Key takeaways

  • American Airlines has its own selection of airport lounges (called Admirals Clubs) that are geared to frequent flyers and elite members.
  • There are almost 50 Admirals Clubs locations in operation today, including traditional clubs and Flagship lounges.
  • American Airlines flyers can gain entry into Admirals Clubs with a day pass, a paid Admirals Club membership or membership through a co-branded credit card.
  • Flights booked in a premium cabin on an eligible itinerary may also include entry into Admirals Clubs or partner lounges.

American Airlines is one of the biggest airlines in operation today, and its membership in the oneworld Alliance means travelers can book flights with the airline to more than 900 destinations in 170 territories around the world. Frequent flyers can pursue status in the American AAdvantage program and qualify for elite benefits like priority boarding, additional free checked bags and complimentary upgrades. Members can even qualify for day passes or a full membership to the American Airlines Admirals Club, which is the brand of exclusive airport lounges offered through the airline.

If you’re a frequent flyer with American Airlines, the Admirals Club is a great way to enhance your flying experience. Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Admirals Club, including current pathways to membership and credit cards that let you enter for free.

What is the American Airlines Admirals Club?

The American Airlines Admirals Club is a type of airport lounge associated with American Airlines. There are nearly 50 Admirals Club locations around the world, and some benefits and features can vary across locations.

Note that Admirals Club lounges are unique from more general lounge programs like Priority Pass, which has more than 1,500 airport lounges around the world. While you can enter Priority Pass lounges with membership or a day pass — regardless of which airline you’re traveling with — you can only enter Admirals Clubs when you’re flying with American Airlines or an eligible partner airline.

This is true whether you access these lounges through a free credit card membership, a paid membership or membership attained through elite status.

What should you expect from American Airlines Admirals Clubs?

Admirals Club lounges give you exclusive access to relaxation areas, business facilities, shower suites and premium food or drinks. Food options range from grab-and-go snacks to made-to-order specialty meals, and you’ll find a variety of house drinks on offer, in addition to basic staples like beer, wine and spirits.

These lounges also provide a quiet place to escape from the loud airport terminal, where you can have a meal with drinks and enjoy free wifi access while you wait for your flight to depart. Personal travel assistance is also available through Admirals Club staff members.

Admirals Club vs. Flagship Lounges

While Admirals Clubs offer plenty of amenities that make flying more relaxing and refreshing, Flagship Lounges — also offered by American Airlines — are another great way to experience flying. Flagship Lounges offer many of the benefits of Admiral Club lounges plus a few extras, including:

  • Premium wine
  • Specialty cocktails
  • Chef-inspired meals
  • Elevated dining experience for Flagship First or Business Plus passengers on select flights

Unlike Admirals Club lounges, Flagship Lounges don’t require you to purchase a membership. To access a Flagship Lounge, you will need to be traveling in either first or business class on a qualifying flight.

Benefits of American Airlines Admirals Clubs

Visiting an American Airlines Admirals Club lounge offers a range of benefits that make flying much more than just a simple travel experience. These benefits can include:

  • Complimentary morning and afternoon snacks, plus full meals
  • Made-to-order specialties
  • Premium drinks and fresh coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Television, newspapers and magazines
  • Access to business centers
  • Shower suites
  • Personal travel assistance
  • Outlets for charging your devices

While having access to these premium perks can make the travel experience much more rewarding and comfortable, also note the financial savings that could come into play. With most airport food overly pricey and unimpressive, an Admirals Club membership gives you the chance to enjoy high-quality meals and drinks without having to pay for the privilege.

If you have a nice meal and a few drinks in Admirals Clubs each time you fly, you could easily save $75 or more each time you enter the lounge. If you’re a frequent flyer, the savings you get over time could easily exceed the cost of Admirals Club membership.

How to gain access to American Airlines Admirals Club

You can gain access to Admirals Clubs through a variety of means, including paid membership, day passes (based on availability), eligible co-branded credit cards and eligible flights. You may also gain access to Admirals Club lounges by purchasing an Alaska Lounge or Qantas Club membership, which may make sense if you regularly fly with these airlines as well.

Purchase a membership

One of the simplest ways to get American Airlines airport lounge access is to purchase a membership for the Admirals Club. Pricing will depend on your status in the AAdvantage frequent flyer program. New individual memberships can range from $750 to $850, depending on status. For new household memberships, the cost ranges from $1,550 to $1,650.

The chart below shows how much you will pay for membership if you cover the cost with cash:

Membership tier General member AAdvantage Gold AAdvantage Platinum AAdvantage Platinum Pro AAdvantage Executive Platinum
Individual – new $850 $825 $800 $775 $750
Individual – renewal $800 $775 $750 $725 $700
Household – new $1,650 $1,625 $1,600 $1,575 $1,550
Household – renewal $1,600 $1,575 $1,550 $1,525 $1,500

You can also pay for Admirals Club membership with American AAdvantage miles and, once again, the cost varies based on which tier of membership you have. The chart below outlines these costs in miles:

Membership tier General member AAdvantage Gold AAdvantage Platinum AAdvantage Platinum Pro AAdvantage Executive Platinum
Individual – new           85,000             82,500                     80,000                           77,500                                     75,000
Individual – renewal             80,000             77,500                     75,000                           72,500                                     70,000
Household – new         165,000           162,500                   160,000                         157,500                                   155,000
Household – renewal           160,000           157,000                   155,000                         152,550                                   150,000

Purchase a day pass

You can also purchase a day pass to Admirals Clubs, but it’s important to remember that day passes are offered on a first come, first served basis. This means you may not be able to gain entry to Admirals Clubs if they’ve reached their daily threshold for day passes, or if the lounge is crowded and they stop offering them.

Day passes can be purchased online or at a lounge location for $79 or 7,900 AAdvantage miles. You can purchase a day pass through your American AAdvantage account online. Day passes for non-members are also available.

Apply for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®

If you’re looking for a way to get an Admirals Club membership at a discount, consider signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®. This is the only credit card that includes an Admirals Club membership as a cardholder benefit, and it does so at a reduced rate of $595 through its annual fee.

This card offers a generous welcome bonus for new customers who can meet a minimum spending requirement in the first few months after account opening, as well as frequent flyer benefits like a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, free checked bags and an enhanced airport experience.

Also note that authorized users get access to Admirals Club lounges with their cards as well, and primary cardholders can add up to three authorized users to their cards for a total cost of $175. Each authorized user after that costs $175 as well. This means the first three authorized users on a primary account get Admirals Club membership for less than $60 — a stellar deal for those who can use it.

Book an eligible flight

Individuals who book a flight in a Business or First Class cabin on an eligible flight may also qualify for same-day entry into Admirals Clubs, depending on their itinerary. For the most part, eligible itineraries include long-haul international flights, although there are exceptions for flights ticketed as Flagship. Here’s a rundown of flights and itineraries that qualify for Admirals Club lounge entry:

Flights between the U.S. and:

  • Asia
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Caribbean
  • Central America
  • Europe
  • Mexico
  • Middle East
  • New Zealand
  • South America

Qualifying transcontinental flights with seats ticketed as Flagship between:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • JFK and San Francisco (SFO)
  • JFK and Orange County (SNA)
  • LAX and Miami (MIA)
  • LAX and Boston (BOS)

Qualifying domestic flights with seats ticketed as Flagship between:

  • Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW) and Honolulu (HNL)
  • DFW and Kona (KOA)
  • DFW and Maui (OGG)
  • Chicago (ORD) and HNL
  • Phoenix (PHX) and HNL

Buy an Alaska Lounge membership

You can also consider purchasing an Alaska Lounge+ membership if you frequently fly with Alaska Airlines. This membership gets you access to Alaska Lounges, Admirals Club locations, Qantas Clubs (when you fly with Qantas) and some United Clubs (when you fly with United Airlines). Also note that you can purchase access to Alaska lounges only for a lower cost overall.

The cost of an Alaska Lounge+ membership  is slightly lower than what you would pay for an Admirals Club membership outright, especially for Alaska elites. The chart below shows how much you might pay for this membership based on your elite status or general membership:

Elites*(MVP, MVP Gold, Gold 75k, Gold 100k) Non-elites
Alaska Lounge(9 Locations) $450 $550
Alaska Lounge+(9 Alaska Lounge locations and nearly 90 partner lounges) $650 $750

Buy a Qantas Club membership

Qantas Club membership can also get you and a guest entry into both Qantas Clubs and Admirals Club lounges, but only when you’re flying with either airline on the same day. However, because this lounge membership is very specific to individuals who fly within Australia and New Zealand, this strategy won’t make sense for most people.

Admirals Club guest entry rules

Admirals Club members (with a paid membership or credit card membership) are allowed to bring immediate family members into the lounge with them (including their spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18), or they can opt to bring in up to two guests. Guests and family members must also have a same day boarding pass on an American or oneworld partner flight.

Individuals entering an Admirals Club lounge based on flying an eligible Business or First Class itinerary or their elite status tier in the American AAdvantage program can bring in one guest if they’re flying on an eligible American or oneworld partner flight.

Admirals Club lounge locations

Admirals Club lounge locations can be found around the world, with dozens of clubs currently available.

    • Atlanta, GA (ATL)
    • Austin, TX (AUS)
    • Boston, MA (BOS)
    • Charlotte, NC (NLT)
    • Chicago, IL (ORD)
    • Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (DFW)
    • Denver, CO (DEN)
    • Honolulu, HI (HNL)
    • Houston, TX (IAH)
    • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
    • Miami, FL (MIA)
    • Nashville, TN (BNA)
    • New York, NY – John F. Kennedy (JFK)
    • New York, NY – LaGuardia (LGA)
    • Newark, NJ (EWR)
    • Orange County, CA (SNA)
    • Orlando, FL (MCO)
    • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
    • Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
    • Pittsburgh, PA (PIT)
    • Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU)
    • San Francisco, CA (SFO)
    • St. Louis, MO (STL)
    • Tampa, FL (TPA)
    • Washington D.C. (DCA)
    • Mexico City (MEX)
    • Toronto, Canada (YYZ)
    • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
    • Mexico City, Mexico (MEX)
    • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (GIG)
    • São Paulo, Brazil (GRU)
    • Paris, France (CDG)
    • London, England (LHR)

While the number of Admirals Clubs is limited, Admirals Club members can also access more than 50 partner lounges across the world, including in Asia, Europe, South America, the South Pacific, the Middle East and various locations across the U.S.

Best credit cards for American Airlines Admirals Club

As noted above, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard is the only travel rewards credit card that offers complimentary Admirals Club membership. This card comes with a $595 annual fee, but you’ll get far more than that in value — especially since purchasing a new individual Admirals Club membership alone would cost $850.

For instance, the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard currently comes with perks like priority boarding on American flights, no foreign transaction fees, free checked bags for you and up to eight companions on the same reservation (first bag only), 25 percent savings on in-flight food or drinks, priority airport check-in and screening for you and up to eight travel companions and up to a $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

As a sign-up bonus, you can also earn 70,000 miles after spending $7,000 in purchases in the first three months. This card earns 4X AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, and members earn Loyalty Points toward elite status through credit card spending. Cardholders can even earn a 10,000 Loyalty Points bonus after reaching 50,000 Loyalty Points in a status qualification year, followed by another 10,000 Loyalty Points bonus after reaching 90,000 Loyalty Points in the same status qualification year.

The bottom line

American Airlines Admirals Club lounges offer a wide range of perks to make your flying experience as comfortable as possible, aiming to take the stress and hassle out of traveling. The complimentary food and drinks, Wi-Fi and business facilities — among other perks — all offer a great way to relax before a vacation or business trip. But if you aren’t sure about buying a membership, or if you fly infrequently, you can purchase a one-day pass to test it out.

For more travel tips and tricks, check out Bankrate’s travel toolkit.