Review: American Admirals Club Washington (DCA)

Review: American Admirals Club Washington (DCA)

NAME: American Admirals Club
Airport: DCA
DATE: January 2023
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: American's first redesigned Admirals Club is exceptional, with decor that should impress just about everyone. I can't wait for more Admirals Clubs to get the same features!
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I just had the chance to check out the American Admirals Admirals Club in Concourse E at Washington National Airport (DCA). This isn’t just any Admirals Club, but rather it’s the first redesigned Admirals Club that American has opened, featuring completely overhauled decor. The lounge opened in October 2022, and this will act as a blueprint for future Admirals Club redesigns.

The renderings looked amazing, so what’s the lounge like in person? Well, I was extremely impressed — this is truly a gorgeous lounge, and design-wise it’s a quantum leap compared to the previous Admirals Club design. American did a phenomenal job, and I can’t wait for this design to be rolled out to more clubs in the coming months and years.

Admirals Club Washington location & hours

While American has three Admirals Clubs at Washington National Airport, the redesigned one is located in Terminal 2 Concourse E. All gates in Terminal 2 are connected airside, as you first clear security at a central checkpoint, and then you can pick which pier you want to walk to.

Washington National Airport (DCA) terminal

American primarily operates out of Concourse D & E (most mainline jets operate from Concourse D, while most regional jets operate from Concourse E). I was arriving from Concourse D, and it was only a roughly five minute walk to Concourse E. There’s a handy corridor with a moving sidewalk connecting the two areas.

Washington National Airport (DCA) terminal

Once in Concourse E, just keep walking straight ahead, and you’ll see the entrance to the Admirals Club on the left. You can actually see quite a bit of the lounge from inside the terminal.

American Admirals Club Washington location

The Admirals Club redesign starts from the moment you walk in, as the lounge has a cool textured exterior, and a huge backlit American Airlines logo inside the entrance.

American Admirals Club Washington entrance

Since the lounge is one level above the concourse, you can either take stairs or the elevator.

American Admirals Club Washington stairs
American Admirals Club Washington elevator

As far as hours go, this particular Admirals Clubs is currently open daily from 5AM until 10:30PM.

Admirals Club Washington entry requirements

There are a variety of ways to access American Admirals Clubs, ranging from buying an Admirals Club membership, to having elite status and being on an eligible itinerary.

Personally I access Admirals Clubs using the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® (review), which is one of my all around favorite airline credit cards. The card has a $450 annual fee, and offers an Admirals Club membership for the primary cardmember.

In and of itself that represents cost savings compared to a membership, as the cheapest cost for an Admirals Club membership is usually $550 per year. But it gets better than that. Those with the card can add up to 10 authorized users, and each of those authorized users receives Admirals Club access when flying American or an eligible partner airline the same day for them and two guests or immediate family (they don’t have to be flying with the primary cardmember).

See my guide to American Admirals Club access.

Admirals Club Washington seating & layout

The new Admirals Club Washington is roughly 14,500 square feet, with seating for around 235 people. Given that the airport has three Admirals Clubs, there’s no shortage of lounge capacity here. Actually, that’s one thing I have to give American credit for — I find Admirals Clubs are generally among the least crowded airline lounges in the United States, and this lounge was no exception.

Once inside the lounge, you can turn left or right down a main corridor — turning right will bring you to the buffet, bar area, and cafe-style seating, while turning left will bring you to the fireplace and more traditional lounge-style seating.

American Admirals Club Washington layout

Let’s start to the right. In this area, there’s first the bar with half a dozen seats, as well as several tables with high-top seating.

American Admirals Club Washington bar
American Admirals Club Washington seating

Then there are some dining tables each seating two to four people.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating

There’s then a more private dining area, with booths along the sides and a row of tables along the center. There really is great attention to detail in terms of lounge design, as I found it to be quite elegant and interesting.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating

Along the windows there’s a long table with some high-top seating. There’s also an iMac, as well as a printer.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington computer
American Admirals Club Washington printer

In the very back of the lounge are some sort of non-enclosed phone booths of sorts. I’m not sure exactly what purpose this serves, but it at least looked pretty cool. This is also where the bathrooms are, and I’ll talk more about those in a bit.

American Admirals Club Washington phone booths

Now let’s take a look at the other side of the lounge, which has plenty of seating for those who are looking to relax rather than eat or work at a table.

American Admirals Club Washington seating

The focal point of the lounge is the fireplace, which is the first time that something like this has been installed in an Admirals Club.

American Admirals Club Washington fireplace
American Admirals Club Washington fireplace

I was surprised by the quality, variety, style, and durability of the lounge furniture. Rather than the previous design that reminded me of a very nice hospital waiting room or cafeteria, the new design is honestly beautiful. From the seats as such, to the carpet, to the ceiling design, this was unlike any Admirals Club I’ve been in before.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating

For aviation geeks, you’ll love the seating by the window, which boasts great views of the apron.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington view

I also love the 10 seats with ottomans, which are both comfortable and private.

American Admirals Club Washington seating
American Admirals Club Washington seating

The lounge also has three phone booths. They don’t have any seating, but they’re great if you want to take a private call (which I imagine happens in Washington DC with some regularity). 😉

American Admirals Club Washington phone booth

I can’t say enough good things about the attention to detail with the design. You can tell someone really put thought into this, as the space has so many elements that make it feel more like a home or a nice hotel, rather than a generic airport lounge.

American Admirals Club Washington design
American Admirals Club Washington design
American Admirals Club Washington design

Admirals Club Washington food & drinks

The Admirals Club Washington has a great design, but what’s the food & drink selection like? After all, that’s an area where American has historically lagged. The main buffet is located right next to the bar.

American Admirals Club Washington bar

I was there during breakfast, and I appreciated how there was a posted menu, so you could get a sense of what’s available (and it’s also useful for people with dietary restrictions).

American Admirals Club Washington food menu

Breakfast options included three types of cereal, pastries, bread, bagels, oatmeal, yogurt, hardboiled eggs, and scrambled eggs with a variety of toppings.

American Admirals Club Washington food
American Admirals Club Washington food
American Admirals Club Washington food
American Admirals Club Washington food
American Admirals Club Washington food

There was also an espresso machine, plus drip coffee from La Colombe.

American Admirals Club Washington coffee machine

There was also a soda fountain with all kinds of Coke products.

American Admirals Club Washington soda fountain

As far as other drinks go, Admirals Clubs offer complimentary “basic” alcohol. So expect you can get a beer, wine, or liquor, but don’t necessarily expect it to be great. There’s a menu with items for purchase, including premium alcohol and more substantial food.

While the other side of the lounge didn’t have a full buffet, it did have a small variety of drinks and snacks. Specifically, it had a water fountain (with both still and sparkling water), coffee, and hot water.

American Admirals Club Washington coffee & water

There were also two snacks (M&Ms and Goldfish), as well as whole fruit (bananas, oranges, and apples).

American Admirals Club Washington snacks

Next to this was a fridge with drinks for purchase, for those who want to take something to go.

American Admirals Club Washington drinks for purchase

Admirals Club Washington bathrooms

The bathrooms are in the very back of the Admirals Club, on the same side of the lounge as the bar. The men’s bathroom had three sinks, three urinals, and several stalls. Again, the design was gorgeous.

American Admirals Club Washington bathroom
American Admirals Club Washington bathroom
American Admirals Club Washington bathroom

The Admirals Club Washington has no showers, which is fair enough, since there aren’t many people here getting off a long haul flight…

Bottom line

I’m happy I had the chance to check out American’s first redesigned Admirals Club. I was blown away by how nice this lounge was, as it’s totally different than what you’ll find in any other Admirals Club. American did a phenomenal job creating a space that’s cozy and luxurious-feeling, all while still being functional. I can’t wait to see more Admirals Clubs be redesigned in the same way.

Admirals Clubs still don’t have a particularly impressive soft product when it comes to complimentary food & drinks. However, I also don’t find these lounges to be consistently overcrowded, so as far as I’m concerned that’s a fair tradeoff.

What do you make of the redesigned Admirals Club in Washington?

Conversations (29)
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  1. R B Guest

    Was there early December 2022.
    It was fairly empty, and I like the decor.
    But I feel the food offering from 12pm to 4pm were weak. Only taco station with ground feef.

  2. Jane blogs Guest

    In December I was in the new & very largeLGA lounge and was very pleasantly surprised by everything about it. Unfortunately the staff at reception were completely unhelpful and let AA down but apart from that, this lounge was very impressive. Whilst it is a domestic lounge, AA staff should be more on top of the needs of international passengers which they are definitely not. For some reason there were actually very few people in...

    In December I was in the new & very largeLGA lounge and was very pleasantly surprised by everything about it. Unfortunately the staff at reception were completely unhelpful and let AA down but apart from that, this lounge was very impressive. Whilst it is a domestic lounge, AA staff should be more on top of the needs of international passengers which they are definitely not. For some reason there were actually very few people in it during the couple of hours I was there, so it was easy to explore the many different areas to sit depending on whether one was working, drinking, chatting, watching the big screens etc. Fortunately there seemed to be power outlets everywhere which is a great plus. Whilst there were free basic alcoholic beverages, guacamole service and plenty of food, I did think the food offering was very average.There was a lot of staff, literally walking around taking orders & looking for something to do which was interesting but maybe I just struck a quiet moment in the hubbing system.

    1. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

      I agree, I visited it in September and it was very spacious and nice. I also enjoyed the layout and all the little "nook and crannies", places to sit down in peace without too many around. But also, the staff wasn't friendly or attentive at all to me as well. The coffee machines were all down too.

  3. GLCTraveler Gold

    Great review, thanks Ben........ Hope to see in person later this month! I always seem to stop at the small B-C gate lounge for a quic bite & drink and run.

  4. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Ben, any word on when other locations will be rolled out? Which airports? DFW has 5 Admirals Lounges and we could use this at frankly ALL of them! I know PHL Flagship Lounge is coming soon as well.

  5. Randy Diamond

    DCA - my home airport. While the new lounge is attractively furnished, the offerings are the same. The wooden ceiling bar are just a way to hide the more loft, unfinished look - which you see through the wood slats.

    The people at the older C and D locations are more familiar. I don't go over to the new lounge unless I have a flight out of E. I find the older lounges have a cozier atmosphere.

  6. Joe Guest

    Design wise - looks nicer than the Chelsea lounge at JFK! So strange. Does no one in AA talk to each other?!

  7. Ryan Member

    @Ben - nice review, does look like a big improvement from other AA lounges.
    one small type-o:
    Now let’s take a look at the other side of the lounge, which has plenty of seating for those who are looking to relax rather than eat or walk at a table.

    think you mean "eat or work at a table"

  8. MikeFlyCX Guest

    @Ben - SFO Admirals Club used to have a fireplace before they moved.

  9. frank Guest

    No, thank you. You have to pay $450-$650 a year to access that for a cup of coffee and cheese cubes. The aadmirals lounges are horrible, even compared with United or Delta.

    1. Chris_ Gold

      Ummm... there's a lot more than coffee and cheese cubes. Did you even read the article?

    2. GLCTraveler Gold

      Nope, frankly he did not or can't read!!
      Hahahaha ;-)

  10. rjb Guest

    I went through here (attempted to) in November. I was flying DCA -JFK in F and had my BA Gold number on my boarding card. I was told that I needed to by flying international to use the lounge as a BA Gold. Domestic F to NYC wasn't good enough! I explained this was incorrect and the gentleman at the counter said no dice. Rather than argue with him. My flight to JFK was no...

    I went through here (attempted to) in November. I was flying DCA -JFK in F and had my BA Gold number on my boarding card. I was told that I needed to by flying international to use the lounge as a BA Gold. Domestic F to NYC wasn't good enough! I explained this was incorrect and the gentleman at the counter said no dice. Rather than argue with him. My flight to JFK was no better. the Republic operated flight attendant refused to let me use the coat closet, at first saying it was full. When I pointed out I was the first person on the plane, she said there were no hangers. When we arrived in JFK, she threw the coat closet door open and behold there were plenty of hangers and plenty of room.
    Don't you just love AA?

    1. Chris_ Gold

      That's really odd - I use my Royal Air Maroc sapphire status at the DCA lounges for access all the times. Never an issue.

  11. TravelinWilly Diamond

    FINALLY, there's something that's NOT horrible at Washington National Airport!

    Blow me over with a feather!

    Maybe next American can figure out how to clean the interiors of its planes...

    1. Adam L Guest

      What's so horrible about DCA specifically beyond AA? I find it to be one of the most convenient airports in the country and have generally positive experiences there.

    2. TravelinWilly Diamond

      Generally, DCA is actually a pretty good airport, especially after the 1997 opening of the "new" terminal building (the one that houses AA / AS / DL / UA); before then it was only the old terminal building, and was a national US embarrassment.

      Speaking only for myself, while I love the ease of access with DCA (it's the perfect location for DC denizens), it's just getting to the point that seemingly all the...

      Generally, DCA is actually a pretty good airport, especially after the 1997 opening of the "new" terminal building (the one that houses AA / AS / DL / UA); before then it was only the old terminal building, and was a national US embarrassment.

      Speaking only for myself, while I love the ease of access with DCA (it's the perfect location for DC denizens), it's just getting to the point that seemingly all the time they are undergoing major construction projects and traffic re-routes and new congestion at unobvious/unexpected times, etc. I'm at the point that I LOVE getting there, but have to take a deep breath once I exit the GW Parkway and enter the airport proper.

      The new AA lounge (along with the new gates, as anyone who hears or sees "35X" will agree) looks like the first nice thing I'm seeing at the airport in eons, however I'm speaking from a certain level of emotion on the subject. As you can tell from my word vomit on the subject.

    3. RealTaylor Member

      I think the Delta SkyClub is beautiful at DCA, easily as nice as what this American lounge looks like from the photos. The United lounge is also interesting with its historic architecture and design. I also think the airport is a lot more convenient for passengers now that the "new" terminals are connected post-security (when I was last there, A still was not connected after security).

      The only issue now is the Yellow metro line...

      I think the Delta SkyClub is beautiful at DCA, easily as nice as what this American lounge looks like from the photos. The United lounge is also interesting with its historic architecture and design. I also think the airport is a lot more convenient for passengers now that the "new" terminals are connected post-security (when I was last there, A still was not connected after security).

      The only issue now is the Yellow metro line suspension - once that is back (in May or probably much later), DCA will be very convenient again.

  12. N766AN Guest

    American Operates from DCA concourses C, D and E (not just D and E). C is shared with jetBlue

  13. Tennen Gold

    @Ben, I mentioned this in your previous post about this lounge, but what was your take on the power outlet situation? There don't seem to be any in the dining area. The lounging area/sofas don't seem to have them either. Unless they're hidden, it seems like a huge miss.

    1. Chris_ Gold

      There are some hidden under counters, but you have to have a really small cube on your outlet or it won't fit.

  14. baflyer2 Guest

    The table/booth dining areas that you pass by on the way to the bathroom don't have power outlets, annoyingly. Feels like an oversight.

  15. Pat Guest

    Definitely an improvement, but the color palate feels a little dark. It's nice when it's all clean and new, but I have a bad feeling it will look worn/dated/dirty sooner than we think.

    1. David Guest

      I agree that there’s something off with the colour palette. I like the wood, but the fabric and colours of the upholstered furniture doesn’t quite work.

  16. Eli Guest

    Wow Ben, you are so productive today love it

    1. FlyerDon New Member

      I just hope they have a separate section for slobs. I’m getting tired of going into a crowded club and seeing people with their feet up on a table, where other people put their food, and others that stretch out, with their luggage, over two or three chairs, oblivious to others that are looking for an open seat.

  17. Roberto Guest

    Looks awesome. Is AUS the next one slated to open?

  18. Lee Guest

    Ben, would you say this Admirals Club is comparable to Delta's newer SkyClubs?

    I have robust airline lounge access and have little need to ever use Amex lounges. But, given the quality of these new/updated airline lounges, I'm not certain I would ever have a desire to use Amex lounges.

  19. George N Romey Guest

    Definitely a step up and what a modern airline club should be. The other nice thing is that because this is down at the Eagle gates some people aren't willing to walk that far.

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Chris_ Gold

Ummm... there's a lot more than coffee and cheese cubes. Did you even read the article?

4
TravelinWilly Diamond

Generally, DCA is actually a pretty good airport, especially after the 1997 opening of the "new" terminal building (the one that houses AA / AS / DL / UA); before then it was only the old terminal building, and was a national US embarrassment. Speaking only for myself, while I love the ease of access with DCA (it's the perfect location for DC denizens), it's just getting to the point that seemingly all the time they are undergoing major construction projects and traffic re-routes and new congestion at unobvious/unexpected times, etc. I'm at the point that I LOVE getting there, but have to take a deep breath once I exit the GW Parkway and enter the airport proper. The new AA lounge (along with the new gates, as anyone who hears or sees "35X" will agree) looks like the first nice thing I'm seeing at the airport in eons, however I'm speaking from a certain level of emotion on the subject. As you can tell from my word vomit on the subject.

2
Adam L Guest

What's so horrible about DCA specifically beyond AA? I find it to be one of the most convenient airports in the country and have generally positive experiences there.

2
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