Review: American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport

Filed Under: American
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I arrived from Luanda early in the morning, then spent the day at the Marriott Sao Paulo Airport napping and working, and then at 4PM headed back to the airport for my 10:30PM flight to Los Angeles.

While I’ve flown to & from Sao Paulo Guarulhos Airport before, I’ve never used Terminal 3, which is the airport’s newest terminal. It was beautiful, especially compared to the other terminals at the airport. The check-in area was spacious and well organized.

Sao Paulo Airport Terminal 3

I already had my boarding pass, so skipped check-in and headed straight for immigration. There are tons of late night flights out of this terminal, so at the time it was still quite empty, and I was through both security and immigration within about five minutes.

The terminal’s airside was equally nice, with high ceilings and plenty of high-end shopping.

Sao Paulo Airport Terminal 3

Terminal 3 has some decent lounge options, including both an Admirals Club and a LATAM Lounge. I checked out both of them during my visit, and in this installment will be reviewing the Admirals Club. The escalators leading up to the lounges were immediately past immigration and to the left.

Escalator to lounges Sao Paulo Airport

Once on the mezzanine level (third floor), the Admirals Club was at the end of the hall on the left. It had one of the nicer looking Admirals Club exteriors that I’ve seen. The lounge is open daily from 6:30AM until 12AM.

As a reminder, the Admirals Club can be accessed by oneworld first & business class passengers, oneworld Emerald & Sapphire members, and Admirals Club members. Assuming you have access to US credit cards, the best way to get an Admirals Club membership is with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. The card has a $450 annual fee, though the primary cardmember gets an Admirals Club membership, and you can add up to 10 authorized users at no additional cost, and each of them gets Admirals Club access as well.

American Airlines Admirals Club Sao Paulo exterior

The lounge very much matches the new style of Admirals Clubs, and there were three podiums, one of which was staffed. I was advised that there would be a boarding call for my flight, and was given the wifi password.

American Airlines Admirals Club Sao Paulo reception

Near the entrance was a smaller seating area with a mirror and a sculpture, which seemed to be more decorative than anything, as I never saw anyone sitting there.

American Airlines Admirals Club Sao Paulo seating

The rest of the lounge was clearly designed in a way that maximizes seating capacity, though I thought at least they did a pretty good job in terms of how they furnished it. Past that initial room was a small room with a bit over a dozen seats.

American Airlines Admirals Club Sao Paulo seating

There were a few magazines and newspapers, though mainly just the American Way magazine, which isn’t exactly great reading material.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport magazines & newspapers

Then around the corner was the main part of the lounge. First was an entertainment zone, with a couple of dozen seats facing a couple of wall-mounted TVs.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo seating

Then there was a large, traditional lounge seating area with dozens of seats facing one another. Each seat had outlets, which is a feature that I appreciate.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo seating

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo seating

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

Then there was an area with dining tables as well as some high-top tables (which almost seemed out of place).

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

There were also some communal workstations in this area with rolling chairs. In one section the table was continuous, while in another section it had partitions between each seat. Some of the stations had PCs, while others had nothing on them.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport business center

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport business center

Along the center hallway of the lounge was a long bench with more seating. I’ve never found this type of seating to be terribly comfortable, though it is cool-looking.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

Then the lounge had two buffet areas, each of which had even more seating. Again, I just find the high-top seating to be quite random.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport buffet area

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport seating

As you’ll notice, the lounge was really empty when I photographed it, though it filled up over time, which makes sense, given that most American flights leave out of Sao Paulo in the late evening.

The two buffets had very similar food and drink selections, and collectively were much better than the typical Admirals Club fare. Sao Paulo doesn’t have a Flagship Lounge, though the food selection almost seemed like a hybrid between an Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport buffet

There were cold cuts, veggies, salad, a selection of bread, fresh fruit, and all kinds of tasty-looking desserts.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport food selection

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport fruit & sweets

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport sweets

There were two types of soup, including tomato soup and manioc soup with shredded jerked beef.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport soup

There were also several hot dishes, including ragu with tomato sauce, and pumpkin pie with caramelized onions.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport buffet

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport buffet

Then there were five more hot dishes in pots.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport food selection

In terms of drinks, there were canisters with infused water and orange juice, a Nescafe coffee machine, tea, soft drinks and bottled water, and a selection of wine and liquor.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport juice & water

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport coffee machine

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport drinks

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport buffet

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport wine selection

The Admirals Club had nice bathrooms, and several private shower suites, though I didn’t have a chance to check them out.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo bathroom

There was also a play area for kids.

American Admirals Club Sao Paulo kids area

I spent a bit of time in the Admirals Club and then headed over to the LATAM Lounge, which I’ll review in the next installment. My American flight was scheduled to board at 9:40PM at gate 313, so I left the lounge at around 9:20PM. It’s quite a haul from the lounges to the gate, as the terminal is huge, and there are limited moving sidewalks.

Sao Paulo Airport terminal

As I quickly discovered, gate 313 is in fact a remote gate, so I had to take the escalator down a level.

Escalator to Sao Paulo Airport departure gate

Escalator to departure gate Sao Paulo Airport

With six gates downstairs, there really wasn’t enough seating, so I don’t recommend coming down here any earlier than you have to.

Sao Paulo Airport departure gate

They did have well organized boarding lanes, though. Boarding didn’t start at 9:40PM, though. At around 9:45PM it was announced that “due to traffic around the airport, our crew has arrived late, and we will be boarding in about 10 minutes.” Traffic in Sao Paulo? You don’t say! 😉

The crew started to show up at around 9:50PM, and then at 9:55PM boarding began.

American boarding gate Sao Paulo Airport

We all piled onto the bus, and by 10PM we were at the plane. Ah, the 787 has such beautiful engines (when they’re working as they should be)!

American 787 Sao Paulo Airport

Admirals Club Sao Paulo Airport bottom line

The Admirals Club Sao Paulo is one of the nicest Admirals Clubs I’ve been to. That’s not saying a whole lot, since I can’t really think of many Admirals Clubs I otherwise like. They don’t exactly rank at the top of the best airport lounges. Beyond that, I thought Terminal 3 was a huge improvement over the other terminals I’ve used at the airport.

The lounge was empty at first, though over time filled up. The LATAM Lounge next door never got as full, which sure makes me wonder why more people don’t use that, given that all first & business class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald & Sapphire members, have access to that. I’ll share my thoughts on that lounge in the next installment.

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  1. Yes, they’re all new, bright, shiny, and potentially an improvement on the old ones. The showers, for the clubs that have them, are certainly nicer. But….

    Maybe it’s just me, but the “new” AAdmirals Club interiors, that they’re standardizing system-wide, look more like a corporate office breakroom than a “lounge/oasis” amidst a terminal. The seating areas in this one almost look like an office cube-farm without the desks. And, with minimal soft surfaces/fabrics on walls/floors/seating, there is little to absorb sound leaving them quite noisy at times.

  2. Sao Paulo’s Terminal 3 is indeed very nice and thankfully they are in the process of renovating Terminal 2 (the GOL Smiles/Premium lounge has also been renovated). The short lines at security are actually pretty common as in Brazil, security lines tend to be very efficient (unlike in the US).

  3. Just to let you know this AA lounge is at least 2 years old since it was the last time i was there and indeed it is a really nice one. Lounges in Brazil usually have a very nice selection of local food/snacks and local juices and beverages.

  4. Nice review but you work too hard, Lucky! See what you wrote “I arrived from Luanda early in the morning, then spent the day at the Marriott Sao Paulo Airport napping and working, and then at 4PM headed back to the airport”

    You didn’t see Sao Paulo at all. Granted, it’s just a huge city but too bad you didn’t stay for one day. Lucky, try to live life a little while you’re still young. See a city for a day or half day, not just do nice reviews for us.

  5. Hey Ben, the link up top to the Luanda Lounge is broken on each page. Just a heads up. Otherwise a fun read!

  6. @Dave – Canada: could not agree more. Sao Paulo is not a nice city to visit but has the most amazing restaurants one can imagine. It a vey cosmopolitan city with the largest Lebanese and Japanese population outide those countries. Add that to Italians and Portuguese populations you can only imagine the quality of food there. Then add Brazilian cuisine with amazing cuts of meat, seafood and cheese bread. You won’t find any of these at the Marriott airport hotel.

  7. Wait a minute?? The crew arrived at 9.50 PM and boarding began 5 min later at 9.55 PM?? That must be the quickest preparation of the cabin for a long haul or nothing at all ! You need time to look, if all your security equipments are on place and working..the seats are equiped with working seatbelts and safety procedure leaflets, the food and utensil carts have to be put on the right place or sequence so it will be easier and less time consuming during service..etc…and all these in 5 min.?? So I should assume because of the delay the cabin crew did not procede with proper preparations pre flight..this an alarming negligence!!

  8. @John – the corporate office break room comment is spot on. It’s the first thing that came to my mind too.

  9. I realize that this post/question is strange. However, I travel to Brazil frequently and have often asked this question but never received an answer that made sense.

    Considering that there is a review of the terminal 3 at Sao Paulo, I agree that the new GRU (3) airport terminal is nice. The review fairly well mirrors my opinion of the relatively new terminal.

    However, the review does not address an issue I have concerning the mens’ restroom, particularly at the urinals.

    At each urinal there is installed, a large shelve about average eye level and where most men would stand when using the urinal. Having the shelf mounted on the wall and sticking out more than a foot from the wall prevents the average male from getting close to the urinal when using it.

    Similar type shelves are in all of the terminals at GRU and at GIG and some other Brazilian airports.

    Consequently, when approaching urinals at these airports, there is often misdirected urinal on the floor in front of each urinal. Needless to say, this is not a pleasant thing to see.

    Like I said in my opening sentence, my question is strange.

    Is there anyone who visits these Brazilian airports who has a correct answer for why those shelves are placed eye level at all urinals?

    When I asked about the shelves in the past, I was given many guesses that do not make sense.

    With luck, someone will KNOW the reason rather than guess at one.

    Sorry to be blunt but I find those shelves irritating, unnecessary and quite strange.

  10. Does the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard get you reciprocal entrance benefits at other oneworld lounges, or it just entrance to Admirals Clubs? I’m debating whether to keep up my AA status for the international lounge access or whether to just get this card. Thanks!

  11. @Xtina – No. In general, it doesn’t. The one exception is that it gets you access to Qantas lounges while flying Qantas in Australia.

  12. Congestion is São Paulo, hah. In 2010 I had an AC flight out of gru, I was close to Congonhas, the downtown airport. It’s usually a short trip, but it rained. My bus left cgh at 4pm, we got to the airport at 10pm. The flight was scheduled for 10pm, but to my surprise check in was still open. The crew showed up at midnight. I asked the lady at check in for a business class upgrade, only about 50 passengers made it to the airport, no need to upgrade, everyone in economy got 3 seats to themselves. That was my second best eco flight ever.

  13. If one has a long layover in gru, one can check internacional shoping in guarulhos. There’s a free shuttle from the airport. Huge mall with one of my favorite restaurants in Brazil, I don’t know the name, but you pay per kilo. Excellent for killing time, eating Brazilian junk food and people watching.

  14. Looks like a functional lounge, but the vibe seems really depressing. Hospital waiting area and hospital cafeteria is spot on.

  15. I happen to think American Way magazine is pretty awesome… if you could grab one from the lounge you could be sure that the sudoku/crosswords aren’t already done…

  16. Reading the reviews and looking at the pictures of both the AA and LA lounges at GRU, gives a glimpse of the income inequality in Brazil. The gap must be ginormous!

    There must be a demand and the ability to pay for such aesthetics, concentrated at the top of society (i.e. favoring those who travel in premium cabins on non-low cost carriers), for both AA and LA to offer such a superior product on the ground, in an emerging economy with a relatively high GINI coefficient (albeit declining).

  17. @TheRealBabushka you got that right. The gap is ridiculously huge. The rich are indeed very rich, and unfortunately there is a huge poor population. T3 and the lounges are extremely nice, even to Ben’s surprise, because the brazilian rich love very nice things. The high end malls in Sao Paulo concentrate the best stores and you won’t see a brazilian rich woman not wearing heels to the mall.

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