The flight from Denver arrived in Miami along with the first rays of the rising sun.   I planned to spend the short layover in Miami in the American Express Centurion Lounge.  This lounge was one of the first Centurion lounges in the system and one I’d visited previously.  I had only 30 minutes to spend in the lounge but that was enough to get a feel for the way Covid-19 altered the experience.   

Because they all feature buffets with hot entrees and side dishes and some have their own spas, Centurion Lounges are the best airport lounges in the U.S. for domestic travel.  American Express has installed them at several major airports over the last eight years. There are currently 13 lounges in the system located in 13 U.S. domestic and international hubs. All except LAX have reopened on a limited basis.

There is also a Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong and a Centurion Lounge is slated to open at London Heathrow this year.  American Express affiliated lounges that operate much like Centurion Lounges are also found at major airports in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, India and Australia.  

Other posts from this trip:

American Airlines Admirals Club Charlotte Concourse B

Charlotte American Express Centurion Club Lounge Review

First Class Flight Review – Charlotte, NC to Denver, CO

First Look – Denver American Express Centurion Lounge

Covid-19 Red Eye First Class Flight Review – American Airlines 737-800 Denver, Co to Miami, FL

Covid-19 Lounge Review – American Express Centurion Lounge Miami, FL

Covid-19 Economy Class Flight Review – American Airlines A321 Miami, FL to Charlotte, NC

Location, Hours and Access

The lounge is located near Gate D-12.  It is a short walk from Station 1 on the D terminal train. 

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Access the lounge via an elevator in the rotunda near Gate D12.

Because of fewer customers during the pandemic, Centurion Lounge hours have been shortened. Pre Covid, the lounge was open 05:00 – 23:00 daily. Currently, the hours are 07:00 – 19:00 daily.

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My flight was scheduled to board at 07:30. I wanted to get into the lounge right when it opened so I waited with several others at the elevators.

Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders have free access.  Amex Platinum cardholders may bring in two guests without charge.  The Centurion card gets two free guests or immediate family.  Guests cost $50 each for a day pass.  Presenting your credit card, boarding pass for a same-day flight, and ID are required at check in.

The popularity of these lounges has caused Amex to change the access rules several times.  Stays have been limited to three hours and access on arrival is no longer permitted.  There are indications that begining in February 2023, all guests of Platinum cardholders will be charged a fee. 

Food and Beverages

Covid required Centurion lounges to alter their food and beverage service, which was the primary factor that made these lounges so popular.  Even with the modifications, the Centurion Lounges are still much better than other U.S. lounges for domestic travel. 

Prior to Covid, food was served on a family-style buffet with large serving dishes from which guests  served themselves.

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Charlotte Centurion Lounge Pre-Covid buffet

Now, American Express representatives serve guest pre-portioned plates and dishes.

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Miami Centurion Lounge post-Covid continental breakfast buffet

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Miami Centurion Lounge in 2021
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Miami bar pre-Covid

The selection of beverages hasn’t been changed.  Many premium brands that would incur a charge in the lounges of U.S. airlines are complimentary in Centurion Lounges. 

Here are sample menus put together by the Centurion Lounges’ Mixologist and Wine Director, respectively:

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Beverage service has been affected only in that people are no longer able to sit or stand at the bar, and patrons must stand in a socially distanced line to place their orders with a bartender who is standing behind a plexiglass barrier.

Seating

The fundamental requirement of airport lounges is to provide weary, stressed out travelers with a place to rest, relax or work away from the hustle and bustle of the concourse. Centurion Lounges continue to satisfy that requirement very nicely.

The Miami lounge provides several areas with various styles of seating. All seats have access to power and the great Centurion Lounge wifi.

 

In response to the need for social distancing, Centurion Lounges have placed cards in the seating areas asking customers to request that a staff member locate seating for them. In reality, guests remove the cards and sit wherever they want irrespective of social distancing. I never saw staff attempt to ensure social distancing in the seating areas of the three Centurion Lounges I visited on this trip.

Other Amenities and Services

The Miami Centurion Lounge is one of the few that has a spa. Spa services have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

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Exhale Spa in Miami Centurion Lounge

Spa services are now limited to non-practitioner treatments, including Theragun massages and digital meditations. No more manicures and chair massages. Equipment and treatment areas are sanitized between every appointment. Family rooms and showers have been shut down in all Centurion Lounges.

Overall Impression

The good news is Covid-19 has temporarily eliminated the problem of overcrowding in Centurion Lounges. That improvement is more than offset by reduced hours of operation, the lack of showers, and limited spa services. Still, even with the limitations imposed by the pandemic, Centurion Lounges remain the best domestic lounges in the Unites States.