Accessing Airport Lounges Is About to Get a Lot Harder

But with more new lounges coming in 2023, there’s also a lot to look forward to when it comes to these airport sanctuaries.

Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport

The new bar inside the recently expanded Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport.

Courtesy of American Express / Brad Feinknopf

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Travel’s big comeback has translated to busier—and more stressful—airports. This, in turn, has prompted more fliers to seek calm within the chaos, namely in the comfort of airport lounges. But with so many travel credit cards offering airport lounge access as a primary perk of being a cardholder, the lounges themselves aren’t quite fulfilling promises of serenity these days. In response, credit cards as well as lounges are tightening their access policies in 2023. On the flip side, credit card companies are investing heavily into expanding their lounge networks to meet current demand—and giving us a lot to look forward to. Here, a glimpse of the good, the bad, and the ugly of what’s to come in the world of airport lounges in 2023.

American Express Centurion Lounges

The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees) offers the most extensive network of airport lounges of any credit card, including the Priority Pass network, Plaza Premium lounges, Lufthansa lounges, and more. The most coveted ones in the portfolio are Centurion Lounges, American Express’s signature airport lounges. There are currently 13 Centurion Lounges in the United States (Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York–LGA, New York–JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle).

Good news: The newly expanded San Francisco Centurion lounge reopened on December 31, 2022, with twice the space and an additional bar and a new menu from San Francisco’s Liholiho Yacht Club Executive Chef Ravi Kapur. Later in 2023, a brand-new Seattle Centurion lounge will be triple the size of the current one, boasting views of the Olympic Mountains. Also on deck for 2023 and beyond are three new Centurion lounge locations (Atlanta, Newark, Washington–DCA), plus a growing number of outposts internationally.

Bad news: Centurion’s guest policy is changing for the worse. As of now, Platinum Card holders can enter any Centurion Lounge on their date of air travel, regardless of airline flown or class of travel and with up to two guests per visit, free of charge. Come February 1, 2023, each guest will cost $50 (or $30 for children ages 2 through 17, with proof of age).

Chase Sapphire Lounges by the Club

In summer 2022, we reported that Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders could look forward to Chase Sapphire lounges in late 2022 and throughout 2023. The first lounge is officially now open—and more are on the way.

Good news: On October 25, 2022, the first Chase Sapphire Lounge by the Club opened in Hong Kong airport. Soon after, Chase announced that in addition to its in-progress lounges in Boston, Las Vegas, New York–LGA, Phoenix, San Diego, and Washington–IAD, plans are in the works for a 20,000-square foot lounge at Philadelphia in the airport’s Terminal D/E connector.

Bad news: The entire new network of Chase Sapphire Lounges by the Club will be part of the Priority Pass network. Chase Sapphire Reserve provides cardholders with Priority Pass Select membership, so that means Reserve cardholders can enter. That also means all Priority Pass members will be welcome—even those who have membership through a Capital One or American Express credit card—so crowding could be an issue. (Note that a Priority Pass card is needed for entry; simply showing your Reserve card is not enough.)

Capital One Lounges, Landings, and Priority Pass changes

Holders of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card can enjoy lounges in the Priority Pass network, Plaza Premium lounges, and Capital One’s growing network of amenity-rich branded lounges.

Good news: Capital One is expanding into the airport lounge business with its own Capital One Lounges. While there is currently only one, located at Dallas–Fort Worth, more are expected to open in 2023. Denver and Washington–IAD will get full-sized Capital One Lounges soon. Meanwhile, Capital One Landings, the credit card’s boutique chef-driven lounge concept, with food and beverage by the award-winning José Andrés Group, will debut at Washington–DCA and New York–LGA. Venture X Rewards cardholders enter Capital One Lounges free of charge along with two complimentary guests per visit.

Bad news: Currently, Priority Pass membership obtained through Capital One grants credits at affiliate airport restaurants, cafés, and bars. At press time, there are 29 of these lounge alternatives where Priority Pass members receive a food and beverage credit of $28 to $32 per guest. As of January 1, 2023, the Priority Pass membership offered through Capital One will no longer offer credits or experience at Priority Pass’s restaurants and other lounge alternatives. (Note that Priority Pass membership through an American Express–branded credit card does not offer credits at Priority Pass’s lounge alternatives either, while it does through Chase Sapphire Reserve.)

Delta Sky Clubs

Overcrowding is currently a major problem across airport lounges, but the packed scenes at Delta Sky Clubs reach next level. Hence, Delta is making major adjustments to lounge access in 2023, while expanding its lounge footprint in key markets.

Good news: Delta has eight Sky Club openings and expansions planned for 2023. A new club will open in Kansas City while lounges in Boston, Minneapolis–St. Paul, Newark, and New York–JFK will move to new, larger spaces. Miami and Fort Lauderdale clubs will be expanded, as will the outpost in Atlanta’s concourse E. Additionally, Delta will launch a real-time occupancy tracker for Atlanta and Detroit lounges in the Fly Delta app (with other airports scheduled to follow).

Bad news: Delta will be prioritizing lounge entry, granting Diamond Medallion, Delta 360 members, and Delta One customers access first. Those with the Platinum Card® from American Express and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card ($550 annual fee, see rates and fees) will still be able to enter, but we’re unsure where they’ll fall in the new hierarchy. The fee for companion guests will rise to $50 per guest starting February 2, 2023 (from the current guest fee of $39). Also starting February 2, 2023, those with elite status (Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion®) will no longer receive Delta Sky Club access when flying internationally in Main Cabin or Delta Comfort+. In addition, beginning February 1, 2025, Reserve Card Members will receive ten visits per year to the Delta Sky Club. In order to earn an unlimited number of visits each year, the total eligible purchases on the card must equal $75,000 or more in 2024, and each calendar year thereafter.

American Airlines Admirals Clubs

American Airlines is starting to give its Admirals Club lounges a full redesign with a focus on relaxation. The first one opened in October 2022, at Washington–DCA. Membership to Admirals Clubs can be bought outright for $650 annually, but membership comes as a complimentary perk of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®, which has an annual fee of $450, so it makes more sense to get your club membership that way.

Good news: With other upcoming locations planned for Newark, Austin, and Denver, these new lounges are designed to feel more residential than office-like, with sustainable design elements, relaxation spaces, and a strong sense of place. (The DCA lounge has design elements inspired by the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Capitol building, and the city’s famous cherry blossoms.) American hasn’t provided a precise timeline for when it plans to open these other new lounge locations.

Additionally, American Airlines also opened three new co-located lounges—the Chelsea Lounge, Soho Lounge, and Greenwich Lounge—at New York–JFK’s Terminal 8 with its oneworld partner British Airways in December 2022. To access the new JFK lounges, you’ll need to be flying in first or business class on a qualifying American, British Airways, or oneworld Alliance airline flight or hold a specific status with those airlines.

Bad news: There really is none! American is keeping its lounge access policy the same into 2023.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

Paul Rubio is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. His byline appears in AFAR, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s, LUXURY, MSN, NerdWallet, Palm Beach Illustrated, Yahoo Lifestyle and more. He has visited 133 countries (and counting) over the past 20 years and won 27 national awards for his writing and photography. When he’s not plotting out his next trip, Paul loves to spend time at home watching reruns of Portlandia and Parks and Recreation with his husband and rescue dog, Camo.
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