Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX

Filed Under: American

We were dropped off at LAX at around 4:45AM, 75 minutes before our flight’s departure. One of the swankiest things American offers at LAX is their Flagship check-in facility, which is available to Concierge Key members, those traveling in international first class, and those traveling in three cabin first class to New York.

The facility has a separate entrance directly from the outside roadway of the terminal, and then there’s a “bouncer” who lets you in. We didn’t yet have our boarding passes, since we weren’t able to get mobile boarding passes for their segment, due to the complexity of the itinerary. But she checked our name off a list and welcomed us in. It’s like high school all over again, except this time we were invited! 😉

Once you’re inside the facility there are some check-in kiosks, as well as an agent to help out. The agent was friendly, and had us checked in within a minute.

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American Airlines Flagship Check-In LAX

There are a few seats in the facility, though this isn’t an area where you’d want to spend any amount of time.

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American Airlines Flagship Check-In LAX

Once you exit the facility there’s an elevator which takes you straight up to the security checkpoint. The real value-add of the facility is that there’s usually an “escort” who ushers you to the very front of the security line. And the escorts usually aren’t subtle about it either, and yell “excuse me, coming through, first class.” It can potentially save quite a bit of time, because they’ll bring you all the way to the front of the x-ray belt, so you’ll be through security in no time. When available, it’s one of the most impressive airport “escort” services in the US.

In this instance there weren’t any escorts available, perhaps because it was so early in the morning. That wasn’t a big deal since the queue was short. But during the day I’ve never had issues being escorted to the front of the security line.

For what it’s worth, Delta has a similar check-in facility for their business class passengers. It’s pretty, though adds virtually no value, because it’s actually further from the security checkpoint than the standard check-in area.

Once inside the terminal we headed to the Admirals Club, which also houses the Flagship Lounge.

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American Airlines Terminal 4 LAX

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American Airlines Terminal 4 LAX

The lounge is located across from gate 40.

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American Airlines Admirals Club LAX

The Admirals Club as such can be accessed if you’re traveling in international business class, business class to New York or Miami, or have a credit card with lounge access.

However, the Flagship Lounge is American’s equivalent of an international first class lounge, and can be accessed by those traveling in international first class, first class to New York, Executive Platinum members traveling internationally, or non-American oneworld Emerald members on any oneworld flight (even if it’s domestic).

The Flagship Lounge is open daily from 4AM until 11:15PM.

The associate who checked us in was friendly, and upon scanning our boarding passes presented us with a key to the Flagship Lounge.

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American Airlines Admirals Club entrance LAX

I’m not sure where American gets these keys from, though I’ve always found the “Guest Safety Tips” on them to be… odd.

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Flagship Lounge key LAX

From the entry level of the Admirals Club we had to take the elevator up a level.

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American Airlines Admirals Club elevator LAX

Once on the second level we turned right, and then turned left past the customer service desk, where the entrance to the Flagship Lounge is located.

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American Flagship Lounge LAX entrance

At the entrance to the Flagship Lounge there’s another customer service desk, where you drop off your key and let them know which flight you’re on.

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American Flagship Lounge LAX reception desk

Across from the desk are some arrival and departure monitors.

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American Flagship Lounge LAX entrance

The Flagship Lounge LAX is basically one long room. As you enter, the business center, relaxation area, restrooms, and shower are to the left, while the dining area is to the right.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

The business center consists of four attached cubicles, two of which have PCs, and two of which you can use for your own “setup.” There are also printers and fax machines.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles business center

Past that are some chairs with ottomans, which have headphones on which you can listen to music. I’ve certainly been guilty of taking a nap or two in this area before a redeye.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

Along the windows is more “traditional” lounge seating, which continues along about two thirds of the lounge.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

This area has great tarmac views, in particular of the area between terminals 4 & 5.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX view

Then in the back right of the lounge are some dining tables along the buffet.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles dining area

In the same area by the window are some bar stools with high-top tables, and then also some lower tables with benches.

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American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles seating

I believe they don’t offer hot food in the lounge until 6AM, which is perfectly fine by me. At around 5AM they had whole fruit, yogurt parfaits, fruit salad, English muffins, bagels, danishes, and more.

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX breakfast buffet

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX breakfast buffet

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX breakfast buffet

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX breakfast buffet

The selection of hot food is usually pretty decent when it’s offered, and includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, pancakes, etc.

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX breakfast buffet

As a caffeine addict, the lounge offers both filtered coffee, and then also a nasty Nescafe espresso machine (if you’re going to have one of those machines in an international first class lounge, at least make it a Starbucks machine, similar to what Alaska offers in their Board Rooms). I prefer filtered coffee anyway, so as long as a canister of that is out, I’m a happy camper.

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX espresso machine

Possibly my favorite part of the lounge is that they have bottled Evian and S. Pellegrino. American doesn’t offer sparkling water on their flights (only club soda), so I’m sometimes guilty of taking a bottle or two to go, for consumption on my flight.

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American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX drink selection

The bathrooms for the Flagship Lounge are located at the far end of the lounge, near the relaxation area. I always notice a queue for using the stall, given that there’s a single one, which might not be enough given how busy the lounge gets.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX bathroom

The lounge also has shower rooms, which can be reserved. One area where American excels in almost all of their lounges is with shower rooms, as they’re consistently quite nice.

As I was taking pictures of the lounge the agent came up to me and rudely barked “ya can’t take pictures here, ya need to stop.” Alrighty then. I’m not sure how me taking pictures of an empty lounge violates American’s photography policy, but at that point I had most of the pictures I wanted anyway, so I just said “okay, sorry.”

It also sort of amazes me how some agents speak to people. Seriously, this is the airline’s most premium lounge. Is that really how you talk to customers? If she wanted to make up her own rules, couldn’t she at least have done so nicely? “Excuse me, I’m sorry, but pictures aren’t allowed in the lounge.”

American Flagship Lounge LAX bottom line

I’ve visited all of American’s Flagship Lounges several times, which are otherwise located in Chicago, London, and New York. (there’s also Flagship Dining in Dallas, but I wouldn’t really consider that a Flagship Lounge, as such).

All around I’d say the Flagship Lounge LAX is probably the nicest:

  • I generally don’t visit the Flagship Lounge London, since I can also access the Cathay Pacific Lounge and British Airways Lounge, which are nicer and just a couple of minutes away
  • The Flagship Lounge Chicago is probably my least favorite, as it’s tiny and doesn’t have very good views; it’s still better than the Admirals Club, I suppose
  • The Flagship Lounges in New York and Los Angeles are my favorites for the views, and I’d say I slightly prefer the overall experience in Los Angeles, especially when you factor in their superior Flagship check-in facility

What’s your favorite American Flagship Lounge?

  1. Lucky, the admirals club at ORD, my home airport, offers amazing views as it is between the K and H concourse on the 3rd floor (2 levels above terminal) . Also the ORD H/K admirals club is HUGE!

  2. Honestly, I have never been impressed by a Flagship Lounge. And the one in LAX looks so…tired. Lucky – any insight into what AA’s timetable is in terms of updating Flagship Lounges (vs. just the clubs)? I feel like even the Flagship Lounges lag behind Delta’s Sky Clubs.

  3. Also, if we’re talking about the lounge itself, I think you have to separate that from the check-in/ground services. AA no doubt (at least in my view) has a superior premium check-in service, and a better hard product than Delta. But the Flagship Lounge was a serious disappointment last time I was there (summer 2015).

  4. Having been in every flagship lounge in the system, I do think it’s time for a revamp. As Dave said above, it’s all just so tired looking. Especially at LAX.

    Ideally they’d hire the same Studioilse team that revamped Cathay’s lounges at HND and The Pier. But that’s not very likely, is it.

  5. For a lounge that size, have to have more than one men’s restroom of that size shown.
    Or maybe they expect you to use shower rooms (which always have toilets).
    Haven’t gone there, but will try it out.

  6. Not a big fan of this lounge — I prefer the TV room of the regular AC side for peace and quiet — and the food in evening is pretty lousy. I did enjoy watching some Kardashians argue in the buffet area once before a red-eye to NY.

    The staff member snapping at you is just really unfortunate.

  7. Ben, I’m surprised that your review of this lounge is so generous. Let’s face it, AA Flagship lounge–in any location– is just not that great. Sure, it can be slightly less crowded than the ‘regular’ admirals club, and the food is slightly better……but when paying first class international or transcon fares (with money or miles), AA Flagship lounge is a JOKE in my opinion. On top of this, service is very inconsistent. Some reps are great, while others seem to be there simply because of seniority alone–and I’ve had some truly rude or indifferent CK reps. It’s too bad that with AA adding a lot of new planes and better hard products that they are still coming up short on the ground experience at their hubs.

  8. @Lucky – I believe those flying first class on a three cabin aircraft between LAX / MIA also have access to Flagship Checking/Lounge. At least that’s what I was told by an AA agent when inquiring.

  9. I was there on Sunday night before I was kicked out at 11:15pm. The food was pretty awful (it was a Super Bowl themed menu). The shower and seats are nicer than most domestic lounges. I prefer the food at ORD if it’s around the time of the JL flight.

  10. @Lucky – Just thought I’d bring up a small grammar point I’ve noticed comes up frequently on the blog. You consistently confuse the words further and farther. Further is appropriate when you’re talking about something figurative and nonphysical and farther is appropriate for physical distance. For example, in your advertiser disclosure you say “Please check out my advertiser policy for further details…” which is the right usage of further because you’d be looking for more information, but in the article you say “it’s actually further from the security checkpoint…” where you should have used farther because you’re referring to physical distance.

    On an otherwise outstandingly written blog it kills me that my biggest grammar per peeve keeps popping up.

  11. Looks like a ho-hum lounge to me. Nothing special at all about it. Find it drab and boring. But then again it’s AA, so no shock there.

  12. Can I use AA Flagship check in at LAX if I am traveling on this AA award ticket with no status:

    SFO-HND JL F (right after midnight, so technically next day)

    I will likely not have the JL F boarding pass at that point. Will I be able to use the check in facility?

    Also, which lounge would you recommend at LAX, is Flagship the best choice before my LAX-SFO flight?

  13. Genuine question – how is club soda different than sparkling water? Isn’t club soda just carbonated (aka sparkling) water?

  14. I have a 2.5 hr layover in LHR next month, flying out of terminal 3 AA F class. This would give me access to Flagship as well as CX First lounge. Why do you say CX is better?

  15. @Lucky, just a note on LHR. The Cathay Pacific Lounge is unfortunately under refurbishment until June (they say). This has caused the BA Galleries Lounge to be much more crowded of late.

  16. @Lucky

    Hi Ben, I booked first class tickets using AA miles to return from Sydney (Qantas SYD-LAX and then American LAX-IAD). For the 3-hour morning layover in LAX, what is the best lounge I’ll have access to (with no status) in LAX? The Qantas First Class Lounge, this American Flagship Lounge, or other?


  17. While Concierge Key can use Flagship Check-In, they can’t use the Flagship Lounge (and you don’t imply that).

    When I had access to the Flagship Check-In (as CK) I did not find it to be that useful. Once I waited about 15 minutes to check in, since the agents were working with other people that had problems. If not checking luggage, it is just must easier to go to the First Class check in area and use the Kiosk to get your boarding pass. You can then either take the escalator up to TSA Pre-check or you can use the same elevator that Flagship Check-in uses.

    When you exit LAX FS Check-in – you enter public space for maybe 20-25 feet to get to the elevator. Although there does look like there is some construction in that area now. I have never had to wait very long at the TSA Pre at the first class area.

    Unless someone from FS Check-in escorts you to the front of the line, generally people won’t let you in. Once had a copy come up the elevator and walked to the front of the line (unescorted) and people would not let them cut in line. They said they were in First Class and they were told to go to the front of the line. Issue is that others in line are also in First Class (maybe not to JFK) and simply told them they were in First Class too – so the couple went to the back of the line.

    So unless escorted to the TSA Pre head of the line by an agent, people likely won’t let you cut in front based on you being in First Class.

    Overall the Flagship isn’t any better than the AC for facility. I think the show rooms are bigger and better ventilated in the AC then in the FS shower facility. The FS Lounge of course has free food (salads, on entrée, etc) but it is not that good. Best thing is the plentiful bottles of chilled Evian Water.

    Once the connector opens to TBIT, it may be worth a trip over to the QF F lounge if arriving international.

  18. On taking pictures in the FS Lounge, I suspect they don’t want people taking pictures in there since Celebs use the lounge, and the FS lounge is to provide a secluded space.

  19. I agree with your review. The lounge is fine and has free food and drinks which is nice.It is just not exceptional. I would argue that it is American Airlines best flagship lounge, which is a sad statement on their top lounge products.

    Question. Can you access oneworld partner lounges when flying international J on a oneworld airline? For example I was in Paris flying AA business and used the Cathay Lounge with no status and they let me in. Was I just lucky?

  20. I agree about the ORD Flagship lounge being very tired, but the friendly staff there make it worthwhile. A number of times they have helped me out greatly during iregops. This is in contrast with the JFK Flagship where they are sometimes good, sometimes not.

  21. @Adam, re: further vs. farther.

    Nothing can be further from the truth. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) One may use “further” when one means physical or metaphorical distance; “farther”, however, may only be used when one is referring to physical distance. In other words, the meaning of “further” encompasses that of “farther”, but not vice versa. A check with your favourite dictionary, American or UK English, will verify this.

    Lucky is 100% grammatically correct in using “further” when talking about distances, physical or metaphorical, although I concede that using “farther” when talking about physical distances would make one’s writing sound a little more sophisticated to grammarians.

  22. This is my home lounge, and I can fairly say it is mediocre. Quantas first lounge is 10x better. Once the bridge is done, it will be a no brainer to walk to tb.

  23. Were the referral links really necessary, seeing as how we weren’t getting a review of the The Admirals Club?

  24. Am I supposed to be excited about that? Honestly looks like marginal improvement over sitting at the gate with the common folk…

  25. @Andrew asked: Genuine question – how is club soda different than sparkling water? Isn’t club soda just carbonated (aka sparkling) water?

    From my understanding:

    Club Soda is water which has been carbonated (by machine, or whatever).

    Sparkling water is water which is from a natural mineral water source (such as Perrier water, which comes from mineral springs). It’s not artificially carbonated.

    Others may disagree with me, and believe the names are interchangeable.

    Here’s a great article explaining the differences:

    Sorry for hijacking your thread, Lucky! 🙂 – on another note – have you ever considered having “threaded comments” on your posts?

  26. By American lounge standards it’s not bad, but definitely getting tired.

    I did chuckle at your comment where you associated the gallon-sized cups of watery brown liquid that Starbucks flogs as coffee compared with decent coffee though – you need to get yourself to a Qantas lounge with a barista pronto!

  27. Club soda has salt added to it. Check the ingredients. It tastes disgusting.

    I don’t understand why AA doesn’t serve seltzer (aka sparkling water).

  28. I have to take issue with a private airline employer pushing a premium passenger to the front of the security line. Let me first say:

    1. I have no issue with the “evil” rich, the 1%, those who can afford – via points or money – premium services, etc.
    2. I have taken advantage of this service once at EWR when flying business on OpenSkies. I suppose that makes me a bit hypocritical, but I would have no issue if this perk being eliminated impacted me.

    That out of the way, I do not think government should prioritize anyone or another in the services it requires/provides to everyone using the airport. Whether Delta’s basic economy or the luxury of the Etihad Residence, all flyers should be seen by the GOVERNMENT equally. Now, if they want to offer special programs like PreCheck that is open for application by all, with members then getting preferential treatment, that is fine. But I don’t feel right that someone should be prioritized over someone else by virtue of a private business transaction they have made. I take less issue with stories like Lucky’s experience on Air India being pushed through Business to the exit door – that is a private company and they are free to prioritize their customers as they see fit. Just my two cents on something that struck me wrong in the review.

  29. just ticketed on aa the business / first milesaver to bkk for 55000 miles each way.
    sav – dfw in first then business class dfw -nrt on aa then nrt -bkk on jal
    return on cathay pacific business class bkk- hkg – lax
    finally first class on aa from lax to savannah thru charlotte

    do i only get to use business class lounges in nrt and hkg?
    do i get use of first class lounges in dfw and lax based on my first class domestic legs??

    2 of us ticketed at 220000 miles
    50000 from citi mc
    48000 exp and reactivated
    122000 purchased miles

    I couldnt get the spend in on the 2nd citi mc in time to get the second 50000 aa miles

  30. In 2017 the Flagship Lounges are supposed to loose their “exclusivity” and will be downgraded to a kind of Admirals Club+. The access will be extended to Business Class passengers on TATL, TPAC and South American flights as well as A321 Transcontinental ones. As the Admirals Club will be the Oneworld Sapphire and Admirals Club members lounge, only it might even be the preferable choice instead of a (overcrowded) Flagship Lounge…

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