Lifetime Admirals Club Members Can Continue to Access Lounges Without a Same Day American Airlines Ticket

U.S. airline club memberships are about to become just purchased add-ons for when you travel with the airline and not true memberships.

Effective November 1 both United Airlines and American Airlines will follow Delta and restrict access to their clubs to members who are flying the airline or one of its designated partners the same day.

Before 9/11 you could go air side any time you wanted and spend time in the lounge. My own first lounge experience was around 1982 when I went to the airport with my grandmother to meet and pick up my grandfather. I had a ginger ale and snacked on Goldfish crackers.

For years after security checkpoints became restricted to same day travelers airlines would issue gate passes to allow members to visit their clubs.

Soon however you won’t just have to be flying to get into the club you’ve joined, you have to be giving that airline your business that day too.

Delta continues to honor access without an eligible same day ticket for lifetime club members. In other words, they will continue to deliver the access that those members paid for, since when lifetime memberships were available for purchase there was no requirement that customers be traveling the airline same day use the membership.

Last month I reported that American Airlines was still considering whether to allow lifetime club members to keep accessing Admirals Clubs when not flying American or its partners same day.

According to spokesperson Leslie Scott, they’ve made the decision to honor access for lifetime members. She tells me, “We are making an exception for lifetime members, we will not require them to have a same-day ticket on American or partner airline in order to access the Admirals Club.”

American Airlines Admirals Club DFW Concourse A

Good for American! That leaves United – which has a history of reneging on lifetime promises – as the only airline refusing to continue to grant lifetime club members access to its clubs without a same day United Airlines or eligible partner boarding pass.

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. Lifetime membership differs from annual membership…said no one ever! I just downgraded my Citi Executive card to Miles Up due to this change. Others may choose a similar path. What a completely short sited view to force customers out of Citi relationship when that is how AA generates so much revenue. AA also fired me as an EXP [more and more to qualify with no increase in benefits]. Whatever. Happy as an AS MVP Gold 75K.

  2. I also resigned my AA Executive World Elite CitiCard. Why pay $450 when the program has been gutted and I usually purchase J on international flights. But Barclays AA Aviator card is back in my wallet and with a 50,000 mile bonus!

  3. Honestly, the AA lounges aren’t all worth it. At a recent visit to the DCA lounge, I had to stand for about 20 minutes because not a single seat was available! Will the overcrowding stop when AA traveler-only access begins on November 1?

    Prior to arrival last week at CLT airport, I received an email inviting me to visit the “new American Airlines lounge” at the airport. This new lounge is only about 1/3 the size of the “old” lounge (inherited from the merger with US), and was also very overcrowded. Given the shrinking airline and lounge benefits , coupled with shrinking seat size, why even bother? What’s the Aadvantage?

  4. Gary, I’m a lifetime member of united club. I’d like to reach out to Oscar Munoz and ask him to please honor the lifetime membership on the same club-admissions criteria as were in place when I spent all those dollars to buy a lifetime membership. I’d like him to ensure that United keeps its promises in the same way that AA and DL are keeping theirs to their respective lifetime Admirals Club and Sky Club members. How should I best reach him?

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