Why is American's Admirals Club Fare Not Fit For an Officer -- Or Anyone Else?
|The scotch is free once you get inside the Cathay Pacific Lounge in the airline's home of Hong Kong.|
When it comes to American Airlines, penny-pinching is no longer exclusive to baggage fees and on-flight services. Domestically speaking, the Admirals Lounge spread pales in comparison with its competitor from Houston, Continental's Presidents Club.
Let's compare. Step into an Admirals Lounge at DFW Airport -- the international hub of American Airlines -- and one would expect an impressive representative effort, no? Actually, no.
The Admirals Lounge offers complimentary apples, Chex Mix, and packaged cookies. Free beverages include water (not bottled), and a limited selection of sodas.
All meals and alcoholic beverages must be purchased. All meals must be purchased. As of October 1, the Admirals Lounge started serving complimentary well liquor, domestic wines and beers. Premium liquor, wine and beers are still purchase-only. Alcohol isn't even served until after noon. However, on the day of my visit, the bartender wouldn't serve me an alcoholic beverage until noon. Figuring a day-pass into the Admirals Lounge will set someone back $50, food and alcohol prices aren't cheap. An alcoholic drink averages around $7, while a sandwich costs around the $10 mark. A premium alcoholic drink averages around $7, while a sandwich costs around the $10 mark.
Down the terminal at rival Continental Airlines' Presidents Club, depending on what time of day it is, there's either a continental breakfast selection or a lunch spread laid out. Breakfast includes free muffins, bagels, cereals, juices and fruit, while lunch offers a variety of cheeses, crackers, granola bars, and chips with dips. All beers and wines are complimentary. Even with all the freebies at the Presidents Club, Continental's day-pass price is the same as the Admirals Club -- $50.
|Cathay also offers noodles to wash down that booze.|
The holy grail of all airport clubs in Asia is, arguably, the Cathay Pacific Lounge in the airline's home of Hong Kong. If the DFW Admirals Lounge is an utter embarrassment to American Airlines, then Cathay Pacific's club is the airline's crown jewel. Cathay Pacific separates its Hong Kong lounges into two sections. The business section offers free pastries, alcohol, snacks, dim sum and a full-service noodle bar. That's right; a free noodle bar, with a chef who takes noodle soup orders.
In the first class section of the lounge, things get even fancier. Food service (again, complimentary) is split into three meals a day and is in the form of a buffet. Breakfast includes eggs, congee and bacon. Lunch offers cheese plates, noodles and gourmet flat breads. Dinner is an obscene display of riches with foie gras, prime rib and caviar. There's also a wait staff, just in case you'd like to order a bowl of noodles from the noodle bar or if you'd like to get a glass of wine with dinner. If after-dinner calls for something a bit stronger than wine, a full-service complimentary bar is available to patrons from both sections of the lounge.
|Airline food? Not in this country, pal.|
So, again, why is the American Airlines Admirals Lounge so deficient in its selection? Also, what other airline lounges, aside from Continental and Cathay, do it better?