The perk of flying on a business class international ticket is the lounge access. Over the years, traveling solo, the lounge has been a good place to have a quiet seat, charge my phone and not worry about my bags when I want to use the bathroom (one downside of solo travel is getting someone to watch your bags). I wished that I could enjoy the quiet of the American Airlines Lounge PHL before my flights.
Flying domestically, I don’t have club access as I am neither elite or preferred with any U.S. domestic airline, so I sit with everyone else in the uncomfortable seats at the gate, scanning the area for the one or two outlets to recharge my phone and generally lamenting the decline of air travel.
So given that the airport experience is generally pretty dreadful, the club lounges can provide a temporary oasis. In American Airlines (formerly USAirways) territory “aka PHL airport”, there are many lounges to visit, although one less for me since I was asked to leave the Terminal F lounge years ago and I refuse to return (a different story for another day).
For my domestic flight to Chicago (the first leg of my Australia trip), American Airlines was using Terminal A West which is the International terminal. This terminal is newer with lots of light, high ceilings and more space at the gate. As my shuttle arrived at the airport three hours early (crazy, I know but we factored in the highway construction which, of course, that day wasn’t a factor), I didn’t relish sitting at the gate with my bags so I remembered that I had a day pass to the American Airlines lounge (a perk of being a American Airlines credit card holder, I get one pass a year).
The American Airlines lounge PHL in Terminal A West is located upstairs on the mezzanine between Gates 15 and 16 so you need to use the escalator (or elevator) on the left side across from moving sidewalk. The front desk was friendly taking my pass without issue. Walk up pricing for one day costs $50.
I entered the lounge and was taken aback at the sheer size as well as the lighting, decor and openness. I turned left, dropped my bags and went to explore. As it was 3pm, the lounge was quiet as most of the international flights leave later at night – it would get busy later. This lounge opens at 5:30 am and closes at 10:15 pm.
In search of a bottle of water, I was disappointed to find a water cooler off to the side with the smallest cups known to man (bring your own bottle to fill) or plan on carrying many little cups back and forth to your seat.
The counter area had some packaged snacks (sadly no local Philadelphia vendors). A bowl of olives was also available as a snack which I found odd as I would have preferred cookies or fruit but I guess their elite preferred flyers like olives? (can anyone explain this?). Returning from my food forage empty handed (well, I was carrying those small cups of water), I settled into my leather chair to relax. The food options may get better later when it is crowed but I wouldn’t go to this lounge hungry.
My chair was plush, leather and comfortable with outlets all around and a television on the nearby wall. For the next two hours, I enjoyed the wifi signal to participate in twitter chats and catch up on my reading.
As I was getting hungry, I decided to leave the warm club bubble and venture out to the terminal to have dinner at a Philadelphia institution – Chickie’s & Pete’s which is located past the food court on the right near Gate 18/19 (also in terminals C, D and E). This terminal also has a Vino Volo at Gate 17.
The American Airlines Lounge PHL in Terminal A West was a pleasant option to spend my time and I would actually consider paying the one time visit price if I found myself with ample time before the flight.
Update: I’m now Silver on British Airways so a One World perk allows me to visit the American Airlines lounge in PHL for free!