Trip Report: A Milk Run to Dallas (Featuring an American Airlines Mileage Run and the Admirals Club DFW)

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Yes, it’s time once more for a trip report on yet another mileage run to Dallas. However, this one will be coming to you in a different format: all in one post,for the sake of simplicity. So, let’s get on with this thing!

Part 1: What Do You Do When You Need to Qualify For Gold?

So, we were sitting in our room at the Hotel Altstadt Vienna when we realized something: someone had made a miscalculation.

My mom realized that the website she had gotten the distance from London to Vienna from had, in fact, miscalculated the distance. Thusly, we weren’t going to be able to qualify for gold in time for our trip to South America over the summer, which was super important if we wanted all of the necessary mileage bonuses to fall into place for our later qualification for Alaska Airlines’ highest status level, MVP Gold 75k.

#firstworld problems.

So, we had to qualify before June. I immediately hopped on Google Flights and plugged in a few city pairs. Long story short, we found fares between San Diego and Dallas for about  $85 roundtrip. While not as low as some of our other DFW mileage run fares, it was still a good deal and it would help as qualify for gold in time.

So, we booked the our usual flights between SAN and DFW:

American Airlines 1159, San Diego (SAN)-Dallas (DFW), departs 3:50 PM, arrives 8:47 PM. Airbus A321
American Airlines 1196, San Diego (SAN)-Dallas (DFW), departs 10:05 PM, arrives 11:00 PM. Airbus A321.

Seeing as my dad wasn’t coming along with us (he already had the necessary number of miles to qualify due to his business trips to Salt Lake City), we wouldn’t have access to the AmEx Centurion Lounge, which I have reviewed a number of times before. Instead, we decided to use my mom’s Citi Prestige card to visit the American Airlines Terminal D Admirals Club, which used to be American’s international lounge at DFW.

Part 2: Airspace Lounge SAN and American Airlines Economy SAN-DFW

We arrived at SAN about 1.5 hours before our flight, which meant we had more than enough time to pop into the Airspace Lounge. I have reviewed it a number of times on this blog before, so I won’t be focusing on it this time. Since we were getting access via the Admirals Club access perk of my mom’s Citi Prestige card (my dad, who has the Amex Platinum, which also grants us access, wasn’t with us on this trip, since he was ahead of us on elite qualification because of his trips to Salt Lake City), we couldn’t get anything from the menu without actually paying for it, so we just got some snacks from Snack Towers of Sadness. Planespotting was great, as usual. The big windows in Terminal 2 are the best: they are tinted to give an interesting feel to the pictures but don’t make the photos look bad.

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I was quite amused to see some guy just walking his bike across the tarmac:

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After a solid hour in the lounge, we headed off to gate for our flight to DFW.

American Airlines Flight 1159
San Diego to Dallas
Seat 18A, Economy Class
Airbus A321

We boarded through door 1L and headed towards the back of the plane. I’ve commented on the awesomeness of the A321’s interiors previously, so I’ll keep my commentary on the cabin short and say that the plane was as beautiful as ever.

We waited for boarding to finish and pushed back on time.

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The views on the climb out were lovely, as usual.

 

 

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As we leveled off over the desert, the flight attendants began the inflight service. This was my first flight since American brought back free snacks in economy, and I can say with certainty that I don’t give a damn about it. The only difference between this flight and my previous AA flights was the presence of a tiny bag of pretzels 50% composed of salt.

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I watched some movies on my laptop for a short while and before I knew it we were descending into DFW. The flight was pretty uneventful (notice I don’t say uninteresting, as flying is always interesting for me, even if I’m in the back of an American A321 for the 17th time). I totally enjoyed the views over the desert though.

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We began our descent into Dallas as the sun was setting.

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We took the standard approach into Runway 36R, and began our taxi towards the gate. Unfortunately, it was too dark to get any real pictures of anything.

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Deplaning was fairly quick and we headed off to the Admirals Club.

Part 3: Admirals Club DFW Terminal D

We headed towards the vicinity of Gate A23 and turned right, entering into the lobby on the level below the lounge.

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Upon entering, presented the agents with my mom’s city prestige card. The friendly agents welcomed us to the lounge, gave us a quick rundown of the facilities, and directed us upstairs to the main lounge area.

Terminal A used to be American’s international terminal before AA’s terminal reorganization, so this lounge was meant to cater to international passengers. The place is huge, obviously much bigger than what is necessary to accommodate the passengers coming off the little 737’s and A321’s that now occupy the terminal.

My first impression of the lounge was that the place was totally enormous. There was very little light in the lounge, and this, combined with the fact that the lounge was totally empty made the place feel kind of spooky.

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We took a group of four armchairs in one of the many large tracts of seating in the lounge. The lounge is organized in a curve shape, with a bar on one end and a business center on the other, with a bunch of large seating areas in between. In the middle of the curve is the food spread, which features things like cheeses, some vegetables, chips, and hot soups. While the quality of the food was excellent (the soups in particular were pretty great) there wasn’t much of a selection. That’s fine of course, as this is a domestic lounge operated by a US carrier and I wasn’t expecting much.

Da food!

Da food!

Da food!

Da food!

The lounge had pretty large windows. Unlike American’s Terminal D Admirals Club (which has similar enormous windows which overlook the tarmac), the lounge faces towards the airport parking lots, so there isn’t a view of anything interesting to an aviation photographer such as myself (though I am sure hardcore parking structure enthusiasts will find the view fascinating :) )

As I mentioned in the introduction, part of this lounge used to be American’s DFW Flagship Lounge (their international first class lounge). When American moved their international flights out of the terminal, the former Flagship Lounge became part of the Admirals Club and is now open to everyone. However, it is very difficult to find, so very few people know it exists. Thusly, it is called by some the “Secret Room.”

Someone intrigued by the allure of something called the “Secret Room,” I went, camera in hand, to try to find it. After a good amount of searching, I found the entrance in the big reception area you first see when you come upstairs from the main entrance.

I was instantly kind of weirded out. There was not a single person in there, and the place was kind of only half-lit. The empty reception desk was still there, with all the equipment gone.

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The lounge was quite small, with only two seating areas, separated by a conference room. Not a single person was in there. To be honest, it was kind of spooky to see a place so completely empty when you’re just upstairs from the super busy terminal.

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Continuing my tour of exploration, I wandered over to the fitness area, which is connected to the “Secret Room.” While I didn’t have much interest in using it (because I am the most outstandingly fit person ever and don’t even need to work out :) ), I can see how it might be fun to go for a jog between flights, if you’re in to that kind of thing.

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On my way back our seats, I headed over to the business center. The place was also almost completely empty as well, and featured cubicles with desktop computers. Printers were also available.

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Upon arriving back from my little walk, I got some soup from the food spread and went over to check out the bar. I assume that the seating near the bar used to function as a smoking section, as a sign saying that the smoking area had closed was still out.

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I headed back to our table and finished my soup, then sat around for a little while before we had to head back to our gate for our return flight to San Diego.

So, is the Admirals Club as good as the Centurion Lounge? No. But there are a lot of people who don’t have access to the Centurion Lounge, or who have flights in and out of the A Gates and don’t have time to head over to the D Terminal to go to the American Express lounge. If you can’t go to the Centurion Lounge, the Terminal A Admirals Club offers a perfectly good option. Between the solid food selection (not excellent, but just fine for a domestic lounge operated by a US carrier) and the, well, interesting amenities (you can for a run between flights or hang around in an almost spooky room), I think that the Admirals Club is a perfectly good place to sit back and relax for a while.

Part 4: American Airlines Economy Class DFW-SAN

We headed back down to main departure level for our standard 10:05 departure back to SAN. Boarding was called right on time, and we headed down the jetway to our second A321 of the day.

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American Airlines Flight 1196
Dallas to San Diego
Seat 19F, Economy Cass
Airbus A321

I settled in and waited for us to push back. We did so on time, and we were soon making the extremely lengthy taxi back towards our departure runway. I tried to take some pictures of aircraft on the taxiways, but didn’t some up with anything good.

We lined up on our runway and began to climb up into the Texas night.

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As we leveled off, the flight attendants came around with drinks and Biscoff cookies. I had my standard apple juice and sat back to enjoy some movies on my Chromebook before falling asleep.

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After a relaxing hour or so, I decided to try to get some shut-eye before we landed in San Diego. I slept for about an hour and change before I was woken up by the flight attendants preparing the cabin for landing.

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We touched down on Runway 27 and taxied to our gate in Terminal 2 East.

So, another fun mileage run. These few thousand elite qualifying miles would put us right on track to qualify for MVP Gold 75k, and score us some upgrades (and 50,000 Alaska miles just for qualifying for MVP Gold 75k). Stay tuned for the next (and hopefully final) DFW mileage run trip report, which I will get working on now. Thanks for reading, and, as always, happy travels!

About the Author

Alex
I'm Alex, and I am an enthusiast in all things travel: miles and points, airplanes, airline products, and more. On this blog, you can read my take on recent travel/ commercial aviation news, trip reports, ramblings, rants, and opinions, and I'll even share some of my aviation photography from time to time. Hope you enjoy reading, and happy travels!

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