American Airlines has been hard at work refurbishing its network of Admirals Clubs recently, renovating many of its locations and introducing a new line of Flagship Lounges for premium international passengers at its main gateway cities. This should be seen as a direct response to United’s new Polaris lounge in Chicago. Competition is good! Admirals Clubs are, by and large, about 10-20 years overdue for makeover, and American Airlines is being blown out of the water by competition from its competitors. When you compare the Admirals Club at DFW to the Centurion Lounge there, it’s like the difference between Spirit Airlines and Etihad First Class.
American recently opened its first renovated Flagship Lounge, replete with Flagship First Dining, at JFK in Terminal 8 Concourse B. You can read more about that lounge here. Next door to the Flagship Lounge is a massively renovated Admirals Club, which I was able to check out yesterday.
The entrance to the Admirals Club is shared with the entrance to the Flagship Lounge. Depending on your credentials (and travel plans), you are either directed to the left or the right. The Flagship Lounge generously offers access to elite flyers like myself (Platinum) but only when on a Oneworld International or transcontinental (LAX or SFO) ticket. I was flying domestic, so they sent me to the right.
As you can see in the picture, a portion of the lounge is still under construction. I’m not sure how much larger the Admirals Club will be when it is fully opened, and in my three hours there it never was over-crowded, but expect even more space in the months ahead.
I really like the design scheme American is using the renovate its lounges; everything is clean and sleek, with a mix of light woods and glass, and there is a wide variety of furniture types, all of which are comfortable.
Walking into the club, there is a wide variety of seating options, as well as tables and chairs near the bar. The lounge is airy, with views of the tarmac (though no runway, unfortunately).
I was especially impressed with the setup at the bar, which was striking for a domestic lounge.
In terms of food, American has upped its game recently, no longer just offering nuts and crackers. There was a fully, decent spread of cheese, vegetables, olives, salads and a delicious mushroom soup.
Even the bathroom was impressive, exuding “clean”, which is not what you may expect in an airport. I was in the lounge for three hours, and every time I walked to the restroom, it was being cleaned top to bottom by staff.
All in all, I was very impressed with the new Admirals Club, and look forward to seeing similar renovations applied to American’s network around the country. Even with the updates, an Admirals Club is still nowhere near as fantastic as American Express’ Centurion Lounges, but the latter are only in a select few airports and are almost always overcrowded, so pick your poison.
Well done, American!