Review: American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport

Introduction
US Airways Club Tampa
American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport
Airberlin Business Class A330 Miami To Dusseldorf
Airberlin Lounge Dusseldorf Airport
Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance
Etihad Airways First Class A340-500 Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles


After a quick flight from Tampa to Miami I had a five hour layover before my connection to Dusseldorf. Rather than hanging around the airport I headed to the W South Beach to meet a friend, which is a much more pleasant place to kill a few hours than Miami Airport.

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Gin & tonic at W South Beach

American’s lounge situation in Miami is… interesting. They have two Admirals Clubs, located near gates D15 and D30. Then they used to have a Flagship International First Class Lounge, which they shut down about five years ago as they were going to “renovate it.” Given the financial situation American was in at the time, I think it just stayed in a permanent state of “renovation,” and still hasn’t been reopened. I’m not sure if they’ve admitted to scrapping the project or not, but I think it’s safe to assume that’s the case.

American also has a “Premium Lounge” in the “E” concourse, which they opened back in 2011. They share this lounge with airberlin, British Airways, and Iberia. The lounge is open daily from 1PM till 11PM, so is intended primarily for passengers traveling on longhaul flights to Europe and Latin America.

The following passengers are eligible for access to the Premium Lounge:

  • International first and business class passengers
  • Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members (American and US Airways Sapphire and Emerald members must be traveling internationally the same day)
  • Passengers traveling in first or business class from Miami to Los Angeles
  • Admirals Club members departing the “E” concourse

Since I decided to leave the airport I had to clear security. I didn’t have Pre-Check since airberlin doesn’t participate in the program, so it was my first time in a while having to clear “normal” security in the US.

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Airberlin check-in Miami

Gosh, what a frustrating experience. They had two lanes open (of a total of five lanes), and one person working the ID checking line. Meanwhile one “two striper” (lead TSO) and two “three stripers” (supervisory TSOs) simply paced up and down the line doing nothing. Like, they weren’t behavior detection officers and weren’t yelling at people to take their shoes off, they simply walked back and forth and looked “busy.” When someone asked if they could add another ID checker, one of the “three stripers” responded that they were understaffed.

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Miami Airport terminal

Anyway, just past the checkpoint was the signage for the Premium Lounge.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport signage

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport signage

That’s also where the elevators to the Premium Lounge were located. OMG. They’re old. Old. OLD. I don’t know if they’re going for a historic look and want to make you feel like you’re visiting the Addams Family, or if they ran out of money in their renovation budget, but just wow

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport elevator

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport elevator

The agents at the desk were friendly and promptly admitted me. They added that they don’t make boarding announcements for airberlin.

The Premium Lounge was surprisingly large, almost puzzlingly so, as I kept getting lost. It was badly in need of a design overhaul, and beyond that it just felt like all the furniture was cheap and mismatched.

On the plus side, there was plenty of seating and the lounge was fairly empty despite being around “peak” afternoon departure time.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport

There was a business center with several large cubicles, which I appreciated, since that’s usually my seating preference in lounges.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport business center

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport business center

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

There are also several types of seating options, and lots of partitions, so it does feel private.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport seating

The food spread was much better than anything in a domestic Admirals Club.

They had fresh fruit, granola, yogurt, bread, sweets, pasta, salad, meat, sandwiches, cheese, etc. Most of it didn’t look especially good, but hey, at least they have food.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet area

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

There was a small dessert selection which I think was intended to be an afternoon tea-type thing.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

Then there were the typical Admirals Club muffins.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport muffins

And two coffee machines.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport coffee machine

The lounge also had a self serve bar, where all drinks were free, including beer, wine, sparkling wine, booze, etc.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport drink selection

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport liquor selection

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport liquor selection

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport buffet

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport drinks

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport wine

At $15 per bottle at retail, their sparkling wine of choice is nothing short of impressive. I mean, that’s like China Southern’s annual sparkling wine budget.

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American Premium Lounge Miami Airport sparkling wine

I had roughly an hour in the lounge before I headed to the gate for my airberlin flight to Dusseldorf.

American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport bottom line

Miami Airport is one of my least favorite major airports in terms of their lounge facilities. The other international lounge is called “Club North Korea America,” which makes this place look like the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, by comparison.

So compared to the other options this is a very solid lounge. In terms of food I would say it’s on par with a Flagship Lounge. And I appreciate how big the lounge is as well. But for a lounge that just opened a few years ago, the decor is…

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Comments

  1. Wow. That elevator was scary-amazing. My guess is its vintage 1987ish – an era when everything in Miami was decorated in Miami Vice aqua and/or pink.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, that space is just the old E Admirals Club with basically no service changes beyond self-service booze and some enhanced food…

  3. @ Ben — Of course the W is better since they have hot babes at the pool. 😉

    Anyway, do they really enforce the “Admirals Club members departing the “E” concourse” rule? FCQ and I have used this lounge on long layovers, even when departing on a domestic flight from D gates (or so I think…FCQ says I am wrong). Our access is via AAdmirals Club membership (or Plat AMEX back in the day), and no one has ever challenged our entry (as I recall, apparently following a gin and tonic with hot babe).

  4. Am I the only one interested in knowing which beers were offered? I mean, you took pictures of the water bottles, why not the beer?
    Oh, and it seems like there are weisswurts in the same basket as the bread……

  5. Welcome to Miami! Always confusion. By the was I was at JFK last week. TSA was worse there and Precheck line was stull pretty slow. Also they run very little air conditioning there and the Delta Club is a shithole with barely any ac there either.

  6. I enjoyed this lounge last year for my Spring Fling to London – went thru MIA to be sure & fly in the nose of the BA 747-400. The food and drink was nice. And the shower room was nice. Fly-on!!

  7. Regarding your reference to lounge access for transcon premium passengers, the fare bucket restriction was eliminated when the rules were changed a while back, but eligible routes were also reduced as well. Out of Miami, one must be flying to Los Angeles (no other routes ex-MIA qualify anymore) in business or first to qualify for access based on class of service, but it can be on any fare.

  8. The new Flagship lounge hasn’t been scrapped. It will open at gate D37. No exact timeline yet, but construction restarted.

  9. Also, not sure if you are aware, but one of the Club America lounges is operated by LAN now as a VIP Lounge. Avianca is building and operating a Star Alliance lounge in J; Qatar and British Airways are both opening new lounges in D.

  10. @Nick, I believe you’re right. I remember coming here when it was just an admirals club (after not getting into the F lounge AA operated at the time). It was a huge space, so did not seem very crowded! Decent shower facilities too. Good to know they allow Admirals Club members/Citi card holders access. It might make sense to make the (long) walk over from the D concourse on a longer layover in MIA. Food options actually look somewhat decent.

  11. “When someone asked if they could add another ID checker, one of the “three stripers” responded that they were understaffed.”

    Welcome to the fabulous world of the American Federation of Government Employees Union – TSA being a proud member.

  12. Obviously I’m not paying close attention. I kept wondering why you were talking about Airberlin and why you weren’t in the Lufthansa lounge in advance of a flight to Germany! 😉

    That’s a lot of food pictures!

  13. I hate that the W South Beach is a cat 7 property. Want to stay there but not worth 30k points/night or ~$500/nt.

  14. Hi Lucky,

    Here’s suggestion/request for when you review lounges. Could you please provide a picture of one of the shower rooms whenever possible? Thanks a lot!

  15. Lucky, were you departing out of E? I have a business/first class flight connecting through MIA from Guatemala City (to SEA – isn’t it crazy that doesn’t qualify you for access but MIA-LAX does?)… but the AA website claims you can only access this lounge if departing out of E.

    I’d much prefer to wait with free serve yourself champagne if it’s an option during my 4 hour layover, but I thought I could only access the lounges in D.

  16. OK wait, I found this on MIA site but I’m flying on discount fare (I and A)… think I can get in?:

    “Customers traveling on an AA-operated transcontinental full fare First Class (F and Z inventory) or full fare Business Class (J and U inventory) ticket, as well as Admirals Club members departing from Concourse E, may also access the lounge”

  17. @ Danielle — Yes, airberlin departs from the “E” concourse. I think you should have no problem accessing this lounge, just keep in mind it’s a bit of a hike.

  18. I don’t think there EVER was a time those elevators were cool or chic. Surprised it was so empty though.

  19. The signage itself is telltale. “Also serving airberlin”? That would be a sign from BEFORE it joined oneworld, no? Seeing as how they managed to update all the US Airways Club signs with the oneworld logos…

  20. @ Charlie — Hmm, keep in mind that American, British Airways, and Iberia have a transatlantic joint venture. So even though airberlin is in oneworld, it could very well be that the lounge is run by those three airlines, and airberlin just pays on a per passenger basis.

  21. For someone who has reviews of Champagne on their blog, you should know that interchanging the term, “sparkling wine” with it is a SIN! 😉

  22. The access rules in Oct 2011 allowed us to use this lounge during long layovers to and from St.John USVI [Customers traveling on an AA operated transcontinental full fare First Class (F and Z inventory)]. We were on Z fare award tix which included AA transcon First Class from SFO to & from MIA.

    The single frustration was having to prove our eligibility both times. The desk agent insisted on calling someone to verify that we could enter, even tho I was carrying copies of the Premium Lounge’s website access rules & an email from AA showing confirmation.

    For our purposes, the biggest perk was the shower room. We had been camping in St. John for 9 days with cold water showers…that had to be the sweetest, longest, privatist 🙂 hot water shower ever taken.

    The self pour bar didn’t hurt either. Also, the lounge staff were exceptionally friendly. We were greeted with hugs all around on our return trip.

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