Confirmed: Citi Executive Authorized Users Get Admirals Club Access

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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-1
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.

photo1
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.

DenverAdmiralsClubBar
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.

Bottom Line

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?

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Comments

  1. AirD0c: In terms of them being granted access? No issues. Policy is 2 guests or immediate family members.

    The Admirals Club in Denver actually has a dedicated kids area, so there is a good, somewhat secluded space for them to be kids. United Clubs that were former CO Clubs usually have similar facilities. Maybe I’ll do a post on that at some point.

  2. I added an authorized user right after the benefit was announced. We tested the card with me being the guest. No issue at all. Of course at a regular AC.

  3. I thought the Primary User needed a boarding pass to enter the Admiral’s Club. Almost sounds like the AU has better access since no boarding pass is required.

  4. So just to clarify, both primary cardmember and authorized users can access Admirals Clubs without having an AA boarding pass? But only the primary cardmember can access oneworld lounges, arrivals lounges, etc?

  5. Hi Travis, can you clarify if this also applies to Prestige? Can I add an authorized user to my Prestige card and have him get access?

  6. @Greg – the Prestige card offers Admirals Club access, not a membership. The difference is that a membership gives you all of the benefits (like reciprocal access) and allows you in even without a same-day AA ticket – that’s what the AAdvantage Executive World Elite that Travis is talking about gives you. With the access given by the Prestige card, you can only be allowed in with a same-day AA ticket. However, according to Lucky’s post a few months ago (http://bit.ly/1NJgQdb), authorized users do NOT have the Admirals Club access that the primary user gets.

  7. The AC at BNA refused to allow my wife who was an authorized use to bring in two guests. The lounge dragon would not let her guests in no matter what. I called Citi while in the lounge and the lounge dragon refused to even talk to citi. I canceled my card as soon as I got home. The lounge dragon wanted me to pay another $50 per guest to use a perk that I already paid for. What a cluster. The ground services was legacy US which explains a lot. As a former EXP and someone who has been loyal the past several years it was amazing to watch how utterly clueless and incompetent the ground services was. Not only were we embarrassed by having to call our business associates, who my wife was trying to get into ththe club, and let me know we couldn’t get them in, they downgraded 2 seats from First to economy on the flight after we had them confirmed for 6 months! I will continue to burn off the several hundred miles I have left from my flying days and just be a free agent. The ground crew cost Citi a little money as I got the card from their 100k bonus. Luckily for me they screwed us right when the annual fee we due so we didn’t have to spend another $450 and be stuck with the card for another year. Anyone getting this card and wanting to use the authorized user be warned.

  8. Greg – Anonymous is basically correct. The part that is interesting here is that while AU’s on the Citi Executive card only get Admirals Club “access” (not a membership), that access allows you to gain entry without a same-day AA boarding pass. So it’s a pretty generous form of “access”.

  9. UnitedEF — I’m not terribly surprised; that’s why I had the T&C’s on me. I probably would have insisted on a supervisor.

  10. I’ve been wondering if I will be able to add an authorized user, but have their credit limit set differently for the purpose of granting an emergency card to our college student. Has anyone tried that with this card?

  11. Not being a frequent flyer, I’m not an advocate of the memberships to lounges as I can’t justify the cost vs. the usage. My family does 1 long-haul flight across the pacific per year (occasionally 2) mostly for the holidays. We travel HKG to South Florida and I’ve made good use of the United vouchers (perks from the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card) for access in the past. But we switched to AA a couple years back which routes us through Dallas. This past December we had a lengthy (6 hour) layover and I opted to go for their Admiral’s Club 30-Day membership: $99 per Visitor. This allowed for access for myself, my wife and our little one (up to 2 kids, under 18). This was a good deal for use because it allowed us to use it on again on our return to HKG after the holidays, which was still within that 30-day window.

    In relation to AirD0c’s query above, I would say the experience at the Dallas Admiral’s Club was slightly better than a previous experience at the United Club in Newark (EWR). Amenities are similar, but Admiral’s had a dedicated kids play room (which was great for our little one, so she could run around a play bit and not disturb others). My wife and I both took the opportunity to use the showers, and I think the shower rooms were slightly nicer than United’s. The selections of unlimited complimentary snacks and drinks are about the same and we did order couple appetiser meals since we didn’t feel like heading out to the concourse. But in total I think we spent about $120 (which covered the membership and food, shower access, comfy chairs, etc.) I figured we would have spent at least 3/4 of that on food and snacks if we were killing the time out on the concourse, and that would have been just for that layover going over (not counting the return).

  12. Travis, just to clarify, do AAdvantage Executive authorized users have any guesting privileges? My mom has gained access herself as an authorized user without any issue, but am curious moving forward. Thanks!

  13. Yeah, I’m an AU and have accessed clubs in Charlotte and Los Angeles without the agent even blinking an eye. The first time, I simply said, “I’m an authorized user. I’m good, right?” and the agent said, “Absolutely, and your guests!”

  14. Minor photo correction. That’s not the LAX Admirals Club. It might be one of the many clubs at PHX.

  15. @Travis
    Hi Mike, slightly off topic but massive favor needed please.

    Booked Etihad first Syd – Dub via AAdvantage last year. Now need to add an infant and they are saying they can’t and that I have to go to Etihad who are showing 20% of fare ($3000+)

    Any ideas on how to get the 10% of fare or how to get this cheaper?

    Thanks
    Dave

  16. Travis,

    Thank you for this info. I’m not a big flyer but signed up for this card ahead to get miles and Admirals club access for my family ahead of a trip to Hawaii. When I read the T&C, it says the cardholder or authorized user may bring either 2 guests or immediate family (spouse and kids up to 18). If I have a 20 year old child travelling with us, will he be granted access? Should my wife and I enter separately? (Me as primary cardholder with the younger kids and her as an authorized user with the 20 year old as guest)

    Thank you for the explanation.

  17. Jon — Although you are sort of caught in the gap between two policies (2 guests OR family up to 18), I don’t think you’ll have any problem.

    But if you do, I would just have your wife pull out her card and explain that she’s entitled to 2 guests as well.

    Have a great trip!

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