, who purchased their memberships before this policy went into effect, however United has reneged on what it sold to its lifetime members.)

An Independent Austin Airport Lounge Is A Welcome Addition

Southwest Airlines is the largest carrier in Austin. I’m looking forward to the addition of an independent lounge in the Austin airport, for when I fly Southwest (I’m a few days away from earning my 2021 companion pass) or even Spirit Airlines in the Big Front Seat.

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 love the MSP Escape Lounge. One-third the traffic of the main SkyClub and far better food. Check-in process is slower.

  2. MAG USA is related to MAG UK which runs several airports there. The Escape lounge AMEX partnership makes some sense since the guy who heads the Escape Lounge part of MAG USA spent years at AMEX.

  3. Escape Lounge of T4 in ONT is fantastic, and Oakland as well. They genuinely seem to hire folks who want to make travelers’ days better. They are doing something right in recruiting.

  4. I like ‘The Club’ lounges and would prefer them over AMEX/Centurion because ‘The Club’ lounges give access to Priority Pass members.

  5. I wouldn’t expect a Centurion lounge in AUS given the access to a Delta SkyClub airside. AXP likely focusing more on AA and UA hubs or terminals with lots of international carriers. I know there’s LAS and the SEA studio, but Austin is a supposed Delta focus city now.

  6. @Satforlegroom – Amex is building a centurion lounge in JFK T4, of course that presumably relieves crowding pressure on the Delta SkyClub there and the Austin club is not crowded.

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