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Airport Lounges

Admirals Club VS United Club: Which is Better?

Last updated: September 15,2022
Originally Published: September 19,2022
by Jestan Mendame

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There’s been an ongoing debate between the Admirals Club vs United Club. Both airline lounges are great and offer solid benefits for flyers like complimentary food and beverages, sleeping areas, high-speed WIFI, and more.

But everyone has been asking – which lounge is better? In this article, we’ll compare both lounges in three categories to help you decide which lounge program to join.


Read More: Priority Pass Select Vs Priority Pass: What’s The Difference?


Image courtesy of Justin Hu on Unsplash.

A Brief Look At History: Admirals Club Vs United Club

The Admirals Club and the United Club are airline-branded lounges that are owned by American Airlines and United Airlines respectively. These lounges offer exclusive travel amenities that you won’t find in public lounge areas.

There are many ways to get access to these lounges. You can either purchase a day pass, subscribe to a membership plan, get an eligible credit card, or have elite status.

To give you a little bit of background on how each airline lounge started, the first Admirals Club was opened in New York LaGuardia in 1936 and it served as an exclusive lounge for American Airlines frequent flyers and VIPs.

Meanwhile, the United Club is a consolidation between the Continental Airlines Presidents Club and the United Airlines Red Carpets Club. The two airlines merged in 2011 which also resulted in the consolidation of their services, frequent flyer programs, websites, and lounge networks.

As of today, both lounges operate on a global scale and are widely available for anyone who’s interested to enjoy premium lounge amenities.

Panda Tips:

If Take note that airline lounges are different from lounge networks like the Priority Pass and LoungeBuddy. wh


Read More: Is Loungebuddy A Great Alternative To Priority Pass?


Comparing the Admirals Club vs United Club
Both the United Club and Admirals Club have lounges located worldwide. They offer a safe space for travelers to unwind and relax after a long flight (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Lounge Network

The availability of lounges both in the U.S. and internationally is a very important matter to consider when choosing which lounge network to join. You’d want to have lots of options to choose from especially if you’re flying multiple times a year to different destinations.

Let’s compare how both the United Club and Admirals Club fare against each other in terms of network size.

United Club

As of this writing, the United Club lounge network has 58 airport lounges – 52 United Club lounges located both in the U.S. and internationally and 6 United Polaris Lounges located in the U.S. (Polaris Lounges are exclusive for Polaris Business class passengers).

Additionally, there are also about 39 partner lounges located across the globe. These are not United-branded lounges but rather private lounges that have partnered up with United.

Here are the following locations for United Club Lounges, Polaris Lounges, and partner lounges.

Admirals Club

There are currently 46 Admirals Club Lounges located both in the U.S. and internationally and 5 Flagship Lounges located in the U.S. (Flagship lounges are exclusive for business class passengers). Additionally, it has also more than 70 partner lounges worldwide.

Here are the following locations for Admirals Club Lounges and Flagship Lounges:

Winner: Admirals Club

While the United Club might have more airline-branded lounges, the Admirals Club has more lounges in total when including both branded and partner lounges.


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Both the United Club and AA Admirals Club offer paid memberships for getting access to their lounges (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Membership & Eligibility

A great lounge network is one that offers customers easy access to its lounges. Let’s see which of the two networks is better in this category.

United Club

You have multiple options to get access to United Club lounges. You can either purchase a membership, fly on a premium fare, get an eligible credit card, or get an elite status. Let’s discuss each option below.

1. Purchase An Annual Membership

Whether you use cash or miles, you can purchase an annual membership to get access to United Club Lounges. The price varies according to the person’s elite status.

  • General Member: Single – $650 or 85,000 miles
  • Premier Silver: Single – $650 or 85,000 miles
  • Premier Gold: Single – $650 or 85,000 miles
  • Premier Platinum: Single – $600 or 80,000 miles
  • Premier 1K: Single – $550 or 75,000 miles

2. Purchase A Day-Pass

You can buy one-time passes for $59 at United Club locations or through the United app. You can use the pass at any United lounge.

3. Sign-up For A MileagePlus Card

Signing up for these cards below will give you complimentary access to United Clubs.

  • United Business Card – 2 one-time passes
  • United Explorer Card – 2 one-time passes
  • United Club Business Card – Annual membership
  • United Club Infinite Card – Annual membership

4. Flying On Premium Flights

Passengers on United First or Business class fares on transcontinental or international flights will be granted access to United Club Lounges.

Additionally, First and Business Class passengers on Star Alliance partner flights will also be granted access (ex. Turkish Air, Lufthansa, etc.

5. Getting Star Alliance Gold Status

Whether you acquired your Star Alliance Gold status through United or other Star Alliance partners, you will have access to United Club lounges at departure, connecting, and arrival airports.

6. More United Club Access For Non-Star Alliance Members

United Clubs also provide lounge access to the following travelers below:

  • Air Canada Maple Leaf™ Club North American Members
  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Worldwide Members
  • Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer Members

7. Be An Active U.S. Military Personnel

Active duty U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform on a same-day American Airlines flight can get free access to Admirals Club. A valid military ID is required.

Admirals Club

American Airlines also offers various options for customers to get Admirals Club access. You can choose any of the following methods below:

1. Purchase An Annual Membership

You can purchase an annual membership with cash or miles. The prices will depend on your AAdvantage Elite Status and type of membership (individual or household). Additionally, the fees will also be cheaper once you renew your membership.

Individual Membership:

  • Non-Elite
    • The initial fee is $650/year; the Renewal fee is $600/year
    • The initial fee is 65,000 miles/year; Renewal fee is 60,000/year

  • Gold
    • The initial fee is $625/year; the Renewal fee is $600/year
    • The initial fee is 62,500 miles/year; the Renewal fee is 57,500/year

  • Platinum
    • The initial fee is $600/year; the Renewal fee is $550/year
    • The initial fee is 60,000/year; the Renewal fee is 55,000/year

  • Platinum Pro
    • The initial fee is $575/year; the renewal fee is $525/year
    • The initial fee is 57500 miles/year; the renewal fee is 52,500 miles/year

  • Executive Platinum
    • The initial fee is $550/year; Renewal fee is $500/year
    • The initial fee is 55,000 miles/year; Renewal fee is 50,000 miles/year

  • Concierge Key – Free

Household Membership:

  • Non-Elite
    • The initial fee is $1250/year; Renewal fee is $1200/year
    • The initial fee is 125,000 miles/year; Renewal fee is 120,000/year

  • Gold
    • The initial fee is $1225/year; the Renewal fee is $1175/year
    • The initial fee is 122,500 miles/year; the Renewal fee is 117,500 miles/year

  • Platinum
    • The initial fee is $1200/year; the Renewal fee is $1150/year
    • The initial fee is 120,000 miles/year; the Renewal fee is 115,000 miles/year

  • Platinum Pro
    • The initial fee is $1175/year; the Renewal fee is $1125/year
    • The initial fee is 117,500 miles/year; the Renewal fee is 112,500 miles/year

  • Executive Platinum
    • The initial fee is $1150/year; the Renewal fee is $1100/year
    • The initial fee is 115,000 miles/year; the Renewal fee is 110,000 miles/year

  • Concierge Key – Free

2. Purchase A Day Pass

You can purchase a day pass for $59 per visit, and you can purchase it online or in person. Just present a valid government ID and a same-day ticket on an American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, or OneWorld partner flight.

3. Be An AAdvantage Elite Statusholder

Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive members of the AAdvantage loyalty program will have access to Admirals Club lounges regardless of fare class, as long as they’re flying on American Airlines or a Oneworld partner.

4. Be A OneWorld Statusholder

If you don’t have an AAdvantage status, you can also get access to Admirals Clubs with a Oneworld elite status – Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status. You don’t have to be on an international flight to get access.

5. AA Lounge Access With AirPass

If you purchase an American Airlines Airpass (which is a paid-for Elite Status), you’ll get access to Admirals Club lounges as long as your membership is active.

6. Using A Co-branded Credit Card

As of this writing, there is only one credit card that comes with an Admirals Club membership, and that is the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard.

7. Flying First or Business Class

First-class and business class passengers on eligible departing international and transcontinental flights marketed and operated by American Airlines and Oneworld alliance partners will have access to Admiral Clubs access.

8. Having A Qantas Membership

If you happen to have a Qantas Club membership, you’ll have access to United Lounges when flying on a same-day flight on American Airlines or Qantas.

9. Be An Active U.S. Military Personnel

Active duty U.S. military personnel traveling in uniform on a same-day American Airlines flight can get free access to Admirals Club. A valid military ID is required.

Winner: Admirals Club

The Admirals Club offers more options for members to get access to its lounges, so American Airlines wins this round. Plus, paid memberships from the Admirals Club are generally cheaper than United’s.


Read More: How To Save Money On Your United Club Membership


Members can get free drinks and meals at United and AA airport lounges (Image courtesy of Canva Pro).

Amenities

Even if a lounge network has thousands of lounges around the world or provides the easiest access to customers, all of it wouldn’t really matter if the benefits aren’t good. This time, we’ll compare the amenities that United Club and Admirals Club offer to their members.

Take note that every lounge offers different amenities, so we’ve included the ones that are generally found in most lounges.

United Club

Each United Club lounge offers a different experience; however, you can expect similar amenities and perks such as:

  • Complimentary snacks and beverages
  • Complimentary premium alcoholic drinks
  • Dedicated customer services for flight, transport, and other travel assistance
  • Free high-speed Wi-Fi
  • Digital entertainment
  • Charging ports and power outlets
  • Free use of printers
  • Access to media and news publications (digital/hard print)

Admirals Club

Just like United, each AA Admirals Club lounge also offers different amenities. For example, some lounges offer shower suites while some don’t. However, here’s what you can expect when visiting an Admirals Club lounge.

  • Snacks and drinks
  • Wine bar
  • Personal travel assistance
  • Specialty dishes
  • Business center
  • Charging ports and power outlets
  • Shower suites
  • Free Wifi
  • Digital entertainment
  • Free digital magazines and newspapers

Winner: Admirals Club

The Admirals Club wins by a hair, mainly because it offers shower suites on most of its lounges. We’re not saying that United doesn’t have shower suites; however, a lot of people have complained that there’s a lack of shower suites in key locations, such as the new United Club at LAX.

For the other amenities, both lounges offer similar services such as Free Wifi, free food and beverages, charging areas, etc.


Read More: How To Get Into The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse – Complete Guide For 2022


Bottomline: Which Is The Better Lounge Between Admirals Club Vs United Club?

The Admirals Club wins 3 out of 3 categories; however, we’re not saying that it’s entirely better than United Club.

Take note that this verdict is only based on numbers and not on actual experiences. We understand that each traveler may have different experiences when visiting the United Club or AA Admirals Club.

Have you ever been to one of United or AA longes before? How was the experience?

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