How To Access American Airlines Admirals Clubs (2021)

How To Access American Airlines Admirals Clubs (2021)

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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 globally. While some temporarily closed during the pandemic, a vast majority of lounge locations have reopened.

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 United States.

In this post I wanted to take a comprehensive look at how American Airlines lounge access works, especially since American has tweaked some policies recently (especially as it impacts Hawaii flights, as well as short haul international flights).

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 Wi-Fi, 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, and 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 with 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 value AAdvantage miles at 1.5 cents each). I’d much rather pay cash and use my miles for more worthwhile redemptions.

As a last option, you could also redeem 3,300 points through American’s Business Extra program for an annual membership. For those of you not familiar, this is American’s small business rewards program. Personally I’d rather redeem my Business Extra points in another way, but it’s an option.

A few things to note for Admirals Club members:

  • You can only use Admirals Clubs when flying same day on American Airlines or a oneworld partner airline
  • 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 AAdvantage Executive 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 for 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.

For most this will be a significantly better deal than outright buying an Admirals Club membership. That’s because an Alaska Lounge membership costs $300-450 per year, depending on your status, compared to American’s pricing of $550-650 per year.

This has been an awesome arbitrage opportunity, as it has almost always been a better deal than outright buying an Admirals Club membership.

Unfortunately this opportunity will soon come to an end. As of October 2021, the cost of an Alaska Lounge membership will increase. If you want an Alaska Lounge Plus membership (which gets access to Admirals Clubs as well), you’ll have to pay:

  • $600 annually if you’re a Mileage Plan non-elite member
  • $500 annually if you’re a Mileage Plan MVP, MVP Gold, or MVP Gold 75K members

Alaska Airlines Lounge New York

Buy a day pass

You can buy an Admirals Club day pass for $59 per person, or for 300 American Business Extra points (these are different than American AAdvantage miles).

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 premium domestic flight operated by American or a oneworld partner, you do get lounge access.

Qualifying international itineraries include flights between the United States and:

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Caribbean (this includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, even though they’re part of the US)
  • Central America
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • South America

There’s just one exception — if you’re an Alaska Airlines first class passenger traveling between the United States and Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico (excluding Mexico City), you wouldn’t get Admirals Club access.

Qualifying domestic itineraries include those between the following city pairs:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO)
  • New York (JFK) and Orange County (SNA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA)
  • Dallas (DFW) and Honolulu (HNL)
  • Dallas (DFW) and Kona (KOA)
  • Dallas (DFW) and Maui (OGG)
  • Chicago (ORD) and Honolulu (HNL)
  • Charlotte (CLT) and Honolulu (HNL)

Those traveling in business class can’t bring any additional guests, while those traveling in international first class or transcontinental A321T 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 United States and:

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • South America

There’s just one exception — if you’re a oneworld elite member flying Alaska Airlines between the United States and Canada, the Caribbean, and Mexico (excluding Mexico City), you wouldn’t get Admirals Club access.

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 a foreign program

If you’re a oneworld Sapphire or Emerald member who earns status through a program other than American AAdvantage or Alaska Mileage Plan, 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 United States 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.

These lounges have been closed during the pandemic, but are expected to reopen soon. Specifically, the Flagship Lounge Miami is expected to open in September 2021, and the remaining Flagship Lounges are expected to gradually reopen throughout the fall of 2021.

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-American AAdvantage and non-Alaska Mileage Plan oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members, on any American or oneworld flight
  • Those on eligible business and first class itineraries
  • Those AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Mileage Plan MVP Gold, and Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K members on eligible itineraries

What are eligible itineraries for the purposes of Flagship Lounge access? Qualifying business and first class itineraries include the following:

  • Between the US and Asia
  • Between the US and Australia
  • Between the US and Europe
  • Between the US and New Zealand
  • Between the US and South America (excluding Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela)
  • Between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Between New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO)
  • Between New York (JFK) and Orange County (SNA)
  • Between Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA)
  • Between Dallas (DFW) and Honolulu (HNL)
  • Between Dallas (DFW) and Kona (KOA)
  • Between Dallas (OGG) and Maui (OGG)
  • Between Chicago (ORD) and Honolulu (HNL)
  • Between Charlotte (CLT) and Honolulu (HNL)

Then Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage elite members get Flagship Lounge access in all of the above markets when not in first or business class, except the nine domestic city pairs 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).

Lastly, American will also start selling Flagship Lounge access for $150.

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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  1. DaninMCI

    The deal-killer for me on AA lounges is when they added the "You can only use Admirals Clubs when flying same-day on American Airlines or a Oneworld partner airline" rule. I used to fly AA a ton but also a mix of other airlines at times. This has made me less loyal to AA and it devalued my Citi AA Exec card. They should have cut back on the 10 AU's with access instead.
    ...

    The deal-killer for me on AA lounges is when they added the "You can only use Admirals Clubs when flying same-day on American Airlines or a Oneworld partner airline" rule. I used to fly AA a ton but also a mix of other airlines at times. This has made me less loyal to AA and it devalued my Citi AA Exec card. They should have cut back on the 10 AU's with access instead.
    You can also get access by using business advantage points to buy day passes for you or another person.

    1. Scotes

      Totally agree here on that bit given my comment above and the new partnership with JetBlue.

      I really would love to hear from someone who actually has 10 AUs on this card. 3, maybe even 4 I'll go for in some circumstances... but 10??

  2. Steve

    Citibank Private Client customers get the AAdvantage Executive Mastercard for free the first year and pay $305 after that. So that's a free year of club membership followed by the cheapest price available going forward.

    Hard to beat that especially since you also get the sign up bonus, currently 50,000 AA miles.

  3. Scotes

    So here’s a question… Flying JetBlue out of T5 at LAX next week. Have the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. With the we’re reciprocal but not quite fully yet arrangement AA and JetBlue now have can I access the Admirals Club there?

    Searching FlyerTalk has this as a no back in March/April as well as earlier last month but with how they are rolling things out wondering if anyone has had any luck.

    1. Eskimo

      Where did you get the info that lounge access was part of the reciprocal arrangements?

      I admit I'm not following this that deep, but I don't remember lounge access anywhere.
      So I'm going to say No JetBlue access for the foreseeable future.

    2. Scotes

      I say reciprocal in the slow doling out of things like status, codeshares, elite status and the like... cold molasses moves faster than the introduction of their how their arrangement is working.

      Lounge access is not one of the things that has been mentioned but if JB and AA are going to play the come join OneWorld but just with us so you don't really have to join OW than you would think allowing lounge...

      I say reciprocal in the slow doling out of things like status, codeshares, elite status and the like... cold molasses moves faster than the introduction of their how their arrangement is working.

      Lounge access is not one of the things that has been mentioned but if JB and AA are going to play the come join OneWorld but just with us so you don't really have to join OW than you would think allowing lounge access for AC members flying on your partner airline would be one of those things you wuld do in the name of customer service. But we all know where AA is on that front...

      And to update I went and contacted AC customer service and after first giving me back their boilerplate response confirmed that on my ticket/membership I can not access the club. I can add my AA ff# tom ay reservation and get miles but they're not partner enough to recognize it for club entry. Also, to clarify, this is neither a route that AA flies direct nor is it available as a codeshare.

  4. Zebraitis

    There is yet another way:
    Amex Plat give $200 credit
    Hilton Amex Aspire gives $250 credit.
    That's $450 toward your club membership.
    Realize you will need to call the AA club desk for them to take two cards.

    1. Allen

      This is the "side door" approach that I use to get the annual membership nearly free. Note that if you have more than 2 AmEx cards with a flight credit, unfortunately, AA won't accept more than credit cards; so it's best to use the 2 with the largest credits.

  5. fordpickup

    Can you enter the club using an Alaska same-day ticket with the AAdvantage Executive card? I've seen conflicting reports on this.

    1. Eskimo

      Hello? Is that John from August 5, 2021, 1:23 pm?

  6. michael

    i dont understand why they had to "exclude" certain south american countries, like Ecuador. I really do consider that a negative move which would take my business elsewhere...

  7. D3kingg

    If I’m flying on American to Asia in economy can I access the lounge in DFW if I’m platinum pro one world emerald ?

    1. JJ

      Yes, you can enter business or first class/flagship lounges as a OWE regardless of class of service.

    2. Eskimo

      I guess with your travel experience you shared here, this is a trick question.

      Not if you're flying D3.

  8. JJ

    Has anyone had an issue lately entering an AC with a different FF# than is on your BP? E.g., if you have AA Platinum # on your BP, but you wanted to enter AC or FL as a OWE/Qatar Platinum I did this several years ago without an issue but wondering if anything changed.

    1. Eskimo

      Normally they will go with what's on the BP. I would guess this has to do with billings?

      Carrying the higher tier membership card sometimes will not work, depending on the agent.
      At worst, they will have to change the FFP on the BP to OW*E and you have to change it back afterwards. But you may run the risk of miles being credit to the wrong place.

      This is a frequent issue for...

      Normally they will go with what's on the BP. I would guess this has to do with billings?

      Carrying the higher tier membership card sometimes will not work, depending on the agent.
      At worst, they will have to change the FFP on the BP to OW*E and you have to change it back afterwards. But you may run the risk of miles being credit to the wrong place.

      This is a frequent issue for checked bag fees and mostly they will go with what is on the BP.
      Your status stays with the airline not you. You can't cherry pick all the benefits from each airline program.

  9. John

    Are you able to access the club using an Alaska Airlines same-day ticket with an AAdvantage Executive card? I see somewhat conflicting opinions about this.

    1. Eskimo

      Officially yes, AS is now Oneworld.

      Unofficially, a lot of agents seem to ignore the memo or training.
      Unfortunately for you, these uninformed agents have the ultimate decision to grant or deny you access.

      Like I constantly say, these frontline workers have way too much power, especially when things turn to worse.

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Scotes

Totally agree here on that bit given my comment above and the new partnership with JetBlue. I really would love to hear from someone who actually has 10 AUs on this card. 3, maybe even 4 I'll go for in some circumstances... but 10??

Scotes

I say reciprocal in the slow doling out of things like status, codeshares, elite status and the like... cold molasses moves faster than the introduction of their how their arrangement is working. Lounge access is not one of the things that has been mentioned but if JB and AA are going to play the come join OneWorld but just with us so you don't really have to join OW than you would think allowing lounge access for AC members flying on your partner airline would be one of those things you wuld do in the name of customer service. But we all know where AA is on that front... And to update I went and contacted AC customer service and after first giving me back their boilerplate response confirmed that on my ticket/membership I can not access the club. I can add my AA ff# tom ay reservation and get miles but they're not partner enough to recognize it for club entry. Also, to clarify, this is neither a route that AA flies direct nor is it available as a codeshare.

Eskimo

Where did you get the info that lounge access was part of the reciprocal arrangements? I admit I'm not following this that deep, but I don't remember lounge access anywhere. So I'm going to say No JetBlue access for the foreseeable future.

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