What Happened To American’s Flagship Lounge Heathrow?

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has been investing in their international premium lounges, as the airline has in recent years opened new Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York.

American Flagship Lounge DFW

We know that there are a further two Flagship Lounges on the horizon, in London and Philadelphia… or are there?

American’s Flagship Lounge Philadelphia opens in 2020

We know that American’s Flagship Lounge in Philadelphia is currently under construction, and is expected to open this year. We don’t have any more details about when in 2020 the lounge will open, as American tends to keep this pretty hush-hush until a few weeks before opening.

We already knew this, though, and it should be a great and much needed addition for Philadelphia.

What about American’s Flagship Lounge London?

Reader Eric noted that on American Airlines’ webpage about Flagship Lounges, Philadelphia is the only airport listed as “coming soon.” As recently as several weeks ago, London was also listed.

So why did American remove London from the list? I reached out to American, and was given the following explanation:

We decided to take down the “coming soon” for the LHR Flagship lounge because it had been up for a long time. At the moment, we don’t have a firm timetable for when it would be built. We have been refreshing the existing Admirals Club and International First Class Lounge with new carpet, upholstery, furniture, lighting, and paint to ensure the lounges remain in good condition until we can undertake more extensive efforts.

As I’ve said before, I don’t care all that much about a Flagship Lounge opening at Heathrow Terminal 3, given that all premium oneworld passengers have access to some other excellent lounges — specifically, the Cathay Pacific and Qantas ones.

Qantas Lounge Heathrow Terminal 3

Even if there were a Flagship Lounge, I doubt I’d find myself using it (why anyone uses the current lounge is beyond me).

Theories as to what’s going on

But it sure makes you wonder if there might be more to the story?

The way I view it, there are three most likely explanations. One is that American truly removed this from the website because they don’t know when the lounge will open, but it’s still in the works, and they just wanted to manage expectations. That’s what they’re claiming.

Another theory is that this just isn’t a priority for them for now, but nothing else will change about American’s operations at Heathrow. I would find this to be a bit odd, since Heathrow is a key premium market for American, so it seems odd to maintain the current lounge setup.

So is there another possible explanation? Well, for a long time there have been rumors of American possibly co-locating at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 (which would presumably involve British Airways moving some of their non-premium/transatlantic flights to Terminal 3).

While I haven’t heard any new or particularly compelling rumors about that recently, to me the concept of American moving terminals makes the most sense as an explanation for why they aren’t investing in their lounges there.

Keep in mind that British Airways is co-locating to T8 at JFK, so given the importance of the American & British Airways joint venture, I can’t help but wonder if we might similarly see the airlines co-locate at Heathrow T5.

What do you make of American removing Heathrow as an airport where the Flagship Lounge is coming soon?

Comments
  1. I kinda hope this doesn’t happen. It would be a real downgrade to go from the quiet, beautiful Cathay lounge to the overcrowded, chaotic, mediocre BA First lounge when flying AA out of Heathrow.

  2. Option 4: AmericanAAirways leadership continues to make wise decisions, and intends to pull down capacity at LHR in preference for moving flights to Gatwick because it’s cheaper.

  3. Please don’t move to T5, please don’t move to T5, please don’t move to T5. Suffice it to say, the Galleries First lounge isn’t even a fraction as nice as the CX *BUSINESS* class lounge.

  4. AA aren’t going to move to T5 at LHR. If there is any spare space then BA will want to transfer it’s services to T5 first and reduce its cost base of running 2 terminals and improve it’s own connections.

    There is limited scope as to that flights they can move to T3 – they can’t move their domestic flights to T3 because T3 isn’t set up for domestic flights and it would require extensive work to put in the separation needed between domestic and international.

    I did read a rumour that AA was going to close it’s lounge at LHR. Afterall why have your own lounge when your alliance and JV partners have others you can use?

    Perhaps if T5C were fully built out an AA move would be possible but again BA will want to consolidate at T5 first

    JFK is a different issue as there is space in T8 for BA.

  5. Flew through LHR last week and was met by a ConciergeKey agent for my transfer from T3 to T5 to catch my onward BA flight…… apparently, they are looking to move some services to T5 (starting with JFK) in order to co-locate at LHR just as they have announced as they will do at JFK T8 this week. Should be interesting to see what happens in the long run…..

  6. The AA lounge at LHR is subpar. It is spacious, yes, but it is dated and aside from some nice views of the apron, it is basic at best. It is incredible that for what is arguably AA’s biggest and most important international market, it doesn’t have a premium lounge.

  7. One of the recurring rumours is one of the terminals/concourses getting TSA Pre-Clearance, so maybe it’s not too far off. The only issue here is that there would be a need for lounges post-security/immigration, which is maybe why they’re waiting. What happens to the Concorde Room for BA would be an absolute nightmare logistically, but it is long overdue in the UK…

    Pre-Clearance could be in T5C (or D if they ever build it with the 3rd runway), but not great for competition, or it could be in T3 in which case all the US(-bound) airlines would want to move there. Or it could be in T5 for OW carriers and another terminal for the others.

    Anyhow, Heathrow is in limbo until that 3rd runway is built now…

  8. Rumour is that AA will vacate the space and Virgin Atlantic will expand downstairs as the clubhouse is currently short on space

  9. I am somewhat surprised given the importance of the market to AA that they dont have a top-flight lounge at LHR. Cant imagine they’d close their lounge completely unless they were somehow moving.

  10. BA only tend to move flights to T3 from T5 that have a low number of transfer passengers and most of the ones fitting that criteria are there already.

    All LHR gates are used multiple times every day and the idea of a US pre-clearance facility does not make sense as there is currently no space that could be used exclusively in either T3 or T5 although if T5D is built then it could be used. Of course if the ‘toast rack’ is ever built it would be possible to have a part of it joining T2 and T5 which could be common to both terminals and used for pre clearance but that is decades in the future.

  11. As to pre clearance unless the facility serves all flights from all airlines between LHR and the US then it’s simply not going to happen

    Do you think DL, VS and UA will stand for just AA and BA having use of it?

    I don’t see either the US or UK governments approving it otherwise.

  12. Does AA have to pay when their passenger uses the CX or Qantas lounges? If not, why don’t they just share?

  13. Ben: “Even if there were a Flagship Lounge, I doubt I’d find myself using it…” proceeds to extoll how good the other lounges are

    5 seconds later

    Also Ben: I find it odd that AA doesn’t find it a priority to change the lounges at Heathrow. Couldn’t possibly fathom why!

  14. Most (but not all) AA flights leave in the morning from LHR. Not sure how necessary Flagship First dining will be if they mainly serve breakfast. And by the evening are there enough AA flights left to depart to warrant the cost of running the full Flagship Lounge all day. Another lounge strategy could make sense in this market.

  15. Last week, I flew an itinerary booked through BA, on 100% BA metal and no US connections, and for some reason my boarding pass for the LHR-SFO flight had TSA Pre printed on it…thought that was very odd. Perhaps it’s an indication of what’s to come?

  16. Or perhaps they don’t want to commit to the looser New Flagship Lounge access rules until they have the space and build out plans to support it. Remember the old Flagship/IFCL are emerald lounges while the new Flagship are sapphire/emerald lounges. Look at how big T5 galleries has to be for BA to support all the sapphire customers it has at LHR.

  17. @Wilson

    Not an indication of anything.

    I’ve had several BA-AA conenctions – LHR-LFK-ORD and LCY-JFK-SFO or example – and pre is printed on the BA TATL leg but not the AA domestic. Just reprinting the BP on arrival into the US puts ot on the right BP

    Anyway Pre is only in the US not the UK.

  18. I have the most unpleasant memory of the AA LHR Flagship lounge.

    Ate a small shrimp salad sandwich…and I kinda immediately knew it was bad. Went into the shops to buy tummy medicine…but unfortunately vomited all the way from LHR to ORD. At least the FA was kind to me…she saw my condition, and kept a lavatory open for me to vomit the entire trip. Curled up on the lavatory floor with a blanket for most of the trip (she kept giving me fresh blankets). Yeesh.

  19. @ChrisC perhaps you’re right that it’s not an indication of anything. And I know TSA Pre is not currently in the UK – I was merely responding to comments above discussing the possibility of it being there in the future.

    All that aside – as I mentioned initially my itinerary had zero AA flights or US connections and was booked with BA, not AA, so it differs from the examples you provided.

  20. “American” and “flagship” is an oxymoron. Truly a pathetic product altogether and all of you whine and wonder why the ME3 “stole” traffic.

  21. My flights were booked on BA (which like AA both participate in Pre)

    From reading elsewhere this is not a new issue of it being on BPs for flights to the US with and without connections. It’s just meaningless and not a sign of anything.

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