Review: Club America Lounge Miami

Introduction
Club America Lounge Miami
LAN Business Class Miami to Buenos Aires
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires
LAN Business Class Lounge Buenos Aires
LAN Business Class Buenos Aires to Miami
Grand Hyatt DFW Airport


After four mostly on-time domestic flights we made it to Miami at around 6:30PM, with well over two hours before our connection to Buenos Aires was scheduled to leave.

I’ve flown through Miami dozens and dozens of times, though only ever on American. I never really put any thought into it, but I always kind of assumed that LAN left from the same terminal as American, given their partnership and that most passengers are probably connection to and from American flights.

After looking at the departure board we realized our flight was leaving from the “J” concourse. Shame on me, I know, but I had no clue where that is. After asking at the Admirals Club we were told it’s on the side of the airport, so we exited security and started walking there.

I’m pretty sure the walkway we took was really an underground tunnel to Ft. Lauderdale Airport, because it was a really long walk. But it was also one of the most fascinating airport walks I’ve taken. I’ve always joked that American’s terminal at Miami Airport feels like it’s in a foreign country. Nope, compared to the rest of the airport it feels more American than West Virginia.

I thought I had at least heard of most airlines out there, though we passed counters for at least a dozen airlines I had never heard of. There was also several of those luggage “wrapping” stations, which you usually only find at foreign airports.


Walking to concourse “J”


Walking to concourse “J”


Walking to concourse “J”

After a long walk we made it to concourse “J.” Fortunately we already had our boarding passes, as the check-in queue was extremely long.


LAN check-in queue


LAN check-in queue

This is where things get fun. We tried to get in the TSA line, and several of us got through fine, though one of my friends was stopped by the line checker and told his carry-on was “muy grande.” Funny enough his carry-on was smaller than mine, and he even placed it in the “sizer,” and it fit. The contract worker insisted it was “muy grande,” though, and after a LAN supervisor got involved it had to be checked. Meanwhile my large bag got through without issue.

The TSA experience was interesting as well, as all instructions were provided exclusively in Spanish. One of my friends requested a pat down, which was returned with a blank stare.

The airside portion of the terminal didn’t get much better. Just past the TSA checkpoint a toddler had thrown up. And it wasn’t toddler sized vomit, but adult-I’ve-had-way-too-much-to-drink vomit. People weren’t paying attention where they were walking, so several people walked right into it, so watching their reactions was priceless. I guess that’s what you get for not watching where you walk.


Airside

By this point it was about 7:30PM, so we headed to LAN’s contract lounge, “Club America.”


TAM and LAN


Walking to lounge

Club America is used by most airlines in the terminal and is also a Priority Pass lounge, so I didn’t have high expectations as to the quality. We took the escalator up to the lounge.


Club America lounge entrance


Club America lounge entrance


Club America lounge entrance

At the entrance we were welcomed and direct left towards the first class lounge, I assume due to our OneWorld Emerald status. Meanwhile to the right was the business class lounge.


Walkway to business class lounge

While it was labeled “First Class Lounge,” it was no better than your average contract or Priority Pass lounge. While it featured a good amount of seating the lounge was packed.


Lounge seating


Lounge seating


Lounge seating


Lounge seating


Lounge seating

The snack selection was also rather limited, a bit better than an Admirals Club, but not as good as a Flagship Lounge. Interestingly it featured the same stale cookies American has in their lounges — I thought they had exclusive rights to those?


Snack selection

There were also dry finger sandwiches, packaged cookies and chips, and two kinds of soup.


Snack selection


Snack selection


Snack selection

There was also a business center with some Macs and a printer.


Business center

Opposite the first class lounge was the business class lounge, which was separated by a glass wall. A bit of an odd layout as the business class lounge looked more or less identical, except was less crowded.


Business class lounge

At around 8PM we left the lounge and headed to our departure gate, J12. Architecturally the “J” concourse is rather nice, though the gate area itself was a bit chaotic.


Terminal


Gate area


Departure gate


Our plane to Buenos Aires

At around 8:15PM boarding was announced for business class, and while we were among the first few in line, we all got pulled over for further document checks. The thing is there was a single gate agent working the podium and rather than him checking our documents he pushed us to the side, boarded the plane for about five minutes, and then did our document checks.

Fortunately it didn’t take too long, and by about 8:25PM we were aboard.

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Comments

  1. I can totally relate to the overzealous luggage checkers.

    I’ve been through the MIA airport many times flying on AC in the J concourse (often times had to get the airline involved to allow my “muy grande” luggage through).

    I don’t understand why they care to enforce this as this is an airline issue, and some airlines allow you to carry more on than others. Yet at all other terminals in MIA the TSA are nowhere near this Nazi like.

    On another note you visited the better of the two Club America lounges in J concourse. The one in E doesn’t even have windows!

  2. There is actually an elevated walkway called the “skyride” with windows and a TON of people mover escalators that cuts down on the walking time. It stretches from Concourse D all the way to J (all the concourses actually). http://airchive.com/html/airplanes-and-airports/miami-international-airport-terminal-photos-planespotting-and-history-miami-florida-usa/skyride-at-miami-international-airport-2012/23953

    Also there is a second TSA checkpoint for Concourse J further down the main hall way (not the one immediately to the left of the LAN check-in desks) that is often deserted in comparison to the checkpoint next to the check-in desks.

    The contract lounge is a disappointment, although you’ll get all the CNN you can handle on those TV’s (that all have the volume on).

    I actually prefer the gate seating area that you can see through the windows where the lounge escalators are. If that gate isn’t being used, it’s often deserted and very quiet.

  3. The soup in the Club America lounge was pretty decent when we were there, but the serving setup was confusing. One attendant seemed to want people to self-serve everything, while the other was a little bit aggressive in his “service”. It did give us a chance to take a quick shower before boarding, though.

  4. Yea, it’s a long walk from the American to LAN terminals. The walkways & people movers are very narrow too. I never knew about the skyride but it looks like from the map, you would be able to but through the parking lot to go between these 2 terminals.

  5. First, what’s with all the green bags in the second picture? Seriously, is that a thing or were they all traveling together? That’s a lot of green…

    Second, is that a former United lounge, or did they get all the furniture from UA when they renovated some of the United Clubs?
    Leaning toward the former, as even the walls and paneling are straight out of a Red Carpet Club.

  6. Good luck trying to get any work done in either side of Club America. One family was traveling with a live donkey and none of their 15 kids could figure out how to pin it’s tail.

    JRL

  7. @ gobluetwo — Hah, those are all bags that were “wrapped.” Believe that was for a charter flight to Cuba.

    Agree on the furniture, hah!

  8. Welcome to Miami!!! Latin America in America!!! The MIA airport is a zoo and you should experience (or should never experience) getting into a flight from MIA to any South America city around Christmas holidays. Most South Americans (like myself) flock back to their “home country” during Christmas holidays, they all have big families, they all take huge luggage and many of them. They don’t care about paying overweigh fees of extra luggage fees. They just take whatever they can back since here is way cheaper and thus during holidays it is a great time to bring gifts to everyone. So, to start, check in is a zoo. Then, you get to the gate area and you have thousands of people with kids screaming and the main language there is Spanish. Then, you wait for the announcement that the flight is oversold and they need volunteers to fly on another day. OMG!!!!!! That is where the fun starts. You have the people that will not stay even for $1million since all they want is to spend the holidays with their families. On the other hand, you have the ones that kind start a black market gambling on how high the offer from the airlines will get and how much would be enough for them to give up their seats. It is mix of revolution with people screaming, kids crying, planes delayed, etc… In sum, it is a “once in the lifetime experience”. If I have to go with family to South America during holidays I avoid Miami as much as I can.

  9. I used to connect a lot in Miami, and now live here. During the American D-Terminal reconstruction, the TSA nazis re: luggage were horrible! I had several incidents that made me hate the airport as well. I’ve noticed things have settled down a lot now, but not sure about J Terminal.

    I also don’t understand why all the OneWorld partners are not all together. But likely it is that J is a nice, new terminal and D/E where American operates used to be so horrible. Why would LAN (and BA) want to move over there before?

  10. MIA is being remodeled and now terminals G, F, E are undergoing construction. They should look more like Terminal D or J soon.
    (A,B,C,D became D!)

    I don’t like that baggage wrapping either, people do that thinking that nothing will get stolen, but it is a silly and very expensive service. Plus it is not eco-friendly. I guess I come from the small bag is better school of travel.

    Crazy airport but glad we have flights to everywhere but Asia.

  11. Correction:
    (but Asia) as an exception. I dont want to give the impression that I am glad, just not feasible.

  12. It reminds me of Airport 24/7 Miami TV show

    My trip to MIA in Feb 2013 remembered it as being a long walk airport, even with the SkyWalk. Not too friendly, too much Spanish, and not many lounges for *A at all @@

  13. @gobluetwo

    The wrapping is for people on charter flight to Cuba. They use the wrapping so luggage handlers do not go through the bags trying to steal stuff they are bringing to their families in Cuba.

  14. Just an update for anyone reading this blog entry from earlier this year. Was there last week and yesterday and from the looks of it they have merged the F and C sides into one fairly large lounge. Lots of people but generally quiet and able to find a good seat. Snack quality improved but still cold finger food, with a delicious prosciutto and brie sandwich. Free flowing Moet & Chandon (domestic) sparkling along with usual soft and hard beverages. Good cookies, fruit, etc. Somewhat slow WiFi, probably due to the density of people there. The Lufthansa passengers got special treatment – pulled to the front of the check-in line with escorts for the F passengers. Nice to know for the future but this isn’t as nice as the US-based LH lounges and not close to the MUC and FRA Senator lounges.

  15. my husband and I had dinner in the Lan business lounge last night ( Jan1st) so as to get as much sleep once on board flight Lan 501 to Santiago . We both had the soup and a few sandwiches.
    4hours later we were both suffering from very bad tummies – cramps etc
    We are now stuck in our hotel near the toilet and not enjoying the city !!
    Shame

  16. Had the most miserable few hours in the American Lounge at Miami airport. Lack of atmosphere….food pitiful (tinned fruit cocktail for goodness sake!) and more importantly freezing. Whoever was in charge of their AC was certainly over zealous. Mr Branson…you really need to get a better option for Upper Class passengers as we won’t travel through Miami again. I just want to go home!!!

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