American Airlines was the first airline to open a VIP lounge—at New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 1939. Today, American has nearly 50 Admiral’s Clubs across the US and at airports around the world. Originally designed only for airline-invited VIPs, most domestic travelers today will need to be paying members to access the Admirals Club. The perks can be very worth it though, with quiet seating areas, wifi, showers, and free food and drinks.
American also has dedicated First and Business Class lounges called Flagship Lounges, which are detailed separately.
Inside an American Airlines lounge
Admirals Clubs offer leather seating with side tables and power outlets in “living room” areas. Many clubs also have dedicated work areas with office-style cubicles. There is also table seating at bar areas at most clubs, and bar-height seating with power outlets is also available at many clubs.
Admirals Clubs have WiFi. The password is provided by the lounge agent at check-in.
Conference rooms are available at select clubs.
Admirals Clubs offer self-serve buffets with snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, and—at select locations—hot food.
Breakfasts include breakfast breads, cereal or oatmeal, toast, pastries, coffee, juices, fruit, bagels and english muffins, and Greek yogurt. Some locations will have kiosks offering avocado toast in partnership with Mastercard. Locations that offer hot food will typically have bacon, scrambled eggs, and often breakfast potatoes.
After breakfast hours, snacks include brownies, marshmallow treats, cookies, soups, crackers, cheese, snack mix, and whole fruit. Some locations have kiosks offering guacamole in partnership with Mastercard. Locations offering hot food will typically have a hot sandwich or entree like mandarin sesame chicken with rice or a taco bar.
Some locations offer additional hot food for sale, ordered a la carte from a set menu.
Most locations have staffed bars offering complimentary beer, wine, and cocktails. Premium brands are available for a nominal charge.
Self-contained shower suites are available at select locations on a first-come, first-served basis, and include fresh linens, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.
Select locations include Boston, Buenos Aires, Chicago O’Hare (Concourse H/K), London Heathrow, Paris CDG, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and São Paulo.
Domestic vs. international AA lounges
International locations are more likely to have hot food (and often a wider selection of food), and some have self-serve bars for alcoholic drinks if local regulations allow. Otherwise, international locations are roughly the same in design, service, and amenities as domestic Admirals Clubs.
American Airlines Flagship lounges
For passengers traveling on longhaul international flights in American's First Class or Business Class, or for certain elite members of oneworld alliance member airline programs, Flagship Lounges are also available. These lounges are upgrades over Admirals Club lounges, for the purposes of matching business and first class lounges offered by competitors for international travel.
Flagship lounges offer premium alcohol, and a significant selection of hot and cold buffet items. Passengers in Flagship First or Flagship Business Plus can also take advantage of a dedicated restaurant area with table service.
First and business class passengers on certain domestic flights (typically long haul flights between American’s hubs operated by internationally configured aircraft, designated as “Flagship”) also have access to Flagship lounges.
Flagship lounges are currently open in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago (O’Hare), Los Angeles, Miami, and New York (JFK).
Airports with a American Airlines Lounge
There are around 50 Admirals Clubs in the US and a handful of international destinations. There are five Flagship Lounges at American’s largest international gateways.
Some non-hub cities with Admirals Clubs include: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Denver, Houston (IAH), Nashville, Orange County, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa, and Washington D.C. (DCA)
International Admirals Clubs include: Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, London Heathrow, Paris (CDG), and Toronto.
There is little variation between Admirals Clubs, aside from whether they offer hot food. Flagship Lounges may have differing architecture, meals with nods to local cuisine or ingredients, or one-off features (the Flagship Lounge at New York JFK has a central wine and champagne display).
American also operates an arrivals lounge at London Heathrow, for arriving passengers in First or Business Class on American or British Airways. Some top-tier AAdvantage members (Executive Platinum or Concierge Key) and oneworld Emerald members also have access. The lounge offers shower suites, a buffet, a dining room, valet pressing, and a coffee and champagne bar.
Admirals Clubs are a membership-based product, while Flagship Lounges designed as International First/Business Class lounges.
Customers cannot access Admirals Clubs or Flagship Lounges with a credit card. One credit card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® comes with Admirals Club membership, included in its annual fee. (See more credit cards that offer lounge access here.)
Premium cabin tickets
Passengers traveling on premium cabin tickets operated by American on flights within North America do not have access to a lounge, unless their First or Business Class seats are designated as Flagship. These customers can access Admirals Clubs or Flagship Lounges at any city on their itinerary.
Passengers traveling on premium cabin tickets operated by oneworld member airlines to the following destinations can also access Admirals Clubs or Flagship lounges at any city on their itinerary: Asia, Australia, Europe, Middle East, New Zealand, and South America (except Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela).
Members of oneworld member carriers holding Sapphire or Emerald tier status can access Admirals Clubs when traveling on international itineraries. Two exceptions are Alaska Mileage Plan members and American AAdvantage members.
In order to access a oneworld lounge, Alaska Mileage Plan members holding Sapphire or Emerald tier status must also be traveling to a destination outside the United States, Canada, or Mexico.
American AAdvantage members must be traveling outside the United States, Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, in order to access oneworld lounges, including Admirals Clubs.
American Airlines sells annual Admirals Club memberships, which allow access with guest privileges to Admirals Clubs (but not Flagship lounges), and some designated reciprocal clubs on the day of travel for passengers holding tickets on American or a oneworld partner.
Alaska Lounge members who have purchased Alaska Lounge+ memberships also have access to Admirals Clubs when traveling on American, Alaska, or another oneworld carrier.
American sells day passes to Admirals Clubs for $59 or 5,900 AAdvantage miles. Clubs may decline to sell or accept day passes if operating at or near capacity. Passengers using a day pass must also hold a same-day ticket on American, a oneworld partner, or JetBlue (except flights to/from Europe).
Admirals Clubs and Flagship lounges do not participate in Priority Pass.
American’s Admirals Clubs are competitive in the membership lounge space for North American travelers. The airline’s Flagship Lounges have been industry-leading among US carriers, but are facing competition from United’s Polaris Lounges.
Admirals Clubs also have an impressive network for members in a number of top business destinations in addition to multiple locations at American’s hubs. Although the food service can vary from club to club, and the hot food items rarely change, the clubs are still a welcome respite from the relative frenzy of the terminal.