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, especially with their recent annual fee increase, 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. While it’s certainly complex, it’s useful to understand the eligibility rules, access fees, and guesting privileges on the Canadian-issued Amex Platinum cards so you can make the most out of the perks.
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:
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1. Priority Pass
Both the Platinum Card and the Business Platinum Card provide you with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which grants free, unlimited access to worldwide Priority Pass lounges. However, a “Select” membership excludes most restaurants and experiences, such as game rooms and sleeping pods.
Also included is complimentary access for one guest per lounge visit.
The “prevailing retail rate” is currently $35 (USD) 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.
Included in the roster of Priority Pass lounges are the well-regarded Chase Sapphire Lounges, which despite being branded by a competing financial institution, are open to any Priority Pass member.
Keep in mind, however, that for Chase Sapphire Lounges in the US, non-Chase Priority Pass members may only access each lounge once per calendar year without a guest. Any subsequent access is billed at $75 (USD) per person, per visit. The Chase Sapphire Lounge in Hong Kong, however, doesn’t have any restrictions.
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. You’re better off doing so through the Priority Passs app, where your membership is registered, so you know exactly which lounges are included with your Select membership.
To access Priority Pass lounges, be sure to have your physical membership card or your membership QR code on the app in hand, as your American Express card cannot be used directly for access.
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 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. Some lounges have showers, and you’ll usually find that the food selection is much better than in many of the North American lounges.
To access Plaza Premium Lounges, you may hand over your Platinum Card directly, or you may use your Priority Pass membership. Note that using your Platinum Card grants you longer access at Plaza Premium Lounges than your Priority Pass membership.
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.
Centurion Lounges are located in the following US and global airports:
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Houston (IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York-JFK (JFK)
- New York-LaGuardia (LGA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Hong Kong (HKG)
- London (LHR)
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 Centurion Lounges can get rather crowded during the peak hours of the day.
Note that the US-issued Platinum cards implemented changes to their guest access policy as of February 1, 2023: guest access is longer allowed, and you’ll instead be charged at $50 (USD) per guest (or $30 (USD) 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 be sure to update this section if 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 these lounges in the following cities:
- Buenos Aires (EZE)
- Delhi (DEL)
- Melbourne (MEL)
- Mexico City (MEX)
- Monterrey (MTY)
- Mumbai (BOM)
- São Paulo (GRU)
- Stockholm (ARN)
- Sydney (SYD)
The Pontus in the Air Lounge in Stockholm is quite memorable in particular, since it offers 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, the Buenos Aires Amex lounge has ice-cream sandwiches as well as plenty of liquor, but it doesn’t have any hot food. So, you may want to choose the Star Alliance Lounge next door, which was also available on Priority Pass, for a better experience.
In general, 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. However, as of January 1, 2024, you won’t get access if you’re travelling on a Basic Economy (E) ticket.
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 $50 (USD) per person.
Note that any guests must also be travelling on a Delta flight departing on the same day.
6. 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 Escape Lounges in Bradley (BDL), Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky (CVG), Columbus (CMH), Fort Lauderdale (FLL), 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 $39–50 (USD) per person
Cardholder only; guest policy varies by location
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.
It’s useful to keep 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.