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The Admirals Club was the first of the airline VIP clubs. In 1936, the commercial aviation industry had few strong supporters and American Airlines Chairman C.R. Smith wanted to recognize them. He began naming honored passengers and friends of the airline by coining the term "Admirals" in keeping with the designation of the airline's planes as the "Flagship Fleet."
In 1939, American decided Admirals deserved a special place to relax before or after a flight. The original Admirals Club shared a space in the just-opened New York LaGuardia Airport with Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. Press criticism of the mayor's large, well-equipped offices had prompted him to offer to rent out the space. American Airlines representative Red Mosier immediately accepted the offer and the private airport club was born. Ironically, when the papers were drawn up for the club's liquor license, a judge refused to grant the name "Admirals Club" on the grounds the public might think it was a facility for Navy admirals only. So the club was initially called the "Flagship Club" until the legal hurdles were overcome.
In the early years, membership in the club was solely at the discretion of the airline's sales people. Memberships were given to frequent fliers or VIPs. In keeping with the nautical theme, the club's receptionists were called "skippers" and bartenders were called "stewards."
The airline's second club was at Washington's National Airport and opened with the airport in 1939. Located in a "dry" area, the club was prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages. For a nominal fee, however, the club stored bottles for its members. When the Virginia liquor law changed in 1970, so did this club policy. At one point, the club had more than 9,000 bottles stored. Many bore the names of powerful U.S. politicians.
A change in Admirals Club membership eligibility was made in 1967 when American established an open policy of accepting dues-paying members – a policy that remains in effect today. The dues in 1967 were $25 per year, or $250 for a lifetime membership. Almost all Admirals at the time decided to pay the fees and retain their memberships.
Today, all persons 18 and over can purchase an Admirals Club membership. Pricing for Admirals Club memberships is based on the customer's tier level in the American AAdvantage membership program. Pricing ranges from $350 or 50,000 AAdvantage miles annually for a new Executive Platinum membership, to $500 or 80,000 miles annually for a regular membership. One-day passes are available for $50 each or a 30-day membership can be purchased for $99 which provides all the benefits of Admirals Club membership for a consecutive 30-day period.
The clubs were designed to simply provide a quiet haven away from the clamor of the airport terminal. Today they also offer flight information for American and American Eagle as well as a host of amenities that significantly differentiate the travel experience. There are now over 40 Admirals Clubs at 36 airports in the American Airlines system. These include Atlanta; Austin; Bogota; Boston; Buenos Aires; Caracas; Chicago O'Hare; Dallas/Fort Worth; Denver; Honolulu; Kansas City; London-Heathrow; Los Angeles International; Mexico City; Miami; Nashville; New York-Kennedy; New York-LaGuardia; Newark; Orange County (Calif.); Panama City (Panama); Paris; Philadelphia; Raleigh-Durham; Rio De Janeiro; São Paulo; San Diego; San Francisco; San Juan (P.R.); Santiago; Santo Domingo; St. Louis; Tokyo; Toronto; Washington D.C.-Dulles; and Washington, D.C.-Reagan.
Through continued cooperation with our joint business partners, American offers a joint lounge experience with British Airways at the Admirals Club in Denver and the British Airways Galleries Lounge in Philadelphia, as well as with Japan Airlines at the Admirals Club in Honolulu.
American also operates the Arrivals Lounge at London Heathrow; Flagship Lounge facilities in Chicago, Los Angeles, London Heathrow and New York JFK; and the first and only Premium Lounge in Miami Concourse E with British Airways and Iberia.
Today, American Airlines also offers Admirals Club Executive Centers at Chicago O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports. Each Executive Center features a unique set of amenities including large and small conference rooms, audio/visual equipment, computer dataports, presentation boards, TVs, VCRs, slide projectors, and data projectors. The first Executive Center opened in 1989, at New York-LaGuardia.
For more information, please visit Airport Lounge Access Policies.