American Expands Lounge Access To Elites And Business Class On Short International Flights

American Airlines lounge access is available to club members of course, including those whose membership comes with a premium Citibank credit card.

It’s also been available to Platinum elite members and above flying long haul international flights, as well as certain short-haul international destinations. Similarly first and business class passengers flying long haul international have received lounge access for years.

There are fewer of these passengers today, with borders closed and testing requirements in place. Furthermore there’s very little international business travel. And frequent flyers with club memberships have been flying less as well. So the real fight is for leisure passengers, many of whom haven’t been frequent flyers, and they’re mostly traveling to close-in destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico.

Starting April 1, both business and first class passengers as well as AAdvantage Platinum and above frequent flyers traveling in any class of service will be eligible to use American’s Admirals Clubs that are open on any international trip – including Canada, Mexico and Central America as well as the Caribbean.

And Caribbean lounge access will extend even to (domestic) U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico travel.

DFW Airport Club, A Concourse

Unfortunately Mexico City and Central America will no longer qualify for Flagship lounge access effective April 1 (these lounges are currently closed).

The airline says that “[a]s of today these changes are for a limited time.” They aren’t committing to keeping this in place permanently, but of course nothing is permanent in the airline industry. Just know that for some indefinite period starting April 1 lounge access without a club membership will be available on more itineraries.

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, 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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  1. This makes a lot of sense to me,. even setting aside the simple fact that this is pretty much standard everywhere else in the world. As travel restarts, there is likely to be a huge spike in paid premium leisure passengers (including people seeking distance from other pax and people seeking to “treat themselves” after a year of nothing). This is an operationally simple way to make the AA offering more attractive to these customers, enabling them to price up and appear more competitive in the segment.

  2. Meanwhile any BA elite with OW Sapphire, Emerald can just walk into an Admiral’s club on a whim.

  3. How did Mexico City get Flagship access??? Fares in J aren’t much different from domestic short haul right?

  4. Gary, can you dig into this further? This is a major downgrade. The press release says Central America, but they’ve excluded many countries in South America from getting FL access. This is a big takeaway.

  5. As an EP and AC member who usually flies in paid J, this is a downgrade of my Central America and Caribbean travel. I almost always change in MIA on those routes and looked forward to the FL access. But, I’m not flying much at all right now and, as you note, these changes are temporary.

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