Edited by: Jessica Merritt
& Stella Shon
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I’ve been to huge lounges, and I’ve been to small lounges. And now I’ve been to a lounge that likely holds a world record for the smallest lounge.
The American Express Lounge at Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport (BOG) caught my eye while I was looking for a lounge to visit, having exhausted the 3-hour visit maximum at the Avianca Lounge Bogotá during a multi-hour layover.
As you might expect from its extremely small size, the offerings were nothing special. This lounge is offered by American Express but is not part of the Centurion Lounge network. And it definitely doesn’t offer what you might see at other lounges that are part of the American Express Global Lounge Collection.
But I got a bite to eat and complimentary drinks, and I didn’t have to hunt for seating near my crowded departure gate. Let’s look at what you’ll find if you visit this lounge.
The American Express Lounge is in Terminal 1, near gate 45 in the international departures area. You’ll find it on the same side of the hallway as the boarding gates, opposite the shops and bathrooms lining the other side of the main hallway.
The location makes it convenient if you’re departing from nearby gates. However, it could be far from other gates, and it’s not worth going out of your way to visit this lounge if your gate is far away.
You can access this lounge if you have a Platinum or Centurion card from American Express. That includes personal cards — such as The Platinum Card® from American Express — and business cards such as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
Staff at the check-in desk had a binder with pictures of Platinum and Centurion cards from multiple countries. They asked which country my card was from and flipped to the “USA” section of the binder. There, they checked that my card matched the photos of eligible cards for entry. I also had to show my boarding pass for an upcoming flight.
During my visit in early August 2023, the lounge was operating from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. If you have a late-night flight, this lounge might not be available, so it’s worth verifying before heading toward gate 45 for a visit.
“This is it?” It’s impossible that anyone could have any other first impression.
This lounge redefines “small.” Even the traditional green wall at the check-in desk was greatly scaled down. I enjoyed my visit, but let’s not pretend this lounge isn’t tiny.
Beyond my shock at the size, my shock extended to the fact I simply stumbled on this lounge while heading to my gate and looking for another lounge. Why hadn’t I known there was an American Express Lounge at BOG? That’s because it didn’t appear on page 1 of the lounge finder within the Amex mobile app.
Thus, you’ll be forgiven for not noticing it in the next-to-last position on page 2 of lounge results — only listed above its twin in the domestic departures area.
I noticed another thing immediately: the open layout. The lounge only had half walls, and I regularly noticed people craning their necks to figure out what I was doing or wondering what this weird waiting space was near the gates. If you’re self-conscious about things like this, get a seat that faces away from people and toward the wall.
There were 2 types of seats, all to the left of the check-in desk. A handful of tables with 2 chairs each provided a cafeteria-style option. This was the majority of the lounge’s seating that could accommodate roughly 15 people.
Along the back wall, booth-style seating could fit 4 people. The wooden armrest in the middle of this bench also had outlets for charging my electronics.
The lounge offered finger sandwiches and miniature desserts during my visit. Nothing was self-serve. Instead, I indicated what I wanted, and an employee brought it to my seat.
Offerings included ham and cheese sandwiches, pigs in a blanket, sliders, miniature quiche, and pão de queijo (traditional Brazilian cheese bread). You could get baklava, cupcakes, muffins, and several types of sweet bread for desserts.
When I asked for a poppy seed roll, the friendly employee heated it in the oven before bringing it to my seat. She did the same when I asked for another later. Toasting items before serving them elevated the experience, rather than providing lukewarm sandwiches to visitors.
The lounge had bottled water, Pepsi products, apple juice, and iced tea in a pair of mini fridges under the food bar. It was also possible to order alcohol, and I saw beer, wine, and whiskey available.
It will come as no surprise that there weren’t many amenities available at the American Express Lounge in Bogotá.
The lounge had a private Wi-Fi network, separate from the public network in the terminal. I struggled to reliably use the internet connection and couldn’t get a speed test to run. Websites kept timing out.
However, the network became stable and usable once I connected to a VPN. Speeds weren’t great, though: just 7.6 Mbps download speeds and 4.4 Mbps for uploads.
There weren’t bathrooms within this space. If you need a toilet, head to the public toilets across the hall. Going out and coming back in wasn’t a problem here.
There were 2 employees working during my visit, and I got the impression I was the first visitor for several hours. Thus, they had nothing else to do and were happy to chat with me about the lounge. We discussed its opening in October of 2022, after being in a previous location with fewer amenities, its stark differences from typical Amex lounges, and the fact they turn away most people who come up to the desk. They usually encounter curious people with questions or those thinking they can pay to enter.
The food and drink service was friendly. At most lounges, I’m used to serving myself from a buffet. Here, the employees insisted on serving me after I indicated what I wanted to eat and drink. And they did so with friendly smiles at all times.
I also liked their recycling and compost bins near the buffet station. There was ample space for wheelchair seating, allocated on the right side of the lounge (the side opposite all the chairs) to provide accessibility for all guests.
Being the only guest in such a small space, I could have as much or as little of the employees’ attention as I wanted. They did a great job of chatting when I wanted to and not hovering when I was happy to occupy myself with other things.
The situation and the environment definitely lent themselves to several jokes, both on my part and from staff, about getting lost in the lounge and ironically struggling to find a seat on arrival due to imaginary crowds. I really liked the staff here. Full marks in the service category.
It’s not worth extra effort to seek out the American Express Lounge at the Bogotá airport. However, if it’s near your gate, it can provide comfortable seating, complimentary internet access, and food and drinks. And you can find a friendly conversation with great employees.
However, if we consider this space against an average airport lounge, it definitely doesn’t measure up. It lacked things like a quiet space away from boarding announcements (one of my favorite features of an airport lounge, if I’m being honest), and it lacked dedicated spaces for luggage storage, sleeping, or a children’s playroom. The size constraint meant the lounge simply couldn’t offer much beyond smiles, drinks, and mini-size foods. Consider it a great place to wait for your flight if you don’t want to stray from the gate. But if you’re looking for a typical lounge experience or more robust dining, you should head elsewhere.
The size (and therefore what it can offer) are very different. This lounge is extremely small, offering seating for less than 20 people at a time. It doesn’t have showers or extra amenities, offering just light bites and drinks while waiting near your gate.
If it’s near your gate, this lounge is worth a visit. However, given its lack of amenities, it’s not worth walking very far to visit this lounge. “We’re in the neighborhood” is the best attitude for visiting this lounge.
This isn’t a pop-up lounge. It’s a permanent fixture.
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Ryan has been on a quest to visit every country in the world and plans to hit his final country in 2023. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.
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