Review: American Flagship Lounge Miami Airport

American is in the process of revamping their international lounge experience, including creating new Flagship Lounges. American’s Flagship Lounges used to just be open to international first class and oneworld Emerald passengers, while now they’re also open to international business class and oneworld Sapphire passengers, which hopefully translates into a better experience for a lot more passengers.

American kicked off these changes with their newly refurbished Flagship Lounge in New York JFK, which opened in May. Then they opened their second new Flagship Lounge in Chicago, which opened in September. Then just over a week ago they opened their third new Flagship Lounge in Miami, which I had the chance to check out yesterday.

Before the end of the year they should open their fourth new Flagship Lounge in Los Angeles, and then in 2018 they plan to open Flagship Lounges in Dallas, London, and Philadelphia. I think American deserves a lot of credit for the pace at which they’re opening these lounges, especially in comparison to a certain other US-based carrier.

As a reminder, the following passengers have access to Flagship Lounges:

  • Passengers traveling on qualifying oneworld longhaul international first and business class flights same day
  • Passengers traveling in first class and business class on American’s premium transcontinental routes, including from New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco
  • American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on a qualifying oneworld international flights, 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

Since Miami is the gateway to Latin America, I think it’s worth clarifying that qualifying international flights include those to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, New Zealand, and South America. So flights to Mexico City and Central America do qualify for access, while flights to other parts of Mexico as well as the Caribbean don’t qualify.

I had the chance to check out the lounge yesterday morning prior to a flight yesterday (I have oneworld Sapphire status with British Airways, which gets me access to the lounge even on domestic flights).

American Flagship Lounge Miami review

The American Flagship Lounge Miami is open daily from 4:30AM until 10:30PM, and is located near gate D30. This is not far from the middle of the American concourse in Miami, and there’s a Skytrain station nearby that will take you to most American gates quickly. The Flagship Lounge occupies the same space that the Admirals Club previously did.

Given that this is a new lounge, there were a couple of agents outside the door verifying that people were eligible for entry. While the other lounges have big sliding doors, this one had a single door through which you enter and exit, and then floor-to-ceiling glass between the terminal and the reception area.


American Flagship Lounge Miami exterior

Inside the entrance was a desk with several American agents helping people check-in. There are separate customer service desks on the upper level, so here you should never have to wait to get into the lounge.


American Flagship Lounge Miami reception

Then there’s an elevator leading up a level to the lounge. American’s Flagship Lounge Miami is about 29,000 square feet, so it’s truly huge, and by far the biggest Flagship Lounge open so far. As a point of comparison, United’s Polaris Lounge Chicago is under 13,000 square feet, and they’re expanding it to about 16,000 square feet.


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating

The lounge is massive and features all kinds of different areas. In the center of the lounge is a large area with glass that looks out over the concourse, so most of the lounge is around that area. Near the entrance is some high-top seating facing the terminal.


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating

Just inside the entrance and to the left is the media room — I appreciate that they only have a TV on here, and not in other parts of the lounge.


American Flagship Lounge MIA media room

Then there are rows and rows of leather chairs.


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating

One side of the lounge has excellent views of the apron and runways, so I love the amount of natural light in this part of the lounge.


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating


American Flagship Lounge Miami view

Past that is the area with alcohol. There’s a self serve wine area, champagne area, and liquor area. There was a lady in the Flagship Lounge giving her mom a Facetime tour of the lounge, and she walked up to the bar and said “look mum, it’s like Heathrow.” I think that was intended to be a compliment? 😉


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating


American Flagship Lounge Miami seating


American Flagship Lounge Miami self serve bar

On the far other end of the lounge is the dining area, which features a variety of seating, including standalone tables, booths, high-top tables, etc.


American Flagship Lounge Miami dining area


American Flagship Lounge Miami dining area


American Flagship Lounge Miami dining area

That’s also where the entrance to American’s Flagship First Dining is.


American Flagship First Dining Miami entrance

Then back along the interior side of the lounge was more seating, as well as the bathrooms and showers.


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating

Then when you turn left there, there’s an area of the lounge that many may completely miss, and it’s huge. There’s more traditional lounge seating.


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating

Then there are a few dining tables.


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating

There are also some of those semi-private seat things that I love.


American Flagship Lounge MIA seating

There were also some daybeds. While they’re better than nothing, I do wish American would add some privacy partitions or something. Or it’s one thing if they didn’t have privacy partitions, but they were just sort of plopped down in the middle of the lounge so you almost felt like you were on display; I felt like they could have put them in a corner, or something.


American Flagship Lounge MIA relaxation area

American Flagship Lounge Miami drinks

The lounge has several refreshment stations set up throughout the lounge, including espresso machines (I wish they had barista-made coffee drinks like United does, but I think it’s time I get over that hope).


American Flagship Lounge Miami espresso machine

There were also several of the super fancy Coca-Cola machines, which dispense a couple of dozen different kinds of drinks.


American Flagship Lounge Miami Coca-Cola machine

There were fridges with beer, juice, and soft drinks. I love that they have Acqua Panna and San Pellegrino water.


American Flagship Lounge Miami beer selection


American Flagship Lounge Miami drinks

Then there was the selection of liquor, which is fairly impressive for a US lounge, if you ask me, both in terms of variety and quality.


American Flagship Lounge Miami liquor selection

Bollinger champagne? Yes please!


American Flagship Lounge Miami Bollinger champagne

There were a selection of wines. There was typically an attendant there offering to serve people and explain the choices.


American Flagship Lounge Miami wine

American also has a make-your-own bloody mary station, which is cute.


American Flagship Lounge MIA cocktail station

American Flagship Lounge Miami food

I arrived at the lounge during breakfast, which is served until 11AM.


American Flagship Lounge MIA buffet

There was cereal, scones, pastries, cold cuts, cheese, mini-yogurt parfaits, salad, fresh fruit, salmon, chicken, oatmeal, soup, and then several hot options.


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge Miami soup & oatmeal

Hot food included scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, eggs, etc.


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA breakfast selection

Then starting at 11AM lunch was served.


American Flagship Lounge MIA buffet

Lunch options included cold cuts, cheese, several types of salad, small appetizers, chicken, salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes, green beans, etc.


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection

Then there were chips, bread, cookies, scones, etc.


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection


American Flagship Lounge MIA lunch selection

Throughout the lounge there were also several snack stations, some of which had fresh fruit, candy, etc.


American Flagship Lounge MIA candy station


American Flagship Lounge MIA buffet


American Flagship Lounge MIA self serve snacks & drinks

The lounge also has a live cooking station near the buffet. I love the concept of this, though it wasn’t available when I was there. Apparently they offer it around 3-6PM, and they make arepas, which I’ve heard are good. On one hand I wish they’d expand the hours of this, though on the other hand the lounge wasn’t at all crowded when I was there, so I guess I can’t blame them too much. The lounge only starts to fill up in the afternoons, before flights to Europe and South America.


American Flagship Lounge MIA live cooking station

American Flagship Lounge Miami showers & bathrooms

The restrooms themselves are nicely designed, though personally I prefer the model hat the Polaris Lounge Chicago uses, where all the bathrooms are unisex and individual.


American Flagship Lounge MIA bathroom

The lounge also has six shower suites. American has consistently done a great job with showers, even in their Admirals Club, and this lounge is no exception.


American Flagship Lounge MIA showers

The shower suites were huge, beautifully designed, each had two showerheads, and featured CO Bigelow amenities.


American Flagship Lounge MIA shower suite


American Flagship Lounge MIA shower suite


American Flagship Lounge MIA CO Bigelow amenities

What I love about American’s Flagship Lounge Miami

American’s new Flagship Lounges are such a massive improvement over what they used to offer. While several airlines have new premium cabin lounges, American’s new Flagship Lounges have the most generous entry requirements, as even mid-tier elites traveling internationally in economy get access to these. That’s awesome.

The lounges are also huge, which I appreciate, so even during peak times I don’t think this lounge should get overcrowded. The lounge also has an excellent drink selection, and the food is better than what American used to offer in their Flagship Lounges back when they had much stricter entry requirements.

Also, American deserves a lot of credit for the speed at which they’re opening these lounges. They opened their first one in May, and will have four of these open by the end of the year. That’s impressive.

What I don’t love about American’s Flagship Lounge Miami

These are ultimately minor things. For one, I wish the lounge had some sort of workstations. I don’t know how you can have 29,000 square feet but not have some sort of cubicles or something. That’s just weird to me.

Also, while the Flagship Lounges feel fresh and I think the decor is nice enough, they’re so cookie cutter. I wish they’d add a little bit of local influence into the lounges. Heck, even the tiny new Admirals Club in Toronto at least had a piece of artwork of the CN Tower. There wasn’t a single thing in this lounge that would remind you that you’re in Miami. I think it’s great when airlines integrate some local personality into a space, and American hasn’t done that here.

Also, I think it’s worth acknowledging that this lounge doesn’t have the same “wow” factor that the new Air Canada Signature Suite Toronto has, so it was sort of tough to visit those two lounges just a day apart. However, the Signature Suite has stricter entry requirements and there’s only one lounge, so it’s not fair to compare the two that much.

Bottom line

Miami used to be my least favorite airport to transit as a premium cabin international American passenger. That’s not the case anymore. The new lounge has great views, a solid food selection, and is huge. Best of all, with American’s lenient access requirements, so many people have access to this lounge.

What do you make of American’s new Flagship Lounge Miami?

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Comments

  1. In every lounge review, you you always call it some variation of “a fancy Coke machine thingy”. It’s called a Coca Cola Freestyle machine!

  2. Great review, great lounge, much needed at MIA and might even help reduce crowding at Centurion Lounge. I do think AA should align FL access for partner itineraries with OneWorld itineraries. For example, I don’t think an AA-issued ticket for MIA-JFK-AUH on AA/EY in F would qualify & that’s a miss IMO.

  3. These lounges are a vast improvement, but the new access policy is a disaster. Just go to the JFK Flagship Lounge from 5-8pm and it’s like a war torn country. Also, couldn’t agree more about the lounges being cookie cutter. In addition to furniture, all of the finishes and fixtures are exactly the same (not to mention kind of cheap…compare to a CX or QF lounge). Would be nice to see some differentiation to reflect to local area.

  4. I actually think this looks fantastic! I am particularly impressed by how good the buffet looks and by the alcohol/mixer selection! Both Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire gin + Fever Tree tonic is a win in my book!

    I’m also VERY impressed that they are serving Bollinger, one of my favorite Champagne houses. Bollinger NV is also served in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (though they usually have a few offerings, including Louis Roederer Rose 2011) and I love it for its rich, nutty, oxidative character. Imo, it is far superior to its peer non-vintage offerings at similar price points that often creep up in lounges/in business class, such as Billecart-Salmon, Taittinger, Moet, and Laurent Perrier.

  5. Technically the arepas stand is unique to the MIA Flagship Lounge ..

    I get to try out this lounge in a few days and I am super excited. Just visited the JFK Flagship Lounge last week for the third time (but 1st for Dining). Only during breakfast though, which was a huge bummer ..

  6. ok so now the big question: Centurion lounge or Flagship lounge at Miami airport? I guess the answer is it dependent upon crowds but seems the flagship lounge has more food options?

  7. @ frank — I’d say Flagship Lounge. It has more food options and isn’t as crowded. Maybe the Centurion Lounge will also be less crowded now that this lounge is open, so it may be a win-win.

  8. American is the best at renovating their lounges and trying to create a homogeneous experience in the ground. They deserve some kudos for this.

  9. @ Trevor — As it was explained to me, apparently they got a bit more space and are still opening some sort of an Admirals Club by D30. I suspect it will be small, but apparently it’s happening, so there will be three Admirals Clubs in addition to this. That’s a lot of lounge capacity, finally.

  10. I will be flying Qatar Business class MIA-DOH in a few months. That should include access to this lounge, correct?

  11. So I suppose that the former Admirals Club at the root of the E gates, which briefly became an “International First Class Lounge”, has been or will be closed. It makes little sense to re-instate a Club there as it is way out of the path to most AA gates in the new D pier configuration, except the low E numbers. How long has it been since AA has used the train-accessed high E gates ?

    Or, on the contrary, is that Admirals Club revived ? I think I saw someone here talking about “3 Admirals Clubs”.

  12. This whole fascination with bottled water still boggles my mind. Its water. I drink it to stay alive and healthy. Whether its from San Pellegrino or a a virgin stream located on a Pacific Island, no water will taste as sweet as the water of my home city.

  13. Flying BA Club from MIA back to the UK in March and would like to try this lounge. Can anyone tell me if it’s a reasonable trot from D30 to BA’s E gates?

  14. Thanks for the comprehensive review. I just have one question regarding access and your reference to “longhaul” in the statement “Passengers traveling on qualifying oneworld longhaul international first and business class flights same day”. Would access to be excluded on a LATAM business class ticketed flight (on American metal) from LAX-BOG via MIA given the MIA-BOG flight is less than 4 hours? While the Oneworld website defines long haul as 5+ hours (https://www.oneworld.com/ffp/lounge-access), American’s website is silent about the duration and simply restricts access to those flying “First or Business on a qualifying international or transcontinental flight”. American defines “qualifying international” flight to mean flights between “the U.S. and… South America…” or, in other words, Bogota, Colombia. I don’t appear to be able to get a definitive answer from LATAM or American about the apparent inconsistency of access requirements. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Though I have limited experience with airport lounges (all AA, Chicago, Miami and Heathrow) I have been rather underwhelmed with Miami’s Admiral’s lounge experience. But this new Flagship lounge- to quote the great Rocket J. Squirrel, “Hokie smokes, Bullwinkle!”
    I’ll be stopping by for three hours on my way to Central America in February, just in time for lunch. Shrimp, salmon and Bollinger champagne. I doubt my dinner on the plane will be that nice.
    Really looking forward to the experience. Thanks for an excellent, comprehensive review.

  16. We are also flying British Airways Club Class from Miami in late March.
    Do we get to use this new lounge as BA does not have its own lounge ?
    Appreciate any advice.

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