American’s Flagship First Dining is the best lounge offering in the United States. I used to argue that distinction went to the Qantas first class lounge at LAX, but all three American spaces open so far are more peaceful and JFK especially but also the others have better views.
Flagship First Dining New York JFK
There are really just two shortcomings, in my opinion. First very few people have access. That’s nice for those who do of course but it’s 3-cabin American Airlines first class passengers only (although at JFK Cathay Pacific’s first class passengers have access) and very few American Airlines flights have three class First.
In Miami there are only 3 flights a day with international first class departing after the lounge opens. That’s a theoretical maximum of 24 people a day if all 3 flights are full of revenue passengers (not employees) and everyone shows up early to the airport.
The other shortcoming in my view is that the reception stands for Dining are inside the Dining area, rather than outside. And that means myriad guest after guest inside the larger Flagship lounge enters First Dining to ask what it is and whether they have access?
Flagship First Dining Entrance JFK
Check-in Desk Inside the Lounge at LAX
Check-in Desk Inside the Lounge in Miami
I’m not alone in my opinion that putting the reception desk inside of flagship dining it awkward. One ineligible customer after another walks in and gets turned away. I guess someone must think that makes the place feel exclusive to someone inside. I find it disrupts the peace of the space.
My uncle emailed me from Flagship First Dining on Saturday. He was flying paid first class Sydney – Los Angeles (Qantas) and onward Los Angeles – New York JFK (American) for a work meeting. He was scheduled to fly AA2 but that was cancelled. He was downgraded on AA4 to business class based on lack of availability but was still given access to First Dining due to his paid first class ticket.
That gave him a layover of more than five hours. He was happy to have a shower, impressed that American was serving Bollinger in the Flagship lounge, and dropped me a note with him impression of First Dining.
Bollinger Inside New York JFK Flagship Lounge
And what was the one thing he mentioned? People coming in and getting sent away over and over.
The Flagship Lounges are nice but busy, everyone who used to access an Admirals Club by any means other than a membership or day pass now has access to American’s business class lounge. But First Dining — which isn’t available in all Flagship Lounges, so far Chicago is without one and Philadelphia won’t offer it either — is a peaceful respite. Interrupted by staff kicking out business class customers and ConciergeKey members constantly throughout the day.