American Airlines to Shutter LAX Lounge, Shuffle Flights Between Terminals
Back in early 2016, American Airlines announced an ambitious $200 million lounge overhaul program. Now, the first Flagship Lounge has opened in New York (JFK), with more scheduled to open in Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA) by the end of 2017.
However, these renovations haven't been easy. As passengers continue to fly in and out of these airports, American Airlines has attempted to do construction in a piecemeal manner —some parts remained open to guests while others were closed entirely. This has led to some rather poor passenger experiences. TPG himself visited the LAX lounge recently and found rooms barricaded with chairs and the buffet relocated to a conference room:
AA knows that it's not doing a great job of juggling the needs of passengers and construction at the same time. An airline spokesperson confirmed that the "construction in [its] LAX T4 Admirals Club and International First Class Lounge has compromised the comfort and enjoyment of [its] customers and has put stress on [its] team members." So, it's abandoning its efforts to try to do both at once.
Terminal 4 Lounge Closure
On September 5, American Airlines will close its LAX T4 lounge, and it'll remain closed until the Flagship Lounge construction is complete. At this time, there's no announced completion date. We only know that AA is "excited to introduce [its] new Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining to LAX later this year." The silver lining? Shutting down the lounge will likely speed up the construction process.
However, this means that AA won't have any lounge open in T4 for at least a couple of months. In the meantime, it will set-up a "temporary Guest Services Center in T4 to assist customers and provide limited light snacks and beverages." It will be located next to gate 42A, and the snacks/beverages will only be accessible to passengers who would otherwise be able to access the lounge.
Terminal 5 Lounge Opening
When the T4 lounge closure was just a rumor, people were concerned that AA wouldn't have a functioning lounge in either of its main LAX terminals. However, this won't be the case —the carrier will open its new lounge in Terminal 5 later this month, and certainly before the T4 lounge is closed. This lounge is a former Delta SkyClub that was abandoned in May as part of the Great LAX Airline Reshuffle of 2017.
American has placed a lot of emphasis on improving the experience for its top customers over the past year, including introducing positive changes to Executive Platinum benefits, Concierge Key improvements and opening the exclusive Flagship First Class Dining. Obviously, AA doesn't want to force its top customers to have to go to an entirely different terminal to visit the lounge before their flights. So, for the duration of the lounge closure in Terminal 4, AA will relocate its critical transcontinental A321T flights from LAX to JFK to Terminal 5 to provide easy access to the lounge. However, the transcontinental route from LAX to Miami (MIA) won't be able to move over to T5 as the terminal can currently only handle narrowbody aircraft.