Is This The Most Generous Lounge Access Policy Ever?

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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.

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.


Bottom line

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?

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  1. This is the lounge that led me to stop chasing lounge status. Sad snacks indeed, I’d rather ‘lounge’ at Starbucks.

  2. Lucky
    I’ve frequented the Airspace lounge in Cleveland almost on a weekly basis and found them to be very accommodating. The have nice snack plates and more comfortable than the UnitedClub. It’s great if your flying American because you can see your plane arrive as well. Overall a great little lounge with friendly people.

  3. Snack Tower of Sadness…has to be the quote of the day! Thanks for the laugh and the info. I will definitely enter with amex in the future!

  4. As anyone who’s read any of my comments already knows, I’m a real fan of witty repartee and a well placed bon mot. I can therefore state with some authority that Snack Tower of Sadness is, in fact, true greatness.

    Tiffany, please, please keep writing!

  5. I was flying Alaska out of SAN, and thought of visiting this lounge with my Amex Plat, but could not, because it is in the different terminal with no easy way between the two.

  6. @ echino — Oh yeah, flying AS is terrible for that reason. I keep hoping they’ll take over the old United club, but in the meantime I try to arrive at the airport about ten minutes before boarding starts so I can avoid Terminal 1 as much as possible.

  7. @ Charles (CMK10) — Hah! I hesitate to even go here, but what about that title do you take umbrage with?

  8. In what world is this the only lounge option in SAN? I didn’t realize this blog had converted to AA-only, as nothing could be further from the truth: both UA and DL have nice new(ish) clubs just down the hall in the other wing of T2. While I certainly love our SAN AAngels, club wise I much prefer the feel of the other two.

  9. Since the JAL items do not have a price, how do they charge you if you want to order from that menu with your $10 GC?

  10. Yep, good post. This lounge needs more recognition. AA leaped ahead of DL and UA for me b/c of this lounge. Very comfortable and great views…especially from the bar; Delta and United’s bars are jokes. The food is great, yes…especially when it’s free; but the best part about this lounge is the espresso. It’s the best among any AA lounge I have been to. Why can’t AA put this concept with Airspace into smaller, new markets that might never get an Admirals Club otherwise? Perhaps MSP/IAH/FLL/SLC etc.?

  11. Hmm… I didn’t get the $10 credit when I was there with my Platinum AMX card.
    Any idea where I can refer them to see that? Thanks.

  12. We want Tiffany! Give us more Tiffany!
    Funny and accurate writing style without being pretenious * applause *

  13. @ Erasmus — Fair point, and honestly I haven’t been down that pier of the terminal in years. Certainly not as generous in terms of access for most people though.

  14. @ M — Well, nothing is more than $8 that I’ve noticed, and anything that has a similar item on the main menu is priced accordingly. So soup is $7, desserts $7.50, etc.

  15. @Tiffany,

    Any time you have “The Most SOMETHING Ever”, you tread on sensationalist VFTW territory (not that Gary has a monopoly on clickbait titles). All you need to add to really top it off is “That you’ve never heard of” with “somebody behaving badly.”

  16. I have not visited this lounge but I have been to the Airspace Lounge at JFK T5 which has a similar $10 per guest policy. But, considering that nothing is free in the lounge, the $10 is not really that generous…if you just want a couple glasses of house wine you’d be better off at a real AA, UA or DL club.

    And the JFK location is terrible; it’s a small dark room with no windows. In that case at least, since T5 has decent free wifi, big windows, and plenty of good restaurants, you are definitely better off staying out in the terminal.

  17. @Bgriff I think part of he reason Tiffany called out this location is that Airspace SAN has unlimited house alcohol for ALL cutomers….and then there’s the $10 credit on top of that.

    That’s a different policy than Airspace JFK/BWI/CLE.

  18. As a BA Silver flying USScare Domestic, I actually was given Drink chits in this lounge. They gave two (as most Admirals Clubs do), but they were definitely happy (proactively offered) to give me more if I finished those two drinks and had time left to kill.

    Also, “Snack Tower of Sadness” is the greatest description in the history of great descriptions for that.

  19. I’m guessing the JAL flight free offerings and the Platinum Amex credit don’t “stack” – if you’re flying in Biz class on a JAL flight and also have a Plat Amex, you have to choose either the 2 free items or the $10 credit, right?

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