American Airlines first class lounges are called “Flagship Lounges.” There are currently four Flagship lounges, in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and London. There used to be one in Miami, renovations closed it and they never brought it back. It’s always struck me odd that they don’t have one in Dallas.
American is seriously revamping and improving its business class product (though the rollout will take awhile), and in the process is removing first class from much of its fleet over the next few years. Eventually only their Boeing 777-300 aircraft will offer three cabins in international service. So I don’t expect an expansion of the Flagship Lounge product.
Currently in order to access a Flagship Lounge, you need to:
- Be flying first class on an American Airlines or oneworld international flight in first class on a 3-cabin transcon (JFK to Los Angeles or San Francisco); discounted or upgraded first class doesn’t qualify for these latter domestic flights though award first class does.
- Be an American Airlines Executive Platinum on an international itinerary regardless of class of service flown. The access rules actually say that the Executive Platinum must be on an international flight, but in my experience connecting off of an international flight works, as well as taking a domestic flight to an international one works as well. (The rules also specify what international means, in practice the only destination in North America that qualifies is Mexico City otherwise it must be transoceanic and the Caribbean doesn’t count.)
- Be an American Airlines Concierge Key member. This method isn’t listed in the online access rules, but invitation-only Concierge Key status entitles use of Flagship Lounges when flying on or connecting to or from oneworld flights.
- Be a oneworld Emerald (top tier elite, but excluding American’s own top tier elites) flying on or connecting to a same-day oneworld flight. While the rules say you must be at least connecting to or from an international flight, in practice you do not need to be, and if you did the rule wouldn’t exclude American’s own top tier elites since they get access when they are connecting to or from an international flight.
Thanks to British Airways acquiring british midland, and offering elites in the bmi Diamond Club status matches over to Executive Club, I’m now a British Airways Gold. That’s oenworld Emerald, top tier in oneworld, granting me access to American’s Flagship lounges even when flying purely domestic itineraries.
I don’t have my membership card yet, I’ve been a BA Gold for a month now and they say that it can take up to 8 weeks to receive the card. That means I have nothing to flash for access. I also wasn’t even crediting my flight to my British Airways account, I was crediting it to American AAdvantage, so my boarding pass didn’t identify me as a oneworld Emerald via an airline other than American.
Still, I approached the Admiral’s Club that’s just after security, the Flagship Lounge is located apart from but inside the Admiral’s Club there. I walked up to the desk and asked if they wouldn’t mind verifying my status if I gave them by British Airways frequent flyer number. Seemingly a bit annoyed, the woman at the desk complied and handed me a key card to get into the Flagship lounge.
It’s directly to the side of the checkin desk, the door is locked and the access badge unlocks it. Once inside there’s a desk with another employee who greets you, and you return your access card.
Roughly speaking a Flagship Lounge is an uncrowded, more comfortable Admiral’s Club with complimentary food and better alcohol.
There are (5) food services a day: Continental breakfast (though with eggs, sausage, and bacon), light lunch, afternoon tea, supper, and late night snacks (this last not offered in London, as American has no late evening departures from there).
Breakfast was available before my 11am flight from New York to DC.
I had already had my fill before leaving for the airport, so I just made myself a coffee and poured a glass of water.
The lounge was mostly empty, only a couple of other customers, and plenty of seating with nice views as well.
Nobody was in the business center. I appreciate the ability to print, for sure, I do wonder how necessary it is to set aside of a room full of computers. Personally I like the Lufthansa First Class Terminal approach, if someone really needs a computer just lend them a laptop… (a privilege I’ve never taken them up one, as I am almost never without my own, in any context).
I had a seat by the window, caught up on a bit of work.
Then it was the long schlepp down to the 31 gates where Eagle flights depart from, there’s an Admiral’s Club much closer to those gates but it lacks the Flagship Lounge. I’m going to make the walk either before or after the lounge visit, and since both are post-security I’d just assume make it later. Plus since I was on a regional jet, I was going to be checking my rollaboard planeside anyway, there was no need to arrive at the gate early to secure overhead space.
I’m looking forward to availing myself of better lounge facilities, especially in New York and Chicago (I’ll use Los Angeles far less frequently, though it’s often considered the best Flagship Lounge), over the 21 months or so that my British Airways Gold status lasts. I do miss the value of my bmi miles, but in some way with their merger I do come out ahead.