Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK Airport

Introduction
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We arrived at Terminal 8 at around 8:30AM for our 10AM flight to Los Angeles.

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New York JFK Terminal 8

American’s terminal at JFK is one of the nicer ones, which isn’t really saying a whole lot.

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New York JFK Terminal 8

We headed over to Flagship check-in, which is located at the far right of the terminal. Flagship check-in is for three cabin first class passengers (so those traveling to LAX or SFO in first class, as well as those traveling in international first class) and Concierge Key members.

We had already checked in online so didn’t need boarding passes, but usually you can cut the security line when you use Flagship check-in. Physically this is one of the most beautiful Flagship check-in facilities that American has, though it’s not the most practical.

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New York JFK Terminal 8 American Airlines Flagship check-in

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New York JFK Terminal 8 American Airlines Flagship check-in

For example, at the LAX Flagship check-in facility, you can enter the terminal directly through the dedicated check-in area, and then they have a porter who literally brings you to the very front of the security line (typically with sass, no less!). It’s awesome. At JFK the Flagship check-in facility simply merges into the elite security line, so you don’t save nearly as much time as at LAX.

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New York JFK Terminal 8 American Airlines Flagship check-in

The security process took about 10 minutes, at which point we found ourselves airside. The “central” area of Terminal 8 is especially beautiful.

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New York JFK Terminal 8

We turned left towards the two sets of elevators, which take you up one level to the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge.

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Elevators to Admirals Club

Once outside the elevator the lounges are located to the left.

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Entrance to Admirals Club

There’s a shared reception for the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge. If you’re eligible for access to the Flagship Lounge then an agent comes around from the other side of the desk and “scans” you into the Flagship Lounge, which is located to the right of the reception desk.

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American Admirals Club reception

The Flagship Lounge has a reception desk as well, and it’s usually staffed. Often the agent will check your boarding pass again, not to actually make sure you’re eligible, but rather to know who you are in the event of a delay, cancellation, etc.

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American Flagship Lounge reception JFK

The Flagship Lounge is a good size, though it does tend to get crowded in the evenings. This is American’s equivalent to an international first class lounge, so all three cabin first class customers as well as oneworld Emerald members get access. That’s why it gets crowded, because all Executive Platinum members traveling to Europe, South America, etc., get access to the lounge.

That being said, in the morning it was quite empty.

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

The lounge features a good amount of seating by the windows, with three seats per “row.”

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

There are several other isolated seating areas, including a TV area right by the entrance.

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

Then there are some more partitioned off seats, along with a few PCs.

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

By the windows are some comfortable (and super-expensive) lounge chairs.

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

Then in the far corner of the lounge is a business center, with some PCs, workstations, and a printer.

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American Flagship Lounge business center JFK

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American Flagship Lounge business center JFK

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American Flagship Lounge business center JFK

At the opposite end of the lounge is the dining area, which features circular dining tables and some “booths” against the wall.

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

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American Flagship Lounge seating JFK

I never really get too excited about breakfast, but as far as those buffets go, the Flagship Lounge has a decent one.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

The most important thing to me in the morning is coffee, and unfortunately they just have a Nescafe coffee machine, the same they have in many Admirals Clubs.

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American Flagship Lounge coffee machine JFK

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

In terms of the spread, there’s packaged cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, and greek yogurt.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

Then there’s snack mix (random, I know).

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

The hot spread is quite good, with scrambled eggs, quiche, sausage, bacon, and potatoes.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

Then they have bagels, toast, turkey, etc.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

And possibly my favorite part is the “make your own parfait” station.

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American Flagship Lounge buffet JFK

The self serve drink selection is quite good as well.

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American Flagship Lounge drink JFK

In terms of champagne they have Gloria Ferrer Brut on offer — bleh.

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American Flagship Lounge drinks JFK

There are also a handful of shower suites in the lounge, which are between the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge. The shower rooms themselves are quite nice, though are obviously more useful when connecting than when originating in New York for the day.

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American Flagship Lounge showers JFK

The other cool thing about the Flagship Lounge is that the views are awesome, since you’re a level up from the gate area and have a great view of both the tarmac and runways in the distance. The traffic gets a bit more exciting in the afternoon, when Royal Jordanian, airberlin, Qatar Airways, etc., show up.

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American Flagship Lounge view JFK

At around 9:25AM we headed down to our departure gate. On the plus side, we left from the concourse nearest to security, so didn’t have to take the underground walkway to the further concourse.

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American’s Terminal 8 JFK

We were supposed to board at 9:30AM for our 10AM departure, though we were delayed a bit. Boarding was only called at 9:45AM.

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American’s Terminal 8 JFK

American Flagship Lounge bottom line

It goes without saying that US lounges can’t compete with foreign lounges. The Flagship Lounge is as nice as a good international business class lounge operated by an Asian carrier, for example. It’s not a bad place to kill a few hours if you have to — the shower rooms are decent, the wifi is fast, and the food spread is good enough. But I also wouldn’t be arriving early to experience the Flagship Lounge.

Interestingly Qatar Airways used to send all their business class passengers to the Flagship Lounge rather than the Admirals Club, which I think says a lot about what they perceive the quality of these lounges to be.

In terms of “ranking” the US Flagship Lounges, personally I’d rank the Los Angeles Flagship Lounge as the best, followed by the New York Flagship Lounge, followed by the Chicago Flagship Lounge. American doesn’t even bother to have a Flagship Lounge in Dallas, since everyone would have access (tons of Executive Platinum members are based there).

If you’ve visited the Flagship Lounge JFK, what was your experience?

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Comments

  1. Which lounge do you access if you are flying on US Airways award business international on USAirways planes or on FINNAIR?

  2. In answer to BFD, Flagship lounge access on a OW partner business/first award or revenue ticket would be given. Of note, any Emerald elite in a OW program other than AA/US’s flying AA or US in any class from LAX, ORD or JFK would have access to the Flagship lounges rather than the Admirals Clubs.

  3. I’m confused, or just not informed. I’m a life member of the Admirals Club so at JFK have always simply gone there. I’ve not even been aware of the Flagship Lounge. So, if I’m traveling first class from JFK to Seattle on an AAdvantage award, may I use the Flagship Lounge?

  4. The self serve alcohol doors were locked when I was there. It was in the morning so I wasn’t going to be drinking anyways but they had a beer I’d never tried and would have liked a sample.

  5. I was flying HKG-JFK-BOS the other day and I flew CX F HKG-BOS, landed, and then switched terminals to connect to my AA F JFK-BOS flight. Didn’t even occur to me to ask, but would I have had access to the Flagship Lounge since I was connecting from an international flight in three-class F?

  6. @ Tom — Nope, it’s only for international first class and three cabin first class from JFK to LAX/SFO. Oneworld Emerald members traveling internationally get access as well.

  7. @ BFD — If you don’t have Emerald status then you’d have access to the Admirals Club.

  8. @Jason — could it have been a Sunday morning when you were there? In NYC you can’t buy alcohol in a store or restaurant before noon. I don’t know if there’s a separate rule for private clubs though.

  9. One of the reasons the Gloria Ferrer Brut is ‘bleh’ is because it’s not champagne, but rather American sparkling wine. Come on lucky, I didn’t expect that you would make that kind of mistake. 😉

    Thanks for the review.

  10. Classic AA JFK personnel….getting coffee while on duty in the passenger first class lounge. Caught in the act

  11. Lucky, I would love to see you do a BLIND tasting of sparklings one day. No doubt Ferrar isn’t up to international F lounge standards, but I would like to see you rank them without knowing what they are. GF (and Gruet, and Roderer) are some Excellent value sparklers.

  12. In the hundreds of interactions I’ve had with business executives at airline lounges, not one has shown a care in the world for having their egos massaged by being served expensive foods and drinks while waiting for a flight. Their uniform response is that they are perfectly capable of choosing any place at the airport that sells what they are in the mood for. My favorite bakery in Brooklyn would pack an assorted variety of viennoiseries, crusty breads, artisan cheeses, smoked meats and grilled veggies that justify the stop in NYC every time. It’s about connecting with people, not pretending to have social status.

  13. Did you try the Gloria Ferrer Brut sparkling wine, or just dismiss it as “bleh” because it was not Champagne? Wine Enthusiast awarded it 90 points.

  14. HI
    Im flying with 2 kids(4&7) and arrive to terminal 8 at 3am and heading to europe. Can i buy a day pass for the lounge? Is there anything for kids? we have 13 hours wait :/…
    thanks:)

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