One of my favorite credit cards is the American Express Business Platinum. As a business owner, I have a lot of charges that are uncategorized that often exceeds $5,000 at a time, so this card already provides a great amount of flexible point generation. Everything else this card offers to me was simply an added bonus.
However, I have to say, I was able to take advantage of another major perk of this card on my recent Thanksgiving trip to Houston, TX with access to the AmEx Centurion Lounges, of which there was one at Bush International. After this whole experience, I almost almost argue I would want to keep this card for simply the travel benefits, even if I wasn't already able to rake up all the points with my organic spending.
For those new to credit cards and premium travel, the Centurion Lounge are a network of airport lounges operated by America Express at select cities (New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, and one international location in Hong Kong).
To access these lounges, you must have either a Platinum or Centurion American Express card, as well as a boarding pass showing a confirmed reservation for travel on the day you are visiting the lounge. You may bring up to 2 guests or immediate family members into the lounge at no additional charges, and $50 for a day pass for anyone exceeding this limit.
I flew into Houston from Omaha super early and landed at 8 AM. The airport was fairly quiet and thus I was able to whisk myself through the skyrail that connected the vast chain of terminals at IAH.
It only took me 10 minutes to hop on the skyrail from Terminal A where I landed to arrive at Terminal D where the Centurion Lounge is located. Admittedly, lounge is a bit tucked away as the elevator that takes us to the lounge floor is located behind a massive duty free store, and you can easily miss it if you are not careful.
It seems like the lounge is located on some sort of a mezzanine floor between the TSA check in and the terminals on the top floor, and there was practically nothing else on this floor so it was fairly quiet.
I managed to check in with a gal at the front desk by presenting her my AmEx Platinum card as well as my boarding pass for my inbound flight. The ladies at the front desk were exceptionally friendly and helpful. It was almost shocking as I am used to a bit of roughness at airports in the modern era of travel I was a little surprised how much a toneshift it was.
Even though I am arriving at IAH, as long as your boarding pass shows you are flying that day, you would be able to access the lounge. The receptionist then proceeded to lead me to the sitting area as well as the buffet where I found a table and settled down.
While the lounge was fairly spacious, it was definitely busy when I sat down at 8:30 AM. I am sure most people are getting their breakfast fix before heading out of their trip, but I did manage to see one or two tables available practically the entire time I was there, as well as bar seating if you were keen on that.
The breakfast was quite decent. The selection was sufficient, with several egg dishes and hot sides, as well pancakes and a make your own oatmeal section. They also had a decent selection of cold cuts and fruits.
I sat fairly close to the buffet counter and as much as the plates were being polished off, the staff managed to keep the food coming. Other than a few travelers constantly asking for them to refill a ridiculously small syrup bottle, the food was always constantly restocked and it was pretty consistent of quality.
You could request mimosas as well as alcohol from the bar and there were definitely a lot of folks taking full advantage of this, but sadly with my gout I was minding my own business mixing orange juice with carbonated water in the self serve wet bar.
The staff was excellent at the lounge. Whenever I finish a plate it wouldn't be more than a minute before someone would come by and ask how I was doing and clear off the table. Very attentive, but not overly in your face that you feel like someone was breathing over you.
The sitting area was equally busy and it was 3/4 filled by the time I arrived. However as time went by, the lounge proceeded to clear out and it was less than 1/4 occupied by the time I left.
There were couches, chairs, and daybeds in the sitting area, and it was excellent for anyone who has a bit of a layover at the airport to chill and lounge about. Along side the lounge sitting area there was tea stations, as well as papers for you to pick up if you need some old fashioned reading material. There was enough flight status boards in the lounge as well that you can probably keep an eye on the status of your flights without worrying about missing details.
There was also showers available at this lounge, but I did not request one as it was barely 3 hours from my morning routine and there were people waiting so I figured it was best to skip the photos and let people get on with their business. The receptionist did mention they had a few people on the waiting list so it may be a good idea if you want to take advantage of the showers to let the receptionists know as soon as you check in.
There was also a children's play area, a small work space with computers, as well as a quiet room for you to make phone calls. They were all empty the entire time I was there, other than a couple kids in the playroom with their parents. The noise level was well controlled enough that even though it wasn't quiet, it was quiet enough I could get work done.
It was the same level of service, food quality, and seating when I returned for my flight back home. The dinner menu was even better than what they served for breakfast with salmon, hors d'oeuvres, and a chocolate mousse.
Overall, it was an excellent experience. Unless if I am flying business or first class with another lounge I can access, I often find myself stressing out at the airport seating area just waiting for the time to pass. The Centurion Lounge was a nice location for me to pass the time, and I literally left 10 minutes before boarding, sped thru the airport, and managed to be at my gate ready to fly home, all fed, de-stressed.
What are some of your favorite airport lounges? Comment below! Maybe I need to pay them a visit :)