PHOTO: American Express cardholders can bask in the opulence of Miami's Centurion Lounge (photo via Flickr/AIR FORCE ONE)
As an American Express Platinum card holder who flies out of Miami often, I am intimately acquainted with the Centurion Lounge in the Miami Airport (MIA).
Whether I have one hour or six hours to kill, I head to the lounge like my life depends on it, mostly to score some free Wi-Fi, drinks and snacks.
The downside is, not surprisingly, the fact this lounge is often overcrowded.
When I read that American Express would begin limiting guest access to their Centurion lounges a few days ago, Miami's instantly came to mind. Almost every time I’ve visited this lounge, it’s been crawling with people. Sometimes you can barely find a place to sit, let alone relax.
One time, I sat on the floor of the Miami Centurion for an hour before a seat became available. While I didn’t care that much, it’s easy to see how someone who paid for lounge access could get upset.
As for me, I would much rather be on any lounge floor than at the gate.
The food is always good
Whether you hit the lounge for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just snacks, you won’t be disappointed. The Miami Centurion lounge offers a buffet-style meal no matter the time of day. It usually includes a salad bar (or fruit bar at breakfast), along with some hot and cold dishes.
While the food can get repetitive if you are in the lounge often enough, it’s more varied than the cheese, crackers and olives you find in most competitors' equivalents.
Comfortable seating (if you can find a spot)
The Miami Centurion lounge has dining-style table seating, couches, loungers and miniature sleepers. If you can wait long enough, you’ll find plenty of comfy options to choose from.
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As a guest of the lounge, you have access to free soft drinks, wine and beer. You can also load up on coffee or infused water if you want.
The Wi-Fi is fast and reliable.
I’ve been stuck in the Miami Centurion Lounge for a 7-plus hour layover twice during the last 12 months. Both times, I was able to work thanks to fast and reliable Wi-Fi service.
If you want to get away from the noise, they also offer a quieter area for working in the back of the lounge.
They have a kid’s room.
On the one occasion, I was traveling with my kids through Miami. I was pleased to note they had a kid’s room!
It’s not huge, but it did help keep them entertained via a television with kids shows, along with some toys and games.
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If you can get past the huge crowds, the Miami Centurion lounge is a great place to kill a few hours. Not only can you hook up to free Wi-Fi and get some peace and quiet, but you can eat and drink for free too.
We can only hope that the new American Express policy limiting cardholders to two guests will help free up some space.