American Airlines has embarked on an ambitious program to renovate their airport lounges, bringing additional power outlets, new furniture, and in some cases a brand new fresh design to Admirals Club clubs worldwide.
While for the most part renovations have yet to happen — the airline claims that 9% of the updates are completed or underway — new or completely redesigned clubs have surfaced at Chicago O’Hare Concourse G and recently Sao Paulo, Brazil in Terminal 3. The former US Airways Club at Phoenix airport above gate A7 is currently closed for much needed renovations.
With the merger with US Airways, the mega-carrier is currently operating over 50 lounges. Unsurprisingly, the combined airline is evaluating the performance of their clubs and deciding not only whether renovations are needed, but in some cases whether operations should continue.
Admirals Clubs at Buffalo (BUF) and San Juan (SJU) to close by the end of the year
American Airlines has announced the imminent closure of the ex-US Airways Club at Buffalo Niagara International (BUF). The airline initially disclosed their plan to shutter the lounge back in July, but without committing to a date. That date is now known: the last opening day will be October 31st. As of November 1st, American passengers will be left without any alternatives at BUF. The Admirals Club is currently the sole lounge at Niagara International, and its closure will leave a gap in the airport’s amenities.
The story is repeating itself at San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, where the Admirals Club will be closing by the end of the year — the exact schedule is not known yet. This is perhaps unsurprising; American Airlines has cut down service to SJU significantly, leaving a significant portion of the market to JetBlue and Southwest. Still, the Admirals Club at SJU was the airline’s only club in the Caribbean, and just like at Buffalo, there is no alternative facility. While there is an independent club, “The Lounge” in Concourse C, it is off limits to American’s customers.
Overall, these changes are unquestionably negative for customers. Merger synergies make sense, and cost cutting is at times unavoidable, but at both BUF and SJU, customers including paying members are left without an alternative lounge. It is interesting to note that while the United and Continental merger was plagued with operational and IT issues, the combined airline only closed clubs at locations where an alternative was available.
Ongoing renovations at Miami Airport (MIA)
On a more positive note, renovations have started at the Admirals Club at Miami airport above gate D15. The club is still open during construction, though it is offering limited services. Members and eligible passengers should use the Admirals Club by gate D30 as an alternative.
Featured image: American Airlines Admirals Club – Phoenix, AZ (PHX) gates A7-A9, before the renovations