First look: American’s expanded — and stunning — Admirals Club in LaGuardia
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The first-ever American Airlines airport lounge opened in 1939 at New York’s LaGuardia Airport — and now LGA is home to the carrier’s newest.
While the new space was undoubtedly an improvement compared to the original one in the airport’s dated (and now demolished) Central Terminal, it wasn’t fully complete when it opened on Dec. 16, 2021.
Instead, American split the construction into two phases. The first phase opened last December, and now the second — and perhaps more exciting — phase is opening on Tuesday, July 26.
In advance of the grand opening, American invited TPG to get a first-look tour of the finished product — and we left quite impressed.
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First look at American’s completed Admirals Club in LGA
Headlining the upgrade is an expansion in the number of seats and space to move around.
Together with Phase I, the new lounge now measures 22,000 square feet, which is 50% larger than the original LGA lounge that closed last year. Phase I opened with 130 seats and now the second phase adds 234 seats.
There’s seating for more than 360 flyers in total, which should definitely make the space feel more comfortable during peak travel periods (i.e. this summer) and during irregular operations.
While the first phase felt somewhat like a teaser, the newly expanded club is definitely the “real deal.” In fact, it marks the last major construction milestone for American at LGA.
Several stand-out features of the expanded lounge include an additional full-service bar, serving a range of complimentary alcoholic beverages and premium drinks for purchase.
There’s even a six-bottle automatic wine dispenser, similar to the self-serve one you’d find in the American Express Centurion Lounge in San Francisco.
There’s also an expanded self-serve buffet, which will feature American’s standard food and (soft) beverage offerings.
While American has been working on the lounge’s “hard product” — the design and physical aesthetic of the space — hopefully the carrier will further invest in its culinary offerings in the coming months and years. (If American needs any inspiration, it should look no further than Delta’s latest Sky Club catering offerings.)
The good news is that the LGA club will now be the first to have a permanent avocado toast and guacamole station, which has historically been offered on a pop-up basis at the airline’s other clubs.
In terms of amenities, business travelers will appreciate that the expanded space includes a separate workstation area with five business pods and three enclosed phone rooms (that are available on a first-come, first-serve basis).
There’s also plenty of high- and low-top counter space for travelers to place their laptops and catch up on work.
American even added two private VIP conference rooms with the expansion. The larger one is outfitted with a 10-seat conference table. This room can be reserved for $65 an hour.
There’s a smaller room that’s better suited for VIPs and families. This one features a small conference table, couch and individual recliners. It can be reserved for about $50 an hour (the price point hasn’t been officially set yet.)
Reservations for these spaces can be made when you arrive at the lounge or in advance by calling 800-237-7971.
Another welcome addition is a quiet area. This space offers a handful of individual recliners and even features three Eames chairs, another first for an Admirals Club. You’ll notice that the lights are dimmed in this area to help you relax and possibly catch some shut-eye.
Families with young children will likely appreciate the new game room with two polycade arcade machines. These machines are silenced, but you can tap into the audio by connecting a pair of wired headphones.
The arcade machines are built into one of the most visually-appealing rooms in the entire lounge. It’s essentially a mini-lounge within the lounge, with wood-paneling and accent lighting that gives it a luxurious feel.
American also added atmospheric custom design elements that reflect New York City. This includes several bookshelves throughout the space that are adorned with books about the city.
My personal favorite feature is the new display that features 16 whiskey bottles from C.R. Smith’s original private selection.
When American’s first club in the nation opened in LaGuardia in 1939, liquor laws didn’t allow the carrier to sell alcohol.
So, C.R. Smith, the airline’s president at the time, kept a private whiskey collection at the club that he offered to “Admirals,” which was the title given to some of American’s best customers. (Now, they’re called Concierge Keys.)
These bottles are now locked behind glass — and they’re not available for your enjoyment, no matter how much money you spend on American flights each year.
The new lounge trades apron views for an open-air aesthetic overlooking the terminal and taxiways in the distance — which might be the only downside for some aviation enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, for those looking to freshen up before or after an important meeting, you’ll find an additional set of restrooms in the expanded lounge.
The airline will also open two shower suites in August, but these will be located in the original lounge area.
The expansion builds on a strong foundation
The newly expanded area of the lounge is split from the existing space just after you enter. There’s a narrow bridge over the escalators that brings you to the enlarged seating area.
But, regular American LGA flyers will likely already be familiar with the first phase of the construction that opened last December.
This includes a range of seating options, including a media room, dining tables and individual recliners.
There’s a small triangle-shaped bar in the corner of the dining area and a self-serve buffet along the wall.
There’s even a tree in the center of this space, which helps add a sense of tranquility to an otherwise hectic airport experience.
Restrooms are available on this side of the lounge, but the new ones are larger.
America’s now-completed new Admirals Club in LaGuardia has decidedly improved its lounge offering there.
At more than 22,000 square feet and with seating for over 360 travelers, this new space should be a relaxing escape during busy travel days.
The expansion that opens on Tuesday features several improvements, including private workstations, a game room, a second bar and buffet and even shower suites.
Though the Admirals Club looks nothing like the original one did when it opened in 1939, that’s a good thing. The airline has upgraded its club (and entire LGA airport experience) to 21st-century standards.
Just be sure to pack your walking shoes because getting from the curb to the lounge to the gate will take many more steps than it did back in 1939.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.
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