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TPG reader Lydia sent me a message on Facebook to ask about lounge access:

“I will soon reach AAdvantage Platinum status and wanted to make sure I understand the benefits. Will I get access to the Admirals Club or other lounges?”

I’m a big fan of the AAdvantage program and I’ve found plenty of reasons to love Executive Platinum status over the years, but unfortunately, lounge access isn’t one of them. American Airlines is pretty stingy with regard to the Admirals Club: Elite members get a modest discount on an annual membership, but no complimentary access. Even first-class passengers have to pay for entry when flying within North America (with the exception of certain transcontinental service).

While the lack of lounge access is disappointing, it’s mostly in line with the other domestic legacy carriers. United also offers lounge access to some premium international and transcontinental flyers, but not its MileagePlus elite members. Delta offers Sky Club memberships to top-tier Diamond Medallion members, but its policies are otherwise similar.

AAdvantage Platinum status earns you Oneworld Sapphire status, which gets you into most Oneworld frequent-flyer and business-class lounges (like the one that opened at LAX last year) when you’re flying on a member airline. However, Oneworld elites who have earned status through the AAdvantage program are ineligible regardless of status or class of travel when traveling solely within North America. That means Lydia and many other US-based frequent flyers are once again left out when flying domestically.

It’s a shame that flyers who have Sapphire status via another Oneworld carrier are free to use lounges here in the US (including the Admirals Club), but AAdvantage elites get nothing. That doesn’t inspire much loyalty in my opinion.

Depending on how much you value Admirals Club access, you could pay for it outright. However, if you’re willing to pay $450 for a new annual membership, I think you’re better off getting either the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard (which comes with a full membership) or the Citi Prestige card (which gives you access when you’re flying on American Airlines). Those cards come with lucrative sign-up bonuses, as well as other benefits that will help offset the annual fee ($450 in either case).

There’s only so much lounge space and an increasing number of elite flyers, so airlines are doing what they can to prevent overcrowding. That’s understandable, but I’d like to see access granted at least to top-tier elites and first-class passengers. On the other hand, if lounges remain exclusive and membership fees continue to increase, then the product needs to offer more consistent value.

For more information about AAdvantage elite status and lounge access, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.