Charlotte Is Getting A New, Massive American Airlines Admirals Club

American Airlines is getting a huge new Admirals Club lounge in Charlotte. In fact, it will be the airline’s largest lounge, but it will take a couple of years to come to fruition.

Currently the Charlotte airport has two Admirals Clubs. The main club is at the intersection of the C and D concourses and there is a second club on the B concourse. Since the gate areas of the terminal are beyond packed, with less maneuvering room than passengers have in American Airlines economy even, a premium space has even more value in Charlotte than most other airports.

Here’s the existing club space:

It’s frankly quite awful and in need of a tear down. For instance, this is the door from the men’s room into the main lounge:

I’ve written for a long time that the Charlotte airport needs another American Airlines Admirals Club, though I’d certainly like to see one on the E concourse. For context, Charlotte has just 2 Admirals Clubs against capacity of 700 American Airlines flights, while Dallas – Fort Worth has 5 clubs to 900 American flights.

As first reported by aviation watchdog JonNYC, it appears American Airlines is working with the Charlotte airport to move the main C/D Admirals Club to upper level space in the D-E connector area. That will allow the airport to repurpose the current Admirals Club space for “a new passenger destination and experience at the departures level that will provide increased financial returns to the airport” according to airport planning documents I’ve reviewed.

At 40,000 square feet, the lounge would be 50% larger than the Virgin Clubhouse at London Heathrow. (I believe the world’s largest airport lounge is a tie between the Emirates first and business class lounges on the A concourse in Dubai, an entire floor in the terminal each they clock in at 136,000 square feet.) It would also be more accessible to the E gates, though farther most passengers.

The first half of last year the main Charlotte Admirals Club was closed mostly for fire-related work. It seemed strange at the time that they didn’t do much else to the lounge while it was shut down anyway since it’s in poor shape and still maintains its old US Airways design. The plan for a new lounge would explain why they didn’t invest the money.

American has a new design template for its clubs which is gorgeous. If they invest at the level of their new design in Charlotte, it will be worth any additional walk to get there.

Update: American Airlines offers a statement explaining that the new club is in its early exploration stages,

American Airlines is committed to its hub at Charlotte International Airport (CLT) and we continue to work with the airport on the ongoing redevelopment project. We have no announcement to share at this time.

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. Fir all the grief we give Centurion Lounges, they forced airlines to start giving a damn about their own lounges.

  2. I should add that CLT probably made AA an extremely sweet offer to move so that the current space can be rented out for a much higher rent. Not sure what the airport traffic flow looked like in years past, but the current location is super prime real estate with very high traffic levels.

  3. Thank Christ. I literally commented on the article discussing the possibility of an Executive Card rate hike that they badly need to renovate some of the distressed legacy US Airways lounges in order to justify it. PHX seriously needs work next, they’re riding the struggle bus in those A and B concourse lounges, which see the most traffic. They’ve already done DCA and LGA, and I’d argue PHL is in a better state than PHX.

  4. CLT is on my “Avoid at all costs” list. That airport is a reel rat hole. Maybe, in a few years when they open up the new lounge, I’ll check it out.

  5. Agree the PHX Lounges need work, they are busy but not over crowded for the most part. I look forward to the Low A and B Lounges getting remodeled but also, can they expand the high A lounge (staff lounge is right next door). That concourse has a lot of A321 traffic the lounge holds about 100 verses nearly 200 for the other two. At least they aren’t DL, AA manages the crowds much better. Agree PHL is better the CLT, but as AA spends money on a more premium FC and Int’l services (which is showing in the food for sure), they need to get some $ into the lounges.

  6. Like others, I’d like a better lounge experience. But if I’m AA, I’m not sure what the return is. The lounges are already PACKED. Why invest another nickel when AA can’t really accommodate the incremental volume such investment would generate? It’s not like they need to juice demand for lounge access. If anything, they should increase the price of access before they invest too much more in the product.

  7. @Alan <– +1

    CLT used to be a lovely airport for connections…until volumes exceeded capacity.

    – corridor between main hall and the D/E concourses is a congested, hot mess
    – E concourse feels like the Port Authority bus terminal (and walk-out gates…in 2023)
    – tarmac traffic jams during every flight bank
    – absurd connection times that create major issues during IRROPS

    Opening a bigger AC is a good thing and fixing the congested knuckle between B/C and D/E will be lovely, but let's be honest. CLT is AA's main fortress hub. The don't have to really do anything to make the experience there nicer since there's no competition. Remember, AA says the network is the product. I would not hold my breath expecting a cutting-edge AC here.

  8. I’m a CLT local flyer and travel at least once a week. I love CLT. But I have a key to that: I don’t fly American. I’m perfectly happy in my Concourse A world flying Delta, United and Spirit (though I’m mad Contour moved to E). Have wide open areas that never seem crowded, The Club at CLT which is better than Admirals Club and I’ve only been put on a wait to get in one time, lots of places to sit, etc. The only irritating part is having to go to C to use PreCheck. But for those who don’t fly AA? This is like Omaha or something.

  9. @sunviking – 100%

    @Alan – I dunno man, I actually feel like CLT is a fairly decent airport overall, it’s just the lounge experience that’s in the dumpster. They have some good restaurants in the central hub, and the rocking chairs are a charming touch. Although, conversely, since it is in the South, it can be immediately jarring the amount of waddlers making their way down the concourse, if you’ve just flown in from New England or the Southwest…

    I kind of feel the same about PHX, honestly, minus the “people issues.” The lounges are fairly crap, but otherwise the airport itself is fairly nice, and gives off the air of an upper-middle-class shopping mall, with all the shops and restaurants down the central atrium/corridor of T4. They even have several Starbucks locations now, spread throughout the terminal. Not that Starbucks is amazing, but they get the job done during rush hour, and not every airport has them.

  10. Recall who said that the route network IS the product. AA management elected to make the unlikely CLT a major hub and European waypoint. When that decision was made, consideration almost certainly ended with cost and did not include infrastructure. After all, infrastructure is not the product.

  11. I’m PHX-based, and the Admirals Clubs are a joke. They are almost always overcrowded, and only one stays open late (if you consider 11:45 late) for red-eye flights back East. Thankfully our airport is nice, but also often feels overcrowded at the gates (particularly at the ends of the concourses). A larger AA lounge is desperately needed.

  12. I’m DCA- and RIC-based and fly mostly AA to mostly east coast destinations, so I inevitably end up transiting CLT regularly.

    Echoing and editorializing some of the previous comments, I think it used to be a great airport and is now woefully under-equipped in almost every respect for its current passenger volume. This applies to the gate concourses, the aforementioned connector wing, the Centurion Lounge and the main Admirals Club that is the subject of Gary’s post. So yes, a much bigger club is needed – I don’t think we’ll get any debate on that point. The proposed location is a concern, however. The value of the airport lounge for me is highly correlated with the convenience of being able to run in and grab food and drink, maybe fire off a few emails, without adding extra time in the airport.

    While I’m all for nice interiors, and am a fan of the design of the new E concourse club at DCA, this is definitely a secondary priority for me. Aside from the general irrelevance of my opinion in this matter, though, it seems like the two goals of a larger CLT club and one that is optimally located are mutually exclusive. So I guess we will get what we get.

    I can’t imagine there’s any chance of a Flagship Lounge at CLT – no premium transcon service and an infinitesimally small number of TATL flights.

  13. I used to work at CLT for the Airport, not the airline. If you want some in-depth commentary, I’m happy to discuss.

  14. Actually, now that I’ve spent some time deciphering the partial terminal plan posted by JonNYC, the proposed location isn’t bad at all. So my previous comment is even less relevant than I initially thought.

  15. The AA club in JFK (the pittance of what’s left) doesn’t have bottled water!!!

  16. Visited CLT Terminal B last night – Super negative experience from moment of entry onward. Place was filthy and staff even worse. Not sure if I mentioned the staff. So bad. Rude, unhappy to be there, unkept, un everything. Even the supervisor woman present on site doing absolutely nothing sporting the worst negative attitude. Enough people looking for work these days to replace the present motley crew. Management needs to take a serious look at this club. Worst I have ever seen and first I have ever written-in.

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