Generally speaking, there are two types of airport lounges: First and Business Class Lounges. There are many different organizations which run lounges including AA, other oneworld carriers, Mastercard/Diners Club, and local airport authorities.
American Airlines Lounges
AA lounge access policies, although seemingly complex, are well laid out with examples at AA.com. FlyerTalk member imagineertobe has also created a oneworld Lounge Access Wizard to help determine accessibility.
AA Admirals Club
The Admirals Club is a Business Class and Members Only Lounge. In general terms, the ways to get access to the Admiral Club are:
- Buy a day pass or annual membership
- Fly on a Full-Fare First/Business Class ticket on an eligible transcontinental flight1 (F, Z, J, or U booking classes)
- Fly on a First/Business Class ticket on an 'international' itinerary;2 upgraded tickets are eligible; at least the international segment of a multi-segment itinerary must be in First/Business. Access at domestic clubs is granted only on the day of qualifying international travel, not during domestic stopovers.
- Be Platinum/Executive Platinum traveling on an 'international' itinerary2
- Be oneworld Sapphire/Emerald other than an AA Platinum/Executive Platinum
- Present a qualifying personal or business Platinum/Centurion American Express card under the same name as your boarding pass. To verify if you qualify call American Express with the number on the back of your card.
- Be a member of the U. S. military returning on Emergency or R&R Leave from Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom and present your DD31, DA31, DN31, DAF31, or DM31 form, depending on the branch of military in which you serve.
- Be invited in as the guest of someone having Admirals Club access and guest privileges (based on membership, status, or class-of-service).
- AA Forum does not offer a guest request / offer thread, but one can use aacalendar to offer/request.
- 1 For the purpose of determining lounge access, AA defines transcontinental as non-stop flights between BOS-LAX, BOS-SFO, MIA-LAX, MIA-SFO, JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, JFK-SAN, JFK-SEA, EWR-LAX, and IAD-LAX. These access privileges were added in the summer of 2007.
- 2 For the purpose of determining lounge access, AA defines 'international' as Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Mexico City. Flights to/from Canada, the Caribbean, and elsewhere in Mexico are excluded under this definition.
In accordance with the double purpose of Admirals Clubs as international Business Class lounges, passengers accessing Admirals Clubs based on international class-of-service or oneworld status are offered 1-2 beverage coupons (drink chits) for alcoholic beverages or bottled water at the bar.
Admirals Club members and One-Day Pass purchasers receive free T-mobile wi-fi access at Admirals Clubs. All guests can obtain free internet access at Club computer terminals.
AA Flagship Lounge
The Flagship lounge is a First Class Lounge, located in five airports:
- Chicago (ORD): Terminal 3, Gate K19
- London Heathrow (LHR): Terminal 3, Departure Level after Passport Control in Lounge Area H
- Los Angeles (LAX): Terminal 4, across from Gate 40, entrance through Admirals Club lounge
- Miami (MIA): just beyond security in Concourse E
- New York (JFK): Terminal 8, beyond security within the new Concourse B Admirals Club
The admit policies are more restrictive than for the Admirals Club:
- Fly on a Full-Fare First Class or award ticket on an eligible transcontinental three-class flight (F or Z booking class)1,3
- Fly on a First Class ticket on an 'international' itinerary; upgraded tickets are eligible; at least the international segment of a multi-segment itinerary must be in First.
- Be Executive Platinum flying on an 'international' itinerary
- Be oneworld Emerald other than an AA Executive Platinum
- 3 F and Z fare passengers on eligible transcontinental two-class flights only receive Admirals Club access.
AA Arrivals Lounge
There is a special Arrivals Lounge in Terminal 3 of London Heathrow for incoming passengers (hours are 6:00 am - 2:00 pm). All passengers traveling in AA First or Business class are admitted for free. Coach passengers may pay $90 + VAT for access. Guests may use showers, the six computer workstations, breakfast bar, pressing services, etc. The lounge is located in Terminal 3 - stay to the right after exiting the Customs Hall, then take the stairs or elevator to Level 2.
Airline Partner Lounges
Alaska Airlines Board Rooms
As of May 2011, Admirals Club members are entitled to access to Alaska Airlines Board Rooms in ANC, PDX, and SEA only, when traveling on an AA-operated and marketed flight.
Admirals Club members are entitled to access to Qantas Clubs (not necessarily contract lounges) when traveling on a QF-operated flight.
oneworld First and Business Class Lounges
When flying 'internationally' (defined for AA as Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Mexico City, but excluding other destinations Mexico), access to oneworld lounges is based on your Elite Status or Class of Service. AA PLT (oneworld Sapphire) and passengers traveling in Business Class on an international segment of their itinerary have access to Business Class lounges at all airports en route. AA EXP (oneworld Emerald) and passengers traveling in First Class on an international segment of their itinerary have access to First and Business Class lounges at all airports en route. Note that you must have an onward flight on a oneworld airline on the same day to qualify for access. You will often be required to present your elite status card with the oneworld logo to obtain access; a boarding pass indicating status may be insufficient and you may be denied access. Also, Class-of-Service-based access may be restricted to the lounge operated by the airline on which you are flying; AA and Qantas explicitly grant access irrespective of oneworld airline while Japan Airlines explicitly restricts access to JAL passengers.
Non-AA oneworld Sapphire and Emerald elites (e.g., BA, QF, etc.) have access to all oneworld lounges, including Admirals Clubs (and Flagship Lounges), regardless of whether the itinerary is 'domestic' or 'international'. Conversely, AA PLT and EXP elites do NOT have access to Admirals Clubs (or Flagship Lounges) when traveling on 'domestic' itineraries. As a results, some U.S.-based travelers find it useful to maintain status on another oneworld airline to have access to Admirals Clubs (and Flagship Lounges) regardless of itinerary.
N.B. Some premium lounges operate outside of oneworld rules - such as the Concorde Rooms operated by BA, which allow BA First Class passengers only.
The oneworld lounge page has the easiest to understand explanation of whether you are allowed into a oneworld lounge. Note that the list of lounges on the oneworld site is not always well updated, and that you may not be granted access to third party lounges or some contractor-operated lounges.
Credit Card Lounges
If you have a Platinum or Titanium MasterCard, then you may access MasterCard lounges in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Cochin. Diners Club also has an extensive network of international lounges.
Likewise, American Express Platinum and Centurion card members may access a number of lounges worldwide when flying the airline operating the lounges, and in some cases Gold members are accepted as well (MEX.) AMEX Centurion Lounges are accessible to Gold, Platinum and Centurion members at MEX, EZE and GRU .
Other Premium Lounges
In addition to the AA, oneworld, and credit card lounges described above, there are other lounges that you may be able to access when traveling outside the U.S. on AA. See the associated FT Thread for more details (some of the information below may be outdated).
|City||Admission based on any of the following||Lounge Type1|
|Class||AA Status||AC Member|
|AUA||F/J||No||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club (Winter only??)|
|BDA||?||?||?||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|BOG||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||LAN (Spring 2013)|
|BRU||F/J2||No||No||BA; Iberia or Brussels Airlines lounge occasional overflow|
|CUN||F/J||No||No||Contract Lounge 3|
|DUB||J||Yes5||No5||Aer Lingus Lounge|
|FCO||F/J||No||No||Contract Lounge (Le Anfore)|
|FRA||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge|
|GUA||F/J||No||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|GYE||F/J||No||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|KIN||F/J||EXP/PLT/GLD||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|LIM||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||Contract Lounge (SUMAQ VIP Lounge)|
|LPB||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|MBJ||F/J||EXP/PLT/GLD||No||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|MDE||J||?||?||Airside on the right side of the hallway between a couple of gates; look for the AA logo.|
|MGA||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||Contract Lounge (Airport VIP Lounge)|
|MVD||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||Contract Lounge (Airport VIP Lounge)|
|POP||?||?||?||AA Brand Non-AC Club|
|PSA||F/J||EXP/PLT||No||Contract Lounge (Club Galileo)|
|SYD||J||EXP/PLT||Yes||Qantas Club (Terminal 2 & 3)|
|SYD||F/J||EXP/PLT||Yes||Qantas Club (Terminal 1 International)|
|UIO||?||?||?||Airport Executive Lounge|
- 1 For Qantas and EI Gold Circle Clubs, you must have onward travel that day on a flight marketed and operated by the associated airline. See Admirals Club Partners for more details.
- 2 Only on flights to ORD and JFK.
- 3 Must have an onward international connection beyond the United States. Note: It is uncertain if this means just beyond the United States or if it means an international connection beyond the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.
- 4 FlyerTalk members report being able to "purchase" access informally at the door.
- 5 The AA Dublin Lounge page indicates that Admirals Club members do not have access, however, this post and the associated photo explicitly include AC members. It is currently not known if this access has been revoked following the exit of Aer Lingus from oneworld in Oct 2008. AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members have access to the lounge if traveling on AA 93 (DUB to ORD) that day, regardless of class of service.
Discounts for the Admirals Club
Besides the discounts awarded for Elite Levels, there are some additional ways to save:
- If you recently purchased a day-pass, it can be applied to the purchase of a membership
- CitiBusiness AAdvantage card holders receive $50 off new memberships (CB2) and $25 off renewals (CB1) paid for with the card.
- Every so often, AA sends out a targeted discount to certain AAdvantage members for a $50 discount.
- Sometimes there are specials given to coincide with special events. In 2007, to celebrate the opening of the new Narita club, non-US members received the opportunity to join with a $100 discount.
There are indications that signing up or renewing in a specific club is important because the club gets credited with the membership. It is believed that signing up or renewing in the smaller clubs may help prevent them from being closed (although other cost factors like airport rent may be more important in the ultimate decision).
Regus Business Centers
In March 2011, the Admirals Club discontinued its partnership with Regus.
From 2007 until that point, Admirals Club members were given complimentary membership in the Regus Business Executive club thereby gained access to downtown and suburban Regus Business Centers worldwide. Details of the AC and Regus agreement.
Qantas Club (Pub)
Some FTers prefer to become Qantas Club members instead since it grants them reciprocal access to the Admirals Club and BA's Terraces Lounge, along with, of course, Qantas Club locations. Some considerations:
Advantages of Qantas membership instead of AC membership for AA frequent flyers:
- Long-term (i.e. 2~4 year) memberships are currently (2013) more economical than one year (Lifetime memberships no longer offered). Membership options and fees can be found on the Qantas website.
- Free drink coupons in the AC.
- Access to BA lounges when flying BA. This is only important for Gold and non-status members as Platinum and EXP members are allowed entry by virtue of their status.
Disadvantages of Qantas membership instead of AC membership for AA frequent flyers:
- Cannot visit AC without a same-day flight on AA.
- AC access is dependent on continuing partner relationship between Qantas and American. (This relationship looks robust as Qantas and AA are oneworld partners, share flights across the Pacific, and provide important codeshare feeds into the domestic US market.)
- Only one guest allowed, although immediate family is generally permitted.
- May marginally contribute to closure of an AC that might have benefited from your AC Membership.
- In the case of irregular operations, the AC staff may not protect QC members proactively as they may do with AC members.
tom911 has taken some great photos of the lounges.
Related FlyerTalk Threads
- 2009 Admirals Club 70th Anniversary Discounts
- 2009 Admirals Club Membership Discounts at Select Clubs
- Admirals Club Membership Discounts (general)
- Admirals Club Daypasses - Worth It? / Access Rules (consolidated)
- Lounge Access Discussion
- Admirals Club Drink Chit Treasure Hunt master thread
- Admirals Club Focus Group Report (Oct 2008)
- Qantas Club (lifetime) vs AC (Dec 2006)
- Qantas Club vs AC (Dec 2001)
- Qantas Club corporate rate (Aug 2003)