Dec 7, 2020
Airport Lounges

The Ultimate 2020 Centurion Lounge Guide

Last Updated: 11/09/2020

After closing all Centurion Lounge locations on March 21, 2020, and having a nearly seven-month hiatus, American Express has finally reopened select Centurion Lounge locations! The Centurion Lounge Philadelphia (PHL) and the Centurion Lounge Seattle (SEA) have officially reopened as of October 5, 2020! In this article, we’ll guide you through American Express’ 2020 reopening plans, why the Centurion Lounge reopenings are important for Members, and what changes you can expect due to COVID. Let’s dive in!

2020 Centurion Lounge Reopening Plan

Starting with the Centurion Lounge at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the Centurion Lounge at Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on October 5, 2020, American Express has also announced additional reopenings for select locations with target reopening timeframes of October 2020 and end of 2020. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year had a lot of promise for being a tremendous year for additional Centurion Lounge locations. Just days prior to the global shutdown, American Express held a grand opening of the newest pre-COVID location at Los Angeles International airport (LAX). Picking up where they left off, American Express just opened the brand-new Centurion Lounge at John F. Kennedy International airport (JFK) on October 9, 2020, in addition to the Philadelphia and Seattle locations. We believe that the strategy American Express is using to reopen their lounges mirrors where the air travel has picked up and where airlines see travel demand going into the holiday season. 

The three major US airlines have begun changing routes in anticipation of more travelers taking domestic flights to warm destinations, such as Miami. Curiously, however, the Centurion Lounge locations are opening up in typically colder areas, where travelers may be departing from but not in Miami yet. We anticipate that the Centurion Lounge in Miami may very well be reopened for the holidays, and we’ll continue to update this page to reflect the latest information from American Express. So, why are these reopenings so critical for the top American Express Card Members?

Why Centurion Lounge Reopenings Are Key for Card Members

Despite the drop in air travel due to COVID-19, American Express Members that hold The Platinum Card, the Centurion Card (aka the Black Card), or the Delta SkyMiles American Express typically do so in large part because of the plentiful benefits. The primary reason most people choose to have The Platinum Card in their wallet and pay the annual fee is because of the vast lounge access. While the card does include a Priority Pass membership, one of the main reasons to have this card is for access to the Centurion Lounge.

Airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines all recently re-opened their lounges at select locations over the summer. This gave those of us that needed to continue to travel a reason to wonder why American Express Centurion Lounges were still closed when the airlines were able to reopen their lounges and to meet compliance requirements with local governments. American Express has been very generous with different adjustments to their benefits during the pandemic, such as the $20 per month streaming credit and the $20 per month cell phone credit from May through December 2020. While at first, it appeared that American Express was keeping their Centurion Lounges closed as a cost-cutting measure, we now see that they spent the time on deeper investments to update their lounges to meet the local government requirements to comply with social distancing, mask requirements, and changes to how they plan to handle food and beverage service. From what we’ve seen, it looks like the updates to the Centurion Lounges for COVID will be worth the wait. Let’s talk about what these changes are and what you can expect on your next Centurion Lounge visit.

What to Expect at Centurion Lounges Due to COVID

Pre-COVID, the check-in process began at the front desk, typically with a line as the lounges can be quite popular depending on the timing of departing flights. You’d be asked to present you Platinum or another eligible card, same-day confirmed boarding pass and government-issued ID. Now, contactless check-in is available. Here’s how it works with the American Express Mobile App:

American Express has reimagined the Centurion Lounge experience with our health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic as a top priority. There are additional precautions and procedures that are being implemented at the Centurion Lounges to ensure that all of the lounges are safe, clean, and welcoming spaces for you to enjoy when it’s time for you to travel once again. Let’s go through the key changes.

The Check-In

  1. Tap the “Membership” button at the bottom of your app’s screen
  2. Tap the “Find an Airport Lounge” and then select “The Centurion Lounge”
  3. Tap “Begin Check-in”

After you’ve completed the Mobile Check-In, simply show your ID and boarding pass to the reception desk to enter The Centurion Lounge. 

It’s worth noting that capacity will be limited at each Centurion Lounge location to comply with state and local government requirements.

The Dining Experience

With The Centurion Lounges’ new policy, seating arrangements have been reconfigured to allow for social distancing. The Membership Services Professionals will help guide you to available seating. Based on our experience at other airline lounges, you’ll still be able to select your seat but you’ll be escorted by the team to the seat you select.

The premium food will be available at the Centurion Lounge, but will now be in pre-portioned plates at food areas throughout the Lounge, and these will be served by the American Express team as well. This is a departure from the open buffet format that existed previously.

Drinks, Premium Bar Experience, & Full Wine Offering

The Centurion Lounge’s premium bar experience will continue to be available with their renowned full wine offering as well. From delicious prosecco to top-shelf liquors, this is by far one of our favorite parts of the Centurion Lounge experience and we’re delighted to know that we’ll be able to continue to experience it at the Centurion Lounge. American Express noted that the cocktail menu will be shorter but will continue to feature each location’s most popular drinks. This is largely due to an effort to reduce wait times and to promote safety with social distancing within the Lounge. Additional safety measures will be added to the water and coffee stations as well. 

Exhale Spa Experience

Exhale spa services will be available once again in select lounges, but will now be limited to non-practitioners treatments to reduce person-to-person contact. These treatments will now include Theragun massages and digital meditations. The equipment and treatment areas will be sanitized between every appointment. If you’re interested in the Exhale Sap, be sure to speak to a Spa Representative when you’re at the Centurion Lounge.


Unfortunately, the showers featuring L'occitane amenities will be closed at all Centurion Lounge locations until further notice.


Face covers (masks) are required when visiting the Lounge, except when you’re eating or drinking. The American Express team will always wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer stations are now located throughout each lounge. The Centurion Lounge will continue to prioritize their high standards of cleanliness, and will even increase the frequency of their cleanings with their newly designated Cleaning Ambassadors. 

Final Point

We’re delighted that American Express has decided to reopen select Centurion Lounges in the United States starting in October 2020. On top of that, we’re excited that the newest Centurion Lounge at JFK was opened on October 9, 2020, even despite the challenges of the pandemic. The Centurion Lounge offers one of the best domestic lounge experiences available and truly takes the stress out of traveling. Enhancing the travel experience and offering this key benefit to Members is a brilliant move by American Express. We’ve always loved the Centurion Lounges when traveling, and have complete confidence that the Centurion Lounge will prove to be an oasis and relaxing environment when traveling during these challenging times. We’ll be sure to keep this page and our other Centurion Lounge pages updated with the most recent updates from American Express. Safe travels!

Resources and References for The Centurion Lounge

The Centurion Lounge Website - Latest Official Reopening Information

The Centurion Lounge Commitment - Information on COVID Changes

The Centurion Lounge at Home