Review: American Airlines Admirals Club Honolulu Airport

Filed Under: American, Japan Airlines

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While the flights to/from Honolulu were utterly unremarkable/boring/had the most apathetic flight attendants I’ve ever had, I figured I’d review the Admirals Club in Honolulu.

The Admirals Club Honolulu is especially interesting because it’s not exclusively an Admirals Club. It’s actually a shared facility between American Airlines and Japan Airlines. So it’s not that one airline runs it and the other airline uses it, but instead there are elements of both airlines incorporated into the lounge.

Honolulu Airport, while well past its prime, has to be one of the cutest airports ever. It’s largely open air with great tarmac views, Japanese gardens, etc. I mean, hell, the TSA is even friendly.

Honolulu Airport terminal

Honolulu Airport terminal view

Beautiful open air Honolulu Airport terminal

The Admirals Club is open daily from 5:30AM until 10PM, and is located past the central security checkpoint, just above Kona Brewing restaurant.

Honolulu Airport terminal

You’ll see signage right in front of the restaurant, and the elevators which take you up a level are located immediately to the side.

JAL Sakura Lounge entrance Honolulu Airport

JAL Sakura Lounge signage Honolulu Airport

Once on the third floor, the entrance to the lounge is located down the hallway and through a set of double doors.

JAL Sakura Lounge entrance Honolulu Airport

The lounge has both American Airlines and Japan Airlines agents, so I approached the American agent on the left. One thing that was interesting is that I received an email from the Admirals Club the day before my flight telling me about the lounge, which was a first for me.

As the agent checked me in she said “your name sounds familiar, I think I sent you an email yesterday.” She did indeed!

Based on the finishes in the lounge, it feels a lot more like a JAL Sakura Lounge than an Admirals Club, which is pretty cool.

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Near the entrance was a large seating area which felt quite private thanks to the abundant use of partitions, as well as a long table by the window with “desk-style” seating.

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Then around the corner was a more exposed seating area, with a long row of seats.

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Past that was the dining area, which had several dining tables with 2-4 seats.

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club seating Honolulu Airport

The lounge also had a play area for kids.

Admirals Club kids area Honolulu Airport

As well as a business center with a couple of PCs.

Admirals Club business center Honolulu Airport

Rather than having a tarmac view, the lounge boasted views of the garden in the center area of the terminal, which is a rather tranquil view from an airline lounge.

Admirals Club view Honolulu Airport

The lounge had a couple of self serve food & drink stations. Near the entrance was a drink station with self serve coffee, soft drinks, and liquor.

Admirals Club snacks Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club coffee Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club soda fountain Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club liquor selection Honolulu Airport

Next to it was a fridge with beer, wine, juice, and bottled water. The white wine signage seemed very Japanese to me, heh.

Admirals Club wine signage Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club alcohol selection Honolulu Airport

But no doubt the better selection was in the dining area. No, this isn’t an international standard lounge, but it’s definitely better than what you’d usually get at an Admirals Club. There was snack mix and cookies.

Admirals Club snack selection Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club snack selection Honolulu Airport

Then next to it were pastries and buns (at first I thought they were egg tarts, but I don’t believe they actually were).

Admirals Club snack selection Honolulu Airport

And of course most exciting were the instant noodles. Perhaps I’m just easy to please, but I do enjoy some quality Japanese instant noodles.

Admirals Club instant noodles Honolulu Airport

Admirals Club instant noodles Honolulu Airport

Then there were also two types of soup.

Admirals Club soup Honolulu Airport

My one complaint about the lounge is that the wifi quality was horrible. It was barely usable, which as far as I’m concerned is the most basic amenity an airline lounge should have.

Admirals Club Honolulu bottom line

While this is by no means a lounge I’d arrive at the airport early to visit, there’s no denying that it’s a step up from a standard Admirals Club, at least in terms of the food and drink selection.

While the decor wasn’t the most modern and the wifi wasn’t great, I still think this is one of the better Admirals Club facilities in the US, and of course, Admirals Clubs are easily accessible thanks to a credit card with lounge access.

And I do love Honolulu Airport, dated as it may be.

Have you visited the Honolulu Admirals Club, and if so, what was your experience like?

  1. “step up from a standard Admirals Club, at least in terms of the food”

    for real? what food do the other clubs serve???

  2. You are so right about HNL. WAY past it’s prime BUT super friendly TSA.

    That’s too bad that the WiFi in the lounge was so terrible. From what I recall, there is no free WiFi at HNL.

  3. I have been to two JAL Sakura lounges in the US, the one at SFO and the one at JFK (including the First Class lounge) and was not impressed by either one very much. Granted, the JFK lounge is currently being renovated (which was badly needed) so I cannot report on what it will be like in the future. I would say that the food offerings were marginally better at the US Sakura lounges than at Admirals clubs, but would definitely not rush to the airport to spend time at either one. I will say even the JL F lounge at NRT did not wow me in terms of food selection. Although onboard, JL is a class act all the way!

  4. I never knew this lounge existed! Anything is better than the horrible UA lounge at HNL. The Delta SkyClub at HNL is OK, and it has super-friendly agents. Next time I’m in HNL, I will have to check out the AA lounge!

  5. Wow, thats the most crowded ive seen it.
    And the front desk women are awesome, they all know my wife and I by name!

  6. You should do a ranking of the Top 5/10 Best/Worst Admirals Clubs in the US/World. I’d vote the one at DEN #1, although I still can’t figure out why they even have it as it’s always so quiet and uncrowded. SFO is pretty nice. GRU is the worst. And its not even close. Would be interested to hear your take.

  7. @EthaninSF The food at the JL F Lounge didn’t impress you? You must be really tough to please 🙂

    They’ve got a wide selection, the beef curry is excellent, and they have make to order sushi. All good things to me.

  8. I think more than anything these shared lounge situations paint a very different picture/departure from other alliances. AA has shared lounges in several cities like HNL, DEN, SAN, PHL (previously with BA), and yet the other alliances have not capitalized on this opportunity. AA has been very smart in this respect IMO.

  9. @ Mason — Nope, no showers. Maybe a more frequent passenger at HNL could chime in about where to get a shower there.

  10. Ben you did not talk about the most fascinating thing abt AC HNL. The crapper!

    I kid not… it’s a toilet from the future!! 15 button panel next to the heated cushioned seat, controlling the pressure/angle/temperature for water jets and what not. I bet there was PS4 activation switch in there somewhere….

  11. Amused that Air New Zealand get their logo on the sign for their one flight a day operated with the highly unsuitable Boeing 767 aircraft.

  12. rick already beat me to it, but Lucky, you missed out on your favorite amenity if you didn’t use the bathrooms. They have the Toto Japanese seats with heated seats and the little water jets. Even better is that they are outside the club and thus available to the public who know where to look.

  13. I LOVED the Sakura lounge!! I think I made and ate like 30 packs of instant noodles and drank a ton of drinks. I ate the other things too but the noodles and drinks were definitely my favorites. Even slipped a couple packs of those noodles into my bag… 😉 Way better than American Airlines’ other lounges, IMO. I haven’t tried the food in the updated United Club lounges.

  14. Lucky, just there for the third time and you are indeed easy to please as my wife and I think that this is one of the worst clubs we have visited. We were connecting from Maui to Dallas and arrived at 8:00pm and all of the wonderful food was gone, the alcohol selection certainly not up to even a modicum of class and yes the WiFi was almost unusable. Sorry to disagree with you on this one. I would pass if there was a choice.

  15. I went to this lounge for the first time this past weekend and enjoyed my expereince. Since my UA flights I take out of HNL depart in the evening, if you go this lounge by about 630p, it is completely dead. So it’s quiet and serene. This is vs. the United Club in the evening when it is packed. I will go here from now on when I transit HNL in the evening. Their chicken noodle soup and breads are delicious.

  16. Hey Ben,

    One can never hope for much from a U.S. lounge, so I count my blessings with the Admirals/Sakura combination at HNL. The people are awesome. One lady particular, Tempe, is the absolute sweetest. I have never flown AA or JL, but no matter which airline’s boarding pass I show, I’m treated well.

    The food spread isn’t too extensive, but quite qood for a U.S. lounge. The ministrone soup is delicious. And Ben, those are buns. 🙂

    In terms of the Wi-Fi, I must have gotten lucky on the occasions that I was there. The speed was good enough for me to use VPN and for my teenager to watch videos. As far as airport-wide Internet, the State of Hawaii (which operates the airport) is waiting for the contract with the current vendor to expire sometime this year before implementing free wireless.

  17. @Bob – Missed the made to order sushi (maybe it was the jet lag 🙂 ). The curry was good both in the air and on the ground. I just think that while the F lounge in NRT was nice (and certainly better than anything in the US), it is not at the top of the list of the best F lounges in the world. I actually thought the business class lounge at NRT was more impressive looking than the F lounge (and food seemed to be very similar).

  18. Only Bud and Miller Lite? Pretty pathetic beer selection.

    Agree with previous commenter that rated Admiral’s Club at DEN highly. Super-friendly agents and decent food and drinks on offer. I would disagree, however, with the characterization it doesn’t get crowded. When you get closer to the 18:40 BA departure, it gets pretty busy.

  19. I’m w/ Isbuffs and no Gin pictured??? early AM & I’m fine with the Baileys for my coffee. but who wants an early AM departure from paradise?

  20. @Bill n Do… The reason that gin isn’t pictured is because it isn’t there. Disappointing indeed.

  21. Hi Lucky,
    I have an itinerary coming up with AA in F which looks like this: HNL (evening day 1) – LAX (morning day 2) – MIA (afternoon day 2) – CLO (evening day 2).
    As far as I understand the lounge access policy, I should have access because of my international segment. Do you have any experience if I might be denied Access at HNL because the itinerary starts the previous night?
    Thanks for your input!

  22. @ Patrick — Technically the rule is same-day travel, but the might make an exception given you basically have a red-eye before your international segment. The agents at the HNL Club are super nice, so it’s worth asking.

  23. I don’t understand the friendly TSA comments. I go at least once per year and I haven’t noticed particularly friendly TSA agents, compared to say PHX or SEA. The last time I was in HNL, I was flying first which allowed me to use the Gold Line. When I asked the agent where the entrance for the Gold Line was, he said grumpily, “Just use the REGULAR line. The Gold Line isn’t any faster.” I don’t appreciate the HNL TSA agents being lazy and flat out lying to me. I found the Gold Line myself and it saved me at least 30 minutes in line (in the outdated, humid open air terminal).

  24. Hello, Would I be able to access this lounge with a 30 day admirals club pass? Also would my wife be able to come with me as immediate family?

  25. While present HNL ADM Club “OK,” it was much better when paired with the Qantas Lounge, which included showers.

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