The American Express Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card are marketed as premium travel rewards cards, and one of the benefits that makes them worth their salt is the airport lounge access that cardholders enjoy.
The lounge access rules on these cards, however, can get quite confusing to people trying to make use of these benefits. So I thought it’d be helpful to run through the eligibility rules, access fees, and guesting privileges.
It’s definitely more complicated than it needs to be, so hopefully you’ll be able to use this article as your one-stop shop on making the most of your lounge access benefits on the Canadian-issued Amex Platinum cards.
The complicating factor is that the benefit isn’t just simply access to one set of airport lounges. In reality, the Platinum cards bestow many types of lounge access, all of which are treated as part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection:
- Priority Pass
- Plaza Premium Lounges
- American Express Centurion Lounges
- International American Express Lounges
- Delta Sky Club
- Lufthansa Lounges
- Miscellaneous lounges (Airspace, Escape, Swissport, YQB Jean Lesage)
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1. Priority Pass
You can refer to our in-depth guide to Priority Pass for a complete discussion of the program.
Both the Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card provide you with a complimentary Priority Pass Prestige membership, which grants free, unlimited access to worldwide Priority Pass lounges. Also included is complimentary access for one guest per lounge visit.
The “prevailing retail rate” is currently US$32 for every additional guest, which will be automatically billed to your credit card.
There are over 1,000 Priority Pass lounges worldwide, so this perk should guarantee you some form of lounge access on the vast majority of your travels, especially if you don’t always fly in business class.
If you’re a Platinum or Business Platinum cardholder, be sure to get in the habit of looking up which Priority Pass lounges you’ll be able to visit prior to your trip.
Note that the Priority Pass memberships associated with American Express credit cards are not eligible to access Priority Pass’s airport restaurants and other airport experiences.
Instead, you’ll need a Priority Pass membership associated with a Visa product to be able to access these establishments on a complimentary basis.
2. Plaza Premium Lounges
If you hold either the Platinum Card or the Business Platinum Card, you have unlimited access to Plaza Premium lounges within Canada and internationally for yourself and one guest. There are over 50 Plaza Premium lounges worldwide.
What are Plaza Premium lounges? While Priority Pass is a global lounge network, Plaza Premium is more like a “franchise” or a “brand” of airport lounges, which started in Hong Kong back in the 1990s.
Plaza Premium lounges used to be included in the Priority Pass lounge network. In July 2021, though, Priority Pass and Plaza Premium severed ties and went their separate ways.
American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders weren’t affected by this split, though, as both cards offer access to these lounges. If anything, these cards became more valuable than other cards, such as some Visa Infinite Privilege cards, that only offer Priority Pass lounge access.
Plaza Premium lounges have a decent footprint in Canada, with lounges in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal.
Plaza Premium lounges certainly aren’t luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re solid enough and stack up against Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounges quite well.
Internationally, Plaza Premium lounges can be quite competitive indeed. I once visited the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow, where there was even a complimentary à la carte lunch menu!
3. The Centurion Lounge
American Express is a global company, and in order to reinforce the premium image of their Platinum line of credit cards, they’ve opened special lounges in airports worldwide specifically for Platinum cardholders, known as Centurion Lounges.
Holders of Platinum or Business Platinum products, issued in any country, can access these lounges.
The majority of the Centurion Lounges are located in the US, with additional locations in London Heathrow and Hong Kong.
Alongside some of the top-tier Priority Pass locations, the Centurion Lounges are probably some of the best lounges that your Platinum credit card can unlock.
In general, you can expect top-quality food and drink inspired by regional tastes and stylish interiors drawn from local design principles. Centurion Lounges are typically very pleasant places to spend time and relax prior to your flight.
The best part about the Centurion Lounge benefit is the generous guest policy: each Platinum or Business Platinum cardholder is allowed to bring in two guests for free!
This is fantastic for families travelling together, although the downside is that the Centurion Lounges can get rather crowded during the peak hours of the day.
Note that the US-issued Platinum cards have announced changes to their guest access policy as of 2023: guest access will no longer be allowed, and will instead be charged at US$50 per guest (or US$30 for children aged 17 or under).
There hasn’t been any updates to the Canadian-issued Platinum cards’ Centurion Lounge guest access rules as of yet. We’ll update this section when we find out more.
4. International American Express Lounges
In addition to Centurion Lounges, there are also a handful of lounges around the world that are operated under the American Express banner, but are not part of the Centurion Lounge network.
You can find the full list of these lounges on a dedicated page on the American Express website. I’ve visited a couple of them, including the American Express Lounge by Pontus in Stockholm Arlanda Airport, as well as the location in Buenos Aires.
The Pontus lounge in Stockholm was quite memorable in particular, since it offered a generous complimentary à la carte dining option to lounge guests, despite being housed in a makeshift partitioned-off area within an airport restaurant.
Meanwhile, I recall that the Buenos Aires Amex lounge had ice-cream sandwiches as well as plenty of liquor, but it didn’t have any hot food. So, we left in favour of the Star Alliance Lounge next door, which was also available on Priority Pass.
There are about a dozen locations in total, mostly spread throughout Latin America, India, and Australia, with the odd one out in Sweden.
In general, I’d expect the international American Express lounges to be relatively high-quality lounges, although perhaps a step below the flagship Centurion Lounges in the US, London, and Hong Kong.
Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders are allowed to bring at least one guest into the international American Express lounges – the exact guest policy varies from location to location.
For example, while the Stockholm location allows one guest only, the Buenos Aires lounge actually allows one complimentary guest plus any children under the age of 16.
5. Delta Sky Club
American Express Platinum cardholders enjoy complimentary access to Delta Sky Clubs when in possession of a same-day boarding pass with Delta Air Lines.
They generally offer some light snacks, beverages, and lighter food options, as well as TV, newspapers and magazines, and free wi-fi. In general, Delta Sky Clubs aren’t going to blow your socks off, but are pleasant enough places to kill some time before your flight.
Since Delta Sky Clubs are primarily meant to cater to Delta and SkyTeam elite members, the guest access policy for Platinum cardholders are stricter than the other lounges.
While it’s not specified on the Canadian or American Amex Global Lounge Collection pages, the Delta Sky Club site specifies the following guest access policy:
As a Platinum cardholder accessing a Delta Sky Club before your Delta flight, you’re not entitled to bring in any guests for free, but rather have the option of paying for their access at US$39 per person. Note that any guests must also be travelling on a Delta flight departing on the same day.
6. Lufthansa Lounges
Platinum cardholders (and Centurion Members) may access select Lufthansa lounges as part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection. Lounges that are included may be found using the Amex Lounge Finder tool.
This perk includes access to Lufthansa Business Lounges with a Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Austrian, or Swiss) ticket in any class, as well as access to Lufthansa Senator Lounges with a Lufthansa Group business class ticket.
The guest policy varies by lounge, so be sure to check the policy either on the Lounge Finder website, at the lounge, or on the American Express app.
To access these lounges, simply present your Platinum card, government-issued photo I.D., and a confirmed boarding pass with Lufthansa Group.
7. Miscellaneous Lounges
Lastly, there’s a handful of miscellaneous lounge networks that are also signed up with American Express to provide access to Platinum cardholders. These include:
The Airspace Lounge in San Diego (SAN)
The Escape Lounges in Bradley (BDL), Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (CVG), Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Oakland (OAK), Palm Beach (PBI), Phoenix-Sky Harbour (PHX), Reno-Tahoe (RNO), Rhode Island (PVD), and Sacramento (SMF)
The Swissport Executive Lounges around the world
The VIP Lounge by Club Med at Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport
These are basically additional contracts that Amex has secured in order to provide high-quality lounge access at a few airports where coverage is otherwise lacking.
As you can imagine, the guest policy varies for each of these lounge networks. You can find them summarized in the below chart:
Cardholder + one guest
Plaza Premium Lounge
Cardholder + one guest
The Centurion Lounge
Cardholder + two guests
International American Express lounges
Cardholder + at least one guest (policy varies by location)
Delta Sky Club
Cardholder only; can bring up to two guests for US$39 per person
Cardholder only; guest policy varies by location
Cardholder + two guests OR spouse and any children under 21
Escape Lounge (USA)
Cardholder + two guests
Swissport Executive Lounge
Cardholder + one guest OR spouse and two children under 21
YQB VIP Lounge
Cardholder + one guest OR spouse and two children under 18
Worldwide lounge access is a key benefit on both the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Business Platinum Card. This benefit affords cardholders a more comfortable experience at the airport before a flight.
With so many different lounge providers, the lounge access policies are definitely more opaque than they need to be.
I’d recommend keeping the American Express Lounge Finder around as a handy bookmark, which should help you identify the lounges at a certain airport that you have access to as a Platinum cardholder, as well as the relevant access and guesting rules.