After a decent flight from Dallas in US Airways-cum-American Domestic First, we had a 5 hour layover in Philadelphia before our connecting flight to Paris (sort of, which I’ll get to later). Why such a long layover? That’s what I could get to price out at the el cheapo business class fare. No worries, though, as we could spend our extra time in the comfort of the Admirals Club. There are actually four Admirals Clubs at PHL – one in Terminal A East, one in Terminal A West, one between Terminals B and C, and one in Terminal F. I believe all of these are rebadged US Airways Clubs. The Terminal A West location, though, used to be the Envoy Lounge for US Airways international Envoy Class passengers. The Terminal A West location was closest to our connecting gate to Paris, so we chose that one.
Date of Visit: Saturday, October 24, 2015
Note: some photos were taken during a visit a week earlier.
The Terminal A – West Admirals Club is located between gates A15 and A16 on the mezzanine level. After clearing security, turn right, and the elevator to take you up to club level is on the left. On this Saturday, a chatty agent warmly welcomed us and gave us coupons for a premium drink. Admirals Clubs offer complimentary house beer and wine; anything else is an extra charge unless you have a coupon. Both Prita and I also had our Global Entry appointments later that afternoon, and she gave us detailed directions to get to the interview room. That’s what the “sort of” comment above was alluding to; our visit would be cut in two because of the interview. Yes, I know it’s really pathetic that I just now decided to join the 21st century and get GE. But hey, better late than never.
There are two sections of the lounge, one immediately behind the desk, and another opposite the desk. The section opposite the desk is closed during off-peak hours, so we headed to the other section first. The setup is one long corridor of leather chairs, with large windows overlooking the runways and part of the terminal on one side. The windows offer a nice view for planespotting, but considerable glare makes photos difficult.
As you can see, the center of the room contains a bank of arrival and departure monitors. On my first visit on the 17th, though, someone apparently forgot to tell the person updating them about the res system cutover at midnight…
At the far end of the corridor is the bar. This is a fairly small setup, with only a few barstools and a few tables out front. The ordering area is in the break between stools in the center; this can get congested when the lounge is busy, as there isn’t much space to queue up.
Just behind the bar, at the far end of the row of windows, is a semi-private area with a TV. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is probably the place to head to. It doesn’t get all that much traffic since it’s out of the way.
Meanwhile, on the left hand side of the main hall is a small snack bar with self-service finger foods, soups, and a coffee machine. Bagels, muffins, and cereal substitute for finger foods and soup during the morning hours. The selection wasn’t great, mainly some cheese and crackers and a choice of two soups, but it’s comparable with what you’d find in other Admirals Clubs. More substantial meals are available for sale at the bar. The UPGRD hat was happy to munch on some cheese and crackers and a glass of red wine, at least. Incidentally, the red wine, a “premium” selection I obtained with my drink coupon, was decidedly mediocre. I did have a cup of pumpkin soup a little later, and it was downright delicious.
Also on the left side is a small (very small) business center, with a few cubicles and a copier/printer. This would seem to be substantially lacking, but I didn’t see many people in here on either visit. It would be interesting to see how things might differ on a weekday morning or afternoon.
After returning from our Global Entry interviews, the lounge was much busier, what with the bank of evening departures to Europe getting ready to go, and so the second section of the lounge had opened up. Prita and I decided to find a seat in this area for the duration of our stay. This photo, taken before the area was opened up, shows the general layout, basically another long corridor with chairs and tables on both sides.
As you enter this section, if you turn right, there is a small, semi-private area, similar to the one at the far end of the first section. A woman sitting in this section had a dog with her, presumably one of those “emotional support animals”. Annoyingly, said dog kept barking every time someone walked by in its vicinity.
As you can see, this part of the lounge extends quite a long ways back, again fronted by floor-to-ceiling windows on one side for planespotting. I actually liked this side a little better than the other. There were far more circular, dining-style tables if you and a companion wanted to stretch out a little and enjoy a drink or meal. If you look closely in the second photo, there is a big screen TV room if you want to kick back and relax.
There were a decent number of power outlets in both sections. Most of the couch-style seats having a pair of plugs per two chairs. Perhaps as a sign of the lounge’s age, some of the plugs were a bit cranky, and my iPhone charger in particular kept wanting to fall out of the socket. A little irritating, but personally, I’m happy just to have the plugs.
If you’ve been to an Admirals Club in a large AA hub, you’ve undoubtedly seen this one. The decor is dated and a bit drab, but the lounge itself is spacious and has a few quiet nooks and crannies hidden away, and the staff were warm and friendly on both of my visits. The business center is pretty small, though, and the bar area is too congested. My biggest wish for the Admirals Clubs is that they would up their free food and drink offerings. As far as US domestic airline lounges go, though, that ship sailed long ago. Overall, while dated, this is a decent lounge, at least as far as domestic airline lounges go.
If what you see fails to impress, Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire members and Oneworld Business Class passengers can also access the British Airways Galleries Lounge. If you’re a Priority Pass member, though, you’re SOL, as there is no PP lounge at PHL.
This post is part of my trip report series about our trip to the Czech Republic and Romania in October. Click here for the introductory post and trip report index.