My Airline Coffee Dreams Have Come True!

Filed Under: American

I’m a bit of a coffee addict. People always ask me how I deal with jetlag, living in different timezones, etc. I have three simple tricks: coffee, coffee, and coffee. I know I’ll be lectured about how it’s bad for me, etc., but it doesn’t change my desire for coffee. And as a result, coffee is something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

In late August I wrote about one major frustration I have with the coffee in US airline lounges. Specifically, they never have “to go” cups for coffee. Instead they have either mugs or small styrofoam cups which aren’t intended to be taken with you.


Now, I get that drinks and snacks are intended for consumption within the lounge (and I’ve even been known to play lounge police when people take it to an extreme), but I’d pay if airline lounges sold “to go” cups for coffee. Why?

  • While some non-US carriers have great coffee (even custom made espresso beverages), the coffee on most US airlines is vile; it’s made using the water in the plane’s tanks, and I have to question how sanitary that is
  • I don’t mind paying for coffee at an airport coffeeshop, though the lines for coffee in a terminal can get extremely long; I don’t usually have 10+ minutes to wait for a cup of coffee before an early morning flight


While I wished airlines would just offer free “to go” cups, I would certainly settle for “to go” cups for sale, as it would save me a significant amount of time.

So imagine my delight when I visited the same Admirals Club today, and saw new, larger, sturdier, coffee cups with lids.


Perhaps not as useful for an afternoon flight as a morning flight, but you can bet it’ll still be my pre-departure beverage, as it’s always coffee o’clock in my world!


Kudos to American on this change. While I realize this sounds minor to most, it sort of made my day.

Have you noticed similar cups at other Admirals Clubs? I’m trying to figure out if this is a fluke, or a systemwide change? Anyone else excited at the prospect of having proper “to go” coffee cups?

  1. I think recent studies show that coffee isn’t bad for your health at all. However the body is getting used to the coffeine pretty fast, so I still don’t know you handle jetlag… At some point you just cannot drink more coffee!

  2. It seems like the cups in the first picture do have lids, though – the cups in the next photo are an improvement, but I don’t see why you couldn’t have used the first ones as to-go cups?

  3. US/AA club at DCA has had those cups for as long as I can remember. Must be special for the “beltway insiders” all the flyover folks gripe about 🙂

  4. I’ve been visiting the ORD H/K club almost weekly and they’ve been there for as long as I can remember.

  5. Wait, AA is not offering ice cream infused coffee drinks? You are setting the bar too low for coffee dreams.

  6. Sorry but the thought of American coffee makes me gag! I’m sure you’ve had real coffee when you’ve come to Melbourne? 😉 I’d rather get a “lack of caffeine” headache than drink American coffee!

  7. As a fellow caffeine-addict/coffee lover I’m also thrilled by this! Flying out of Term C at DFW on Friday and will have to check this out in the Admirals Club rather than hitting up Starbucks.

    Now if we can just improve the coffee AA serves in-air that’ll be major progress!

  8. Have to agree the cups have been available at LAX for at least a year. I really like the new automated dispenser for lattes too.

  9. I can’t say I’ve monitored too closely, but I feel like whenever I’ve wanted a to-go cup with a lid, they’ve been there. Certainly the last few times I’ve passed through PHL they’ve been there.

  10. @Lucky, you are going to have to get out to Australia and visit a Virgin Australia lounge. From opening until about 6pm they have barista made coffee in take away cups and it tastes really good compared to most coffee outlets in the airports. Maybe start doing individual lounge coffee reviews?

  11. That’s the TPA AA, formerly US, lounge, right? I think it’s a vestige from US. Coincidentally, I was just there on Sunday and found the cups are also great for soup!

  12. Ben,

    I found that the Starbucks $2 plastic cups (used to be $1) offered at the register are a good bargain for travel, and often buy one when I’m en route. They’re not as watertight and cool as Contigo, Kleen Kanteen, or the like, but they are light weight, easy to rinse out, and if you lose it, well, you can buy another one! Sounds like the perfect solution to your problem!

  13. Could care less about the cups. When I read this headline l got excited that maybe American was upgrading their coffee to human (non-prison)coffee

  14. Semi related but I’m happy after many years of requesting it that AA has now switched to paper inflight cups with a sleeve instead of gas station grade styrofoam. Better for environment too. If only the coffe inside was as improved.

  15. There are actually people who find a significant difference in coffee served in paper cups and coffee served in foam cups? Good grief, get over yourself.

  16. I have to side with @ScttSchwartz and @Jen as a snobbish Aussie. Qantas & Virgin lounges have baristas serving real lattes, and flat whites, and cappuccinos. Why anyone cares about consuming tasteless black water from a giant heated urn in an Admirals Club is beyond me. Airplane coffee is terrible… but no worse, in my experience, than most coffee that Americans happily drink.

  17. US Airways lounges have had those to-go cups always. There is nothing like a nice double espresso, cappucino to take with me to the plane on morning flights. Singles in the afternoon.
    Welcome to my world! 😉

  18. Just came back from Colombia. Among the places we went, we spent 3 days in the “Eje cafetero” (Coffee axis). A trip you should make if you are a coffee addict as I am. We spent a day just visiting coffee farms and doing tastings, among them Finca San Alberto which is supposedly Colombias most prized beans in international tastings.

  19. @Rand — What are you talking about? America is the only country where stale, filter-drip coffee pots are considered acceptable. I dunno what “coffee craze” you’re talking about (Starbucks??) but the Italians have been obsessing over coffee for centuries, and their delicate, artisinal tradition is what was exported to Australia. It’s still almost impossible to find a cup of coffee made with love in America, outside of hipster enclaves like Brooklyn, Los Feliz, The Mission. As a German friend of mine says: “Ahh, Americans. The people who think beer needs to be fresh but coffee doesn’t.” 😉

  20. I am with @Jen and @Josh – can’t understand why anyone would drink filter coffee…
    Few years ago I was in Honolulu and had a weird experience – you could have Kona coffee but ONLY from the dripper “urn”. WTF? What a waste!

  21. There are hundreds of studies on coffee. They’re about 50-50 on good/bad. The huge nurse’s study (80,000 participants?) showed that those who drank more than two cups per day had slightly elevated cholesterol but no increase in heart disease. Coffee contains antioxidants and other goodies besides the almighty Caffeine.

    For home use, the cheap AND fantastic Aeropress kicks ass on every drip machine I’ve ever used and hangs with most espresso machines, no prob. Created by the inventor of the Aerobie, it’s a masterpiece. Use a Bodum or other conical burr grinder for your organic beans and you’re set.

    For outside the house, to-go cups of any stripe-paper, foam, whatever, are so over. First, they don’t keep coffee hot for more than what? a couple-five minutes? Depending on your SS (sipping speed), you spend the rest of the time drinking progressively colder and more tasteless coffee. NOT TO MENTION the fact that you’re sipping through some cheap-ass plastic lid and from a cup that does nothing to add to the taste, and in fact detracts therefrom. Then, of course, after a few short minutes, the long- or ever-lasting cup is discarded and added to the waste stream that so many of us are oblivious to or choose to ignore the consequences of.

    The solution to always having a cup to take, having hot and as tasty coffee as you started with, as well as redressing a small portion of our eco-crimes, is the spillproof insulated cup. The full-size Thermoses and the mini-thermoses are the kings of keeping the beverages hot, and are just fine, but lack some of the convenience of a pop-open sipping portal. After trying all of the big four brands that I’m aware of–Contigo, Trudeau, Thermos, and Oxo–that make the spillproof insulated cups, my judgment, with little fear of valid contradiction, is that first, they all lie about how long your drink will stay hot. Two hours? Four hours? My ass.

    In order, the Contigo, Oxo, the Trudeau, and the Thermos are more to less convenient to open and close quickly and easily. With a little care, they are all truly spillproof. For what really makes the difference, though, the Oxo is hands down the best at preserving liquid temperature. Not great, but if you preheat the stainless cup (true for all brands), you’ll get pretty good coffee temperature maintenance for somewhere around 30-50 minutes, depending on ambient temps and what the cup is sitting on, e.g., heat-sapping metal vs. warmy wood. All three have a hard plastic lip parking structure, of which Oxo takes the lead slightly if at all. Out of coffee or already trembling sufficiently? Well, now you have a nice ecological reusable unbreakable water, juice, smoothie, or margarita mug that will keep your liquid at its desired temp for use at your seat or in your car or by your bed at night. The Oxo is about $20 at places like Bed Bath and Beyond and maybe some Whole Foods. When mine have failed in the past (the design has now improved some), I have gone to the nearest BB&B and traded the leaky one in on a brand newbie with nary a receipt nor an argument.

    Oh, and Starbucks takes a dime off the outrageous cost for bringing your own container. I’m saving up for a Ferrari Berlinetta with my credits.

  22. Whenever I have a tight connection, I arrive to the airport late, the line at Starbucks is extremely long, etc and I am in desperate need for Starbucks, I use the mobile order option in the Starbucks app. It can be really glitchy sometimes (all the time) but it comes in handy! When I am packing up to leave the lounge, I open the app, order it, and by the time I get to Starbucks, my drink is waiting for me!

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