American’s second-largest hub is losing its biggest Admirals Club for at least 6 months

Jan 12, 2022

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You might want to think twice about connecting in Charlotte over the coming months, especially if you’re a premium American Airlines flyer.

The carrier, which operates a hub at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, shuttered the doors to its largest Admirals Club at the airport on Saturday, Jan. 8. The lounge will be temporarily closed for four to six months, during which time the airline is working on some building-mandated updates, a carrier spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

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This includes completing fire safety improvements necessary to meet the latest National Fire Protection Association requirements.

While much of the work will be behind the scenes, some passenger-facing improvements are coming to the Terminal C lounge, including upgraded fixtures, furnishings and finishes.

That said, American confirmed to TPG that it’s not overhauling or redesigning the lounge. The Terminal C club, which American inherited during its merger with US Airways, will continue to feature the old US Airways Club design concept.

While the Terminal C lounge is closed, there’ll be just one Admirals Club open for American Airlines passengers. The lounge, located between gates 3 and 5 in Terminal B, is significantly smaller than the Terminal C outpost, and likely won’t be large enough to handle the demand during peak departure banks.

To mitigate overcrowding, American already opened a temporary Guest Service Center on the mezzanine level of the airport atrium between Terminals B and C for Admirals Club-eligible travelers.

The space is staffed by customer service agents, who are on hand to help with ticketing and travel assistance. Plus, there’s a selection of grab-and-go snack offerings, bottled water and coffee available.

Additionally, American is suspending the sale of lounge day passes in Charlotte for the duration of the planned closure of the Terminal C club.

During a Tuesday morning visit on Jan. 11, TPG’s Executive Editor Scott Mayerowitz noted that the Guest Service Center wasn’t too busy. There were six customer service podiums installed in the makeshift conference room, but only half of them were staffed at 8 a.m. local time.

There were some high-top tables available (without chairs) for flyers who wanted to linger in the space munching on some of the takeaway snacks, which included Rold Gold pretzels, Chobani yogurts, sandwiches, canned Coke-branded sodas and more.

Meanwhile, the Terminal B Admirals Club had a line of passengers waiting their turn to enter.

A look at the airline’s February 2022 schedule shows that American’s busiest departure bank in Charlotte is between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. local time. The airline has on average nearly 75 flights with over 8,500 seats departing during that bank, according to Cirium timetable data.

Assuming that 10% of those passengers had access to the Admirals Club, that would mean 850 flyers would be looking for space in the club — just for the single hour-long departure bank.

While American didn’t share the capacity of the Terminal B Admirals Club, it likely can’t fit more than 200 passengers (at most) — leaving many of AA’s most loyal flyers without a space to relax before the flight.

Those flyers who also hold the Platinum Card® from American Express can visit the Centurion Lounge in CLT, located after security at the intersection of concourses D and E. At 13,000 square feet, the Amex outpost has space for more than 250 passengers.

However, the lounge has been subject to frequent overcrowding during busy time periods, even well before American’s Terminal C club was shuttered. Flyers headed to the Centurion Lounge should check the live capacity indicators to see if there’s space inside before making the trek over there.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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