World’s Biggest American Express Centurion Lounge Opens Today: Here’s A Look Inside


Skift Take

With outdoor terraces and a debut concept whiskey bar, the new Atlanta facility is American Express’ most impressive airport lounge yet.

American Express has just upped the stakes in the battle for high-spending travelers. The company opened its latest airport lounge on Wednesday, and it is no ordinary affair. 

The new Centurion Lounge at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. It spans almost 26,000 square feet and includes indoor and outdoor areas. 

With so much space to play with at the world’s busiest airport, the design team has introduced several new concepts. There are multiple outdoor terrace areas – unique to Atlanta within the Centurion network – which have been created with the city’s changeable weather in mind. There are heaters as well as fans installed to encourage year-round use. 

Meanwhile, to help bridge the gap between indoors and outdoors, a 60-foot abstract mural of leaf-like shapes flanks one of the main walls. It is painted by local artist Evan Blackwell Helgeson and stretches from the interior dining area to the exterior terrace.

Elsewhere, a 50-year-old olive tree forms a centerpiece of the main seating area. There’s also a 3,850 square foot custom light sculpture, which is inspired by a forest canopy. These elements and several others combine to pay homage to Atlanta’s reputation as ‘the city in the forest’.

Centurion Lounge in Atlanta

Comprehensive Dining Options

As you might expect, food and beverage options are on the high end. Guests can select from a menu developed by local chef Deborah VanTrece, who is best known for her Twisted Soul Cookhouse in Atlanta.

Complementing more formal sit-down options, there is also a dedicated station with gluten-free and vegan alternatives, including protein bites, salads, and juice shots.

For those looking for a slightly stronger drink, the facility has The Reserve by American Express. In another Atlanta-first, this is described as a ‘bespoke whiskey bar’ that serves cocktails designed by Centurion’s in-house mixologist. As a nod to Georgia, there’s even a specialty cocktail called Drink a Peach, which features fruit-flavored whiskey and bitters. 

Audrey Hendley, President of American Express Travel, said a new Atlanta site has been high on the company’s priority list. It will serve one of the most-used airports among the company’s millions of cardholders and represents the 28th Centurion Lounge globally. The first facility opened in Las Vegas in 2013. 

Centurion Lounge in Atlanta

Airport Lounges Are Big Business

The importance of the Centurion network to American Express was discussed last year at the Skift Aviation Forum. Company VP Manisha Jain described the credit card company as a pioneer in the space, helping adjust perceptions of what airport lounges could and should look like. 

Building on the Atlanta opening, additional Centurion locations at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey are also in the pipeline. 

It comes as airport lounges enjoy something of a post-pandemic renaissance. Just last month, the oneworld airline alliance opened its first-ever branded lounge in Seoul, South Korea. American Express rival Chase has also been busy opening its own range of member-only spaces. 

However, with lounges offering upscale amenities and more of us taking to the skies than ever, maintaining an air of exclusivity is a difficult balancing act.

Last year, Delta Air Lines was forced to making huge changes to its loyalty programs to combat overcrowding at its facilities. The move prompted a large backlash from frequent flyers, and prompted the airline to backtrack on some of its original plans.

The new Centurion Lounge in Atlanta is located in Concourse E near gate E11.

To learn more about the business of airport lounges, check out this special Skift insight. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0TeBpmK9sw



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