Geoffrey Palcher made a brilliant move as his fiancé was headed off on her bachelorette trip. He booked the conference room at the American Airlines Admirals Club for a pre-trip party. He went in early and got it decorated, too. Most people don’t realize it’s possible to customize a celebration at the airport, but Palcher was all over this. And he was taking advantage of a service American offers – that United and Delta do not.
Washington National Airport Admirals Club Conference Room, Credit: Geoffrey Palcher
This is brilliant on several levels,
- Admirals Club conference rooms are accessible to both club members and non-club members
- Members can’t visit the club when they aren’t flying American, but conference room guests can be traveling on any airline.
- You don’t even have to be flying – the Admirals Club will write gate passes for meeting guests.
Geoffey’s fiancé Katie, credit: Geoffrey Palcher
With the American Airlines premium co-brand that comes with lounge access (Citi Executive card), a cardmember can add up to 10 authorized users at no additional fee and everyone with a card can bring in two guests, so if there’s room one person could potentially sponsor a group of 33 in an Admirals Club.
However as a one-off, with people who aren’t members, there’s nothing like inviting them into a private room in an airport that you can customize for your party. Here you’ll even see wine, with the bottle procured from the Admirals Club bar.
Which Airlines Let You Rent Conference Rooms
United Airlines stopped taking conference room reservations in 2016. Spokesperson Jonathan Guerin tells me, “The privacy (phone) booths replaced conference rooms in direct response to customers wanting more private spaces to take calls.”
Delta, too, converted its conference rooms to seating in its clubs and business meetings are not permitted there.
American Airlines, though, offers conference room rental at 13 locations: Boston; Washington National B and C clubs; Dallas – Fort Worth A, B, and C; Newark; Houston; Los Angeles terminal 4; New York LaGuardia; Miami D30; Chicago O’Hare H/K, San Francisco. Pricing is:
- $65 per hour for members ($90 for more than 10 people)
- $85 per hour for non-members ($110 for more than 10 people)
Bookings can be made directly at the club or via Member Services (1-800-237-7971, Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Eastern) at least 24 hours in advance and providing names and dates of birth of guests. Payment is required at time of booking.
Once inside the lounge all of your non-club members, flying or not, can go get free drinks from the bar of course!
This is an under-advertised and under-appreciated opportunity that American Airlines provides, and one that should be earning them some revenue if it was publicized better.
A Cost-Effective Way To Access A Club
An American Airlines Admirals Club day pass is $59 per person, though it allows visits to multiple clubs on the same day. A family of 6 stuck at the airport would pay $354 to access the club without memberships. Renting a conference room in the club is cheaper and it even gives you private space, not merely a license to hunt for a seat.
Use The Airline Lounge Even When You’re Not Flying That Carrier
United, Delta, and American have all placed restrictions on lounge access so that members can only access their respective clubs when they are flying that airline or eligible partners on the same day. American and Delta make an exception for lifetime club members. United does not – not even for Cleveland-based members who no longer even have a hub to make selecting United travel a viable option.
I can no longer use the American Airlines club in Austin, for instance, when I’m flying Southwest. Unfortunately the Austin club became so crowded (and the airline put off its investment in expanding the space into adjacent offices the airport no longer uses) that they converted their conference room into additional seating. They converted their entryway into additional seating, too. And the club still was packed at peak times – before quadrupling the number of destinations they serve from the airport.
This doesn’t help me at my home airport, but in cities where it’s an option you can rent a conference room in the club before your flight on another airline when your membership doesn’t give you access.
Meet Your Friends At The Gate When You Aren’t Flying
Gate passes are hard to come by these days. Some people will buy a ticket even when they don’t intend to fly, just to get through security. (Then they’ll cancel the trip, either for a refund or future travel credit.) That’s not exactly kosher, but it’s not that uncommon either. Just don’t try this trick to access lounges, Lufthansa won a judgment against someone who used their lounges this way when they weren’t really flying.
Getting an actual invitation that lets you through security is so much better! The only downside is that gate passes aren’t eligible for PreCheck so you have to clear regular security, remove your shoes, and take out your laptop.