American Airlines Closing JFK Admirals Club, Expanding Flagship Lounge
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Since launching its lounge retrofit program in early 2016, American Airlines has been spending the $200 million it's set aside to renovate its lounges. Although this has caused issues — and continues to cause issues — while the lounges undergo renovation, the finished products have been quite stunning.
Specifically in New York's Kennedy Airport (JFK), travelers were inconvenienced for a while as the JFK Flagship Lounge was built. When AA found that the space was a bit too small in practice, the airline commandeered the Admirals Club "terrace" area to include as part of the Flagship Lounge — leaving a small 117-seat and 7,000 square foot Admirals Club.
However, it seems that the Flagship Lounge is still greedy for more space. Citing "an effort to provide our premium customers with the best experience possible and ensure there's enough space," this Admirals Club location will be permanently converted to be part of the Flagship Lounge on September 1, 2018.
This means that there will no longer be an Admirals Club in JFK Terminal 8 Concourse B (gates 1-16). This will leave the 255-seat Admirals Club in Terminal 8 Concourse C (gates 31-47) as the only Admirals Club in JFK. This lounge is located one floor above the terminal level close to the exit from the underground connector from security.
As a traveler who uses the JFK Concourse B Admirals Club often — and who rarely qualifies for Flagship Lounge — it's frustrating to lose such a convenient Admirals Club. Its location just inside security meant that it was convenient to visit no matter from which gate or concourse you're departing. After this change, Admirals Club members and Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard cardmembers (and their up to 10 free authorized users) will have to head over to the Concourse C Admirals Club before possibly backtracking to Concourse B if departing from gates 1-16.
While the airline is citing Flagship Lounge space issues, it's never been crowded in the few times that I've visited the JFK Flagship Lounge. But, each time I've visited the Admirals Club location, it seems that lounge agents have logistical issues keeping Admirals Club visitors out of Flagship Lounge areas. Perhaps this was one of the reasons that drove the change.
I checked with American Airlines regarding what will be done with the current Admirals Club Concourse B space. In order to utilize this space as soon as possible, it's going to be used as-is: The TV room will remain a TV room and the bar will continue to be a bar. Just the space's soft amenities will be upgraded to fit in with the Flagship Lounge.