Radical Changes Coming To American Flagship Lounges

American’s Flagship Lounges are their equivalent of international first class lounges, with locations in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, and New York.

American-Flagship-Lounge-LAX - 16
American’s Flagship Lounge LAX

The following passengers get access to these lounges:

  • Passengers traveling in oneworld longhaul international first class same day
  • Passengers traveling in first class on American’s A321 between New York and Los Angeles/San Francisco
  • American Executive Platinum members traveling on a longhaul international itinerary, regardless of the class of service
  • All non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald members traveling on any oneworld flight, even if it’s domestic

American is in the process of significantly reducing the number of international first class seats they have in their fleet, as they’re reconfiguring their 777-200s without a first class cabin. That means American’s fleet of 47 777-200s will go from having 16 first class seats each to having no first class seats. That leaves only their much smaller 777-300 fleet with a first class cabin, consisting of just eight first class seats per plane.

American-First-Class-777-01
American’s 777-300ER first class

American has been investing in their product lately, and as part of that they’ve announced some radical changes to their Flagship Lounges.

Here’s a video highlighting some of the changes:

American is expanding and renovating Flagship Lounges

As mentioned above, right now American has Flagship Lounges in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, and New York.

To start, American will be renovating and expanding their Flagship Lounges in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Beyond that, American is also adding Flagship Lounges in Dallas, Miami, and Philadelphia. That’s fantastic news, given what big hubs those are.

Dallas and Miami both used to have Flagship Lounges, though over the years they were cut, so it’s nice to see them being brought back. There’s not an exact timeline on when those will open, though. Come to think of it, they’ve been talking about reopening the Flagship Lounge for as long as I can remember.

The renovations are long overdue, as the decor in the Flagship Lounges was getting tired.

Flagship-Lounge-Renovated
Rendering of a renovated Flagship Lounge

American is expanding Flagship Dining

A couple of months ago American opened a Flagship Dining facility inside the DFW Admirals Club, which eligible international passengers had access to. It was apparently meant as a test, given that American didn’t have enough space to build a whole Flagship Lounge.

The concept was that you can hang out in the Admirals Club, and then if you want to eat something you can go to the dining area.

However, the selection looked rather abysmal, as they were’t offering true meals, but rather things like hummus and dip, veggies, etc. It was basically a bigger buffet full of Admirals Club snacks.

Flagship-Dining-DFW
American’s Flagship Dining DFW

American will be expanding upon and improving the Flagship Dining concept starting early next year. Here’s how it’s described:

Scheduled to open in early 2017, the Flagship Dining experience will debut at JFK, offering complimentary, full-service tableside dining with seasonal menus. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients will be curated by a New York-based Executive Chef.

Throughout 2017, Flagship Dining will be introduced at gateway cities that deliver American’s award-winning international three-class service on its Boeing 777-300ER – DFW, LAX and MIA. While Flagship Dining will provide the same personalized service, each location will reflect the personal flavors of its own Executive Chef.

“We want our customers to have a luxurious escape no matter the reason for their trip,” said Fernand Fernandez, American’s vice president – Global Marketing. “Our goal is to deliver chef-driven creations and local flavors, giving customers a five-star restaurant experience when they travel. The only thing left to do is board the plane.”

So American is adding a Flagship Dining facility at New York JFK, and will expand the concept to Los Angeles and Miami.

What’s interesting is that the Flagship dining facility will exclusively be available to three cabin first class passengers on international and transcontinental flights; it seems like oneworld Emerald members won’t have access to Flagship Dining.

While as an Executive Platinum I might not love that, I actually think it’s a really smart move. If American is going to introduce something like this, they should do it right and there’s no way they can do that with hundreds of passengers using such a dining facility every day; instead it would end up like the Flagship Dining facility in Dallas.

Flagship-Dining
Rendering of American’s Flagship Dining concept

Business class passengers will get Flagship Lounge access

Earlier I wrote about the current entry requirements for Flagship Lounges. Starting in 2017, Flagship Lounge access will be expanded to business class passengers as well.

Given the evolution of the industry, that sort of makes sense. Long term only very few planes will feature international first class cabins, so American should also be focusing on the business class experience. Admirals Clubs really are an embarrassing offering for international business class passengers.

The major concern here is making this happen without overcrowding the lounges. Flagship Lounges are for the most part already way overcrowded, so hopefully the expansion of these lounges are significant. In practice I’m guessing they may be, since they’ll be taking some of the “real estate” from Admirals Clubs and giving them to the Flagship Lounges. At least that’s my hope.

American-Flagship-Lounge-New-York-13
American Flagship Lounge New York JFK

Bottom line

If executed properly (and that’s a huge “if,” having seen the Flagship Dining facility in Dallas), these changes have the potential to be really positive. I think American thought this out really well:

  • The Flagship Lounges are desperately in need of a refresh, so it’s great that they’ll be renovated
  • A proper Flagship Dining facility is a great concept, and realistically can’t be offered to everyone who has Flagship Lounge access, or it would just disappoint everyone; this is a smart way to differentiate first class from business class, and hopefully offer a more differentiated experience, much like American has on their Sydney to Los Angeles flight
  • American needs better offerings for business class passengers than what they have now, so giving them Flagship Lounge access makes sense, assuming they can expand the square footage of the lounges sufficiently; I’d say Flagship Lounge offerings are on par with most international business class lounges

This is great news for business class passengers and first class passengers. Oneworld Emerald members basically get access to renovated Flagship Lounges, so as long as they’re not more overcrowded than they are now, this seems like a win-win-win.

What do you make of American’s Flagship Lounge changes?

Comments

  1. Honestly this EXP is a bit concerned/bothered by this. While I am glad to see additional FLs added at MIA, PHL and DFW I am very skeptical that they will add enough space/be large enough to accommodate the influx of J passengers. I fully expect these new/improved FLs to be overcrowded.

    I should add the the majority of my access to the FLs is based on being an EXP on international longhaul in Y. I am rarely in J and never in international F.

  2. They also announce a new lounge opening up at MCO which I’m quite excited about due to the lack of lounges at a fairly large airport

  3. Hopefully when Aer Club becomes a thing, I can use my top tier Aer Lingus status to get into Flagship Lounges!

  4. Will adding J passengers to the FL mean that OW Sapphire have access to it? In theory it becomes a business class lounge, no?

  5. Great News for me in 2017. All my flying is AA international J but to this point I’ve only made it to Platinum level. This along with the new EQM rules in effect later this year will finally get me in, one way or another.

  6. Speaking of the enhanced meals on the 773 to Sydney, that test has been a complete success and is most likely being rolled out to all 773 flights. Even though F was the biggest change, coach also had changes with larger entrees and better quality breads. I believe HKG will be the next flight to see the change but these roll-outs will take some time as they are heavily focused on customization to the destination.

  7. I assume they’ll be using the old Envoy Lounge space at PHL which is now part of the A-West terminal club. That part of the lounge is in fine shape still, complete with self-serve fridges and counter space for drinks and food since the old Envoy Lounge concept was in many ways similar to the flagship lounges. In fact, many (including me) considered it to be the best US-based airline business class lounge in the country (one of the few bright spots when travelling on US Airways). Don’t see why they couldn’t just reopen it right away pretty much as is.

  8. For what it’s worth, the new lounge design (as seen in the low-A gates in PHX) is surprisingly gorgeous (using Lucky’s favorite term), is far better than the more gray design that US rolled out last year at the PHX low-B gates lounge. The design mixes the seating up more (some high back seats for privacy for example), has lots of power everywhere in the lounge, and just an all around better use of space.

    As long as non-AA OWE don’t lose FL access or food options as a result when flying on AA domestric, I’d consider this to be a win. One option BA and AA should consider would be reciprocal dining access for AA CK members and BA Premier and GGL members when traveling, though I doubt that would happen.

  9. For me, dining is the wrong thing to focus on. When I get off a long haul flight, I need to freshen up. That means shower at a minimum (which, believe it or not, some of their so-called Flagship lounges do NOT have today), and it would be great if they offer something on top of that (spa, pressing service. One can dream). Really, the last thing I need after being fed like a king on an international first class flight, is more food.

  10. The current footprint at both JFK and LAX are WAAAAY too small already. It is often hard to find a seat and peak times. In order to pull this off successfully AA would have to double or triple the space they already have….and since there is no mention of this in their emails or website I just don’t see that happening.

  11. Good to hear the Flagship lounges are getting some love. Does this extend to the Flagship lounge in LHR? That lounge is pretty tired and uninspiring, particularly compared to the BA F Lounge that’s only a short walk away.

  12. I’m curious if you see this as a window into American’s thinking on their hubs. It is telling to me that they are not doing anything to CLT or PHX. With PHL and MIA (and DCA to an extent) on the east, and DFW, LAX, and ORD covering the midwest/west, it seems like there really isn’t much space to continue large-scale hubs at CLT and PHX.

  13. @DC_Flyer, given that they’ve just finished a refurb of one of the lounges at PHX, I’d say it’s more a reflection of them not having much international traffic from CLT or PHX, so there’s not any international first class and not enough daily passengers to justify it. That said, both seem to carry a large share of domestic transfer traffic and flights seem full all the time currently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *