American Admirals Clubs Are Undergoing Their Biggest Refresh Ever

American put out a press release today announcing that they’ll begin their most extensive Admirals Club refresh ever, starting with their clubs in Phoenix and Sao Paulo. Here’s part of the press release:

American Airlines is beginning the most expansive lounge makeover in the airline’s history. The Admirals Club lounges at Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) and São Paulo International (GRU) airports, both closed for construction, will lead the way for the modern makeover.

“In the future, when our customers see an Admirals Club sign anywhere in the world, they’ll know they’ll find a reliable, modern space where they can charge their devices, grab a bite to eat, get caught up on work or unplug from the world around them,” says Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “Our goal is to create spaces that are more in line with how people live and spend their time today.”

Over the next several years, lounges will receive a stylish, consistent look designed for today’s connected travelers.

Renovated clubs will be instantly recognizable to customers, with entryways featuring the American Airlines logo on sleek, white glass. Once inside, customers will be greeted by representatives who are stationed at modern check-in podiums, ready to assist with travel and upgrade needs. Lounge areas will receive a contemporary style overhaul with a mix of tan and gray tones and accents of rich red, along with lighting and other elements that blend in white oak wood and stainless steel.

To improve customers’ comfort as well as productivity, the redesigned clubs will feature a variety of custom-made furniture pieces – from communal tables to high-backed chairs outfitted with power outlets and USB ports, making it easier to charge personal devices and stay connected. Restrooms will also be given a modern treatment, with new countertops and tile throughout. A club’s individual location will be played up through artwork that represents the destination.

The renovation process will expand some clubs, such as the PHX Terminal A club, giving customers more space to relax and new seating options.

American will start construction on clubs in Miami, New York (JFK), Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles this year, with clubs in Chicago, London and other key cities entering the renovation phase in the coming years. Ultimately, the makeover will touch all of American’s lounges.

American is also upgrading its food and refreshments. Earlier this year, Admirals Club lounges rolled out an enhanced and healthy selection of complimentary offerings such as Greek yogurt, oatmeal, hearty soups and sweet and savory snacks. More food enhancements are coming this summer.

Here are some artist renderings of the new clubs:

Admirals-Club-1

Admirals-Club-2

So what do I take away from this?

  • The refresh is starting with the Phoenix and Sao Paulo lounges, and will also include the Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York JFK lounges this year, with other lounges to follow in coming years
  • American will be “enhancing” their food and refreshments this summer, whatever that means
  • American is going with a “modern” look for the new lounges, which to be honest look to me a bit cafeteria-like; that being said, with how crowded and heavily used these lounges are, that might just be the most durable and practical option

It seems like the “model” for the refresh will be very similar to some of the newer lounges they’ve opened recently, like the Admirals Club in the American Eagle terminal at LAX.

Admirals-Club-LAX-1

Admirals-Club-LAX-2

Admirals-Club-LAX-3

Over the years my thoughts on what matters in US airlines’ lounges has changed significantly. Here’s what I care about nowadays, roughly in order:

  • To me the most important thing is that the lounge is a comfortable place from which to work, which means fast wifi is a must, and “proper” work stations are also really important
  • There need to be lots of power outlets, which it seems American is prioritizing with the redesign; it amazes me how many new clubs don’t have charging stations within reach of every seat
  • Shower rooms are awesome, and this is an area in which American is already better than average; of course the usefulness of this varies significantly depending on your travel day

Personally I couldn’t care less about the “free” snack selection. Even the “enhanced” Delta SkyClub snacks aren’t any good, in my opinion. All I want in an airline lounge is a cup of coffee in the morning or a Diet Coke with lime in the afternoon. Everything else I’ll get elsewhere.

Back in the day I could rely on American’s domestic first class food to at least be edible, though that’s not the case anymore, which means more often than not I’m picking up a sandwich or something similar at an airport deli if I have a long travel day.

What do you value most from a US airline’s lounge?

Comments

  1. UA and DL have been leading the way on this for years now.

    AA playing catch up as it is on many fronts.

  2. It is about time. The Sao Paulo lounge at GRU was so bad that it makes me want to seat in the gate area instead. Since they are remodeling the lounges they should add some decent food options and not charge for anything other than pretzels.

  3. I love modern/contemporary however it looks like an upscale hospital waiting room 🙁
    As premium as the crystal geyser water they serve on board
    When will American get some class/good taste in its direction?

  4. Of course, the most i care about is a wide selection of FREE beverages and food. However, that’s mostly because 1) i’m European and spoiled by the wonderful LH/OS/TK lounges, 2) i’m always traveling economy class and in the US they don’t offer you anything onboard.

  5. Actually Ben the free food is what I’d like to see them improve. It helps to justify the $450 fee and makes it somewhat closer to what int’l lounges offer. The lounges are already comfortable as far as seating.

  6. @Greg – “leadership” and “UA” should never go in the same sentence. They have a few new lounges (BOS, SEA, ORD T2, LHR) driven by terminal moves – that’s it.

  7. Funny, I was just in Dubai this morning and took perhaps a hundred pictures in plain sight. Staff noticed, security officers noticed, police officers probably noticed and no one expressed the slightest concern. IMHO, the rules are meant to provide a framework against people or situations deemed undesirable. I very much doubt that the UAE would spend resources and effort going after mere enthusiasts photographing public spaces.

  8. @ Brian — There actually was one until 2012, and then they closed it. With the combined presence of the two airlines you’d really think they would open a few. It wouldn’t surprise me, but I also wouldn’t count on it. Guess we’ll see!

  9. When a press release doesn’t name the interior design firm standing by the choices made for the refreshed lounges and the James Beard award winning chef lending their reputation to food selection the message is clear.

  10. Not a fan of the design but whatever… Hope they do something good with PHX because the US Airways lounge I visited last year was rather dreadful.

  11. I actually really value the food options. Mini sandwiches or premium snacks can go a long way so you’re not starving. Having to spend $10 for a cheap sandwich before every flight can add up. Also, you are not permitted to bring in food to a Delta Sky Club for example so to be able to eat in the comfort and connectivity of a lounge is huge to me. This is why I love the Centurion lounges so much!

  12. The only useful aspect about the Admiral Club is when you need rebooking help and those angels are always great in giving advice. The rest is just mediocre at best. As long as AMEX continues to open all these Centurion lounges in major US cities/hubs, I am okay. However, AA needs to consider about reopening a Flagship lounge at DFW, given its expansion lately.

  13. One of the PHX Clubs was remodeled not too long ago (last year ?). The one in the B Terminal closest to the gates that pmAA moved into..
    Nice and modern, mostly dark greys so isn’t this design.

    I’ve been in the LAX remote club. Felt like a low end cafeteria. I assumed that feeling was due to its location /lack of windows /etc. But I agree these design photos seem to match the decor.

    One of the reasons I enjoy the clubs for a quick snack in between flights.
    The recent addition of the soups is appreciated and I haven’t tried one I didn’t like. The only problem is they’re out for such a short time frame.

  14. I want a clean place to wait with good wifi and working TV’s. Emphasis on clean. Not everyone wants carpeted areas (often with stains). Do some areas without carpets as well and stick to leather furniture!

  15. In their newly remodeled club now. Kind of disappointing. Seats are very hard. Probably one of ,y least favorite Admirals Clubs and I have been to many in the last year.

  16. I will have a long layover at LAX the end of March. I can buy for $59.00 the use of the Admirals Club. Will it be open at that time?

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