How To Access American Airlines Admirals Clubs

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Want to learn more about accessing US airline lounges? See my series about how to access Alaska Lounges, American Admirals Clubs, Delta SkyClubs, and United Clubs.


American Airlines operates a network of nearly 50 Admirals Clubs around the world.

There’s often a lot of confusion about who gets access to these lounges, given how policies differ around the world. In most places in the world, any business class ticket will get you lounge access, while that’s largely not true in the US.

In this post I wanted to take a comprehensive look at how American Airlines lounge access works.

What should you expect from American Airlines Admirals Clubs?

Don’t get too excited when it comes to the quality of American Airlines Admirals Clubs.

For the most part, Admirals Clubs are just lounges that are typically calmer than the terminal, with complimentary wifi, snacks, and drinks (including house beer, wine, and liquor).

American Airlines Admirals Club Miami

On top of that, Admirals Clubs typically have more substantial food, as well as premium drinks, available for purchase.

In some cases Admirals Clubs are significantly calmer than the terminal, while in some cases they’re still quite crowded. Personally I find the Admirals Clubs at my home airport of Miami to pretty consistently be quiet, so they’re my lounges of choice here.


American Airlines Admirals Club Miami

How to access American Airlines Admirals Clubs

Admirals Clubs are membership lounges, meaning that they’re primarily intended for members. However, there are some other ways to access Admirals Clubs as well, depending on your status, the type of ticket you have, what credit card you have, etc.

Below are all the options for American Airlines lounge access.

Buy an Admirals Club membership (with miles or cash)

The most obvious way to access Admirals Clubs is to outright buy an annual membership, which can be done with miles or cash. The cost of this varies depending on your elite status with AAdvantage, an whether you’re looking for an individual or household account.

Here’s the cash cost to buy an Admirals Club membership:

Then here’s the cost to purchase an Admirals Club membership in miles:

As you can see, this is valuing AAdvantage miles at one cent each, so in general I wouldn’t recommend redeeming miles this way. I’d much rather pay cash and use my miles for more worthwhile redemptions.

A few things to note for Admirals Club members:

  • You can only use Admirals Clubs when flying same day on American Airlines, a oneworld partner airline, or Alaska Airlines
  • You can either bring your immediate family members with you (including spouse, domestic partner, and/or children under 18), or up to two guests

Get the Citi Executive AAdvantage Card

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® (review) is one of my all around favorite airline credit cards. The card has a $450 annual fee, and offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember.

In and of itself that represents cost savings compared to a membership, as the cheapest cost an Admirals Club membership is usually $550 per year.

But it gets better than that. Those with the card can add up to 10 authorized users, and each of those authorized users receives Admirals Club access when flying American Airlines same day for them and two guests or immediate family (they don’t have to be flying with the primary cardmember).

Yes, that single $450 annual fee can get up to 11 parties access to Admirals Clubs, which is amazing.

Buy an Alaska Lounge membership

One alternative to getting an Admirals Club membership directly is that you could instead buy an Alaska Lounge membership. This also gets you access to most Admirals Clubs when flying Alaska or American same day.

Do note that the Admirals Club San Francisco is specifically excluded from this partnership, and the terms also note that “access to select American Airlines Admirals Club locations is subject to change without notice.”

Otherwise this is a good option, since the pricing is potentially a bit lower than directly buying an Admirals Club membership.

Alaska Airlines Lounge New York

Buy a day pass

You can buy an Admirals Club day pass for $59 per person. Alternatively, you could redeem 300 points through American’s Business Extra program, which is their small business rewards program.

This is valid for the entire day, so if you’re connecting you can use multiple clubs. These passes can be purchased directly at the club.

While the pass is per person, you can bring up to three children under the age of 18 with you without needing extra passes. You also need to be flying American or a partner airline the same day to buy a day pass.

For the most part I wouldn’t consider this to be a very good deal, unless:

  • You happen to have a very long connection, or multiple very long connections
  • You’re traveling with kids under 18, since they can come with you at no extra cost

Book an eligible business or first class ticket

A standard domestic first class ticket won’t get you access to Admirals Clubs. However, certain types of tickets will.

If you are traveling first or business class on an eligible international or transcontinental flight operated by American or a oneworld partner, you do get lounge access.

Qualifying international flights include flights between the US and:

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Central America
  • Europe
  • Mexico City (but not other destinations in Mexico)
  • New Zealand
  • South America

Qualifying domestic flights include those between the following city pairs:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • JFK and San Francisco (SFO)
  • LAX and Miami (MIA), but only on 777s

Those traveling in business class can’t bring any additional guests, while those traveling in international or transcontinental first class can bring one guest.

Select business class passengers receive lounge access

Have Concierge Key status

This is along the lines of the Admirals Club membership above, but American’s invitation only Concierge Key members receive a complimentary Admirals Club membership, so they’d get Admirals Club access under the same conditions as members.

Have American Airlines AAdvantage elite status

American AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum flyers get Admirals Club access when traveling same day on a oneworld flight between the US and:

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Central America
  • Europe
  • Mexico City (but not other destinations in Mexico)
  • New Zealand
  • South America

You don’t just get access at the international gateway, but rather at all airports throughout your journey.

Eligible AAdvantage elite members can bring one guest with them.

Have oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status with an airline other than American

If you’re a oneworld Sapphire or Emerald member who earns status through a program other than American AAdvantage, you can access Admirals Clubs whenever you’re flying oneworld same day, even if you’re not traveling internationally.

Eligible oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members can bring one guest.

Be an active duty military member

Active duty US military personnel traveling in uniform on a same day American Airlines flight receive complimentary Admirals Club access. You’ll need to present your military ID.

Eligible military personnel can bring two guests or immediately members, including a spouse and children under 18.

What about Flagship Lounge access?

In addition to Admirals Clubs, American Airlines also has Flagship Lounges in ChicagoDallasLos AngelesMiami, and New York. These are American’s premium international lounges, and they offer a much better selection of food and drinks, as well as other elevated amenities.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge Dallas

How do the lounge access requirements compare? Of the above groups, the following also receive Flagship Lounge access:

  • Concierge Key members, and non-AAdvantage oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members, on any American or oneworld flight
  • Those on all the eligible business and first class tickets mentioned above
  • Those AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum members on itineraries mentioned above

The catch is that not all airports have Flagship Lounges. In other words, if you’re traveling from Tampa to Chicago to London as an Executive Platinum member you could use the Admirals Club in Tampa and then the Admirals Club or Flagship Lounge in Chicago (I’d highly recommend using the latter).

Admirals Club & Flagship Lounge Miami entrance

Bottom line

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to get American Airlines lounge access, in particular for Admirals Clubs.

These American Airlines lounges are primarily membership clubs, and if you are considering a membership, I’d highly recommend getting the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card instead. The card has a $450 annual fee so you’re already saving at least $100, and then you can get access for authorized users as well.

On top of that, select premium cabin passengers and oneworld elite members also receive Admirals Club access.

Hopefully the above clears up everything you could want to know about American Airlines lounge access. If I missed anything, please let me know.

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Comments
  1. What are your thoughts on the AU access for the Citi Exec Card going away this year, or Citi starting to charge for AUs? Citi oddly removed all reference to free access for AUs from their marketing materials online (it’s still in the fine print T&Cs though) a few months ago. With past changes that they’ve made to, for example, the Prestige Card– it was the same thing. They quietly stopped advertising it for some time, and then eventually announced the change to existing cardholders. (There was also that whole issue with someone trying to add an AU online around the same time a few months ago and the system indicated a $175 charge, which Citi later said was an IT error. Hmmm…)

  2. Also, if you’re a non-AA Oneworld emerald (not sure about sapphire), you get 2 free premium drinks at Admirals Clubs.

  3. Lucky, what are the rules on AC/Flagship for those who arrived on an international longhaul business class ticket. IE just landed into PHL on a QR J award with AA miles and connecting to an AA domestic flight in economy. Do I have access to the AC or flagship if there was one?

  4. Lucky – Also worth mentioning access granted through Alaska Lounge membership. It is a good option for travelers that often fly Alaska and AA. I believe the only AA club I don’t get access to is SFO which won’t be a problem when Alaska Lounge opens later this year.

  5. @ Alex — Yep, you’d have access to either the Admirals Club or a Flagship Lounge (if the one in PHL opens in time).

  6. @ DWT — Yeah, it’s a great question, and really all I can do is speculate. The benefit does in many ways seem too good to be true, but it has been around for years, so…

    I’m enjoying it while it’s still around!

  7. It is also worth mentioning that you can buy memberships and day passes with AA Business Extra Points and it is a way to use AmEx Airline Credits.

  8. Thanks for the timely article. I’m still a bit confused. I’m flying roundtrip between Phoenix and Miami on AA in business/first class. Does my ticket entitle me to AA lounge access in Phoenix and Miami?

    If it does, which is better: the AMEX centurion lounge or the AA lounge in Phoenix?

    if it does, which is better: the AMEX centurion lounge or the AA lounge in Miami?

    Thanks

  9. @ dsenter – Under the benefits section it says airport lounge day passes are considered incidental fees. I’ve gotten credit on both United and Alaska for lounge access using my AMEX cards.

  10. Sorry — to clarify — I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card and have loved using it. However, I just moved from Chicago to Seattle so the Alaska Lounges are my only option. If I am flying Alaska or American with the card — do I get access to the Alaska Lounges?

  11. Aztec, I can vouch for the fact you do get 2 premium drinks per member and did so in Charleston last October

  12. I travel between MIA and HAV and I have One World applicable status with QR. I come a couple of hours early to MIA, and enjoy a nice breakfast at the Flagship Lounge. Since it opened in MIami, I have not used Admirals Club or AMEX CLUB. I gave up my Admirals Club membership as QR elite status was all that was all that was necessary. AA status gets me into lots of OW lounges in SE Asia and QR status is excellent while flying domestic or to the Caribbean from MIA.
    I truly appreciate this fringe benefit of QR elite status.

  13. A trick I discovered during IRROPS one time, is that you can get a free day pass by applying for an AA credit card at the club itself.

    A friendly AA employee (yes they may be rare but do exist) directed me to this loophole in order for the lounge agents to rebook my flights when the customer service line was 12 people deep. I did not otherwise have club access.

  14. Something must be missing in the flagship requirement? Not long ago I used the flagship lounge in LAX flying J in QR, with Oneworld status.

  15. As among the last of the lucky people who bought Lifetime Admirals Club memberships in the 1980s when was only $1800 for me and my wife, I have gotten super value.

    I think we can still use the club when flying on any airline.

    Also the club attendants are super impressed when present the card. ahhaha

  16. I have found day passes arent always available. I have been told at DFW, JFK (international terminal), and LHR that passes were not offered. I wish there were a way you could book a pass online ahead of time.

  17. If you are flying domestically in the US, you have Sapphire status (via Iberia), can you enter the flagship lounges as well?

  18. @ Mark — I think I mentioned it? “Those on all the eligible business and first class tickets mentioned above,” and that was in reference to long haul American and oneworld partner flights.

  19. @ Matt — Yep, you get access to Alaska or American lounges with an Admirals Club membership when flying either Alaska or American. So you’d be covered in Seattle. 🙂

  20. Admiral’s club lounges seems to have gotten noticeably less crowded in many airports thanks to the change in requirement to have a same day AA, Alaska or OW partner flight. Probably didn’t make much difference at MIA since AA has terminals B&C pretty much to themselves, but in DC, it’s shown many JetBlue flyers the door.

    Another way to get it free is with certain other bank/brokerage credit cards (which may not be generally available). My UBS Visa card will pay for any airline membership with 50k of spending each year, or with less spending, will pay $250 as part of its annual credits for airline charge (as an EP I tend not to have any of these other airline charges anyway).

  21. The concept of “membership clubs” is totally unknown to us in Europe. You get into the airline lounge because of status with the airline and it was quite a surprise to me that things don’t work this way in North America and even the highest status card holders might not get into the lounge!
    In a way it’s irrelevant to us though since our non-AA airline status cards work the same way in AA lounges in the USA as in other lounges worldwide. It is even nicer that one world emerald gets you into the flagship AA lounges even with a domestic economy flight.

  22. No access if you are first class or business class on a domestic flight?
    That’s pretty low because some domestic flights cost more for business or first class than many short haul international flights.
    Years ago I was in the AA lounge and was offended that there was only a selection of soft drinks and snacks complementary (e.g. nuts and chips, but that’s about it) and it was all pay for purchase.
    As they do not work with American Express and they have many exclusions I guess that is one reason why many of them are much calmer.

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