American Airlines’ Stealth Admirals Club – Premium Lounge, Miami, FL (MIA)

The American Express Centurion Lounge at MIA was rather crowded.  So after getting a free manicure there, I headed to the Premium Lounge on Concourse E, a wonderful lounge that fails to register as an Admirals Club on the radar of most American Airlines travelers.

Other posts about this trip to Paris cover the flight to CDG in business class, the Westin Paris Vendome, a tour of  WWII Normandy Invasion sights (Part I, Pointe du Hoc, Part II Omaha Beach, and Part III the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer) a trip to Versailles, and a business-class flight from CDG to DFW on a 787-9.

American Airlines has a two-tier lounge system consisting of Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges.  Both groups of lounges are undergoing substantial, much-needed renovations.

Admirals Clubs are the base model.  They offer standard services such as wifi, comfortable seating isolated from the terminal hustle and bustle, free soup, light snacks and the least expensive alcoholic beverages (salads and sandwiches and higher quality alcoholic beverages are available for purchase in many locations).  I reviewed the remodeled Admirals Club at MIA D-15 last December right after it opened.

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Bar area in the recently renovated Admirals Club at ORD

Flagship Lounges are American’s “top of the line” clubs.  They are only located at American’s international gateways and serve business- and first-class passengers and certain American and OneWorld elites on long-haul international routes.

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JFK Flagship Lounge

Flagship lounges have very good buffets stocked with fruit, salads, soup, hot and cold entrees and premium alcoholic beverages.  Those flying in first class on a three cabin American flight also have access to an a la carte dining room.  The good news is you pay for nothing in a Flagship Lounge.  Here is a review of the JFK Flagship Lounge that I visited earlier this year.

MIA Premium Lounge’s Convoluted History

The Premium Lounge at MIA is an Admirals Club.  There is nothing in the name or airport signage that says that.  For years, the Premium Lounge was not part of the Admirals Club system although some American Airlines passengers were permitted to use the lounge only when on certain international flights or departing from Concourse E.  Now the Premium Lounge is officially listed as an Admirals Club on the American Airlines website.  However the American Airlines app  still fails to identify the Premium Lounge as an Admirals Club.

The new status for this lounge results from the fact that the D-30 Admirals Club, the largest at MIA, closed for renovation a few months ago.  At least until this lounge reopens in mid 2018, the Premium Lounge will remain part of the Admirals Club system.  After that, because this lounge offers by far the best food and beverages of any domestic Admirals Club and has a look that is very different from the new look of the domestic Admirals Clubs, it seems likely that this lounge will revert to its previous status.

MIA Premium Lounge Location, Hours and Access

The Premium Lounge is located on Concourse E just after security.  To get to the lounge from American Airlines gates on the D Concourse, walk or take the D Concourse Skytrain to Station 3 and follow the signs to Concourse E and the Premium Lounge.  It can take 10 -15 minutes to get to this lounge from some American gates on the D Concourse.

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A walkway connects the D and E Concourses.  From the signage one would never know that the Premium Lounge is (at least for now) an Admirals Club.
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View from the connector.  A thunderstorm pounds the western approaches to MIA. Thunderstorms often produce windshear and microbursts that are extremely dangerous for arriving and departing aircraft.

From the D Concourse, just before reaching the elevators to the lounge, visitors pass a display of commemorative plaques.

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Largely through the efforts of Frank Lorenzo and cohorts, Eastern Airlines is only a memory
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The fate of Amelia Earhart, Fred Noonan and their Lockheed Electra remains one of the great mysteries of the 20th century.  Those with an interest in aviation should take opportunities to read some of the plaques at airports.

The lounge is on the 5th floor and accessed through a pair of elevators .

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The American website says this lounge is open from 04:30 – 22:30 daily.   I’d trust the sign for the opening time.  For now, all Admirals Club members and their eligible guests can use this lounge.

Services

Now that the Premium Lounge is an Admirals Club, travelers can get assistance with American Airlines flights.

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The elevators deposit travelers right at the check-in desk.

Other services include, showers, very good free food and beverages, wifi, TV lounges and a family room as well as plenty of seating.  I only wish there wee a few more electrical outlets.

Seating Areas

The Premium Lounge has many seating areas.  The decor is nothing like the new Admirals Clubs.20171207_184739_resized20171207_185530_resized20171207_185305_resized

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The large bar at the rear of the lounge is no longer in use.

There are private alcoves for working.20170917_184812_resized

There are two TV viewing areas.20171207_184643_resized

Food and Beverages

The Premium Lounge has an outstanding selection of free alcoholic beverages.

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Most of these brands would require upcharges in an Admirals Club.

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In addition, the lounge offers a good selection of wine, beer and champagne.20171207_183911_resized

The buffet has a variety of salads, soups, sandwiches, entrees, fruit, and desserts. 20171207_184828_resized

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Sandwich, potato salad, soup and wine make a very nice free pre-flight snack.

The food is much better than an Admirals Club.

Showers

Like many Admirals Clubs and other lounges, visitors can shower before a long flight.  For me, a shower can be as soothing as a massage.  A shower relieves stress and improves my attitude.  20171207_183517

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C.O. Bigelow bathroom products as in other Admirals Clubs.
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This shower room is large enough for a shower and commode to accommodate those with disabilities.

Overall Impression

The food and beverages in the Premium Lounge make it the best Admirals Club in the US.  It is worth the hike to the E Concourse when time permits.  Unfortunately, because this lounge is so much better than other Admirals Clubs, once the D-30 Admirals Club reopens, the Premium Lounge will probably revert to limited availability for Admirals Club members and American Airlines passengers.

 

 

 

 

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