Centurion lounge planned for airport

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer/Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to open an American Express Centurion lounge, which would add to its array of frequent flyer lounges.

The opening date and location have not been announced.

The Atlanta airport has nine Delta Sky Club lounges, an American Admirals Club and a United Club, which generally require a membership, premium class ticket or other special access to get in. But it has only one lounge open to passengers flying any airline — The Club ATL on international Concourse F, which costs $45 to access with a day pass.

“This leaves passengers flying the remaining 15 airlines at ATL with only one severely undersized option, even if they are flying in a premium cabin,” according to city documents. Travelers can sometimes get reciprocal lounge access to their carrier’s partner airline lounges, but otherwise may have limited options.

Hartsfield-Jackson officials said they want to increase options for passengers who want “exclusive or premium experiences” while waiting for flights, so they asked for input and quotes from companies.

Three companies responded: American Express, which operates Centurion lounges; Airport Dimensions, which operates The Club lounges including the one at the Atlanta airport; and Plaza Premium, which operates Plaza Premium lounges.

The airport, which is owned and operated by the City of Atlanta, did not conduct a request for proposals competitive contracting process, but instead chose American Express for a special procurement contract to build and operate the new lounge.

According to city documents, American Express was chosen “due to the premium and uniquely positioned non-commercial-venture, combined with the considerable invested commitment in HJAIA and the City.”

American Express is Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines’ credit card partner.

A memo from the city’s chief procurement officer Martin Clarke says: “Unlike other developers, American Express has the resources to self-finance the $40 million shell construction and provide best-in-class experience for the shared premium customers without the need for generating revenue.”

There are Centurion lounges at other airports including New York JFK, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Houston and Phoenix. The lounges are accessible to those with an American Express global Platinum card or a Delta SkyMiles Reserve card.

The airport plans to strike a 10-year lease with American Express, with two five-year renewal options.

The Atlanta City Council’s finance committee voted Wednesday to approve the measure, which next goes to the full council for approval.