Inside American’s stunning new DCA Admirals Club, the 1st of its kind

American Airlines’ Admirals Club network is entering a new era with the opening of its latest outpost.

Later this month, the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier will officially open its new 14,500-square-foot Admirals Club in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) — the first of its kind to feature American’s newest design motifs.

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Gone are the drabby recliners and uninspired artwork. Instead, you’ll find stylish touches, crisp lines and modern finishes that may convince you to book a longer connection.


While the biggest news is the upgrade for American’s DCA flyers, this new design concept is only just beginning to take off. The airline’s upcoming clubs in Austin, Denver and Newark will all sport the upgraded design when they open.

For now, though, it’s all eyes on Washington, D.C., where the new club couldn’t come soon enough. Read on for an inside look.

Admirals Club DCA shines in DCA’s new pier

Currently, American operates two clubs at DCA — one in the C pier and another in the D pier — but both of them still feature outdated designs.


When DCA opened the Gate 35X replacement last April, American confirmed that it would open a new lounge on the upper level overlooking the new E pier.


Fast forward 18 months and this signature new club is ready for its big debut.

You’ll find the light-washed, stone-lined entrance between the Capitol File News and soon-to-open P.F. Changs near Gate E47.

The entrance might be somewhat shocking for long-time American flyers. That’s because it’s so much more inviting, welcoming and regal than anything we’ve seen before in an Admirals Club.

This stands in stark contrast to the airline’s other DCA lounges, which are hidden away — accessible only via a fire stairwell or slow elevators.

This new stone-lined entrance features a dramatic staircase and a single elevator decorated with illuminated cherry blossom artwork. (It’s nice to see the Texas-based airline paying homage to the capital’s famous blooms that line the Tidal Basin each spring.)

The entrance, inspired by D.C.’s iconic monuments and museums, leads to an even more exciting space inside.


The 2 seating areas

After arriving on the upper level, you might do a double take when you see the new reception area with American’s logo etched into the stone-lined welcome desk.


From the minute you step in, it’s clear that this is a big upgrade in Admirals Club design.

Turning right will bring you to the lounge’s servery, as the airline calls the food and beverage area in this space.

Here you’ll find a snazzy bar surrounded by plenty of seating areas ranging from standard two-top dining tables to high-top counters to private nooks.

No matter where you turn, your eyes will be in for a treat with the new design. The bar is lined with mosaic tiles. The sconces match the upscale ceiling pattern. The subtle gray fabric on the bench seating feels inviting.

The American flight symbol is even etched into the walls lining the perimeter of the dining room.

This attention to detail feels much more like something you’d find in one of Delta’s newest Sky Clubs than in an Admirals Club.

While we couldn’t get a sense of whether American will bring its famous cheese cubes, crackers and hummus bowls to the new lounge, the renderings make it seem like we should be in for a big culinary upgrade when the lounge opens.


The other side of the lounge is located to the left of the entrance area. This is where you’ll find most of the club’s seating and relaxation areas as well as a fireplace.

A fireplace in an Admirals Club

Yes, you read that right: The centerpiece of the main relaxation area is a decorative fireplace that feels especially homey and inviting.


Surrounding the fireplace is plenty of seating. There are couches and recliners lining the interior area of the lounge, while individual chairs along the perimeter of the space offer travelers amazing views of the airport’s northern operations, the Washington Monument and beyond.

In total, the lounge boasts seating for 236 guests.

The lounge has the basics covered: You’ll find AC outlets and USB-A ports at nearly every seat, though you’ll have to dig a little bit deeper to find a USB-C port. (I only spotted a handful of these newer ports during our tour.)

American has even added a modern take to the TV area. Gone is the wall of plasma displays with rows of chairs lined up like a movie theater.


Instead, you’ll find just two TVs built into the floor level with some seating nearby. This way, the screens blend into the overall lounge aesthetic without feeling too much like a doctor’s waiting room.

American didn’t just invest in high-quality furniture in this seating area. The carrier even thought through the details of the carpeting.


For one, the carpeting is much thicker than what you’d find in the airline’s existing lounges, which should help to absorb some ambient noise.

Beyond that, the design is unique: It’s based on an abstract mapping of D.C. and cherry blossoms. The blue hues are a nod to the carrier’s color palette, American’s manager of lounge products, Gill Sukhtej, told TPG during the tour.


You won’t find any nap rooms or spa suites in the new club, but you will find a quiet area with dome-shaped chairs designed to resemble the Capitol Building (which is visible from the Club’s north-facing windows).

The dome-shaped light fixtures hanging in this area are lined with sentence fragments from important speeches from the nation’s history. Some of the phrases are even spelled backward. (Game idea: See how many you can identify during your visit.)

Big amenity upgrades

Even if American had stopped there, the airline still would’ve knocked it out of the park with the new lounge design. However, the carrier’s latest motifs extend to the various amenities that you’ll find in the space.

There is one set of restrooms located near the servery area. Each gender-specific bathroom features multiple vanities and a handful of stalls with green/red indicators to show whether they’re occupied or not.

The dark hues of the restrooms are accented by stylish lighting fixtures and plenty of mirrors that make the space feel quite luxurious.


The lounge also features three private phone booths, each featuring accent lighting and wood paneling along the walls. You won’t find any seating in this area — American wanted to ensure that no one would turn the lounge into their personal office, Sukhtej said during our tour.

In addition to the enclosed phone booths, you’ll find eight workstation areas lining the hallway near the bathrooms. These nooks are standing-room-only and are great spots to take a quick call or focus on polishing off a slide or analyzing a spreadsheet. (One of these nooks is oversized for those who use wheelchairs.)

You won’t find any showers in this space. Sukhtej explained that since DCA is primarily a domestic hub for the airline, showers aren’t an essential lounge amenity. (Interestingly, the airline added two showers to its expanded lounge in New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA), another primarily domestic hub for the carrier.)

Other than the restrooms and phone booths, you’ll find one private nursing mother’s room near the entrance.

There’s also an exclusive VIP room just to the right of the reception desk. This room features a conference table, individual recliners, a reading nook and private bathrooms. I’d imagine that this area is reserved for only the most important travelers and dignitaries — being Concierge Key alone likely won’t cut it.

Bottom line

With the new DCA lounge, American has made it clear that it can deliver an impressive hard product.

The physical space is modern and inviting, and it’s a big leap forward in the airline’s Admirals Club design. If you’re looking for the nicest American club in the country, this one might just be it.


Now, the real question is whether American can deliver on the softer elements — the food, drinks and service — to really elevate the lounge experience.

Will you need to subsist on cheese cubes, dollops of hummus, carrots, chocolate chip cookies, house vodka and — if you’re lucky — a piece of avocado toast in this beautiful new Admirals Club?

If the answer is no, then American might’ve just hit a home run.