I’ve visited a lot of lounges at IAH but I had yet to ever visit the American Airline Admirals Club lounge. Recently, we finally flew American Airlines to Cabo and so since we were flying out of Terminal A, it just made sense to give the lounge a visit.
Here’s a review of what you can expect to encounter at the Admirals Club in Terminal A at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (IAH).
Table of Contents
Getting through security
We arrived at IAH Terminal A bright and early around 4:30am and found our parking spot in the parking garage. I did what I usually do and snapped a photo of where we were parked as a reminder and then we were off to the terminal.
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I had never flown out of Terminal A at IAH that I can remember but we found our way to the check-in area via an underground passage with some cool looking corridors.
We then made our way up to the check-in terminal area to find a pretty sizable crowd lined up for TSA.
Luckily, we had TSA Pre-Check which was available at the Terminal A North security checkpoint, where the line was much, much more manageable (CLEAR was also available). We made it through security in a jiffy and then were off to the Admirals Club, near Gate A25. (It only took about 15 minutes to get through security to the lounge.)
Admirals Club IAH hours
- 4 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
One advantage to the Admirals Club is that it opens up at 4am, well before the United Club Lounges open at 5:00/5:30am/7:30am and before the Amex Centurion Lounge opens (at 5:30am).
This Admirals Club opened in 2017 after IAH didn’t have an AA lounge for 15 years, so it’s a newer lounge. And since I’d never experienced an Admirals Club before and since we were flying to Cabo on American Airlines, I thought it would be a good time to give it a visit.
I purchased two day passes for the Admirals Club for $59 each using my Amex Gold Card, which activated the $100 airline credit. This day pass would give us Admirals Club access at IAH and then access later for our connection at DFW as well, so I thought it was well worth paying an effective $18 for the two of us.
Admirals Club access
Here are all of the ways you can get access to the Admirals Club:
- Purchase an annual membership
- Purchase a day pass
- Hold a card like the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
- Have certain types of elite status
- Qualifying First or Business Class ticket
- Be a Military member
The above are all subject to certain restrictions. If you want to find out more about access rules and policies to the Admirals Club you can click here.
The Admirals Club experience
In the entrance area, there were two screens with flight information, including departures and arrivals. And of course, there were some ads for AAdvantage cards on display.
They also had some storage areas with rods to hang your garments on. I’m guessing you could inquire with the staff about using the lockers, too.
At the main entrance on the right there was a wall lined with literature, including American Way, Men’s Journal, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and others.
We then made our way into the main lounge area, which only had a couple of passengers in it. It’s definitely on the smaller side, especially compared to the Admirals Club we’d later visit at DFW.
The lounge felt modern and fresh and I liked the wood accents found throughout with splashes of bright colors in the artwork and some furniture. It looked like just about every seat had outlets built in to it or very close and most seats also had at least a little bit of counter or table space.
There were a couple of small areas with semi-private partitions offering nice compact areas to relax in.
Again, I was a big fan of the interior design and the bold, refreshing artwork featured in these areas.
There are also other seating options that offer a little more privacy, especially when facing the windows. These come in odd cube-like shapes but they could be good spots for the solo traveler who wants to get some work done.
There’s also a row of seats lining the bar at the windows with outlets and a little bit of floral decor. Since it was dark and early, I really didn’t get a sense of the views from the lounge.
In the back of the lounge are two more areas offering better privacy.
One room has more seating and I believe it also has work stations. Since this mysterious area was dark when I visited, I cranked up the ISO on my Canon to get the shot below but didn’t notice the work stations. I liked the Houston-inspired photography on the wall, though I wasn’t sure why this room was not properly lit (I’m guessing it was just too early).
Then there is the business conference room. There’s a table with six chairs and a total of six chairs lining the wall. There’s also some counter space, a TV monitor, and presentation area. You can pay to rent these out and you can find rates for these here.
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The Admirals Club buffet
The buffet area was in a long hallway-like section of the lounge, located between the dining area and the lounge seating area. You can also find a few tables in there.
They had a selection of water, infused water, and I believe orange juice.
For food they had Oikos and Chobanil yogurt along with a selection of fruits including pineapple, cantaloupe, melon, and mixed grapes — no berries. They also had hard-boiled eggs which tasted a little funky to be honest.
For cereal lovers, they had Kashie GoLean cereal (looked like Cheerios), Froot Loops, and low-fat granola, along with 2% milk and oatmeal.
Next to the oatmeal were three bins of bagels along with a toaster and fruit.
Toward the end of the counter was the espresso machine, tea bags, and soda machine.
The Admirals Club bar and dining area
The Admirals Club also has a small dining and bar area in the lounge with a few tables. It’s a nice little area but I’d imagine that it gets pretty packed at times.
The bar was closed during our early visit but you can see the liquor bottles they serve and the beer on draft.
The buffet and some drinks like certain domestic beers are complimentary but you’ll have to drop a little bit of cash for other items. For example, a Bloody Mary would cost you $10 and an imported beer would cost $8. I’ve included the full menu below.
Admirals Club bathroom
The bathroom was small but very clean and smelled fresh during my visit.
The bathroom had C.O. Bigelow hand wash and hand lotion. C.O. Bigelow claims to be the oldest apothecary in America, established in 1838.
The lounge does not offer showers.
Overall, I enjoyed my first ever Admirals Club visit. I had adjusted my expectations to expect the “US domestic carrier” lounge experience and it was about what I expected. I liked having the option to oder hot food items (even though I’d have to pay) and I liked the overall look and feel of the lounge’s design.
I would still prefer the Amex Centurion Lounge over the Admirals Club any day though due to its hot food selection and seating options. Also, while crowds were not an issue on my visit, I could see them being a problem at times due to the size of the lounge.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.