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American Express will open a luxury lounge at JFK Airport

Anastasia Dagaeva
January 17, 2018

American Express has its lounges at eight major US airports and one in Hong Kong. On January 16,  the company announced an upcoming new location. Opening by early 2019, the new lounge will be in JFK International Airport, located past security in Terminal 4. 

American Express is promising its largest-ever Centurion Lounge in Terminal 4, shared by Delta Airlines and more than 30 international carriers. It will have more than 1,500 square meters on two levels, according to Skift.

“We chose our locations based on where our cardmembers travel the most,” Josh McKay, said American Express vice president. “We have chosen JFK because New York City is the No. 1 location we see our card members traveling to.” 

The Centurion lounge is perhaps American Express’ most effective tool to win wealthier, travel-focused cardholders, willing to pay the high annual fees for cards. The Platinum card costs $550 per year, while the more exclusive Centurion costs $2,500 plus a $7,500 initiation fee, according to American Express’ website. Cardholders get many perks, but McKay called lounge access, “the No. 1 travel benefit in the eyes of our customers.”

A decade ago, American Express had a near lock on high-end cardholders. But in recent years, Chase, Bank of America and Citibank have sought to attract the same consumers with travel-focused cards. The most formidable competitor is probably Chase Sapphire Reserve card, introduced in August 2016, which is especially popular among younger customers. The three big competitors do not have their own airport lounges, however. Instead, they contract with existing lounges and lounge networks, such as Priority Pass, so cardholders can access clubs at most airports.

American Express also has contracts with Priority Pass and existing lounge operators — cardholders can access Delta lounges when flying Delta, for example, but its the American Express Centurion clubs tend to be more popular. They’re often more opulent, — with gourmet food, complimentary bar and shower suites —than traditional airline or third-party operated clubs. The JFK lounge, according to American Express, will also include “special new features” to be announced later.