American Express Opens Expanded Centurion Lounge in SFO
With travel demand expected to remain strong in 2023, American Express has just unveiled an expanded lounge at a major domestic airport. Last week, an updated Centurion Lounge debuted at San Franciso International Airport (SFO). The newly-remodeled lounge is now nearly twice the size, coming in at 16,000 square feet.
That extra space has been used to accommodate more seating and an additional bar that offers specialty wine flights curated by sommelier and Centurion Lounge Wine Director Anthony Giglio. Meanwhile, the updated location will also feature a new menu from chef Ravi Kapur of San Francisco’s Liholiho Yacht Club.
This expansion comes as the popularity of Amex’s Centurion Lounges continues to rise. While customers with the American Express Platinum Card will retain access to these locations overall, effective February 1st, cardholders will no longer be able to bring in guests for free unless they spend at least $75,000 a year on their Platinum (those with Amex’s invitation-only Centurion card will continue to have guest privileges). When this change takes effect, a $50 per visit guest fee will be implemented — although children 2 to 17 will be able to visit for a $30 fee. Notably, cardholders are able still to add up to three authorized users to their card for an annual fee of $175, with these AUs then gaining their own Centurion Lounge access.
Incidentally, while American Express may have one of the most expansive airport lounge networks of card issuers at the moment, some of its competitors have been joining the trend as well. Perhaps most notably, in 2022, Capital One opened the first Capital One Lounge at DFW, with additional locations at DEN and IAD expected to follow. This new offering launched alongside the company’s Venture X premium travel card, which includes complimentary access to those lounges and others. Elsewhere, Chase is partnering with The Club to introduce a line of Sapphire Lounges. the first Sapphire Lounge is now open in Hong Kong, but domestic locations including BOS, LAS, PHX, and more are on the way.
Considering that American Express has reportedly seen an increase in cardmembers since revamping the $695 annual fee card, it makes perfect sense that the company would want to invest in expanding both its network of lounges and the footprint of some existing locations. Furthermore, with overcrowding at Centurions being a well-documented issue online, the upcoming guest policy is also likely to impact attendance at these locations — even if some cardholders may not be too pleased with the change. To their credit, though, it seems that Amex isn’t solely relying on this new policy to solve the issue as they are reinvesting in projects such as the SFO update. So, with competition building in the market, expect to see American Express doing even more with their Centurion Lounge network in the year and years ahead.