News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.
By Darren M. Popik —
When it comes to great airport terminals, Terminal 1 at Mexico City International Airport probably won’t appear on many lists, unless the competition is the third world-like (according to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden) LaGuardia Airport in New York City.
T1 at MEX may have two or three dozen Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme, but it’s old, overcrowded, and makes you consider taking the bus rather than flying.
Given the older style uncomfortable seats in the gate areas, and general lack of things to do once you pass through security — other than browse through the overpriced duty free shops where you’ll pay more than retail prices — the best recommendation is to look for an airline lounge to use before boarding your flight. (Previously, we wrote about one of our favorite places to spend time in Terminal 2, the Aeromexico Salon Premier.)
So, if you’re flying American Airlines, US Airways, TAM, or Alaska Airlines, check out AA’s Admirals Club lounge. (Note: The only other Oneworld airline with a lounge at MEX is Iberia, for use by Iberia/British Airways passengers. South American carrier LAN operates at Terminal 2, and offers its customers access to Aeromexico’s Salon Premier.)
7:00 am Thursday
Arriving early for a flight to Dallas, I was greeted at the front desk by two smiling Admirals Club agents. A quick check of my boarding pass, and I was in.
Beyond the front desk, I saw a spacious lounge, but was surprised to find few people — just three other customers, as far as I could tell. (Things got considerably more hectic over the course of the one hour and 20 minutes I was there — well over six more customers arrived … maybe even as many as seven or eight.)
The first order of business was to grab a seat — basically any seat I wanted on this day — and then head over to the self-serve snack bar for coffee and a bite to eat.
There, I found the standard fare, including bread, jam (plus toaster), sandwiches, cookies, cereal, yogurt, and fruit. And to my pleasant surprise, they also had a couple favorite Mexican breakfast favorites — molletes and chilaquiles. (Both of which I sampled, and both of which get a big thumbs up.)
There was coffee, of course, and also a selection of teas, though I was disappointed by the presence of the low-grade Laggs tea. (For some reason, the tea sold in Mexico — notably Laggs and McCormick — is about as pleasant to drink as dishwater, with the lone exception being the imported Twinings teas.)
Curiously, there was no juice set out, so I had to go over to the bar to ask for a glass of orange juice, where it’s kept behind the counter.
Being the morning hours, my only experience with the bar was to ask for a glass of orange juice. But it looked to be a well-stocked bar with whatever you might want.
The chairs in this Admirals Club are comfortable, though not brand new, as I could tell by the dated upholstery. But it was no issue; comfort is the most important quality for me.
Another thing I look for in a lounge is its selection of reading material. But whereas Aeromexico’s Salon Premier in Terminal 2 has a great selection of newspapers and magazines, I found the options to be rather sparse in this Admirals Club. All they had was the daily Milenio newspaper, and copies of Vogue, Glamour, and GQ magazines.
If I could make a recommendation, I’d like to see a few business and current affairs-oriented publications (like The Economist or perhaps MAD Magazine), or copies of a few other newspapers. (My personal preference would be the Wall Street Journal, but any other papers would be appreciated.)
No issues here. The Wi-Fi was reliable and fast. On this front, the Admirals Club has the Salon Premier beat by a country mile, where the Wi-Fi is generally very slow.
As with most lounges, this Admirals Club features a business center, equipped with the standard equipment you’d expect — computers, printer, phones, fax machine, and private workspace cubicles — in a quiet room off to the side of the main seating area.
I’m always curious to check out the quality of public restrooms in Mexico. Often, even higher end restaurants and stores will have surprisingly substandard bathrooms (the department store El Palacio de Hierro comes to mind), not much above a roadside service station. But this is most definitely not the case here.
The Admirals Club lounge does it right. In fact, I think the men’s room was the nicest place in this lounge, with its marble and wood finishings — very classy.
All in all, the Admirals Club lounge is a welcoming place to visit before heading to the gate. I enjoyed the breakfast options, and the tranquility of the space. Well done.
If I were to compare this lounge to another Admirals Club I’m familiar with — Terminal D at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — I’d have to say that whereas the DFW lounge is more impressive with its furnishings, layout, and great views of the airfield, I give higher marks to the MEX lounge, thanks to its more generous selection of complimentary food and drink options.
And, the MEX lounge also gets bonus points for its top notch staff.
As I headed out to the gate, I had unwittingly left my hat behind in the lounge. But just a few minutes after I had arrived at the gate, I noticed somebody walking my direction. It was the desk agent I had just been chatting with before leaving the lounge. She handed me the hat that I had left behind!
A big thanks for taking the time to come find me at my gate! A very nice touch.
Definitely looking forward to my next visit to the MEX Admirals Club.