American Airlines Shutting Down 3 Admirals Clubs in October

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Effective October 15 American Airlines will be closing its Admirals Clubs at Hartford (BDL), Greensboro (GSO), and Caracas (CCS).

The airline says they’re doing this to control costs, offering in a statement that “These decisions are never easy, and we must always ensure we are striking the right balance of providing the level of service our customers have come to expect while keeping our costs in-check.”

And American’s position on Caracas seems to be ‘they’re the only ones left’ it’s a very difficult environment to work in, and there’s not much need to invest where customers can either fly American or not fly to the U.S.

I’m surprised to see them eliminate the Greensboro club, my understanding has been that this is a strong station for American due to their nearby hub in Charlotte and limited competition. If memory serves theirs was the only club at the airport. Perhaps they don’t see the reason to invest again due to lack of competition though if the airport makes the space available as a club rather than converting it to retail that could be an opportunity for others.

American emphasizes that they are investing “in renovating and opening premium lounges that provide our customers with the best amenities on the ground.” Of course Admirals Club members don’t have access to these Flagship lounges. In fact in some measure the Flagship lounge project — the reason to offer seaprate lounges for business class customers, elites flying internationally, and partner elites from the Admirals Club — is to avoid having to spend money on better food and beverage for dues-paying club members.

In fact American is shutting down one of its two Admirals Clubs at New York JFK to make room for their premium Flagship lounge there.

At the same time though American is improving its food and beverage program in remaining lounges. Whether it’s made to order guacamole and avocado toast, or pasta and salad bar options being tested, the food and beverage program in Admirals Clubs isn’t up to Delta’s standards but has been improving.

They’re also renovating clubs (though they’ve put off my home club in Austin, and it will be far more challenging to renovate at New York JFK since they’re eliminating one of the two clubs there). Renovations don’t always make a club better but certainly until the current run up in fuel prices they’ve been investing heavily in the product.

Moreover, American’s pricing is in some measure more favorable than Delta’s and United’s, where Delta charges extra for memberships that include guests American not only still allows guests in their base membership their Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® which is currently offering 75,000 miles after $7500 spend within the first 3 months of cardmembership not only coomes with American Airlines Club membership it offers authorized user cards at no additional annual fee each of which can access these clubs and bring in guests. [Offer expired] For the price I’d argue American is giving more to members than competitors.

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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. None of these club closures is remotely surprising. Obviously, no airline should have a club in Caracas these days. And no one would expect to find an airline lounge in Hartford or Greensboro. Business is business, and those clubs don’t make much business sense.

  2. I don’t know why people always think BDL is some podunk airport. It actually has two lounges: the AA lounge and an escape lounge. There is direct service to Ireland on Aer Lingus. A few airports that service fewer passengers than BDL: MEM, BUF, ABQ, JAX, ANC.

  3. I like the ability to get family members AA club cards at no charge, giving them access on their own, which the UA club credit card does not do, but on the other hand, the UA card gets you into other Star Alliance clubs here in the US (like LH), while the AA card does not get you into OneWorld lounges (like BA).

  4. I’m amazed the BDL lounge lasted as long as it did. I believe it was a US Air Club pre-merger.

    The Escape Lounge is a million times nicer (free entry with an AMEX Platinum) although it is in the other wing. It wasn’t just the Admirals Club was small, it’s that it was never updated and had very limited offerings.

    @Robert – BWI for example, which is a much larger airport in comparison, does not have an airport-run lounge. That was a US Air hub for a while and they lost their lounge a long time ago.

  5. I believe the GSO club has been there since the days when Winston-Salem, which is near Greensboro, was the corporate headquarters of Piedmont Airlines which after several mergers is now part of American.

  6. @Robert: Not podunk but just doesn’t make sense for the type of the airport it is and where it’s going. The airlines running the lounges at those other airports have a much larger share than AA does at BDL. AA is only half of BDL volume and falling. Airport authority has made it clear their plan is to attract more transatlantic and LCCs, neither from AA.

    As someone who uses the BDL lounge, it surprises me that it’s lasted as long as it did. If I didn’t need to change a ticket or want a free beer, it really didn’t offer much benefit.

  7. The GSO club can’t be taken over by Delta or United because they are in a different terminal and there is no airside connection between the terminals. Too bad, I like the club as it was rarely busy.

  8. @Alex — Good analysis. At least for now, what makes the most sense at a smallish airport like BDL is an independent lounge that can be used by Priority Pass members and the occasional int’l premium pax. It makes little sense for a domestic airline like AA to have its own lounge there.

  9. I’m in Hartford this week – I come here occasionally. Never actually been to the AC here because the Escape lounge rocks. Don’t like to see my options diminished but…I guess it could be worse. Looking forward to visiting the Escape before my flight out tonight.

  10. Have been using the BDL lounge since it’s days as a USAirways lounge. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the USAirways staff was retained as AA lounge employees. The lounge staff at BDL are handily the best in the AA lounge system, and I hope that AA will provide alternatives and look out for them. Have had my bacon saved in the past with the superb lounge staff paying attention that my flights were cancelled during last year’s Storm Summer from Hell, and taking the initiative to get me on alternative flights. They will be missed!

    The BDL lounge is likely the smallest throughout the system, and an easy target for a cut. I had read elsewhere that 1.7 million customers passed through here last year. If so, this cut has been made solely to add to AA’s growing profit margin, what a surprise.

  11. I was just at the GSO club last week, and their hours are now only 5am-3pm. It definitely seemed like they were on their way out.

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