American Temporarily Rebranding First Class Lounges

American is temporarily re-branding their existing Flagship lounges as International First Class lounges as it prepares to introduce brand new business and first class Flagship Lounges in the coming months.

That’s because these new Flagship Lounges are going to be a new concept, rolled out as renovations to existing lounges and new builds are completed starting this spring. We’re going to see New York JFK opening first in a few months, followed by LAX by mid-year.

American didn’t want confusion between the new lounge product and access rules (at, say, the newly-opened New York JFK Flagship lounge) and the older product and rules (at existing lounges whose renovations haven’t yet been completed).

American’s Current Clubs

American has two types of lounges.

  • Admirals Clubs. These are most of American’s clubs. Members buy access, use a premium Citibank credit card to gain access, or have access based on the class of service of their ticket.

  • Flagship lounges. These are American’s first class lounges, for those flying international first class (and 3-cabin first class transcon) and that American’s top tier elite members can use when flying internationally and oneworld top tier members can use when flying a oneworld airline same-day (including American Airlines domestic).

Entrance to American’s Admirals Club, Austin

The “Flagship” name has an interesting history. American opened the very first airport club lounge in 1939. New York’s Mayor LaGuardia was criticized for having too big an office at New York LaGuardia airport so he rented out some of the space to American.

American couldn’t name it “Admirals Club” because a judge determined people might think it was for Navy Admirals only, so it was named “Flagship Club.”

American’s second club was at Washington National airport. They weren’t allowed to serve alcohol, so they stored bottles for members. This practice continued until liquor laws were changed in 1970.

Paid memberships to American’s Admirals clubs weren’t introduced until 1967 (previously they had been given out by AA Sales). The price was $25 per year or $250 for a lifetime membership.

American Admirals Club, Phoenix B Concourse

American is Renovating Flagship Lounges, Opening New Ones, and Adding Business Class Access

American is renovating the New York JFK, Los Angeles, and Chicago Flagship lounges.

Current Flagship Lounge, Chicago O’Hare

Rendering of New Flagship Lounge Seating, Courtesy American Airlines

They are adding Flagship Lounges at:

  • Dallas Fort-Worth at the D concourse Admirals Club lounge, which hosts what was rolled out as Flagship dining but is now called International First Class Dining – the lounge will be renovated to add space.
  • Miami at the D30 Admirals Club, which will be renovated to add space.
  • Philadelphia at the A West club between Gates A15 and A16.

With the opening of each renovated club, the name International First Class lounge will change back to Flagship lounge and will add access for long haul and premium transcon business class passengers. (The new Dallas, Miami, and Philadelphia clubs will open as new Flagship Lounges from day one.)

Four Lounges Will Offer Flagship ‘First’ Dining

American opened a Flagship Dining Room inside the Admirals Club on the DFW D Concourse a year ago. This was a temporary measure, until the new Flagship Lounge in Dallas opens (and consistent with the temporary rebrand, this is now called Flagship First Class Dining).

DFW Flagship Dining, Credit: Hans Mast

The plan is to have tableside service of pre-flight meals at four of the Flagship lounges: New York JFK, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Miami.

This is more exclusive than Flagship lounge access — while Flagship lounges expand to business class customers, Flagship dining will be for first class — so it’s being rebranded from Flagship Dining to Flagship First Dining.

Similarly, Flagship check-in which is open to international (and premium transcon) first class passengers and concierge key members is being rebranded Flagship First check-in to avoid confusion on the part of business class passengers who will have Flagship Lounge access but not Flagship check-in or dining access.

The Chicago and Philadelphia Flagship lounges will not have Flagship First dining, and Philadelphia will not have Flagship First check-in.

You Can Still ‘Make Your Own First Class Lounge Access’ Inside the DFW A Concourse Admirals Club

Dallas used to have a first class lounge in the A terminal. It’s still there inside the Admirals Club, a separate room, that seemingly no one ever uses.

It’s where I always go in the A terminal — you take the elevator up into the club and instead of walking straight ahead past the desk of agents, you turn around 180 degrees and the room is behind you, it has its own bathrooms and it’s quiet.

Once the D terminal opened as the international terminal in 2005, there was no more need for a first class lounge in A. And American opened its Admirals Club in D but without a Flagship Lounge.

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, 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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  1. It is a bit surprising that ORD will not have Flagship dining.

    While CLT/PHX is not a part of the international lounge renovation project – they need to add a side project somewhere to build proper showers in the lounges at both airports.

  2. Last time I was at the DFW A lounge they had added a sign that called the old Flagship area and “Arrivals” lounge. Seemed odd as I hadn’t seen it before.
    AA also closed all the smoking areas early this year.

  3. Does this mean aa executive Platinums will not be able to access flagship first dining during international trips?

  4. LAX is taking forever for the renovation, as is MIA. Didn’t stop them from raising the fees.

    Just to be clear, the Flagship lounge will be open to transcon domestic business class on 3 class planes? I hadn’t heard that before. If so, I assume upgraders who have already cleared will also be allowed in.

    If I’m flying internationally from LAX, it’s the Qantas First class lounge for me (as an ExP).

  5. @beachfan

    I have found the food to be superior at the Qantas First Lounge (LAX), but the wine and spirit better at the FL – both the quality and the self-serve nature. So, for us, it’s both 🙂

  6. It seems while AA is trying in little bits to improve its in-flight Flagship First service, it is struggling with its lounges. I recently passed through LAX, and, even giving regard to renovations in progress, can find only one word to describe the “first class” (sic) lounge — a disgrace.
    The Flagship dining room in DFW is small, cramped and with pretty shoddy food for a first class lounge. Often one cannot get a seat there, especially when the Latin and South America flights are soon to leave in the late afternoon. The American Express Centurion lounge across the way puts it to shame, however, sadly, it too is getting overcrowded these days too.
    In my experience, no US first class lounge even approaches the standard of the Virgin Upper Class lounge at Heathrow — and that’s a business class lounge. And, frankly, no lounge I have been to anywhere in the World, inc. Emirates and Cathay Pacific lounges, comes even close to the Concorde Room in Terminal 5 LHR. (At that’s coming from someone who doesn’t particularly care for BA).
    To my mind the first priority of a first class lounge is an uncrowded, relatively quiet and private environment, with table service as secondary concern. Decent food always appreciated in case one doesn’t want to eat on board.

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