While there are many things I love about San Diego, the lounge situation at the airport has not, traditionally, been one of them.
The agents at the old Admirals Club were outrageously nice, but the space itself left plenty to be desired. The new facility is shared (and managed by) Airspace, and I think they might have the most generous lounge access policies I’ve ever encountered.
Accessing the San Diego Airspace lounge as an Admirals Club
To start, because the Airspace lounge is operated in partnership with the American Admirals Club, all the same access rules apply.
- Citi Executive AAdvantage cardholders actually have an Admirals Club membership, so you can access the lounge regardless of which airline you’re flying. Again, this applies to primary cardholders only.
Premium passengers on the JAL and British Airways flights can also use this lounge, which is identifiable as an Admirals Club from the presence of the Snack Towers Of Sadness.
If you’re a premium passenger on JAL, there’s an additional selection of complimentary items as well:
The lounge staff are incredibly accommodating, and I’ve seen them offer items off the regular menu to JAL guests as well, so there seems to be quite a bit of flexibility.
Anyone can access the Airspace lounge
While the Admirals Club benefit is muchly appreciated, you don’t want to buy a day pass to this lounge through American. Instead, you’ll want to access this lounge as an Airspace lounge.
Anyone can access this lounge for just $25 per person, which given the abysmal WiFi speeds and perpetual state of construction in the rest of the terminal, isn’t a horrible price.
Particularly since at least in San Diego, Airspace offers a $10 food and beverage credit for each guest. This is issued in the form of a gift card, which the front desk agents will load with $10 for every person in the party.
This credit is good towards anything on the menu, including the JAL-specific items if you ask nicely. While it’s not an expansive selection, the food at least seems to be pretty high quality. Prices for spirits and cocktails are mostly in line with what one would typically pay in San Diego (which is a sad commentary in and of itself, but I digress).
Paying $25 and receiving $10 back towards the above items is a decent deal, but for many of us, there’s an even better option.
Accessing the San Diego Airspace lounge through American Express
Airspace has a partnership with American Express, whereby Platinum and Centurion cardholders can access the lounge as well.
- This means that whether you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Mercedes Benz Platinum Card from American Express, or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you can access the Airspace lounge regardless of which airline you’re flying.
- As opposed to the PriorityPass Select benefit, you don’t have to activate anything prior to using the Airspace lounge — it’s not a separate membership, so you can just present your card at the entrance for access.
The agreement between Amex and Airspace is as follows:
While the official rules state Amex cardholders can bring two guests, in practice agents will allow you to bring your spouse/partner and unlimited children. I’m not sure how useful that is in reality, but it’s a great data point.
Access rules and details from LoungeBuddy
And here’s where this gets awesome.
Because the $10 credit is part of the “complimentary offerings,” you still receive a $10 gift card for each member of your party when entering the lounge courtesy of Amex.
This obviously doesn’t quite compare to a Centurion lounge, but for what is effectively a (nice) contract lounge, this seems like a super generous policy.
If you find yourself in San Diego, this is effectively your only lounge option, so you might as well make the most of it whether you have a credit card with lounge access or just need to pay to enter.
There are so many complimentary ways to enter this lounge, though I don’t think the paid option is terrible in a pinch either. If you have the choice to access the Airspace lounge through American Express, versus as an Admirals Club, definitely do so to take advantage of the food and beverage credit!
Has anyone visited a lounge with similar policies?