American is in the process of revamping their Flagship Lounges. This spring, American opened their new Flagship Lounge in New York, and over the coming months they’ll be opening new Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia.
These lounges feature a better food and drink selection and better decor than before, and are also significantly larger. The reason the lounges are larger is because American is modifying the entry requirements for accessing these lounges.
How the Flagship Lounge access policy is changing
With the changes being made to Flagship Lounges, American is also changing the access policy for these lounges. At the moment the situation is a bit confusing, because the access policy changes as each new lounge opens. In other words, as of now only the Flagship Lounge New York has the new entry requirements, though as the new lounges open in Chicago and Los Angeles over the coming months, they’ll change there as well.
Under the old policy, the following passengers received access to Flagship Lounges:
- Passengers traveling in oneworld longhaul international first class same day
- Passengers traveling in first class on American’s A321 between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco
- American Executive Platinum members traveling on a longhaul international itinerary, regardless of the class of service
- All non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald members traveling on any oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic
Previously only three cabin first class passengers received access
Under the new policy, the following passengers received access to Flagship Lounges:
- Passengers traveling in oneworld longhaul international first and business class same day
- Passengers traveling in first class and business class on American’s A321 between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco
- 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
Now business class passengers receive access as well
So that means a lot more people than before have Flagship Lounge access. I’d guess at least twice as many people. Maybe three times as many, or even four times as many.
Flagship Lounge access as a oneworld Sapphire member
Back in the day I had British Airways Gold status, which was awesome since it got me access to oneworld Emerald lounges, even when flying domestically. So I could use the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX, American Flagship Lounges, etc.
Oneworld Emerald members have access to the Qantas Lounge LAX
Any oneworld Emerald status would get you that, with the exception of Emerald status through American AAdvantage. US airlines are notoriously stingy when it comes to providing free lounge access on account of status, so lounge access on domestic itineraries is one of the best elite benefits of non-US programs.
However, with these changes, those earning oneworld Sapphire status through any program other than American AAdvantage would get Flagship Lounge lounge access whenever flying American, even domestically.
Since I used to have status with British Airways, lets use their Executive Club program as an example. They use “Tier Points” as a means of qualifying for status, and Silver status requires 600 Tier Points, while Gold status requires 1,500 Tier Points. So Silver status only requires 40% as many Tier Points as Gold status.
However, the catch is that you need at least four flights on British Airways in order to qualify, though any revenue flights will do the trick. Frankly that’s an easy enough threshold, in my opinion.
You’re awarded Tier Points on a per segment basis, and you earn based on the distance, fare class, and airline. You can find the British Airways Tier Points calculator here.
For example, I have an upcoming ticket from Ho Chi Minh City to New York via Doha in Qatar Airways business class, and that ticket alone would earn me 600 Tier Points roundtrip. So I’d need to fly four segments on British Airways, and I’d have Silver status.
Qatar Airways has lots of discounted premium fares, which are a great way to earn status
On the surface that’s sort of tempting, and I’m sure many feel similarly. Being able to access Flagship Lounges regardless of which domestic flight I take is a nice perk. I’m at the point where I should quite easily requalify for Executive Platinum status, so I’m very tempted to do this.
British Airways is just one example, though maybe others know of an easier program with which you can earn oneworld Sapphire status.
This is also another reason to be on the lookout for airlines offering oneworld Sapphire status matches, since it’s the equivalent of a Flagship Lounge membership when flying American.
A lot more passengers than ever before have access to American’s Flagship Lounges, and in many cases this even opens up these lounges to more passengers on domestic itineraries. Even for a domestic flyer, it might be worth earning oneworld Sapphire status with a oneworld airline other than American.
Does anyone know of an easier oneworld program than British Airways Executive Club for earning oneworld Sapphire status? Anyone else considering this strategy?