American has a strong roster of airport clubs, which ballooned in number when it acquired the network of former US Airways Clubs. Now, all are known as Admirals Clubs, which offer a slew of benefits for those with access. This guide gives you the ins and outs of how to get in, what to enjoy inside, and some tips on the best clubs and discounts to enjoy them.
Admirals Clubs are in more than 50 locations in 25 U.S. cities and 9 countries around the globe including Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Greensboro/High Point, Hartford, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Miami, Nashville, New York’s JFK, New York’s LaGuardia, Newark, Orange County, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Rio de Janeiro, San Diego, San Francisco, Santiago, Chile, St. Louis, Tampa, Tokyo Narita, Toronto, and Washington’s Reagan.
How to pay to get in:
Paid membership is the easiest way to gain access to these quiet havens.
The annual cost can vary depending upon your elite status level from $350 for an Executive Platinum renewing a membership to $875 for a new household membership (including a spouse). Day passes can be purchased in the lounge for $50, and 30-day passes cost $99 for those who travel frequently in a limited period of time. That’s quite a bargain, and if you like the lounge, that cost can be applied to future membership.
You can also pay with miles, which for people with oodles of miles can make sense. But those miles are typically worth more if spent on a premium cabin ticket, which can be more expensive. It is best to save miles for something more valuable.
But there are other options, too. Cardholders of the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and the Citi Prestige MasterCard receive access to all Admirals Clubs, as well. These cards carry hefty fees, but come with sign-up bonuses that can reach up to 50,000 miles that can make it worth it.
How to get in for free:
Since American is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, there are some benefits that come with traveling on member airlines. If you are traveling in business or first class on a oneworld international ticket (excluding Canada, the Caribbean and all Mexican cities, except Mexico City), access is included. If a passenger holds Sapphire or Emerald status with any oneworld alliance carrier, he or she also has access during international travel.
You can enter for free as someone’s guest. While it is not recommended to introduce yourself to a stranger walking into the club (airlines frown on that dodgy practice), you might want to ask if one of your travel companions is a member. Guest privileges vary depending upon how someone is accessing the lounge.
Members can bring up two guests (or members of their immediate family; try not to bring the Brady Bunch please) while those entering with a premium cabin ticket can only bring one guest. American also graciously offers free access to traveling military in uniform.
Admirals Clubs often have separate ticketing desks that can handle requests like seat or flight changes, which is invaluable. Seating ranges from café style to armchairs with ottomans in many lounges. Most feature easy-access power ports, which are plentiful, and most clubs have a few computers that guests can use to access the Internet or print documents while there.
Free wireless Internet is available in all clubs while children’s play areas, conference rooms, and shower facilities are in many. There’s even a putting green in the Austin, Texas, lounge, and some of the Dallas/Fort Worth clubs lend out Bose headphones to use during one’s visit.
Food and drink:
Admirals Clubs have a recently expanded menu of free snacks like soup (one of two choices is vegetarian in larger airports with smaller clubs offering only a vegetarian soup), crudités, cheese, crackers with hummus, lentil or pasta salad, and snack mix during much of the day. Breakfast features bagels, cereal, fresh fruit, and Greek yogurt. There’s also a separate paid menu that offers light meals, which vary by location.
An open bar offers free house wine, beer and spirits plus a separate paid menu has top-shelf booze.
Lounges not to miss:
While everyone’s travel tastes vary, there are a few really great clubs that stand out. Aviation geeks will love the views in the main Los Angeles club, both New York JFK clubs, the DFW terminal D club, and the Charlotte lounge between C and D terminals. Some clubs are less engaging, though: the Atlanta lounge has very few windows and some of the Phoenix clubs can get quite full at peak times for a hub city.
Overseas, American has a fantastic London Heathrow lounge with a hot buffet including fresh smoothies in the morning.
American offers a special perk to its first-class and Executive Platinum level fliers with access to what it calls Flagship Lounges. These are limited to Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Ft. Worth, London Heathrow and Los Angeles, but come with a full hot buffet, an endless array of premium drinks and a more exclusive ambiance.
Renovations are coming to all lounges with the new look of sleeker lighting, freshly upholstered chairs, and more power ports already on display in some lounges like Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo.
• Did you know that Admirals Club members can access most Qantas Clubs if traveling on a Qantas flight? The same goes for visiting Alaska Airlines Board Room clubs.
• Did you know that when you buy a day pass, it is good for the entire calendar day? So if you are passing through multiple airports, don’t throw it away!
• Did you know that if you are traveling business or first class on specific domestic, transcontinental flights, you have free lounge access? These include JFK-Los Angeles, JFK-San Francisco, and LAX-Miami.
Do you have any Admirals Club Lounge access tips?