Review: American Airlines “Flagship” First Class Lounge, Los Angeles

Must-read Earlier Installments:

American continues to offer ‘Flagship Lounges’ or first class lounges in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York JFK, at London Heathrow.

There are no longer Flagship Lounges in Dallas or Miami. The Dallas lounge still has the dedicated room, just walk into the Admirals Club in the A terminal and when you get upstairs and come out of the elevator you are facing the desk with reservations agents. Turn completely around, because right behind you is the room that used to be the Flagship Lounge. Almost no one is ever in it, it has separate restrooms, it’s great for quiet and privacy even when the rest of the lounge is busy. In Miami the Flagship Lounge closed, and didn’t re-open.

My favorite flagship lounge is Los Angeles, overall the food offerings have been decent in the past although they were disappointing on this visit. Plus you frequently see Hollywood celebrities (you see them in the Admirals Club sometimes, too).

I like Chicago because of the staff there (and because there’s sushi, since it doubles as Japan Airlines’ lounge). Certain Admirals Clubs — especially Washington National and Austin — are staffed with really phenomenal people. Chicago is as well, with agents who welcome you and take great care of your reservation when things go wrong.

Heathrow is well-provisioned, but it’s also frequently super-busy, because American gives Flagship Lounge access to Executive Platinum (100,000 mile flyer) members when flying internationally. And all American Executive Platinums are flying internationally when they’re at Heathrow.

The one I like the least is JFK. It’s one large room that gets busy before the transatlantic and evening South America departures. The staff isn’t nearly as good as in Chicago. And the food isn’t as good as Los Angeles.

But it’s better than an Admirals Club because there is food and a self-serve bar as well. And there are showers.

These lounges are available to:

  • first class passengers on an American Airlines or oneworld international flight or on a 3-cabin transcon (JFK to Los Angeles or San Francisco)
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum members on an international itinerary regardless of class of service flown. (International means transoceanic, Canada and the Caribbean do not count, although I believe that Mexico City does.)
  • oneworld Emerald (top tier) members, excluding American’s own top tier elites, flying on or connecting to a same-day oneworld flight. I used to use these lounges flying purely domestic itineraries when I was a British Airways Gold member.

After having cleared immigration I walked across from the Tom Bradley International Terminal over to the American Airlines Terminal at LAX. I went up the escalator at the end of the terminal for premium security and PreCheck. With no line I was on my way quickly into the terminal and straight down to the lounge.

You check in downstairs and take the elevator up. At reception they handed me the ‘key’ that opens the Flagship Lounge doors upstairs. You deposit the key in the bin when you enter, though there was also an agent there.

Once inside the first thing I asked for was a shower room.

American’s aren’t the most luxurious airport showers, and I’ve never been a huge fan of soap and shampoo on the wall, but there’s nothing to keep you going like washing off a long flight!

Once cleaned off I went into the lounge to find a place to sit and catch up on work, having been offline for the length of the previous flight.

I then hit the buffet to see if there was anything I wanted to snack on.

The food didn’t look especially appealing, so I decided to give it a miss. I just answered emails for awhile, looked out over airport operations, and waited for my final flight of the day.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. The food is better in LAX than JFK? No way. JFK has 5x the offerings. LAX usually has one soup, two hot dishes, and that’s it. No thanks.

  2. not a fan of the LAX flagship lounge. last few times i’ve checked in, they take me upstairs to priority security and there is a huge queue in that narrow little space full of people who start bickering and asking why people are allowed to skip ahead. it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable to say the least. and the lounge itself is nothing special at all, IMO.

  3. I have not been to the LAX FL but have been to the JFK one quite a few times now and I am having trouble seeing how the LAX one is superior…food at JFK every time I have been there was better than what is shown here. I’d rank ORD the lowest – yes, there is sushi but the rest of the food is sad, the space is small, and there are no showers. Though I agree that the ORD FL staff is great – they saved my behind a couple weeks ago on a connection issue!

  4. The LA one is fine but I don’t really think it’s anything special. Nice views over the apron though.
    The NY one however I find deeply mediocre for a first class “flagship” product. Compared to other Oneworld first class lounges, it’s an embarrassment.

  5. If you’re going to list the late lamented Flagship Lounges, don’t forget the Boston lounge which closed years ago. Until they redid the AC a few years ago, Boston also had the former FL as a very quiet “secret room”.

  6. The shower room picture is not typical, it is the handicap shower room. The others are smaller with standard shower stalls with glass door.

    Although I find the Flagship showers to have poor ventilation so I will prefer to use the regular AC showers before I go into the FL lounge at LAX.

    There are only 4 showers in the FL lounge and about 8 in the AC club. With international arrivals – the FL lounges can have a wait, but the AC ones are either free or shorter wait.

    But for me – it is the ventilation that matters.

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