American’s New Flagship First Check-In Policy

Filed Under: American

I’d like to think I know the ins-and-outs of American and AAdvantage for the most part, but today I learned something new.

I’ve written about American’s new Flagship Lounges, which opened in New York in May, and will open in Chicago tomorrow. These lounges can be accessed by the following passengers:

  • Passengers traveling in oneworld longhaul international first and business class same day
  • Passengers traveling in first class and business class nonstop between New York and Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and Los Angeles and Miami
  • American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on a longhaul international itinerary, regardless of the class of service
  • All non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members traveling on any oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic

Then there’s a Flagship First Dining facility at JFK, which is exclusively available to those flying first class on a longhaul American 777-300ER flight, as well as those flying three cabin first on a premium transcon flight (JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO, and LAX-MIA). Since American doesn’t operate an international first class product out of Chicago, there’s no Flagship First Dining facility, so the next one will open in Los Angeles later this year.

Then American offers Flagship First Check-In, which is their exclusive check-in facility for premium passengers. This is an area that’s partitioned off from the rest of the terminal, you can be seated if you want to, and in many cases it leads to a priority queue. At LAX it even lets you skip the main entrance to the terminal, as it has a separate exterior entrance. It’s not hugely useful, really, but it’s a nice feature nonetheless.

American Flagship First Check-In JFK

It used to be that this facility was just open to those traveling in longhaul international first class, as well as Concierge Key members. However, what I wasn’t aware of is that American recently changed the access requirements for Flagship First Check-In. The following travelers have access to American Flagship First Check-In:

  • Passengers traveling in longhaul international first class on American
  • Passengers traveling in three cabin first class nonstop between New York and Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and Los Angeles and Miami
  • Concierge Key members
  • With the exception of Executive Platinum members, oneworld Emerald members flying American on any American flight same day
  • Executive Platinum members when they’re flying American same day to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, New Zealand, or South America

American Flagship First Check-In JFK

Those last two points represent the policy change. Now non-AAdvantage oneworld Emeralds get access whenever they fly American, and Executive Platinum members get access when they’re flying on select international flights.

American Flagship First Check-In JFK

So this is good news for Executive Platinum members, and something to be aware of. I was confused by American having a Flagship First Check-In facility in Chicago, given that they don’t offer any international first class out of there. However, I guess it now makes sense, and it’s a nice perk for Executive Platinum members and other oneworld Emerald members.

Still, I can’t help but feel like they don’t make this very easy to keep track of — American has separate access requirements for Flagship First Check-In, the Flagship Lounge, and Flagship First Dining.

  1. I’d be interested to see the volume of pax that actually take advantage of this service. In my experience, those who’ve traveled enough to attain the necessary status know how to use mobile boarding passes and likely pack roll-aboards or other carry-ons with no need to check luggage and no need to visit an agent. Aside from a private security area, what’s the real benefit of this? I’m guessing maybe the one or two pax that paid for F but don’t travel frequently and would prefer the privacy and streamlined checkin process… But who’s this really intended for? Perhaps for those that MUST check-in in person because there’s a passport check?

  2. Ben, I am an EP and back in May (memorial day weekend) I flew QR marketed but AA operated in business out of JFK to LHR and I was able to use the Flagship Check in. I remember the agent at the entrance had to look some things up but she said I had access.

  3. @Anthony: Good call. Makes sense if one of the parents is EP and (s)he brings the rest of the gang to ease the process. Also good if you want to have a paper boarding pass for those all-important Instagram moments with the pass sticking out of your passport and a glass of champagne in the background.

  4. 1) Well, I DID receive an email from AA about this, actually a long time ago when the JFK facility wasn’t even fully open.

    2) The new policy creates abominable crowding of the Flagship lounges, even though many (e.g. JFK) have been considerably extended. The JFK lounge has simply gobbled up the adjacent AAdmiral’s club which has been kicked out onto the mezzanine.

    3) The JFK AAdmirals club nearest to the entrance (there is another one for gates above nr 31) has been shrinked to a joke and also downgraded in term of facilities.

    4) The JFK “Flagship First” Check-in is very much under-used for the time being. People see “Priority” in the bank of counters adjacent to it and they seem to just join the queue.

  5. You don’t mention that Concierge Key now gets access to Flagship lounges, for any AA or OneWorld flight (regardless of cabin) – including domestic.

    This is new. Previously CK had to be international to get FL access, but always had FL check in for domestic.

  6. Recently flew without checked bagage AA F from MIA-JFK connecting to CX F JFK-HKG. The MIA Flagship First agent spent 15-minutes trying to figure out if we had access. Once she found out we did, we were processed with boarding pass in hand. It seems like a horrible waste of money that could allocated elsewhere to make the F experience better.

  7. @Lucky, in practice, those traveling in Intl First on OW partners have access as well.

    I have done it many times since they changed policy and have never been rejected. Just show your ITN and you are good to go.

  8. Smoke and mirrors
    Most likely the food will be made 19 weeks before they serve it to you Most likely for sure they will never clean the place .And look to charge you to plug in Anyone who flys this airline , must drink from the water fountain near there gates..

  9. Is that a chance for OWE flying AA on any flight? I have been using Flagship First check-in for a long while on domestic US flights, even in economy.

  10. It would be nice if they told customers this, even better if they told the line police at the door. Numerous reports of pax on valid itineraries turned away (esp at JFK on flights to LAX/SFO in F) – given the ineptitude of the GED hopefuls they have guarding that checkin I don’t see this working out well.

  11. @Ryan, Not sure what terminal you are flying out of at LHR but if using terminal 5 EP’s can check in at the T5 BA First Class check-in. They have their own dedicated security that takes you directly into the BA Galleries First Lounge. Coming into LHR from JFK is usually terminal 3 and EP’s should get access to the Flagship Lounge which is a separate entrance off to the side after you check in at the desk. Well at least last month it was that way.

  12. Useless, pointless “benefit” in almost all cases. Rather they’d shutter the flagship checkin facilities do something useful with the resources. And I am an EXP.

  13. I did not receive an email about this, but after waiting on the free for all “Priority” line (which is–absurdly–all AA and oneworld elite levels staffed by maybe 4 agents, who are usually occupied with families of 5 checking 4 suitcases per person) for 25 minutes, the agent directed me to flagship check in. An additional benefit of flagship check in, is if precheck is closed, they will escort you to the front of the security line, so that’s nice.

  14. Hi Ben,

    I’ll be using Flagship First check in as a Qantas Platinum (i.e. Emerald) frequent flyer next month at LAX and MIA.
    How does the ‘expedited security access’ work for an Australian (as you are aware, we aren’t entitled to use the TSA Pre check process)……, if we’re taken to the front of this queue, are we then booted to the very back of the queue because we don’t qualify?

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.