American Selling Flagship First Dining Access (Price Reduced)

Filed Under: American

Recently I wrote about how American is selling Flagship First Dining access as a trial, and it looks like they’ve already reduced the cost to do so, from $150 to $100 per person.

What is American Flagship First Dining?

Starting around the middle of 2017, American introduced the Flagship First Dining concept. These are essentially lounges within lounges.

American has Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, and they have Flagship First Dining in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York.

Flagship First Dining offers a la carte dining in a space that’s much quieter than the rest of the Flagship Lounge.


American’s Flagship First Dining JFK

Who gets Flagship First Dining access?

Flagship First Dining is super exclusive, and when initially designed was only open to those traveling in three cabin first class.

American’s only planes with three cabin international first class are their 20 Boeing 777-300ERs, and then on top of that they have 17 Airbus A321s that they fly between New York and Los Angeles,  and New York and San Francisco, as they also feature three cabin first class.


American’s 777-300ER first class

Since these facilities were introduced I said that I’d be surprised if they lasted in their current form, given how underutilized they are.

Starting a couple of years ago, American gave Concierge Key members two invites per year to Flagship First Dining, which they can use at their leisure. This is a nice way to reward their most valuable flyers in a space that would otherwise probably be empty.

Then American Airlines extended access in yet another way.


American’s Flagship First Dining LAX

American selling Flagship First Dining access

The always knowledgable JonNYC noted that American would be testing selling access to Flagship First Dining.

Here’s what American Airlines shared with me on February 10:

  • American is running a three month test to expand access to a broader audience of customers who are eligible for Flagship Lounge access but not eligible for Flagship First Dining
  • This test is initially for Concierge Key and Executive Platinum customers traveling on American on long haul international and eligible transcontinental flights
  • Those members can purchase access to DFW Flagship First Dining for $150 per person
  • American will analyze the results of this, and then determine if they want to make Flagship First Dining available to a broader audience

At the moment the test is only being done at DFW.

American’s Flagship First Dining DFW

Is Flagship First Dining for $150 worth it?

I’d note that while I’m generally impressed by Flagship First Dining, my experience at the DFW facility specifically was abysmal. In fairness, I was there for breakfast, and I can’t imagine paying $150 for any breakfast anywhere.

The “shakshuka” I was served at Flagship First Dining DFW

$150 is no doubt steep for access, especially since this is only for people who would otherwise have access to the Flagship Lounge. It’s not a question of whether Flagship First Dining as such is worth $150 per person, but whether it’s worth an incremental $150 over the Flagship Lounge.

The Flagship Lounge DFW isn’t bad either

$150 per person is what you would pay for a meal at a top restaurant otherwise (including drinks), and I just don’t think that most Flagship First Dining food is quite to the level of top restaurants.

Perhaps one consideration is that American does serve Krug champagne in Flagship First Dining, and a bottle of that retails for pretty close to the cost of admission.

Of course consuming an entire bottle of champagne perhaps isn’t advisable before a long haul flight (especially when you can enjoy Truly hard seltzer onboard), 😉 but if you drink enough, the value isn’t that bad.

Flagship First Dining DFW Krug champagne

Flagship First Dining cost reduced to $100

Andy’s Travel Blog notes that as of February 18, 2020, American has dropped the price of DFW Flagship First Dining from $150 to $100.

I still can’t imagine paying that much for the food in Flagship First Dining, though I guess the value proposition all comes down to how much Krug you’re going to consume. 😉

Bottom line

It’s logical that American is looking at more opportunities for monetizing Flagship First Dining, since the facilities are generally underutilized.

I’ll be curious to see what this test determines, and whether there’s any demand for purchased access.

The $150 price tag seemed really steep to me, and I had said from the beginning that $75-100 seemed more reasonable, without opening the floodgates. I think a $100 price tag will lead to marginally more demand, but I doubt it will move the needle all that much.

How much would you pay for Flagship First Dining access if you already had Flagship Lounge access?

Comments
  1. No Lucky, it’s not logical; it’s devaluing the product for whom it was created.

    It shows they’ve got a crap First Class and have over-invested in a facility whose capacity far exceeds demand.

  2. @ Ben — If you have several hours and are interested in drinking large quantities of Krug, I guess this makes sense. Otherwise, no way. I really hope they don’t allow a bunch of morons to use this for the sole purpose of guzzling Krug and then acting like idiots.

  3. My first 2 experiences at Flagship Dining at JFK was great, but the last time was abysmal. They didn’t have many things on the menu and the food they served was burnt or cold. Just terrible. They did invite me come back another day. I can’t imagine how outraged someone would be if they paid $150 for what I received that day.

  4. My view is that nothing at an airport is going to be high quality food wise. I reluctantly get something to eat when I have to but paying $150 for airport food isn’t in my plans.

  5. The food at this ‘restaurant’ is not good……but marginally better than flagship lounge buffet……..the thing I value here, however, is the space……especially the booths, even if you are traveling solo. For people paying $150 to enter, it is not a good value. For the folks who are paying thousands on a ticket, this is going to diminish the experience, as it is nice (right now) to have a quiet space with table service.

  6. No one on earth is paying $150.00 for flagship dining. $50.00 a person maybe at best if I could put a price on it.

  7. @ lucky maybe if this was the first class lounge for AF at cdg or the first class terminal at FRA. BUT 150$$ for just food @ dfw. AA has lost they damn mindjojo

  8. Not being smart, but do American Airports really have such awful dining options that $150 into Flagship first seems like a good idea?

  9. AA must be out of their mind to charge $150 for admission, I can’t image anyone would pay for that. You can have a fabulous dining experience elsewhere for less than that.

  10. Everyone is again missing the actual business case here.

    American is probably banking on the fact that a large percentage of the people utilizing the Flagship Lounge, especially when only including Concierge/EP, are business travelers.

    As a business traveler, your valuation of the cost of the meal is not compared against your wallet but the size of your per diem. Factor in the WiFi and quiet nature of the club vs the other restaurants at the airport and the $150 cost is nothing.

    Hate to break it to all of you but airlines, especially in the US, are here to make money and they do that by catering to road warriors not credit card enthusiasts.

  11. @Biz Guy, who the heck has a $150 per diem for one meal? Let me know what company is giving that kind of coin for a single meal. I want to short their stock.

  12. Insane! Just charge $50 to concierge key members on top of 4 free passes a year and call it a day!

    EK charges $100 to access J and $200 for F lounges in DXB.

    This is the problem when you run your airline from hillbilly Fort Worth!

  13. I mean, how much does Etihad charge for access to Residence lounges? How much does Emirates charge for access to their Business and First Class lounges at DXB? I’m pretty sure the latter is $300 for a coach ticket to a top tier First Class lounge. Meanwhile this is half the price for someone who already has access to the lounge but just gets a better dining experience.

  14. AA is going to get crushed at DFW based on the dining part of the experience. If i had $150 (my money or per diem) to spend on a meal at DFW airport, i think there are at least 5 other places i would go to first. Unless i had 5 hours and wanted to get piss drunk on Krug.

  15. We were offered dining at $150 each at DFW Flagship when flying to Buenos Aires. Can’t imagine doing that.

  16. They clearly set a price that wouldn’t diminish the value much to the people on eligible tickets. Everyone complaining here are people who wouldn’t pay $150, but if they can find 5-10 people a day to do it then it’ll help offset some of the lounge costs without flooding it with people.

    I think this is actually a decent idea to test the waters without purposefully opening the flood gates.

  17. $150? Does AA think that they are a Michelin one or two stars restaurant?

    $150 plus tip as it is in America and it is a “sit down” restaurant.

    AA=Absolutely Abysmal.

  18. Ah. Wait till the next recession. The current points, credit card perks, exuberant premium class products have not faced a recession.

    Look for this to become a priority pass lounge with the next downturn.

  19. The price is downright comical. I’ve eaten at Flagship First Dining in Dallas and thought it was pretty good. But it was upscale café good, not Michelin star restaurant good. So its value, even when accounting for airport pricing, isn’t more than about $30. One available beverage – that most people won’t even order – doesn’t change that.

  20. “Those members can purchase access to DFW Flagship First Dining for $150 per person.”

    LOL!

    TYPO!

    You said $150 for lounge food!

    LOL!

    Oh.

    This is…I’m embarrassed for American Airlines.

  21. The decimal point in the admission charge needs to move one, maybe two, places to the left. Then I’m in! 🙂

  22. This does seem like a ridiculous price. Then remember that some people pay $59 for an Admirals Club day pass to drink bottom shelf non-brand piss drinks and eat pretzels and burnt chocolate chip cookies…

  23. @Biz Guy

    Your idea is right but for the wrong reasons.

    Hardly anyone can expense a meal that expensive or would pay for it.

    The key here is hardly anyone.

    They are cashing in on excess capacity without diluting the experience. They probably do it not to make profit but to offset operating costs. Having few customers a day would probably pay for daily wages.

    The target is likely not anyone here who complains about the price. It’s how many people who actually pony up for F without using upgrades. Those who doesn’t fly Flagship First not because of price but because AA doesn’t offer it.

  24. been to the JFK lounge a couple of times, I would probably pay $100 if I had more than 3 hours to kill right at lunch / dinner time.
    The food is very nice and of course there is the Krug.

  25. Mark is the only one who gets it. People splurge on vacation or when trying to impress colleagues/clients – and this could make a lot of sense for the right layover. $150 is chump change for a lot of people – just look at the price of Super Bowl tickets…

  26. My initial thought was how outrageous $150 sounds then I remembered that I had 3 hours to kill yesterday evening at LAX and paid $68 for two glasses of champagne and some olives. So, no comment…LOL

  27. Another AA joke showing just how clueless they are and how it is getting worse- they are simply out of control on all fronts

    $150 PER PERSON?? Someone like me who pays their own way wouldn’t think of it and any business person could never get something like this through accounting unless they were “billing the client” (in that case they would be flying FC)

    i was in the JFK and LAX lounge 2 weeks ago – the burger in the JFK club was very good and it was a great experience however the LAX club was HORRIBLE.. terrible service and marginal food (both dishes)

    Maybe extending vouchers to EXPLATS would help – max price is $50 -anything to keep us from flying the coop –

  28. Everyone saying $150 is high has forgotten that paid FC International R/T typically ranges from $12-18K.

  29. $150 to use the Flagship lounge including F dining? Maybe. But just for the incremental meal, not until they earn 2 Michelin stars.

  30. Recently had good experiences in the Flagship Dining at MIA and JFK. Food good. Loved the Flagship Signature Lemonade! However don’t think it is worth the $150! (Would rather stick to the normal lounge amenities.)

  31. To everybody here laughing and mocking, AA is clearly banking on the fact the odd person will come in and do this and it is likely that exactly this will happen. A few people here and there and that’s all they seem to be shooting for so if that works out, who is laughing then? You put a high price tag on anything to make it “exclusive” and someone will pay it. How many Audi’s or Mercedes’ do you see with the $10K audio upgrade over the already perfectly good standard stereo? Or how many iPhone 11 Pros do you see on a daily basis? In both counts, I see lots every day so I have zero doubt some people will pay for the exclusivity of the more quiet space and I bet the food itself isn’t even the main reason.

  32. Air France increased the La Première lounge access fee from €300 to €500 to manage demand – and it’s still selling like hot cakes!

  33. Remember that some people pay 10K for a F ticket, and many more pay 5K for a biz ticket. Why is 150 USD a bad price concidering you could have many hours in a better lounge area?

  34. Granted I’m a Delta loyalist, so I have no experience with my airline providing a true first-class lounge; however, isn’t this whole cash grab yet another insult to AA flyers??? With the lack of 1st class pax, this was a dumb idea anyway, but wouldn’t it make more sense to provide complimentary access to top-tier elites on routes where they’re in biz and no 1st is available? It’s not the pax fault that AA doesn’t offer AA on most of their international routes.

    As an aside, I’d rather hit the buffet at a SkyClub and buy a bottle of Krug using some skypesos.

  35. You all realize AA has the right to make money and this lounge/flagship dining is for people who actually spend a lot of money on travel and not milage hackers. There are plenty of people who would pay for this access to get some peace and quiet during a long delay.

  36. LOL!!!!! AA is out of their mind. With $150 I can have an amazing dinner in my place of choice. And for Krug, I rather drink that at home. Seriously, AA keeps descending.

  37. @DLPTATL

    on routes where they’re in biz and no 1st is available?

    Then you will get tons on false positives who would never pay for F but flying a non F route and will piss off the real paying F.

    In SkyClubs you can use your pesos for a bottle of Dom. Too bad the buffet doesn’t have any good pairing for such an elegant drink.

    It seems thing blog doesn’t have any high rollers (except @Endre)

  38. My company doesn’t pay per diem any longer, but they do allow $75 no receipt meals. Thus, that’s the upper end that I’d pay. But I’m not a snob – while Flagship can be crowded, I find its buffet Lamb to be tender and entirely sufficient.

  39. The question whether the flagship dinning is worth $150 uds or not is very relative. Is $150 usd a lot of money for you? If so, it isn’t.
    Not everything can be purchased with miles in life.

  40. @Regina, I disagree. The question isn’t whether $150 is a lot for a person, but what comparable thing could be purchased with that $150. Would you rather spend $150 on this meal in an AA airport lounge or $150 on a meal in a real restaurant?

  41. @farnorthtrader

    I think a good question is whether you’d piss away $150 of someone else’s money on this, or a real airport restaurant. Is FFD the best use of a rather extravagant meal allowance? No, of course not. But an airport McDonald’s isn’t a good use of a normal meal allowance, but I’ve done it.

    If I have the chance to waste OPM on FFD, I’d do it at least once. I’ve never had FFD before since no one has offered to fly me in long haul F, and AA long haul F isn’t exactly an aspirational experience I want to burn either points or dollars on.

    Really if money is no object, then the question isn’t what else you could use the money for, but whether you want to do it. Sometimes I have $30 and crave chicken McNuggets. Maybe someday I’ll have $150 and a desire to go into the most exclusive part of the AA ground experience.

  42. I paid $50 to access Flagship First Dining at JFK… However, this also included a flight on CX-F to YVR (plus a few Avios of course)

  43. Not worth $15 IMHO let alone $150. I’ve enjoyed Flagship Lounges and found them to have pretty decent food. Also about to get on a long haul flight in a premium cabin where food is the least of your concerns so why would ANYONE pay $150 for this (and I’m lifetime Platinum and prefer American). I mean I’m sure there are people on International first that could eat there and don’t since how much food does someone really need so why pay?? Never will understand it.

  44. @fornotrader. It is a luxury. As said before. Only the bottle of Krug cost $150 usd. This testing is targeting top tier customers. It’s not like they want to operate like a restaurant where everyone can walk in an pay $150usd to access. It is exclusive for those elite customers traveling on premium flights. They want to keep it as private as possible.

  45. I love how articles like this bring out a few pseuds who claim that $150 is “nothing” for true shakers and movers, with the snide insinuation that they are those high flyers.

    When the reality of course is that they are not but desperately want to be seen as such on a totally anonymous website.

    You can’t make this stuff up. If I had serious money (and nobody on a site like this does) then I’d not be flying American in the first place.

  46. Eskimo,

    You think Endre is a high roller?

    He shows every sign of trying a little too hard to make us all think that.

    Which means he isn’t.

  47. Yet another crazy idea out of AA!

    They can’t really be this stupid to believe a bunch of people will pay $150 a pop for a meal. Yes, some idiots with a huge expense account will do it, but they’re as foolish as AA is and it’ll still never fill the place.

    If you ask me, AA would be much better off and have less food waste if they focused on customer experience and offered this to all butt in seat business and first traveler’s.

    AA can’t compete in the air on service compared to almost any Intl carrier, but they could try for a good ground experience.

  48. Even with the best experiences I have had in FD, there are two problems which make this a bad proposition:
    1. It’s a dining room, not really a place where you want to lounge for hours. The idea of bingeing on Krug for 3 hours while sitting at a dining table is not as appealing as it may sound.
    2. I personally find the decor and ambience well below what you would expect in a fine dining establishment: the materials and finishes are cheap, the lighting is way too bright, and the “art” the kind you buy in bulk for 3-star chain hotels.

  49. @Tom

    I guess you didn’t get my sarcasm with Endre.

    While I am certainly not in those realms of high rollers (except @Endre), it doesn’t mean I have never enjoy the perks on them.

    They do fly commercial, or in your case AA. Sometimes they promise the wife a girls only Dubai trip on the Gulfstream, the son just extended his ski trip on the Bombardier, and the Citation just can’t make it to Europe for the meeting. (Based on a true story). That’s how they ended up flying commercial (True story).

    You are right, those people don’t waste time here, it’s no fun. They have their own private group page mocking all of us.

    For the rest of us here, just the $100 CSR fee increase already made people canceling their cards.

  50. They should have waited to announce this until April 1st. That way, when they realize it’s a GINORMOUS flop, they could say it was an April Fool’s Day joke. Sadly, the timing just makes them look like fools. Even at $50, it’s still a joke.

  51. Their food has been disgusting for 19 years now and only gotten much worse since penny pinching Parker came on board
    Their catering is a national disgrace
    No way
    Even free of charge I’d considering paying to go elsewhere

  52. I think the market here is pure business traveler, not necessarily the leisure or mileage traveler. I also think it is still $25 too high. Most places I have worked have had a $75 no-receipt rule. Also – Krug in quantity aside, for that much money, I would expect a linen tablecloth at a minimum. Finally, even allowing for the Krug, this isnt exactly the place I’d want to sit and imbibe for a few hours.

  53. I get that AA believes that there is a segment of the captive US F traveler segment willing to pay $150 for a quiet space with mediocre food at best. But how does AA think they can get away with charging $150 to the many international oneworld F travelers connecting through AA’s hubs – when these same travelers get treated to free true restaurant quality food in the F lounges of CX or QR. Another letdown vis-a-vis their truly upscale oneworld partners!

  54. I take my word back. AA is up to no good.
    For $150 I don’t think it would dilute the experience.
    For $100 AA is on the edge of screwing people in Flagship First.

    Just by dropping the price within a few weeks show AA isn’t testing to compensate operating cost. AA is doing this out of pure greed (and bad ops planning).

    Time to kiss Krug goodbye.

  55. $150 is too high. $100 is also but I could see a few people splurging at that price point. The main problem is that the food just isn’t that good to justify the price. I think this could still see some success in places like NYC, LA or Dallas where the general cost of goods is high anyway. (Or Charlotte where the stores selling snacks and water are criminally expensive). Maybe if they would have mocked up these lounges like a first-class cabin with aircraft seating and rolled it out as that experience I could see a lot of people paying for this for fun.

    Overall it’s just a symptom that AA doesn’t know what it’s doing. They invested a lot of money and effort into remodeling the Flagship lounge experience yet have very few first-class (3-class) aircraft. So unless they are going to sell a lot of access to other high-end carriers AND expand first-class flights it will never pay off. On the other end of the spectrum, they are cramming seats into aircraft, Spirit style, on a race to the bottom (I do like to fly Spirit but I pay for what I expect). It’s like going into a car dealership to buy a new car. You can buy a Porsche or Mercedes and enjoy the first-class service, free snacks in the plush waiting room while they do everything thing they can to treat you well even if they are fixing something and it cost more. Or you can go buy a Yugo and have to pay for wifi, buy your own coffee out of a machine and have to sit in folding chairs in the dusty grime filled area sitting next to a broke college student while they nickel and dime you on repairs. You might get what you pay for but if the Mercedes dealer starts selling Yugos and the whole experience is moved over to the Yugo building to save money and increase revenue or even level the playing field (thanks to Bernie Sanders) then why would you pay more for a product that is the same experience.

  56. I’ll be an outlier

    I might pay $100 for Flagship first

    Airport restaurants are often packed and loud
    Luggage everywhere
    Seats too close together
    And they’re not cheap

    We were just in JFK at one of those restaurants where you order off iPad
    Just downstairs from the Delta sky club

    Ordered a cheap bottle of sparkling wine
    2 sandwiches
    2 salads
    Total with tip was I think about $140

    Food was bad, and we were crowded in a loud terminal
    Kids screaming, people bumping us
    Terminal was a dump

    I’d pay $60 more to get us into Flagship First
    Or just go to Mickie Ds next time

    We are pretty well off but aren’t into flashy spending
    For instance, I find it interesting when people say how “cheap” it is to buy domestic first class tix
    I find they charge $100/hr flight time. That ain’t cheap to me

    But some days I’ll splurge…
    Like buying tix in J from MSP to FCO this fall cause I can find zero awards

    Likewise I might rarely do this

  57. Hmm you guys seem to be missing the one-off usecase here.
    As Lucky already mentioned:
    $150 for an open bar with top notch champagne / wine / liquer + unlimited dining?
    I have spent more in a mediocre steakhouse with 3 glasses of mediocre wine.

    I’ll take that bottle of Krug, eat until I burst and call it a day.

    But honestly: If I had the time and wanted to get hammered -> I’d buy access.

  58. Lol!!! Economics 101. Price elasticity. Nobody budged for $150 so try $100. I guess the right price would be $50 but even then I wouldn’t want to eat there.

  59. @Lucky – wonder whether this would count as an airline credit for Amex purposes? I don’t know if we have any datapoints for that yet.

  60. My guess is that now that they’re trying to generate revenue from the FF Dining Krug is probably also on its way out as soon as their supply/marketing agreement expires.

  61. This will work. $100 is reasonable for the business traveler who doesn’t want to deal with your greasy, screaming brats. American cheapskates(aka, miles hackers) whining in this comments section are comical. if not tragic. LOLz.

  62. If I understand correctly, this offer is only for those who already have access to the Flagship Lounge? Then the value proposition is different from $150 or $100 for a meal: the buffet and alcohol offering in Flagship Lounge are definitely not high-end, but should be more than sufficient if you are just looking for a replacement to regular restaurants in the terminals.

  63. @ Marius …. you are on it. Their market is not people that are trying to fly first or business on points! $150 is nothing for someone shelling out $5k to $10k for a ticket.

  64. I think they’ll eventually settle on offering this for $100 only for passengers flying in business class on transcon or long haul only. This will preserve the quiet environment.

    If on a long enough layover it’s absolutely worth it to me given how crowded the flagship lounges get. The large table at LAX is a great place to work for a few hours. I do wish the flagship lounges sent the OneWorld Sapphire members to the Admirals Clubs instead but I realize that wouldn’t be competitive.

  65. This airline never ceases to amaze me on how poor they are. Seriously, charging for the rubbish they serve and restricting it to their so called 3 cabin 1st class passengers. You don’t pay extravfirvthe first lounge on qantas or emirates or concorde lounge for example and they’re streets ahead. AA should pay usbto use their dining… Whats it called flagship Dining ?

  66. If they offered this to gold members when flying coach I’d do it for $100. A bottle of Krug and a meal before a transcon. I’m in!

    Only forty more than I’d pay (50+20 tip) having a meal and a couple glasses of wine in a restaurant.

  67. This is super annoying of me to point out, but your phrase “Starting a couple of years ago, American gave Concierge Key members two invites per year to Flagship First Dining” uses ‘invites’ as a noun, when ‘invite’ is a verb and the correct usage should be ‘invitations.’ I’m so sorry to be so annoying about this, I am.

  68. The people claiming that $100 is a worthwhile price for a dismal and incrementally better restaurant experience over the lounge itself are the same people who said $150 was a worthwhile price only a week ago. Trying to stick to a point regardless of the data. 1.) Not everyone drinks. 2.) Not everyone before a long haul flight wants to get drunk af on Krug just to say they got their money’s worth. Do business travelers even desire to get drunk in a lounge or a plane when they have to work the next day with limited or reduced quality of sleep?

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