Make My Day – Then Break It

I travel to Las Vegas several times a year for trade shows. When American Express opened their first USA-based Centurion Lounge at McCarran airport several years ago, I was in heaven and looked forward to hanging out there after my arriving flight and before my departing flight.

And as you can guess, I was in seventh heaven when they opened a lounge at my home airport of SFO on November 6th, 2014. As a United million miler who flys around 100,000 miles a year, I am often there on a weekly basis.

And my opinion of the San Francisco lounge has gone down on a weekly basis as well. This is sad because American Express bills the lounge as a premium product, open only to their Platinum and Black card members.

What changed? They used to have 2-3 staffers at the front desk so that you could be on your way to breakfast in seconds to minutes. Now they have one person at the desk and it can take up to 10 minutes in line waiting for people who need to get out their boarding pass, ID, and American Express card for entry (probably the same folks who get undressed and take everything out of their computer bag at the last minute in the TSA pre-check line).

Additionally, they moved from celiac-friendly breakfast dishes (gluten free frittata and chicken sausages) to unsafe dishes (quiche and chicken sausage with farro). They also removed one of the coffee machines, leaving a long line for the remaining one while people stand in front of it trying to figure out the touch screen display.

Okay, so these absolutely are first world problems. But if American Express is trying to sell these lounges as premium attractions, they aren’t doing a very good job in their San Francisco location – and I don’t think it’s a local management problem.

These days, I only drop by the lounge to grab some hot water for my morning tea to go with the gluten free bagel and cream cheese that I carry with me through security. So if anyone from American Express is reading this, I hope you can do something to again make my day in your San Francisco lounge.

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