One of the things Iâve missed quite a lot during our collective 2020 hiatus from traveling is my regular visits to my favorite airport lounges â particularly the collection of domestic American Express Centurion Lounges.
Iâve been a Platinum CardÂ® from American Express cardmember since the first Centurion Lounge opened in Las Vegas in 2013. And Iâm pretty sure that every year since â with the exception of this year, of course â Iâve consumed my cardâs annual feeâs worth in chocolate chip cookies and signature white mimosas while lounging between flights.
With Centurion lounges closed for the last seven months, Iâd begun to feel like my Platinum card was getting rusty. If lounges werenât going to open, and I wasnât going to start traveling again, Iâd even questioned if I was going to renew my card for 2021.
Then it happened. Last week I put on my mask and flew to Florida to see my family for the first time this year. Perhaps it was coincidence, or perhaps it was the American Express lounge gods smiling down on me, but I transited through Dallas the very morning that the Centurion Lounge in DFW reopened its blue doors.
Yes, friends, American Express has officially begun welcoming weary travelers to its lounges once again. Since October, lounges in Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle and San Francisco have had staggered reopenings.
If youâve got an American Express Platinum Card in your wallet with plans to return to airports anytime soon, this is likely good news for you, too.
The Business Platinum CardÂ® from American ExpressÂ or theÂ Delta SkyMilesÂ®Â Reserve American Express Card.
If plans to transit a Centurion Lounge are in your future, you should also check American Expressâs Centurion Lounge reopening page for the latest details on each loungeâs current status and opening hours. From my own experience hereâs what you can expect.
See related: Coronavirus travel tips: How to travel during a pandemic
Limited capacity and social distance
Last year, before COVID-19, American Express had already started putting measures in place to cut down on the crowds in Centurion Lounges. Reopening has taken these measures to the next level, to make space for guests and to ensure social distancing.
To guarantee youâll get a place in the lounge on arrival, youâll want to make sure you have the American Express mobile app downloaded to your phone for contactless check-in. The app allows you to book your entry up to 30 minutes in advance, giving you a QR reservation code that youâll show with your ID and boarding pass.
For entry, and during your visit, masks are required for all guests â unless youâre eating or drinking (as is standard just to be in the airport). And every other seating area is blocked off to make space between passengers.
Food and drink
One of the reasons that the Centurion Lounge is normally my top choice over other domestic airline clubs is the great hot food and premium drink options.
Iâm happy to report that although the buffet has gone the way of 1986 as expected, the food options were still fresh and delicious. For breakfast, there were green juices and hot egg scrambles. And it was southern creamed corn and grilled brussels sprouts for lunch.
In the DFW lounge, food was plated by servers at your request, and both table service and bar service were available for ordering drinks from the bar. The bar itself was fully stocked and still offering its normal menu of signature drinks.
I have to say that I was pretty impressed how theyâd kept the level of food and drink quality dialed in while adhering to all the new sanitation and social distancing standards.
Another small change in the lounge is that some of the business services have shifted. Conference rooms are still available, but youâll need to make a reservation to use the room to ensure it is cleaned between guests.
If youâre like me and really like using the printer to catch up on work in the lounge, youâll be happy to know that this is still available. The community computers, however, have been removed.
See related: American Express Rewards guide
While not all of the Centurion Lounges are equipped with an Exhale Spa, complimentary neck massages and express manicures have always been a highlight of the DFW lounge.
I was very surprised to find, on arriving to the lounge, that alternative spa services including meditation space and touchless Theragun massages are on offer in the reopening. I tried my own hand in the massage chair with the Therabody Travel Fatigue massage and it actually felt pretty good.
The whole experience of returning to lounge life felt pretty good, in fact. Sure, traveling still feels different and a little bit strange, but itâs definitely nice to see things open back up safely while providing high quality service.
If youâre looking for me in the airport, you know where Iâll be. And yes, Iâll be keeping my Platinum card for another year â I think it will be worth it.