Why Charlotte Needs Another American Airlines Admirals Club

With American Airlines opening 15 new gates in the E satellite concourse of Dallas Fort-Worth airport they’ve surged to 900 peak daily departures at the airport and opened a fifth Admirals CLub there.

Charlotte is their second largest hub, and they’re growing it to 700 daily departures. There just aren’t enough rocking chairs there to go around.

The Charlotte airport has two Admirals Clubs. The main club at the intersection of the C and D concourses is absolutely overrun, so fortunately the B concourse club renovations has been completed. It’s often quieter. But quieter is relative.

Since the main terminal gate areas themselves are beyond packed, it’s important to provide a space for frequent travelers to be productive. And with the airline’s operational challenges, having a place for rebooking assistance is valuable too.

Since the airline’s profits are driven entirely by credit cards, what better way to acquire Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® customers than with spacious clubs that the card provides access to?

While the LAX ‘Eagles Nest’ commuter terminal has a club, the Charlotte regional operation — nowhere near the rest of the concourses — has nothing.

The Charlotte airport has only one Priority Pass option, Minute Suites. It’s usually booked solid when I pass through. If you want to use it you’d better make a reservation in advance through the app, and not just a few hours in advance either.

Charlotte has 2 Admirals Clubs to 700 flights, DFW has 5 clubs to 900 flights. Charlotte desperately needs another club — or two.

About Gary Leff

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. Agreed. It’s the busiest regional operation in America and they don’t have a club in their regional pier

  2. Truth. Those of us that go back to the “USAir Begins with You” days will remember when CLT had a rather nice club out on the D Concourse. It closed at some point and they’ve been with 2 clubs ever since. The amount of flying they pump through there has done nothing but go up, but still, just 2 overrun clubs to match the overrun concourses. They need a D and E club in my humble opinion.

  3. @ Gary — Why do business people feel the need to be “productive” and connected 100% of the time? It is not healthy. Life is about more than work and money.

  4. I hadn’t been to the C/D club in almost a decade when I went a few weeks back. Unchanged right? Felt like a time warp.

  5. One of the benefits of dumping AA loyalty is that I no longer transit through Charlotte. Reading articles like this reinforces this decision. 7 years ago was the last time that I had to connect in Charlotte and I remember how packed the Club was back then. I can’t even imagine what it’s like now.

  6. That D club was spacious and nice, but it closed in 2004 I think and was used as a pilot and crew prep area for the longest time (almost ten years I think) before being totally demolished and replaced with shops. The Amex lounge will be a bit of a relief when it opens but that previous D club would have been perfect for another club.

    The B club was renovated very nicely but I’ve been in it four or five times now and had trouble finding a seat. It’s just not big enough.

  7. CLT provides a mediocre passenger experience because it is overly crowded and an ongoing renovation. You will be also flying USAir planes with no seat power and no separation between the galley and F. AA Clubs are a perfect match to the penny-pitching strategy of the current AA management.

  8. @Gene being connected during the business day inflight, being productive during layovers, lets you have unconnected family time. In any case if you’re going to connect in Charlotte it’s better to use the time productively than just stand there.

  9. The tiny B club at CLT is now up to par with the current design and decoration standards of the Admirals Club makeovers. Sad to say there are no plans to do the same with the C/D club. As explained by one of the club staff, closing all or part of the C/D club to renovate it is not an option. There is no place to accommodate customers during the process. It is a shame that CLT clubs have no showers even though it is an international getaway. Minute Suites has showers for a charge – $20 bucks if memory serves.

    There is hope. CLT is going through a 10-year $3 billion renovation program called Destination CLT. The project will add gates, renovate concourses and the main terminal, add a fourth parallel runway (creating the same problem as LAX in having to falsely label the heading of two of the runways) which will increase capacity and exacerbate lounge crowding. .

    Nine new gates for Southwest and United primarily (and a bunch of rocking chairs) were added to A Concourse last year. The A expansion has a second level that looks like a great spot for a Priority Pass lounge. Hopefully there will also be space in the concourse expansions to add a new Admirals Club or other lounges to supplement the upcoming Centurion Lounge. As @Kevin sates when that lounge opens it will be just as crowded as the Admirals Clubs. Adding a new Admirals Club seems like the only feasible way to close and renovate the C/D club.

  10. Probably a tossup between CLT and EWR C for the worst domestic lounge situation among the majors…

  11. I remember back when my parents first moved to Wilmington in 2011 and I was frequently transiting through Charlotte to visit them, it always struck me what a wonderful airport Charlotte was to transit through – little to no congestion, spacious concourses, relatively nice and uncrowded lounges, and decent concessions.

    I passed through Charlotte this past Friday evening and was reminded at how terrible the airport has become. It took us 20 minutes to get from the far runway to the C concourse, the concourse itself was crowded beyond belief, and the C/D lounge was so crowded that there was a line out the door for the men’s restroom. Just miserable. I’d go as far to say “disgusting.”

    I now avoid Charlotte whenever humanly possible, but sometimes it just can’t be avoided. Not that overcrowding doesn’t plague any of American’s other hubs (sarcasm), but I tell you what I’ve never had to wait in line to use the restroom in any of the other Admirals Clubs in DFW, MIA, ORD, JFK, etc.

    Also seeing how American has significantly improved the international premium experience at so many of its hubs, it’s a shame that CLT falls so far behind, and it’s hard to believe that with so many Trans-Atlantic departures there is no plan to open a Flagship Lounge.

  12. CLT is a garbage pit. AA treats it as a cheap dumping ground. 3rd world airports are better. An airport built to handle 8 million max and dumping 12 to 14 million people into just because landing fees are cheaper. Flights to other hubs from the Southeast are more expensive. No to mention really bad attitude employees working for contract carriers that don’t really care at all about customers add in trying to get from E34 to C19 or B15 in the 15 minute connection time is impossible not least because the moving walkways are all broken or overcrowded. And 30 percent of flights are late due to awful ground operations because planes are stacked up on the tarmac. So we’re complaining about the lack of a lounge? Yep even the renovation in B is horrible due to lack of space. AVOID CLT.

  13. DFW has 6 American lounges, counting the Flagship Lounge. And the FL takes a good bit of congestion off the ACs with all the INTL pax. CLT has quite a few INTL flights, too. They really do need to add 1-2 lounges.

  14. We just moved to SBN and our two AA connection options are DFW and CLT. Even thought DFW is out of the way for our East Coast and Europe trips, I’ll connect there any day over the hellhole that is CLT.

    Clearly, CLT is where AA dumps its low margin leisure traffic.

  15. Don’t disagree with the problems for connecting passengers and wish they’d add more lounges. However, being local in CLT I still see a relatively easy airport to navigate where the security lines are not too bad (vs Atlanta), the parking fees quite affordable ($7/day, and 1 free hour for pickup/dropoff), and direct flights to Europe and the Caribbean with easy immigration transit.

  16. It’s a mess for AA pax. If you want space, new A concourse has plenty but is a hike. Also usually free rocking chairs along the moving walkway heading toward D from the central atrium.

  17. We have been to EWR United Club, now that is GROSS. Club McDonalds was better. We have been to CLT and have not experienced crowds. PHX clubs were really small and the MOST crowded club ever been in.

    We have always wondered why there were not more smaller rooms and smaller tables. Most of the tables take up way too much space. They need to just use C tables

  18. I think the fact that AA doesn’t plan to open a FS Lounge is laughable (and keeps CLT as a second-class hub, with deplorable LUS planes and lounges). This is even with multiple daily flights to/from the EU.

    To the point of the article, the upcoming Centurion Lounge will alleviate some of the AC overcrowding, which of course will be just as overcrowded as the rest of the Amex lounges soon enough.

  19. Charlotte is a nightmarish construction hell. A great example of why its nearly impossible to renovate some airports without really starting over. This isn’t a highway that needs a new lane added, it needs a WHOLE NEW HIGHWAY! They should have followed New Orleans or Detroit North’s example and just built a whole new terminal.

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