With all the news surrounding the Coronavirus, the hubbub of new Centurion Lounge openings in Charlotte and Los Angeles, and the temporary closures of all Centurion lounges due to COVID-19, you may have missed another American Express news nugget: In early 2020, the much-anticipated Phoenix additions to The American Express Global Lounge Collection finally debuted, with both a new Centurion Lounge and a new Escape Lounge, side by side in Terminal 4.
And while you can’t enjoy the lounges right now (thanks COVID-19), if you are one of the 44 million passengers who typically fly through Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) annually and hold a Platinum Card® or Centurion card with American Express, this is news to celebrate! In total, the two lounges span 9,500 square feet and give us more than one reason to arrive early for our flights in and out of PHX (or lengthen our layovers). Here’s everything you need to know about this new lounge tag team at PHX.
Why did Phoenix get two American Express lounges?
U.S. Airways’ old hub and American Airlines’ current hub, PHX, is the 13th busiest airport in the United States. Passenger traffic is almost the same as Miami International Airport and even more than Newark Liberty International Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. With a dearth of good lounges at PHX, it seemed a logical decision to bring travel benefits to cardholders passing through PHX. Given American’s hub status, it should come as no surprise that the lounges are located in Terminal 4, home to American Airlines, plus Air Canada, British Airways, Condor, Southwest, Volaris, and WestJet.
“Our premium Card Members tell us that lounge access is the number one travel benefit they’re looking for, so we’re excited to bring two world-class lounge experiences to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport,” said Vice President of Loyalty and Benefits at American Express Alexander Lee. Lee added, “The Centurion Lounge in Phoenix is our 10th location and builds on the ongoing growth of our lounge access with plans to open five more Centurion Lounges in airports around the world.”
The decision to bring not one but two lounges stems from Amex’s partnership with airport developer MAG USA, Escape Lounge’s parent company. As a joint venture in the developer’s real estate, the two decided to open both a Centurion Lounge and an Escape Lounge with a shared entrance but separate reception areas and different cocktail and food menus.
What’s the difference between the two lounges, and can I visit both?
Though most of us are familiar with the Centurion Lounge network, American Express’ signature, state-of-the-art lounge collection, many are not familiar with Escape Lounges—a small collection of common-use airport lounges located throughout the United States and Canada. There are currently 12 Escape Lounges in total (including PHX), and any passenger can pay a daily fee (read: non-Amex cardmembers), $40 in advance or $45 at the door, to enter.
That said, Escape Lounges are part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection, meaning the daily fee is waived for those with The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Centurion Card, or The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.
Both the Centurion Lounge and the Escape Lounge are complimentary for Platinum Card, Centurion Card, and Business Platinum members as well as for two travel companions. Note: Neither lounge places restrictions on which airline—or class—you fly. So, economy-class passengers are welcome!
What are the details on these new entries to the American Express Global Lounge Collection?
Like its Centurion peers, the Centurion Lounge at PHX sports contemporary furnishings and is anchored by a sleek bar area. Menus feature locally inspired Mexican cuisine by Chef Doug Robson, the executive chef and co-owner of Phoenix’s top Mexican restaurants Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe. Headlining dishes at the new lounge include: pollo asado (grilled chicken) with a tamarind glaze and roasted cauliflower with harissa and a garam masala yogurt sauce.
Similar to other Centurion Lounges, anticipate a beverage program by Centurion Lounge mixologist Jim Meehan, and wines hand-picked by Centurion Lounge wine director Anthony Giglio, including seasonal wine flights. Plus, there are shower suites, high-speed Wi-Fi, noise-buffering workspaces, and on-site American Express Member Services Professionals to assist cardmembers with card account requests and travel-related inquiries.
The Escape Lounge is also anchored by a contemporary bar and features food selections by Chef Robson (though less extravagant than what you’ll find at the Centurion Lounge). The cocktail menu has been created by head mixologist Sarah McElroy. Other amenities include a silent digital library and children activity packs.
Are there any downsides to these new entries to the American Express Global Lounge Collection?
Unfortunately, the new lounge tag team replaces the space formerly occupied by The Club at PHX Lounge, Phoenix airport’s one and only Priority Pass lounge. As Priority Pass hasn’t contracted another lounge within PHX, those who don’t have American Express Platinum cards seem to be the biggest losers with these additions to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. Of course, non-Platinum members can pay $45 to enter the Escape Lounge, but we doubt many Priority Pass holders would want to do so.
Finally, it’s important to note that the terminals at PHX are not connected. Meaning, if you want to access the lounges and are flying from any other terminal than Terminal 4, you’ll have to pass through security twice. Oh, the things we’ll do for a good lounge!