American updates their transcon premium cabin lounge access policy

As of September 1, 2012, American will be updating their lounge access policy for transcontinental flights.

With American’s current policy, they allow all two-cabin full fare first and business class transcon passengers (those booked in F, Z, J, and U fare buckets) Admirals Club access, and three-cabin full fare first class transcon passengers Flagship Lounge access. Oddly they consider “full fare” passengers to be either those paying a full fare revenue ticket or those using miles, which excludes those passengers that are upgraded and those on paid discounted premium cabin tickets.

The policy seems kind of illogical to me. Someone on a 25,000 mile one-way business class award ticket from New York to Los Angeles is granted Admirals Club access, while someone on a $2,000 one-way discounted business class ticket that spends 15,000 miles to upgrade to first class isn’t granted access. And that’s where this policy simplifies things… at a cost.

The bad news

With the new policy, American will only allow passengers booked on nonstop flights between New York and Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and Miami and Los Angeles lounge access. Those passengers flying other transcontinental routes (including those out of Newark, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington) will no longer have lounge access.

The good news

American will no longer be limiting lounge access to those on full fare tickets. Instead, all premium cabin passengers, regardless of whether they’re on a revenue, award, or upgraded ticket, will get lounge access. Business class and two-cabin first class passengers will get Admirals Club access, while three-cabin first class passengers will get Flagship Lounge access.

On the whole I’d say the change is a wash. This is a lot simpler, and there’s something to be said for simplicity. At the same time it seems kind of asinine to tick off those passengers on full fare first class tickets by denying them lounge access.

Still, on the whole I’ll give this a “thumbs up,” simply because the old policy of giving access to those on award tickets but not those on discounted paid tickets made no sense to me.

(Tip of the hat to AAdvantage Geek)

Comments

  1. Well, that continues American’s giant “go to h***” message to DC-based travelers. With Delta having hugely scaled down its presence at DCA through the USAirways slot swap, I would have thought there might be an opportunity for AA to try to appeal to stranded Delta loyalists. But instead, in a matter of weeks they’ve shuttered the IAD Admirals Club and taken away premium-ticket access at DCA for pax traveling on the (hugely convenient) DCA-LAX nonstop.

  2. @ ES — On the plus side (assuming you’re not on full fare govt. fares) American is the only one of the major three that doesn’t upgrade full fare low tier elites over discounted fare top tier elites.

  3. This policy just aligns them with the ps policy on UA (plus transcontinental to MIA). I mean why on UA do I get lounge access for SFO-JFK but not SFO-EWR? Could you not make the same argument?

    The airlines are trying to create premium routes it really has nothing to do with distance.

  4. @ AdamH — The one aspect of this that I find strange is that only a couple of flights a day MIA-LAX have “premium” aircraft, while the rest are 737s/757s. I find it interesting they give you lounge access if you get an upgrade on a 737 or 757 on MIA-LAX, but not MIA-SFO.

    But yeah, I agree with you…

  5. As an AC member who flies 762s in “A” occasionally, this is a good change in my book. Last time around I paid around $630 for a discounted business fare LAX-JFK-SJU-JFK-LAX which I upgraded to F but of course didn’t include Flagship Lounge access. I had to sweet talk my way in with a deactivated key card.

  6. @ ffi — If you have the AmEx Plat you still have Admirals Club access, so if anything it helps you since the lounges will be emptier.

  7. This is fantastic news for folks like me in the entertainment industry who do a lot of JFK-LAX with sticker upgrades! This is enough to make me not renew my Amex Plat card. I don’t think it’s fair for WAS to complain, since the Flagship routes & service are a unique beast unto themselves. Great move, AA.

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