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Citi announced an awesome new perk back in December where authorized users on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® would receive lounge access. Previously this had been limited to the primary cardholder only.
This was really big news since there is no cost to add authorized users to your account.
In fact, each account can have up to 10 authorized users in addition to the primary account holder. Since each authorized user (and the original cardholder) can bring in two guests or their immediate family, this would mean that 33 people could enter the club from one account.
Or even more, if each authorized user has a large immediate family like me.
Admirals Club LAX
What Does Admirals Club Access Really Mean?
There were still some ambiguities though. For example, the terms and conditions made it clear that authorized users would have access to Admirals Clubs, rather than a full Admirals Club membership, but they didn’t exactly explain what that means.
The difference between access and a membership can be subtle. For example, the Citi Prestige® Card also offered Admirals Club access and one of the limitations was that you had to have a same-day boarding pass for American. (If you have a full-blown Admirals Club membership, you don’t have to be flying American that day, or flying at all for that matter.)
But in this case, Citi seemed to define what they meant by access. They explicitly stated that authorized users would not be able to use arrivals lounges, Flagship lounges, or other airline lounges such a those operated by oneworld partners — basically anything other than a plain-jane Admirals Club. And authorized users also can’t get special pricing on conference rooms.
I tend to think that when you start enumerating exactly what you can’t do, then anything not listed is probably fair game.
Here is the relevant paragraph from the terms and conditions for authorized users of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® (bolding and line breaks mine):
Only Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard® primary cardmembers who are eighteen (18) years of age or older will receive full membership access privileges to Admirals Club® lounges.
An Authorized User of the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard® who is eighteen (18) years of age or older will receive access privileges to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges. Full Admirals Club® membership privileges do not apply to an Authorized User.
An Admirals Club®membership includes access to other airline lounges and clubs with which American Airlines may have reciprocal lounge or club access privileges including lounges operated by oneworld® carriers. Membership also includes special pricing on conference rooms and other special offers that are available exclusively to Admirals Club®members.
The Authorized User access benefit does not provide: (i) access privileges to the Arrivals Lounge, Flagship® Lounge facilities, or other airline lounges or clubs with which American Airlines may have reciprocal lounge or club access privileges, including lounges operated by members of the oneworld® alliance; nor (ii) special pricing on conference rooms or other special offers.
To locate a current list of Admirals Club® lounges please visit visit aa.com/admiralsclub.
Becoming An Authorized User
As you know, I primarily fly United so I was particularly interested in being able to gain entry to the Admirals Club without a same-day American boarding pass.
My interpretation of the terms and conditions seemed to indicate that this would be possible, but of course, I’m not the expert in the land of American. But Ben and Tiffany are, and they agreed with my reading. In fact, Ben wrote a post outlining his interpretation of the policy back in December.
But theory is one thing. Reality is another.
Possibly as a thank-you for managing the submission of 192 IHG Priceless Surprises entries for her and her husband, Tiffany added me as an authorized user on her Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. All in the name of science, of course. And as a service to our readers.
Well, the card finally came and we all got a bit nervous when we noticed that it didn’t have an Admirals Club logo. Ruh roh.
No Admirals Club logo. No problem.
Tiffany downgraded her estimate of successful entry without a same-day American boarding pass to 50%.
But sometimes you gotta do the science even when you’re afraid the experiment will fail. The worst that could happen was that I’d do the walk-of-shame out of the Admirals Club.
Testing the Authorized User Access Policy
The opportunity to test the policy finally came when my family was transiting Denver. Armed with a copy of the terms and conditions in my back pocket, I took a deep breath and walked up to the counter where I was warmly greeted by the lounge AAngel (which served to remind me that, indeed, this was not a United Club).
I handed her my card. She swiped it. She asked for my ID.
And then she welcomed me and my entourage into the club.
Denver Admirals Club
I’ve repeated the experiment twice more — still for science of course — and both of them were successful. At no point was I asked for a boarding pass of any kind. And at no point was there any question about whether or not I could guest my family in with me.
On one visit, the agent even advised me that if I visited an Admirals Club at a hub, they could associate a picture with my account, thus obviating the need for them to ask for my photo ID upon entry.
As I learned in Charlotte last week, that’s not quite accurate — the agents scanned my driver’s license photo, and then tried to attach it to my account, but the computer wouldn’t let them. Eventually they asked if I was the primary account holder, and when I said no, they concluded that that’s what the problem was — only the primary cardholder can have a photo on file, the rest of us need to have a photo ID at the ready. Which of course is easy enough.
I think this is an amazing benefit. Yes the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is a little on the pricey side, but if you have ten family members (or friends you trust), you can effectively get them all Admirals Club access for less than $50 per year. That’s amazing.
Has anyone else tested Admirals Club access for authorized users? What was the result?