American Airlines has announced the start of a multiyear program to completely overhaul its Admirals Club Lounges, converting them into new spaces where passengers will find themselves at ease to rest, work, catch-up with friends and colleagues, and refresh between flights.
Fernand Fernandez, American Airline’s vice president, Global Marketing will be the first to admit that American Airline’s lounges have received little love in recent years. The financial challenges facing the old American Airlines meant that many customer-touch points were, as he puts it, “under-invested.”
But the merger with US Airways, which formed the new American Airlines, has cleared up the books, resulting in a record company $1.2 billion first-quarter profit reported last week, has found the company flush and ready to push forward its previous commitment to invest $2 billion in a full-on image overhaul, which, in true aviation fashion, Fernandez classifies as a “nose to tail retrofit of the entire customer journey.”
Fernandez says the scope of this new image campaign will ultimately touch every point along the passenger journey, from check-in, to the lounge, to the flight, all reflecting the same cool vibrancy and modern American identity.
Visitors to American Airline’s new Admiral’s Club Lounges will be met with “open and inviting spaces” which also leave corners for “privacy moments” and which tap into natural lighting to enhance the sense of well-being and connectedness.
Fernandez also says the airline intends to provide emotive focal points for passengers at the lounge. For example, giving guests a good view from the lounge windows of the new American Airlines’ aircraft tails.
American wants its future Admiral’s Club guests to feel they’ve entered somewhere welcoming and familiar.
“In the future, when our customers see an Admirals Club sign anywhere in the world, they’ll know they’ll find a reliable, modern space where they can charge their devices, grab a bite to eat, get caught up on work or unplug from the world around them,” says Fernandez. “Our goal is to create spaces that are more in line with how people live and spend their time today.”
Part of that connection will mean getting Admirals Club staff to interact more with passengers, Fernandez says, eliminating the divide generated by large counters and replacing them with podiums, letting staff walk-up and greet passengers as they enter and ensuring there are staff walking the lounge to address any passenger needs.
The lounge design will be marked by both warm and neutral natural materials, and a mix and tan and grey decor interrupted by high notes of rich red. A variety of custom-furnishings will give the lounge a distinctive look, and will include handy features like power outlets and USB ports fitted into high-backed chairs.
American has announced that the first two lounges to receive the radical makeover will be the Admirals Club lounges at Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) and Sao Paulo International (GRU) airports.
While Fernandez says logistics drove these choices–with the airline’s recent expansion at Phoenix demanding more room and a move at the Sao Paulo terminal providing an excellent opportunity to change–he acknowledges some competitive advantage to marking the Sao Paolo space with a distinctive American flair. American, he points out, is the largest carrier flying into Brazil and serving the most North American destinations.
Frequent flyers in Miami, New York (JFK), Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles can look forward to Admirals Club lounges at those cities starting construction this year.
Clubs in Chicago, London and other key cities will enter the renovation phase thereafter.
Fernandez says the airline will pace these change to fit the logistics and scope of such a massive program, but it will ultimately have redesigned all of its properties, including its First Class Flagship lounges in “a few years” time.