American Airlines is rolling out a fresh design for its Admirals Clubs, premiering with an all-new lounge at Washington-Reagan National Airport (DCA). The 14,500-square-foot club, which can host 236 guests, is the largest lounge at the airport, located adjacent to Gate 47 on the airport’s new Concourse E.
Business Traveler got an advance look at the club, which is set to open “sometime in October,” according to the airline.
The lounge’s design revolves around the city of Washington, DC. At every turn inside the brand-new space, there’s an element adorned with impressive architecture executed with big columns and lots of gleaming marble.
The Admirals Club at DCA boasts a look the designers at Chicago-based DMAC Architecture & Interiors—working with the airline’s in-house team—have adapted and distilled into a luxury launch pad for departing American Airlines customers.
From the first impression, the club makes a statement with a monolithic bronze entry that frames a white stone lobby and sweeping stairway up to the second floor. But, for those dragging roller bags, fear not – there’s a spacious elevator, too, complete with iconic cherry blossom images.
The designers explain that the entrance and stairs reflect the city’s landmarks, making them as much about setting the scene as they are for access.
Perched above the concourse, the club’s floor-to-ceiling glass takes in airport bustle inside and expansive views across the Potomac outside, with the Washington skyline punctuated by the Capitol dome and Washington Monument.
The check-in desk is another massive chunk of white stone against a slatted backdrop of warm American walnut, a motif used throughout the lounge. Surprisingly missing from the background is any AA logo; instead, a small version is subtly carved, white-on-white, in the stone face.
Washington’s convenient pocket port is located just across the 14th Street bridge, minutes from the centers of power, making it a favorite with DC politicians.
The Admirals Club caters to this unique customer set with a VIP room just behind the reception desk—an intimate space that evokes a quiet library setting. The room is also available to book for small meetings.
From the reception desk, the large open spaces are delineated into a relaxing lounge area to the right and the bar and dining service to the left. Rather than dividing with walls, the open concept is defined by its color palette, lighting design, and seating choices.
The lounge area is set apart with more natural wood and stone, subdued lighting, and a custom carpet pattern. A mix of comfortable seating options includes chairs that swivel to face the expansive windows where travelers can kick back to watch the activity on the tarmac.
Another focal point is the central fireplace with different seating choices, while an area called the Quiet Room offers soft high-back chairs for extra privacy. The lighting in this space comes from fascinating dome fixtures with cutouts of words taken from significant American speeches.
Guests turning to the left from reception will find a generous dining pavilion with the bar and food service areas as its centerpiece.
As is the case throughout the club, there are windows on both sides of the pavilion, spilling in natural light. A variety of seating options can accommodate individual travelers or small groups. The upholstery of the booth seats is inspired by vintage luggage and includes insets underneath just big enough for a carry-on bag.
Overall, the word I would apply to this lounge experience is ‘thoughtful.’ Every element of design and comfort was thought through and incorporated into the space, from back-of-the-house activities like food services and janitorial operations designed to be concealed yet efficiently delivered to the lighting levels tied into the astronomical clock for day-to-night transitions.
The new Admirals Club concept will roll out at additional airports in 2023, including Newark (EWR) and Denver (DEN). Eventually, clubs across the system will adapt the design, incorporating elements that reflect each destination’s unique flavor.
Customers traveling on American Airlines can access Admirals Clubs with an annual membership, available for $650 or 65,000 miles for AAdvantage members (note: prices drop as your status rises). In addition, the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard holders receive complimentary memberships.
And finally, American ticket holders can purchase one-day passes for $59 for a day of travel. Of course, terms and conditions apply, so best to visit aa.com for complete club membership details.