I applied for the American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Mastercard in 2014. At the time, the card had a decent sign up bonus and includes Admirals Club access. While we visited a few Admirals Club locations in the year I had the card, it wasn’t worth the price and I canceled it when the card came up for renewal. Amazingly, the card has the same $450 annual fee that it had almost a decade ago.
The last time I set foot in an Admirals Club was in 2015, unless you count the time I tried to get into the lounge in Orlando to get pictures for our post on the lounges at MCO. The desk staff turned me away.
Travel in 2022 is nothing like it was in 2015. We were returning home from Austin and I needed to get home that day. I’d already made alternate plans on a different airline in case of massive schedule disruptions. Because of the horror stories about traffic getting to Austin Airport, we arrived extra early.
As it turned out, every part of our pre-flight activities, from returning our rental car, to checking our luggage, to getting through security, took hardly any time at all. We were post-security almost 2 1/2 hours before our flight. While everything looked good for our flight, American Airlines was starting to post delays and cancellations to other airports.
We decided that we would check out the Admirals Club. American Airlines sells day passes for $59, as long as you’re flying with them or one of their partners.
One-Day Pass holder must show a boarding pass for same-day travel on any departing or arriving flight that is marketed or operated by American; marketed and operated by any oneworld® airline; or marketed and operated by JetBlue Airways (excluding JetBlue Airways flights operating to and from Europe).
The Admirals Club at Austin is located on the second floor and can be reached by stairs or an elevator.
The first thing we noticed was the lack of a line to enter. We’ve had to wait to enter The Club locations at MCO and MSY on recent trips and there was a long queue to check in at the LAX Delta SkyClub.
The desk agent welcomed us and asked if I wanted to pay with cash or use my AAdvantage miles. Besides paying $59, you can choose to redeem 5,900 AAdvantage miles. She looked up our flights, confirmed the flight still showed as on time and informed us that our passes were good for 24 hours. If we wanted to, we could stop by the Admirals Club at our destination to freshen up and grab a snack before heading out. She wrote our ticket numbers on our receipt so the agent at the next club would have no problems letting us in.
Wow. I’d forgotten that agents at airport lounges can be friendly. I was glad that if there was a problem with our flight, I’d have someone on my side to try and get me home.
As we entered the club, there were several seating areas.
There were also some rooms at the back of the club that offered more privacy.
We took two seats near the windows that overlooked the main floor of the terminal.
The club doesn’t have any windows that give a view of the airport operations. If you want to go outside instead, you can always check out the free viewing deck. The Admirals Club was a quiet oasis compared to the terminal, which was starting to get crowded.
There is a bar and adjacent seating. This area was more crowded. The bar serves soft drinks, base liquor, wine and beer for no charge and has higher quality products for purchase.
Since we hadn’t gone to an Admirals Club for so long, I hadn’t followed that they only serve light snacks for free. There was a menu where you can order other items for a fee. The complimentary breakfast menu was limited.
There were different items available by the coffee bar so be sure to check around to make sure you’re not missing anything,
We stayed until our flight was getting ready to board. Since American is known to start boarding before the stated time, we headed there a few minutes early. Boarding started a few minutes late and we had no problems with our carry-on bags.
Upon arriving at Orlando, we planned on checking out the Admirals Club before heading to baggage claim. However, we stepped off the plane into a packed gate area. The line to get into the club was at least 10 people deep. While we had no issue with our flight, American was in the midst of a meltdown. Not the best time to walk around to take a few pictures.
Our visit to the Admirals Club in Austin was great. The staff was friendly and the food and drinks available were adequate. If I was looking for a meal, there are plenty of places downstairs to visit so I don’t think we’d ever order off the menu. We had no problem getting some work done and charging our devices before the flight.
It’s impossible to extrapolate what all Admirals Clubs are like from a single visit to one club. However, if we start flying with American more often (which will happen if JetBlue can’t get it together), I’d consider getting the American Airlines Executive card again for the lounge access.
That wouldn’t be the case if the club was packed, food items empty and we had trouble finding a seat.
Was our experience usual for Admirals Clubs or did we just visit at a good time? I’d also think that some clubs are better than others.
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