American Airlines has grown tremendously in Austin, quadrupling the number of destinations it serves from the city compared to pre-pandemic times.
Austin has been an important spoke city for American for years, with high yield business travelers and corporate contracts. And the city has been growing rapidly year after year. Only now, though, are we starting to see American shuttle connecting traffic through the airport.
Even before the pandemic the Admirals Club there was overcrowded. There used to be a putting green at the entrance. That was turned into seating. Customer seats were added to the check-in area. The conference room was turned into seating. Busy throughout the day, in the hour or so before the British Airways London departure the place got truly packed. Renovation of the club has been on ice for years.
Now, though, American Airlines and the Austin airport are announcing plans for a new Admirals Club near gate 14. That’s 8 gates away from the current club, and indeed 8 gates away from American Airlines gates. But it’s brand new space, and at over 15,000 square feet it’s twice as large as the current facility promising seating for over 250 passengers. We won’t get the hoped-for American Express lounge but we will get a new lounge at the airport.
Lounge design is still in process, so it’s not yet clear when to expect that the lounge will open, however they’re planning “to create a club that reflects that eclectic style and pays homage to the lively music scene” of Austin according to American’s Managing Director of Premium Customer Experience and Onboard Products Clarissa Sebastian.
Rendering Credit American Airlines
That sounds great to me – a departure from the current renovation standard the airline has been using, embodied in the Dallas A concourse club, which I find aesthetically ‘institutional.’ So inspiration “reflecting the urban fabric of Rainey Street, Austin Parks, local art and music” sounds great, though I’m somewhat more cautious endorsing their plan for entertainment by local musicians. Often in the lounge what I want is quiet to work.
The existing club will remain open while the new club is built, and once complete will be larger than the gorgeous Delta Sky Club at the Austin airport with its Sky Deck, and of course larger than the modest United Club that sits beside the current Admirals Club near gate 22.
While the existing club hasn’t been big on amenities – it never offered made-to-order guacamole, avocado toast, or a mac and cheese bar, for instance – it has the absolute best lounge staff in American’s system. (With the retirement of Maryann Mazza from the club at Washington National airport there’s no longer even any competition.)
The ladies in the Austin lounge (they are in fact all ladies) don’t just remember all of their passengers, and come across as genuinely happy to see each one, they work miracles with reservations during irregular operations. They kept passengers moving efficiently even during the most challenging times at American. They’re the reason I’ve maintained my Admirals Club access. One staff member there just won the airline’s Chairman’s award, which – while she’s amazing – I’ve also taken as recognition of the whole team there.
A new physical club is sorely needed, and I can’t wait to pair a proper space with the excellent staff.