American Airlines' new-look lounges offer luxury and local flavor

DENVER — American Airlines has now opened three new-look Admirals Club lounges in the past year with the Oct. 18 debut of the club at Denver Airport.

As with openings last October at Washington Reagan National and last month at Newark Liberty, the Denver lounge offers upscale furnishings and amenities as well as a more refined feel than older Admirals Club locations.

The three lounges comprise American’s latest salvo in an industrywide move toward offering more luxurious lounges, replete with local flavor. Improved food offerings at those and other Admirals Clubs are another key element of the American strategy.

“We’re really looking to take our customers’ ability to relax and unwind while they travel with us to the next level,” said Raphael Girardoni, the airline’s managing director of premium guest services.

Across American’s three new or renovated domestic lounges, Girardoni added, the airline has sought to create a relaxing atmosphere through the use of natural materials, soft color palettes and softer lighting compared with the previous Admirals Club standard.

Such features were evident during a recent visit to the new Denver club. Muted blues, greens and greys are predominant on the furniture upholstery. Wood is a common feature on the floors, walls and ceilings.
But while the lounges are designed to have a consistent overall feel, they also are localized.

The Admirals Club at Washington Reagan National Airport.

For example, the lounge here features aspen trees tucked behind glass, while in Newark and Washington, cherry blossoms prevail.

The Denver lounge also has carpeting that evokes the uneven horizon of a distant mountain range. In Washington, décor is inspired by the U.S. Capitol and includes portions of famous historical speeches.

One early visitor to the new, 6,000-square-foot Denver Admirals Club was Matthew Klint, author of the Live and Let’s Fly blog, who often reviews airport lounges.

“American Airlines did a great job on its new Denver lounge, and the new Admirals Club design elements (which we also see at Washington National and Newark) mark a great new chapter in the style and evolution of Admirals Clubs,” he wrote in a recent post.

Klint praised the aesthetics of the Denver sitting room, which offers a fireplace as well as a mix of couches and chairs. He also said that food at the club has “greatly improved.”

“I happened to be there during the transition from breakfast to lunch and loved the tacos, salads and charcuterie board,” he wrote.

The three new Admirals Clubs all have what Girardoni describes as enhanced food offerings. American has also been refreshing the eating experience at older clubs, starting in July in Miami and Los Angeles. That process is slated to be completed across the entire Admirals Club system in 2024.

The chipotle chicken tacos at the new Denver Admirals Club are served in tortillas from local vendor Raquelita’s.

New menus offer heartier and more elaborate selections, said Girardoni, as well as a focus on local brands. In Denver, the chipotle chicken tacos are served in tortillas from local vendor Raquelitas Tortillas.

On the beverage side, American began offering complimentary sparkling wine and mimosas as well as scotch, tequila and craft beer options across its domestic lounge system in July.

American doesn’t have any more Admirals Club renovations underway at this time. A club in the carrier’s Philadelphia hub is in the planning stages, Girardoni said, but no timeline has been set.

More generally, American will upgrade lounges to the new design standard as it undertakes periodic renovations of its approximately 50 worldwide Admirals Clubs.

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