At the start of the pandemic, airlines closed virtually all of their lounges, both due to the lack of passengers, and due to a need for updated policies. While airlines have started to reopen lounges, most premium international lounges have remained closed due to lack of demand.
Here in the United States, all American Airlines Flagship Lounges and United Airlines Polaris Lounges have been closed for around 18 months. That’s finally starting to change — this is a reminder that American is reopening its Flagship Lounge JFK as of today, with other Flagship Lounges expected to reopen in the coming days and weeks.
American Flagship Lounges reopening
- In New York (JFK), the Flagship Lounge will reopen as of September 14 (today), and Flagship First Dining will reopen as of September 16
- In Miami (MIA), the Flagship Lounge will reopen as of September 28, and Flagship First Dining will reopen as of September 30
It’s expected that later this fall, Flagship Lounges at other locations will reopen, though there’s no exact timeline yet. For context, here are American’s other Flagship Lounges and Flagship First Dining facilities:
- American has a Flagship Lounge in Chicago (ORD)
- American has a Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining in Dallas (DFW)
- American has a Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining in Los Angeles (LAX)
It’s not surprising to see Miami be among the first Flagship Lounges to reopen, given how popular Florida has become during the pandemic. Furthermore, I would speculate that Miami is probably the market seeing the most eligible international flights, given that there are fewer travel restrictions to South America than most other international destinations.
However, I am a bit surprised to see New York reopening soon, and in particular opening ahead of Dallas. I suppose American is trying to grow its long haul presence in New York, as part of the strategic alliance with JetBlue. Furthermore, I’m guessing this reflects American’s limited Admirals Club footprint at JFK otherwise, as the airline just needs more lounge space.
New Flagship Lounge James Beard Foundation chefs
Make of this what you will, because rarely do I find that airlines with “celebrity chefs” actually have better food. I’d rather airlines spend money on actually improving food, rather than spending money on having well known chefs disingenuously endorse what’s being served in a lounge.
However, American has announced that it’s bringing “celebrated chefs” to Flagship Lounges, in partnership with the James Beard Foundation. Each location will feature a different local chef with offerings designed exclusively for their hometown lounge. You can expect:
- Chef Tiffany Derry at the DFW lounge
- Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja at the JFK lounge
- Chef Timon Balloo at the MIA lounge
- Chef Sarah Grueneberg at the ORD lounge
- The chef creating the menus for the LAX lounge will be announced soon
Who can access Flagship Lounges?
What are American Airlines’ Flagship Lounge access restrictions? The following passengers can visit Flagship Lounges:
- Concierge Key members, and non-American AAdvantage and non-Alaska Mileage Plan oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members, on any American or oneworld flight
- Those on eligible business and first class itineraries
- AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Platinum Pro, AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Mileage Plan MVP Gold, and Mileage Plan MVP Gold 75K members on eligible itineraries
- Access can be purchased on any itinerary for $150
What are eligible first and business class itineraries, for the purposes of accessing Flagship Lounges? These include the following (access was recently added for flights to & from Hawaii):
- Between the US and Asia
- Between the US and Australia
- Between the US and Europe
- Between the US and New Zealand
- Between the US and South America (excluding Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela)
- Between New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
- Between New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO)
- Between New York (JFK) and Orange County (SNA)
- Between Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA)
- Between Dallas (DFW) and Honolulu (HNL)
- Between Dallas (DFW) and Kona (KOA)
- Between Dallas (OGG) and Maui (OGG)
- Between Chicago (ORD) and Honolulu (HNL)
- Between Charlotte (CLT) and Honolulu (HNL)
For Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage elites not traveling in first and business class, eligible destinations for Flagship Lounge access include Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and South America (with the same exclusions as above).
American Airlines has started the process of gradually reopening its Flagship Lounges and Flagship First Dining locations. The JFK Flagship Lounge is reopening as of today, Flagship First Dining at JFK is opening in a couple of days, and the MIA Flagship Lounge is reopening later this month. It’s great to see these lounges finally reopen. Personally I’m a bit surprised to see the order of openings, and in particular that New York is opening first.
What do you make of American reopening Flagship Lounges?