American Airlines Reopening Flagship Lounges!

American Airlines Reopening Flagship Lounges!

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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

American Airlines is reopening its Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining at two airports this month:

American Flagship Lounge Miami

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 Flagship First Dining New York

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.

American Flagship First Dining Miami

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
American Flagship Lounge Chicago

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 Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (40)
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  1. Anthony Thomas

    Just in time for a Friday flight!

  2. Jasmine leo

    Anything that has to do with food anything American, including lounges suck! Food generally is terrible in the country itself.

    1. Reno Joe

      "Food generally is terrible in the country itself." Hmmm.

      In the hope of changing your opinion, I would offer the following:

      Have you ever been to a steakhouse in Chicago?
      - Bavette's Steakhouse
      - Maple & Ash

      Have you ever been to Las Vegas?
      - Bavette's Steakhouse at the Park MGM
      - Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse at the Paris
      - Le Cirque at the Bellagio
      - Picasso at the Bellagio

      ...

      "Food generally is terrible in the country itself." Hmmm.

      In the hope of changing your opinion, I would offer the following:

      Have you ever been to a steakhouse in Chicago?
      - Bavette's Steakhouse
      - Maple & Ash

      Have you ever been to Las Vegas?
      - Bavette's Steakhouse at the Park MGM
      - Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse at the Paris
      - Le Cirque at the Bellagio
      - Picasso at the Bellagio

      Have you ever been to Beverly Hills?
      - Mastro's Steakhouse
      - The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel
      - Rooftop by JG (Jean-George)
      - Spago (Wolfgang Puck)

      Have you ever been to New York?
      - Balthazar
      - Le Grenouille
      - The Odeon
      - Union Square Cafe

      Hoping you find delight. Have a nice day.

  3. Mick

    I'm sure i'm in the absolute minority but I prefer the flagship lounge in Chicago to the polaris lounge.

  4. Joe

    Would be nice if AA now allowed BA Concorde Room card holders to access flagship dining as we've generously welcomed CK members into the CCR in JFK/LHR....

    1. Reno Joe

      Joe, about two years ago, I was in your shoes regarding GGL. I contacted both AA and BA to say that CK and GGL are not "tier status" per se but rather a characterization of the business relationship. And, as AA and BA have started to merge terminal operations in many locations, it would seem fair and reasonable to afford reciprocal privileges for CK and GGL. Then, BA announced CKs had access to the Concorde...

      Joe, about two years ago, I was in your shoes regarding GGL. I contacted both AA and BA to say that CK and GGL are not "tier status" per se but rather a characterization of the business relationship. And, as AA and BA have started to merge terminal operations in many locations, it would seem fair and reasonable to afford reciprocal privileges for CK and GGL. Then, BA announced CKs had access to the Concorde Room. But, no formal announcement regarding GGLs in FF Dining. (FF check-in, yes.) That being said, I've heard that GGLs might actually have it -- depends on with whom one speaks. Ask.

      Now, as I'm sure you've heard, BA will be merging operations into AA's terminal at JFK in just a couple years. The natural questions is "what about the Concorde Room?" It seems likely that you'll get your wish -- at least at JFK. Prior to that, I would advocate you contacting both AA and BA regarding reciprocity. (As a result of COVID, I've moved camps from BA to AA and am CK and no longer have standing to argue the point.)

      As a note, BA's Premier category is similar in nature to AA's Executive Services, which is different than CK.

    2. Reno Joe

      Joe, you might want to check out this article . . .

      https://viewfromthewing.com/accessing-american-airlines-first-class-dining-while-flying-on-a-partner-airline/

      It appears that BA "buys" this for its passengers on certain routes.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Former Ushited 1K

    Any yet United still uses plastic cups on Polaris business class and the Polaris lounges are closed.

  6. shoeguy

    It shouldn't really surprise that JFK is among the first to see its Flagship Lounge reopen. It has essentially been operational since the pandemic, with a reduction in service to match Admiral's Club levels, and Flagship Dining has been closed. AA is a distant third at JFK but the airport remains a focus for the carrier, increasingly so again, given the NE partnership with B6 and a renewed focus/interest in long haul service there.

  7. Miguel Irazabal

    When will the showers come back?!?!

  8. Ben

    Passed by the DFW Flagship lounge last week. It’s under renovation/construction at the moment.

  9. Miamiorbust

    The idea that transatlantic flight schedules are limited isn’t really accurate. BA/AA schedule for JFK-LHR is nearing 2019 levels and the couple of flights I took this summer were nearly full. BA connectivity to EU is pretty good so that adds to demand. In many respects the hub and spoke models like BA have been easier to scale back up. AA still has no clue how to serve NYC but that the demand for flagship...

    The idea that transatlantic flight schedules are limited isn’t really accurate. BA/AA schedule for JFK-LHR is nearing 2019 levels and the couple of flights I took this summer were nearly full. BA connectivity to EU is pretty good so that adds to demand. In many respects the hub and spoke models like BA have been easier to scale back up. AA still has no clue how to serve NYC but that the demand for flagship reopening at JFK is real has been clear for a while. AA is actually late to the game.

    1. shoeguy

      The BA/AA schedule on JFK-LHR is far from nearing its pre-pandemic levels. AA is at 2 x daily, AA 100 and AA 104, with the 104 service departing around 10:30pm added back late Spring/Early Summer 2021. BA is up to 4 x daily, all in the evening, with neither operating a daylight service just yet (VS does). Peak JFK-LHR pre-COVID was 4x daily on AA and between 6 and 8 on BA.

      AA doesn't...

      The BA/AA schedule on JFK-LHR is far from nearing its pre-pandemic levels. AA is at 2 x daily, AA 100 and AA 104, with the 104 service departing around 10:30pm added back late Spring/Early Summer 2021. BA is up to 4 x daily, all in the evening, with neither operating a daylight service just yet (VS does). Peak JFK-LHR pre-COVID was 4x daily on AA and between 6 and 8 on BA.

      AA doesn't adequately serve NYC because it lost so much ground dithering over whether to file Chapter 11 in the wake of 9/11 and spent a decade ossifying itself with antiquated planes, dated and dowdy products, and limited service while DL bulked up. AA's cost structure was simply too high to build JFK out. But AA still has a decent slice of the corporate market out of NYC and that should help it a bit further should business travel really rebound, which right now remains muted.

  10. D3kingg

    I’m Platinum Pro and flying from JFK to Bogotá and won’t be able to access the flagship lounge ? Seems contradictory.

  11. BBK

    Long time since AA doesn't fly to Venezuela, weird that they list as a non participant route. I'm a bit surprised with the restriction for Colombia. Is there a data point if it was available before? never flown C in that route with AA to confirm, but my last flight on AA from Venezuela was CCS-MIA (overnight)-PTY on C, and it was nice to have Flagship Lounge access; the list posted doesn't include central america...

    Long time since AA doesn't fly to Venezuela, weird that they list as a non participant route. I'm a bit surprised with the restriction for Colombia. Is there a data point if it was available before? never flown C in that route with AA to confirm, but my last flight on AA from Venezuela was CCS-MIA (overnight)-PTY on C, and it was nice to have Flagship Lounge access; the list posted doesn't include central america (nor specifically excludes central america destinations), it seems strange that Panamá is included but not Colombia.

    1. Rian

      This change was announced a few months ago, but Ben never really said why they excluded most of South America.

  12. David

    Glad they're reopening Flagship Dining in addition to Flagship Lounges.

  13. LOA

    So flying to MEX doesn't get flagship or AC at all now?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ LOA -- That's correct, only Admirals Club access.

  14. Stan Dombrowski

    @Evan, to jump on your comments, I am PHL based so fly AA pretty frequently, mostly domestic some int'l and right before COVID shut everything down they were getting ready to open up a Flagship lounge in A-West, I am wondering what will happen to that since I think most of the construction was finished. That spot was my favorite Admirals Club since it was so spacious (It was the old US Airways Envoy lounge)...

    @Evan, to jump on your comments, I am PHL based so fly AA pretty frequently, mostly domestic some int'l and right before COVID shut everything down they were getting ready to open up a Flagship lounge in A-West, I am wondering what will happen to that since I think most of the construction was finished. That spot was my favorite Admirals Club since it was so spacious (It was the old US Airways Envoy lounge) so if AA decided to reopen it back to being just an Admirals Club, I'd be happy with that!

    1. Reno Joe

      Stan and Evan, if we look at connecting routes to / from Europe, so many of them pass through PHL as opposed to JFK. It seems that AA has made a strategic commitment to PHL. The Flagship Lounge is still slated to open. With that, don't be surprised if we see T-Bird routes to LAX and SFO. You like?

    2. Evan

      @Reno Joe - I am AA Plat Pro and live 15 minutes from PHL, so I certainly love your optimism! The TATL schedule for next spring/summer looks promising, with lots of routes returning. But I'm a little concerned that AA is more focused on keeping CLT connections at a critical mass, as they shifted routes like ERI (to take one example) away from PHL. What are you hearing about the Flagship Lounge? Any mention of...

      @Reno Joe - I am AA Plat Pro and live 15 minutes from PHL, so I certainly love your optimism! The TATL schedule for next spring/summer looks promising, with lots of routes returning. But I'm a little concerned that AA is more focused on keeping CLT connections at a critical mass, as they shifted routes like ERI (to take one example) away from PHL. What are you hearing about the Flagship Lounge? Any mention of construction progress or opening date is noticeably absent from the recent stories about other FLs reopening.

  15. Joe

    Hi Ben!
    If I fly first class LAX > MIA > ORD, do you know if I will still get to access the lounge on the layover between MIA and ORD?

    Thanks!

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Joe -- I believe you should, but someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    2. Reno Joe

      Ben, don't forget to include LAX to BOS as a Flagship route.

      Note that not all LAX to MIA flights are Flagship flights. The specific LAX to MIA flight needs to be one of the Flagship flights -- B777-300.

      If someone is connecting to / from a Flagship-qualified flight, one should be able to access to a Flagship Lounge at the connection point. However, even though BOS, CLT, HNL, KOA, OGG, SFO, and SNA are...

      Ben, don't forget to include LAX to BOS as a Flagship route.

      Note that not all LAX to MIA flights are Flagship flights. The specific LAX to MIA flight needs to be one of the Flagship flights -- B777-300.

      If someone is connecting to / from a Flagship-qualified flight, one should be able to access to a Flagship Lounge at the connection point. However, even though BOS, CLT, HNL, KOA, OGG, SFO, and SNA are Flagship way points, they don't have Flagship Lounges. And, of the three Hawaiian way points, only HNL has an Admirals Club.

      PHL will soon have a Flagship Lounge. One might suspect that routes to / from LAX and SFO will be flying T-Birds.

  16. Junior Ned

    What progress is being made with the Flagship Lounge in Philadelphia? Is it still going ahead?

    1. Evan

      I don't know exactly, but I have flown out of PHL several times this summer, and I worry about AA's commitment to PHL. Terminal A-West (basically the international terminal) is almost always empty. Meanwhile, AA seems to be doubling down on CLT. I do wonder if AA will bring back the more experimental international routes once demand returns--they tried nonstops to Bologna and Dubrovnik in 2019--rather than shift focus entirely to CLT.

    2. hp12c

      Agreed - flew out of A earlier this afternoon and it was a ghost town, both A East and West. Most retailers shut down, no TSA precheck in A East, etc. Such a shame, because just before COVID, the int’l scene at PHL was starting to get pretty decent with interesting routes and 787s starting to replace the 767s, 757s, and A330s

    3. Ben Schlappig

      @ Junior Ned -- Unfortunately I haven't heard anything there, though let me see what I can figure out.

  17. David

    Lucky, who is your source?

    Notice you again used the passive voice “it has been announced...”

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ David -- The source is linked in the post:
      https://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2021/American-Airlines-Set-to-Reopen-Industry-Leading-Premium-Flagship-Lounges-MKG-LNGE-08/default.aspx

  18. Evan

    What are my lounge options at JFK T8 when flying AA biz to Europe? Do I have access to the Admirals Club?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Evan -- Yep, you can access the Admirals Club, and when the Flagship Lounge reopens, you can access that.

    2. Evan

      Thanks - and I'm loving the new threading feature on the comments. Well done.

  19. Robert

    Is there access when travelling on an award ticket in business? i.e. Q-Suites LAX-DOH.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Robert -- There sure is, award tickets qualify for lounge access.

    2. Reno Joe

      Ben, regarding award tickets and Qatar lounges, remember that it initiated a policy of no lounge access (unless expressly paid for)?

      The policy was supposed to apply to its lounges in Doha, London, and Paris.

      Currently, on the One World web site, the "revenue ticket" requirement only seems to apply at its proprietary lounges in London and Paris. The "revenue ticket" requirement does not seem to apply as its proprietary lounges in Doha (any longer?)....

      Ben, regarding award tickets and Qatar lounges, remember that it initiated a policy of no lounge access (unless expressly paid for)?

      The policy was supposed to apply to its lounges in Doha, London, and Paris.

      Currently, on the One World web site, the "revenue ticket" requirement only seems to apply at its proprietary lounges in London and Paris. The "revenue ticket" requirement does not seem to apply as its proprietary lounges in Doha (any longer?).

      Still, readers traveling to / from Doha should just be aware that there is / was an issue with Qatar's lounges for award ticket holders and they should not be surprised if it comes up when trying to gain access.

  20. sharon

    Lucky, business, and leisure travel is back in force in New York. JFK is the closest airport to the Hamptons for International Travel...

    It is clear that NY is not dead, as premium travel demand as returned to NY

    I definitely agree, why is Dallas not opening first? American has really pushed in Covid the strength of its DFW hub

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ sharon -- I wish I shared your optimism about business travel being back. With JFK being a transatlantic gateway for American, and restrictions continuing to be in place for Europeans coming to the US, I just don't see a huge immediate recovery (and American's schedule reflects that). I suppose the Flagship Lounge may largely be reopening due to transcon flights, but that's the only place where demand has the potential to be significant for...

      @ sharon -- I wish I shared your optimism about business travel being back. With JFK being a transatlantic gateway for American, and restrictions continuing to be in place for Europeans coming to the US, I just don't see a huge immediate recovery (and American's schedule reflects that). I suppose the Flagship Lounge may largely be reopening due to transcon flights, but that's the only place where demand has the potential to be significant for the time being, in my opinion.

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Ben Schlappig

@ LOA -- That's correct, only Admirals Club access.

Ben Schlappig

@ Robert -- There sure is, award tickets qualify for lounge access.

Ben Schlappig

@ David -- The source is linked in the post: https://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2021/American-Airlines-Set-to-Reopen-Industry-Leading-Premium-Flagship-Lounges-MKG-LNGE-08/default.aspx

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