Flagship First Dining is easily the most premium thing about American Airlines (not that there’s much competition!), so in this post I wanted to take a closer look at this concept, including locations, access restrictions, and more.
In this post:
What is American Flagship First Dining?
Flagship First Dining is a lounge within a lounge. Specifically, American Flagship Lounges are the carrier’s premium international lounges (they’re a step up from American Admirals Clubs). Within some of those lounges is Flagship First Dining, which is an exclusive a la carte dining experience available to select passengers.
The idea is that this offers a restaurant quality dining experience, where you can order a multi-course meal, choose from a much improved selection of wine and cocktails, and get more attentive service. Flagship First Dining has both individual dining tables you can sit at, or you can dine at the bar, if you prefer. Flagship First Dining is among the best lounge experiences that you’ll find within the United States.
It’s worth noting that since this is a lounge within a lounge, you can always relax in the Flagship Lounge, and then visit Flagship First Dining when you want to eat. However, there’s no time limit to enjoying Flagship First Dining, so it can be nice to just spend your entire layover there, as it’s definitely a tranquil environment.
American Flagship First Dining locations & hours
American Airlines currently has two Flagship First Dining locations, in Dallas and Miami, plus the Chelsea Lounge in New York. While there used to be a Flagship First Dining location in Los Angeles, it has been closed, unfortunately. Let’s go over the very basics of each of these lounges, including their locations and hours.
American Flagship First Dining Dallas (DFW)
American Flagship Dining Dallas is within the Flagship Lounge. It’s located in Terminal D, between gates D21 and D22. When you enter the Flagship Lounge with an invitation for Flagship First Dining, you should be escorted to the facility. It’s currently open daily from 12PM until 10PM.
American Flagship First Dining Miami (MIA)
American Flagship Dining Miami is within the Flagship Lounge. It’s located in Terminal D, near gate D30. When you enter the Flagship Lounge with an invitation for Flagship First Dining, you should be escorted to the facility. It’s currently open daily from 1PM until 10:30PM.
Chelsea Lounge New York (JFK)
While American no longer has Flagship First Dining in New York, this has been replaced by the Chelsea Lounge, which is a shared premium first class lounge for both American and British Airways customers. It’s located in Terminal 8, near gate 14, and it has a shared entrance with the Soho Lounge. It’s currently open daily from 4:30AM until 10:30PM.
American Flagship First Dining access rules
Who can access American First Dining? Let me first address that, and then in a separate section I’ll talk about access rules for the Chelsea Lounge. Access to the two Flagship First Dining facilities is primarily based on the class of service you’re traveling in, though there are some other ways to access these facilities as well.
American premium first class access
Those who are traveling same day in American’s “premium” first class product get access to Flagship First Dining. This is known as Flagship First, and refers specifically to those who fly in American’s Boeing 777-300ER first class or American’s Airbus A321T first class.
You have access to Flagship First Dining throughout your same day journey. So just as an example, if you flew from Miami to Dallas to London in first class the entire way, you’d get access to Flagship First Dining in both Miami and Dallas.
With an international itinerary, you’re allowed to bring one guest into Flagship First Dining, while if you’re on an eligible domestic itinerary, you aren’t allowed to bring any guests into Flagship First Dining.
American Flagship Business Plus & Five Star Select access
Those who buy an American Flagship Business Plus fare also receive access to Flagship First Dining. This is a special business class fare bundle that gets you access to first class ground services, including Flagship First Dining and Flagship First Check-In.
Furthermore, those who pay for American’s Five Star Select service (a special ground experience) also get access to Flagship First Dining.
Concierge Key member Flagship First Dining passes
Concierge Key is American’s invitation-only status. While Concierge Key members don’t ordinarily get access to Flagship First Dining, they’ve historically been sent two passes each year, which they can use whenever they’d like. There’s no guarantee that will continue to be offered in the future, though.
Select British Airways first class access
Flagship First Dining doesn’t follow standard oneworld lounge access policies. However, American does sometimes make arrangements with partner airlines to offer special lounge access. I believe that currently British Airways first class passengers departing Miami or Dallas receive Flagship First Dining access.
This isn’t offered if you’re connecting to British Airways first class through another market (you can’t use Flagship First Dining if you’re flying same day in British Airways first class from Chicago to London, for example), but rather requires you to be departing from either airport directly in first class.
Chelsea Lounge New York access rules
While the Chelsea Lounge New York is most comparable to Flagship First Dining, it has slightly different access requirements. The Chelsea Lounge can be accessed by:
- American Flagship First passengers; this includes those on premium transcon flights (to LAX, SFO, and SNA), as well as long haul first class flights
- American Flagship Business Plus passengers
- British Airways first class passengers
- American Concierge Key members traveling on a Flagship international itinerary, premium transcon route, on a qualifying flight to Hawaii, or on a British Airways long haul flight
- British Airways Gold Guest List members traveling on any American or British Airways flight
Transcon first class passengers are allowed no guests, long haul first class passengers are allowed one guest, and Concierge Key and Gold Guest List members are allowed two guests.
What does the future hold for Flagship First Dining?
In 2024, American plans to eliminate Flagship First on both international and premium transcon flights, as the airline will introduce a new business class product. In reality, there’s very little lucrative demand for Flagship First, as it’s almost always full of upgraders, award tickets, and employees.
So, what does the future hold for Flagship First Dining? That’s anyone’s guess. A few thoughts:
- The Chelsea Lounge JFK is definitely sticking around, as it’s intended largely for British Airways first class passengers as well
- The network of Flagship First Dining has already decreased in size from four locations to two locations
- I think the two possible outcomes are that American may just find new ways to monetize Flagship First Dining, or the airline can just repurpose the space
- Since Flagship First Dining is located within Flagship Lounges, there’s not an incremental cost to continuing to lease the space, since it’s not like that space could be used by another business
Hopefully American finds a new way to monetize Flagship First Dining, though it’s also possible that it’s just closed, and that it’s repurposed, like how we’ve seen the Greenwich Lounge JFK turn the former Flagship First Dining space into a brewery.
Should you tip in American Flagship First Dining?
Tipping is a controversial topic, especially when it comes to airport lounges. Those working in Flagship First Dining definitely supplement their income with tips. While I don’t think someone is being cheap if they choose not to tip, a lot of people definitely do tip, and I know employees appreciate it. After all, in the United States there are few situations where you don’t tip when having a sit-down meal. I’ll leave it at that.
American Flagship First Dining is American’s most exclusive lounge experience, and it offers a great sit-down dining experience. At this point there are only two Flagship First Dining facilities (at DFW and MIA), and on top of that there’s the Chelsea Lounge (at JFK).
There are a lot of questions about what the future holds for Flagship First Dining, given American’s plans to eliminate its Flagship First product. Hopefully the above clears up any questions about accessing Flagship First Dining, though if I missed anything, please let me know.
What has your experience been with American Flagship First Dining?