Our experience at the Amex Centurion lounge.

Joel McDonaldA friend (and JGOOT subscriber in Indianapolis) sends me and several other friends around the country sent a text saying they booked a cheap flight to Turks and Caicos. They invited several of us (and our families) to join them.

The bad news: I looked into flights, and flight prices from Denver are way more expensive than “cheapskate Joel” is willing to pay during those dates. ($500+ round-trip. No deal.)

The good news: Outbound flights were dirt-cheap, so I bought them for cash, and not only do I have enough points with Southwest for our return flight, but Michelle flies with me for free, so we didn’t even have to use points for her flight. (See my other post about how to get Southwest’s companion pass.) 3 hours later, we have four flights and we’re joining them.) .

More bad news… It’s a quick trip so the only the only way we could get there at the right time involved a 6 hour layover in Charlotte or a 7 hour layover in Miami.

More good news… I have an Amex Platinum card, and Miami has a Centurion lounge. (Charlotte doesn’t.) Miami it is.

Oops! Even more bad news. I accidentally booked the wrong outbound flight.

Good news: Since I booked through Amex’ lovely travel concierge, I have the ability to cancel booked flights free of charge for the first 24 hours.

Membership definitely has its rewards.

The Centurion experience: I’ve heard Centurion lounges are far superior to Lounges you get access to via Priority Pass and I was looking forward to seeing what the Centurion lounge is all about.  Did it live up to the hype?  Absolutely.

  • As soon as we checked in, we were asked if we wanted to schedule a massage, a manicure, or a pedicure. Ummmm… OK.  (You can get all three if you like. You just have to book them one at a time.)
  • It was surprisingly crowded for early morning, but we managed to find four mini-couches – each with their own power and USB outlets.  (I think they intentionally place lounges overlooking the common area – so you can watch everyone below scavenge for outlets and sit around on the floor because there aren’t enough seats.
  • Another perk is free food. The food is far superior to any other lounges I’ve been in.  Total value of 4 of us eating breakfast and lunch for free: $100+
  • Free mimosas & Bloody Marys looked pretty attractive too. Potential value could easily be in the $50 to $100 range.

Getting a Platinum card is $550 – which might seem expensive, but when you factor in the savings, it’s not nearly that.

  • $200 travel credit per year.
  • Up to $100 reimbursement on Global Entry or TSA Pre Check applications.
  • $200 in free uber rides per year. (Not reimbursement – they actually pay for your first $15 per month, and your first $35 in December.)
  • If you utilize all of the above credits, your annual fee would be reduced to $50

Other perks:

  • Travel through one airport with a centurion lounge and that can be worth $50 to $150 in free food/drink on top of the above savings (per visit)
  • Attend any concerts in Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center or Los Angeles’ Staples Center? You can buy cheap seats, go early, and watch the show from the Centurion Suites (which also include free food/drink.)
  • Rent a car or buy something using your platinum card, and get extended coverage on your purchase. (I got a cracked windshield in my rental jeep in Hawaii, and I didn’t pay a dime thanks to Amex.
  • 60,000 point signup bonus worth a minimum of $900 in free travel when redeeming through Amex’s

If you’d like to explore getting a Platinum card, do me a solid and click this link. You’ll get the same bonuses, and they’ll give me some extra points for referring you.

Happy Travels