The ultimate guide to American Airlines Admirals Club access

The Points Guy logo

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.

If you’re a frequent traveler on American Airlines, one of the world’s busiest airlines by passenger volume, access to an Admirals Club lounge can bring relief from a crowded airport terminal. Unfortunately, last year the airline added a new restriction limiting eligibility — even for paying customers. Today we’ll take a look at the different ways you can gain access to this network of lounges, including through credit cards, elite benefits and paid memberships.

Keep in mind that lounge capacity, hours of operation and service levels are in constant flux during the pandemic.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.

Same-day flights on American

No matter how you earned your Admirals Club access, whether it was by flying with American Airlines enough to unlock a high level of elite status or paying for an annual lounge membership, there’s a new restriction to contend with. As of Nov. 1, 2019, you’ll need to show a same-day boarding pass for American Airlines or one of its partners to gain access to an Admirals Club lounge. While this move was likely meant to reduce overcrowding in the lounges, it’s undeniably a devaluation for elite members and paying customers alike.

Credit cards

There’s only one credit card that gives you access to Admirals Club lounges: AA’s most premium cobranded credit card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. This card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening, worth $700 based on TPG’s most recent valuations.

In addition to double miles on AA purchases and the ability to earn 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after you spend $40,000 a year, the primary way this card justifies its $450 annual fee is with a complimentary Admirals Club membership. This allows you and two guests traveling with you to enter these lounges. You can even get in when you leave your card at home.

The real reason this card is such a hidden gem is because you’re allowed to add up to 10 authorized users, each of whom gets their own Admirals Club access privileges. This applies whether the primary cardholder is flying with that person or not, a terrific perk that is notably different from similar premium cards offered by other U.S. carriers. When you factor in the guesting privileges, a single card could get 33 people into an Admirals Club (one primary cardholder and 10 authorized users, each with two guests). In fact, you could even discuss splitting the annual fee with several of your authorized users to bring down everyone’s lounge costs.

Just be aware that authorized users do not get a full membership, just access. This is critical because their privileges only extend to Admirals Club locations, not partner lounges. Nevertheless, it’s still a valuable way for you to make the travel experience easier and less stressful for your friends and family members who travel on American.

Paid membership

Of course, you can always purchase a membership the old-fashioned way: by paying cash. The chart below shows the new prices, though these rates are discounted for all AAdvantage elite members. With recent changes making it easier to earn elite status, that discount is closer than ever.

Video: Five new expenses you need to plan for when traveling during Covid (CNBC)

  • a man sitting in front of a book shelf: Domestic consumption remains slightly conservative in China and government stimulus may not be as big going into 2021, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.

    China's pandemic control is impressive, but headwinds lie ahead, economist says

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump is demanding lawmakers raise the second round of stimulus checks to $2,000 per person, from $600. “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday night.

    Trump demands Congress increase second stimulus check from $600 to $2,000

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a person standing in front of a screen: Dr. Francis Collins, National Institute of Health director, discusses the challenge of vaccine distribution and the nationwide rollout. He also discusses the U.K. Covid mutation.

    Every American could have access to a vaccine by summer: NIH's Collins

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a screen shot of a person: The Container Store CEO Melissa Reiff said she will step down as chief executive after leading the retailer for nearly five years. A Sephora veteran is set to take over.

    The Container Store CEO talks forthcoming retirement, expectations for incoming chief

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • graphical user interface, website: The Container Store CEO Melissa Reiff joined Jim Cramer on

    The Container Store CEO talks store expansions, retirement and passing the reins

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump is demanding lawmakers raise the second round of stimulus checks to $2,000 per person from $600. Stephanie Kelton, professor of economics and public policy at SUNY Stony Brook, and Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, join

    How Trump's call for $2,000 payments may impact Covid relief bill negotiations

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Duncan D. Hunter wearing a suit and tie: Kayla Tausche reports President Trump has pardoned former campaign aide George Papadopoulos and ex-lawmakers Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter. She joins Shepard Smith to discuss.

    President Trump issues 15 pardons, including two Russia figures and Blackwater guards

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Seema Mody sitting in front of a television screen: Paul Meeks, who's known for running the world's largest tech fund during the late1990s, builds a bearish case for a popular 2020 name.

    Tech investor Paul Meeks: 'I would short DoorDash'

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Seema Mody sitting in front of a television screen: Paul Meeks, who's known for running the world's largest tech fund during the late 1990s, expects DoorDash and Airbnb shares to run into trouble next year.

    Investor Paul Meeks sees big tech outperforming in 2021 – with a couple of exceptions

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • Bill Gurley holding a sign: Bill Gurley, Benchmark General Partner, praised the SEC's decision to allow the New York Stock Exchange's plan to allow companies to raise cash via direct listings. He says this decision gets rid of two problems associated with the traditional IPO process, which doesn't provide stock access to all investors and the price and allocation of the stock, which is determined mostly through guessing. He joins 'Closing Bell' to discuss.

    This will be a permanent change to our capital markets, says Bill Gurley on NYSE plan for direct listings to raise cash

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a man standing in front of a building: U.S. stock futures edged higher early Wednesday, largely recovering from earlier declines after President Donald Trump expressed concerns about the new Covid-19 relief package which could delay the deployment of funds to struggling Americans. CNBC's Brian Sullivan reports.

    Wall Street points to a higher open following Tuesday's mostly lower session

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a person posing for the camera: Dana Peterson, the chief economist at the Conference Board, on today's weak economic data and what is says about the broader economy.

    The current state of the U.S. economy as consumer confidence falls

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • text: CNBC's senior health and science reporter Meg Tirrell reports the U.S. is nearing a deal with Pfizer to deliver an additional 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. The first 70 million will be split across April, May and June. There will also be 200 million doses from Moderna as well as extra doses from J&J and AstraZeneca.

    Pfizer and the U.S. are nearing deal to deliver 100M more vaccines

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a woman taking a selfie: CNBC.com's MacKenzie Sigalos brings you the day's top business news headlines. On today's show, CNBC's Josh Lipton breaks down reports that Apple's electric car ambitions are back, and on pace to begin production by 2024. Plus, CNBC.com's Melissa Repko explains what last-minute holiday shopping may look like in the middle of a pandemic.

    Apple could be looking to take on Tesla with its own electric car: CNBC After Hours

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a man standing next to a building: According to a report from Reuters, Apple is moving ahead with its self-driving car technology and targeting 2024 as the year it produces a passenger vehicle. Watch five experts weigh in on what this news means for the stock.

    Apple is reportedly advancing plans to develop a self-driving car — Here's what it means for the sector

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message: Bill Gurley, Benchmark General Partner, praised the SEC's decision to allow the New York Stock Exchange's plan to allow companies to raise cash via direct listings.

    Bill Gurley praises raising capital through direct listing

    CNBC Logo

    CNBC

  • a man sitting in front of a book shelf: Domestic consumption remains slightly conservative in China and government stimulus may not be as big going into 2021, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.
    China's pandemic control is impressive, but headwinds lie ahead, economist says
    Domestic consumption remains slightly conservative in China and government stimulus may not be as big going into 2021, said Carl Tannenbaum, chief economist at Northern Trust.

    CNBC Logo
    CNBC

  • Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: President Donald Trump is demanding lawmakers raise the second round of stimulus checks to $2,000 per person, from $600. “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday night.
    Trump demands Congress increase second stimulus check from $600 to $2,000
    President Donald Trump is demanding lawmakers raise the second round of stimulus checks to $2,000 per person, from $600. “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000, or $4,000 for a couple,” Trump said in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday night.

    CNBC Logo
    CNBC

  • a person standing in front of a screen: Dr. Francis Collins, National Institute of Health director, discusses the challenge of vaccine distribution and the nationwide rollout. He also discusses the U.K. Covid mutation.
    Every American could have access to a vaccine by summer: NIH's Collins
    Dr. Francis Collins, National Institute of Health director, discusses the challenge of vaccine distribution and the nationwide rollout. He also discusses the U.K. Covid mutation.

    CNBC Logo
    CNBC

UP NEXT

Type of membership (individual)

Annual price

Regular$650
Gold$625
Platinum$600
Platinum Pro$575
Executive Platinum$550
Concierge KeyFree

Below you can see the cost of purchasing a membership with miles, as well as the value of the miles you’d spend based on TPG’s latest valuations:

Type of membership (individual)New annual price (AA miles)‘Cost’ of membership
Regular65,000$910
Gold62,500$875
Platinum60,000$840
Platinum Pro57,500$805
Executive Platinum55,000$770
Concierge KeyFreeN/A

As you can see, it’s generally never a good idea to redeem miles for a membership. Even at the discounted rates for Executive Platinum members, you’re still using a large number of miles that could be redeemed for other, more valuable redemptions.

Select lounges also sell day passes for $59, and while this represents a relatively poor redemption, you can also redeem AA Business Extra points for lounge access, with a day pass costing 300 Business Extra points and a membership costing 3,000 points.

Elite status

Mid- and upper-tier American elites (specifically Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members) can access Admirals Clubs on qualifying long-haul international itineraries operated by AA or a Oneworld partner, no matter what class of service they are flying. Concierge Key members have it even better, as they earn a complimentary Admirals Club membership. Finally, if you are a Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire member with another Oneworld carrier, you’ll also enjoy access when traveling on eligible international itineraries, and your privileges include one guest.

For international travel, AA and Oneworld elites would be better off seeking out one of AA’s flagship lounges for a better food, drink and service experience. Flagship lounges are currently open in Chicago-O’Hare (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York-JFK, Miami (MIA) and Dallas (DFW), with future plans for Philadelphia (PHL) and London-Heathrow (LHR).

Access rules for these lounges are the same as those for Admirals Club locations, though note that only qualifying first-class passengers can utilize the Flagship First Dining facilities located inside select clubs.

Ticket type

While standard domestic first-class tickets won’t get you access to Admirals Clubs, the following types of tickets will:

  • Premium cabin tickets on qualifying international American- or Oneworld-operated flights
  • Premium cabin tickets on American’s premium transcontinental service between New York-JFK and both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and between Boston (BOS) and Los Angeles

Again, if you’re flying through JFK or LAX, you should seek out a Flagship Lounge, but for premium transcontinental passengers originating in Boston or San Francisco, Admirals Club access can be a nice benefit. However, gaining access based on your ticket type does not afford you guesting privileges unless you’re flying in international first class, in which case you’re allowed one guest.

Bottom line

Lounge access can go a long way toward making a stressful travel day more manageable. American Airlines offers a plethora of different ways to gain access to its network of Admirals Club lounges, though you’ll need a same-day boarding pass for AA or a partner airline. Unfortunately, the quality of these lounges varies heavily, so before spending $59 on a day pass you should do some research on what type of experience you’ll get. With a single credit card providing a membership for you and access for your guests, that may be your best option.

Featured image courtesy of American Airlines.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: Read Full Article