Lounge access is free for First and Biz on international AA flights

Another biz class bonus--the amenity kit (and booze)

Another biz class bonus–the amenity kit (and booze)

There has been a lot of international travel in my career, primarily to Manila for the last few years. I have been lucky enough to be upgraded for most segments. I have also been Platinum with American for six years straight. However, last year since I couldn’t travel for six months due to being pregnant and taking maternity leave, I only got Gold status. Certainly, Gold is better than nothing!! But there are a lot of benefits to having Platinum status that I miss.

One of these benefits is lounge access when flying internationally. For my most recent international trip, I was so bummed that I was going to have to pay $50 each way for lounge access. To me, though, it’s totally, completely worth it for the quiet space and the showers, not to mention the free food. For my flight out to Tokyo, I had gotten upgraded to business class, which was super exciting, but I knew I still wanted lounge access. So once I got to the airport that morning, I headed upstairs to the Admiral’s Lounge, ready to hand over my credit card. However, the lady at the desk looked at my ticket and said, “You don’t need to pay—you get lounge access as part of your business class upgrade.” Woohoo!! All these years I thought it was just a bonus of being Platinum, but evidently First and Business class also get lounge access on international flights with American. Awesome! I probably should have known this, but it never occurred to me to even check. I was certainly glad to take advantage though!

Of course, coming back I knew I wouldn’t be so lucky, as I hadn’t gotten upgraded. When I arrived in Tokyo, I again headed for the Admiral’s lounge with credit card in hand. But while riding the train between terminals I looked at my ticket and noticed that “Lounge” was printed on it. Could it be true? I thought to myself. Could I possibly get lounge access for free again? I showed my ticket to the Admiral’s lounge agent, and eagerly awaited her response. Which was, “Ma’am, I do not know what this “lounge” means, but in order to have access today you will need to purchase a day pass.” Bummer. But still totally worth the $50!!

Readers, do you think lounge access is worth $50 when you fly internationally?

Also—tomorrow I will be hosting the National #GoLikeAPro tweet chat at 1pm ET!! The topic will be Travel and Technology, and Gary Leff will be joining as a special guest. I am super excited, and hope you will join!!


  1. It really depends on the lounge. BA F Galleries in London and NRT Lounge, definitely yes. Nothing at CDG, though and DUB and BCN are a no-go, too. MAD is a definite yes…

  2. I struggle to find appropriate words, but I’ve gotta say I’m absolutely astonished at some of the revelations from the new generation of compensated bloggers. Sorry.

  3. @Colleen Not totally sure what you’re referring to–this was an experience I had so I wrote about it. I do that often! That’s one of the reasons I started blogging.

  4. Every paid C/F traveler is already familiar with this policy, which IME is pretty uniform across all airlines. Personally I would not work for a company that doesn’t provide paid C for TATL flights, my health isn’t worth it.

  5. Just out of curiosity, what method did you use to upgrade? Miles and points, cash, or an evip from another flyer?

  6. Sometimes it is better not to say anything. Nothing in this article is insight or advice. Observation, yes, but, so basic and insignificant, that is makes you wonder…
    Is the next article about AA flying non-stop to DUB? Maybe you did not know that either

  7. @roadwarriortette- I can’t speak for Colleen, but I think she was referring to the fact that as a blogger you hold yourself out to have knowledge that most in the general public do not. This blog posting proves that to be completely untrue as you clearly lack the knowledge of one of the most basic aspects of travel.

    How the heck did you manage 6 straight years of Platinum status without understanding that lounge access comes with business class and first class fares? I think anyone who has spent 5 minutes reading travel blogs knows that one.

    As for whether lounge access is worth $50, it depends. If I am not doing work and it is a domestic flight, I would say definitely not. Most US lounges are horrendous. If you think food is a motivating factor for any domestic lounge, I suggest you have your tastebuds evaluated. I would only pay $50 for one of the very nice international lounges like the cathay pacific lounges in Hong Kong.

  8. People get so grouchy on comment sections.

    As for your question, I think $50 is totally worth it on international flights to the Pacific region. There’s nothing like a hot shower when you’ve been traveling for 24 hours. It’s always great to have that time to pull it all together before hitting the ground hard.

    I’d rather spend $50 on a nice lounge than a meal, of course finding a nice lounge is another story. Other commenters gave good insight on the quality ones.

  9. Its not about being grouchy. Its the fact that this is a blog that earns the author money. To be paid for something, someone should show a bit of knowledge. This past showed a downright absurd lack of knowledge for someone who is paid to write a blog. I don’t know about you, but if I messed up the basic aspect of my job, I’d get fired.

  10. Interestingly, some airlines do not allow guests who have been upgraded to access their business class lounges, despite holding a business class ticket. I know I’ve heard some more extreme examples, but certainly Emirates once upgraded me in Dubai, but wouldn’t let me into their Terminal 3 Business Lounge – instead I had to take the 25 min walk through the concourse to the Terminal 1 lounge.

    And regarding paying $50 for lounge access – no way! There are much more economical ways to do this. Firstly, look a credit cards – some of the perks give you lounge access (country dependent though, local research necessary – here in the UK the Amex Gold {free for 1st year} gives you two free lounge club accesses). Second, look at the lounge operating organisations and see if you can join a club. Groups like Priority Pass/Lounge Club/Diners Club/Admirals Club etc. Thirdly, if you do fly a lot then status is a good way to get lounge access – as you’ve noted. But what you should add to the strategy is maintaining your status level without necessarily flying so much. How? Through status matches. Check out http://www.statusmatcher.com for examples and keep your beady eye open on other blogs. I earned my Emirates Gold status through flying two years back, but stopped flying so frequently and couldn’t retain it. However, I’ve successfully matched it across to Etihad Guest, and then from Etihad Guest Gold across to Flying Blue Gold, which I now hold til 03/2015. I know Turkish is still doing the odd status match and other airlines may do it if you email them. Always worth a try! B

  11. Seth: does it really, aside from a couple google banners? It’s not like we see here a post about a credit card offer, then a reminder, then another summary of current credit card offers – like we do in the more popular ones.
    Agree though on the knowledge part.

  12. To answer a few questions: I was upgraded at the last minute using a combination of miles and cash. That’s why I didn’t do any research ahead of time to find out what the lounge situation was–I assumed, until I got to the airport, that I was sitting in coach. In the past, I got lounge access regardless of where I was sitting because I was Platinum. (My company does not pay for first or business class for anyone below a VP level.) I figured if after traveling all these years I didn’t know, there might be other people who didn’t know too. And that’s one of the reasons I write this blog–to help new business travelers.Thanks for your feedback.

  13. I tried to access a US Airways lounge while flying first class to Cancun on an upgrade and they told me that Mexico didn’t count for lounge access. This was a DCA back in 2008 so I’m not sure if that still holds true.
    I lost my status a few years ago when I stopped traveling for work so now I use my AmEx Platinum for domestic lounge access and purchase business class tickets to Europe with my miles. We really like the Lufthansa lounge at Dulles and while the Austrian lounge in Vienna had a small food selection, everything was tasty and the hot shower was unbeatable!

  14. Yes, this post covers something many of us knew. However, there was a point in our lives when we did not know. Bloggers serve newbies as well as the experienced flyers – otherwise not be so many of us would become knowledgeable flyers. Good post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.