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In the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines battled to offer premium passengers a superior product — in the sky as well as on the ground. As part of this effort, American Airlines designed the aptly named Flagship Lounges. Now in late 2021, American is gradually reopening the snazzy lounges as air travel begins a fitful return.
Along with these reopenings, travelers now have new ways to access the lounges. Here's a look at all of the ways you can access American Airlines Flagship Lounges — and why you'll want to.
What are American Airlines Flagship Lounges?
Flagship Lounges are American Airlines' international business class lounges located in select hubs. These lounges offer "chef-inspired" buffet meals, self-serve liquors, premium wines and cocktail bars.
In addition to grabbing a drink and a bite to eat, you can relax in quiet rooms, watch TV in theatre-style rooms or get some work done before your flight. You can even freshen up in individual shower suites.
Flagship Lounge locations
American Airlines built Flagship Lounges in five of its largest hubs. Two are currently open, with the others set to open later this year.
Two locations are currently open:
New York-JFK (Terminal 8, right after security) — open daily from 4:30 a.m. to 11:15 p.m.
Miami (Concourse D, near gate 30) — open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Locations reopening by the end of 2021:
Los Angeles (Terminal 4, near gate 40).
Dallas-Fort Worth (Terminal D, between gates D21 and D22).
Chicago-O'Hare (between gates H6 and K6).
In addition, American Airlines is currently building a Flagship Lounge in Philadelphia and plans to open a lounge in London-Heathrow in the future.
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How do Flagship Lounges differ from Admirals Clubs?
American Airlines also operates a network of dozens of airport lounges called Admirals Clubs. These locations are available to lounge members, passengers on qualifying flights and travelers who purchase a day pass.
At Admirals Club lounges, passengers generally have access to free snacks and limited alcoholic drinks. Some locations also have shower suites, a business center and made-to-order avocado-based snacks. Admirals Club guests pay extra for premium drinks and meals.
Meanwhile, Flagship Lounges offer a wide range of complimentary self-serve alcohol, a buffet of complimentary meals and shower suites in all locations.
How to access Flagship Lounges
You can check out an American Airlines Flagship Lounge for yourself one of three ways:
1. Qualifying American Airlines and Oneworld flights
You can visit a Flagship Lounge if you're flying on a qualifying route in business or first class on American Airlines or another Oneworld airline.
2. Qualifying American, Alaska or Oneworld elites
If you're flying in economy, you may still be able to access the Flagship Lounge thanks to your elite status. Qualifying American AAdvantage and Alaska Mileage Plan elites can access the Flagship Lounge anytime they fly on any qualifying international route on a Oneworld airline.
Qualifying AAdvantage and Mileage Plan elites include:
MVP Gold 75K.
Elites can bring one guest with them into the Flagship Lounge.
Even better, if you have American Airlines' invitation-only ConciergeKey status, you can get access to the Flagship Lounge any time you fly American Airlines or other Oneworld airlines. Plus, you can bring your immediate family or up to two guests.
Oneworld elite passengers
In addition to AAdvantage and Mileage Plan elite members, Emerald and Sapphire elite members of other Oneworld airlines can access Flagship Lounges. Access is granted to you and one guest any time you fly an American Airlines or Oneworld flight, regardless of which cabin you fly.
3. Purchasing a Flagship Lounge day pass
Purchasing a day pass is the newest way to access American Airlines Flagship Lounges. Passengers flying on any American or Oneworld flight can purchase access to the Flagship Lounge for $150 or 15,000 AAdvantage miles per person.
Day pass access can be limited due to capacity and is available only at the lounge where you purchased it. Since Flagship Lounges feature self-serve alcohol, you'll need to be at least 21 to purchase a day pass to the Flagship Lounge.
What is Flagship First Dining?
American Airlines offers an even more exclusive and refined experience: Flagship First Dining. These exclusive restaurants are located inside select Flagship Lounges and are limited to American's most valuable passengers.
Just like at a fancy sit-down restaurant, passengers are seated at tables and order chef-prepared meals from a printed menu. Meals are complemented by high-end liquors and top-tier Krug Champagne.
Flagship First Dining locations
American built Flagship First Dining restaurants in four of its hub airports:
Dallas-Fort Worth; reopening by the end of 2021.
Los Angeles; reopening in 2022.
How to access Flagship First Dining
Access to Flagship First Dining isn't open to everyone. You'll generally need to be flying in American's Flagship First Class to qualify. However, American also has agreements with a few of its partners to offer this sit-down dining to select passengers.
Qualifying American Airlines first class passengers
To access Flagship First Dining as an American Airlines passenger, you'll need to be flying Flagship First Class on qualifying international or transcontinental flights.
American Airlines offers Flagship First Class on two of its aircraft only: The Boeing 777-300ER on international flights and Airbus A321T on domestic transcontinental flights.
American Airlines currently operates Flagship First Class on the following transcontinental routes:
New York-JFK and Los Angeles.
New York-JFK and San Francisco.
New York-JFK and Orange County (Airbus A321T aircraft only).
Los Angeles and Boston (Airbus A321T aircraft only).
Los Angeles and Miami (Boeing 777-300 aircraft only).
Qualifying international flights are limited to first-class flights between the U.S. and Asia, Europe, Australia and South America. If you're flying on a qualifying international route, you can bring one guest with you into Flagship First Dining. No guests are allowed for Flagship First Class passengers on transcontinental routes.
Qualifying passengers on partner airlines
In addition to qualifying American travelers, qualifying passengers on three airlines can also access Flagship First Dining. But the rules are specific for each partner.
Cathay Pacific first class passengers departing from New York-JFK can access Flagship First Dining. This includes passengers that are connecting in other U.S. airports on their way to Hong Kong. Although Cathay Pacific also operates first-class flights to Los Angeles, only the New York-JFK location is covered by this agreement.
Similarly, British Airways first class passengers can also access Flagship First Dining. However, access is available only in Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami for first-class passengers on nonstop flights to London-Heathrow. Passengers departing from other airports with Flagship First Dining (New York-JFK and Los Angeles) don't qualify.
Japan Airlines also partners with American Airlines to offer qualifying passengers access to Flagship First Dining. However, unlike American's partnership with Cathay Pacific and British Airways, the Japan Airlines agreement isn't cabin-specific. Instead, access is only granted to certain VIP passengers.
Purchase access to Flagship First Dining
To get VIP treatment throughout your journey, American Airlines first and business class passengers can purchase Five Star Select service. In addition to the many other perks, Five Star Select customers get access to the Flagship Lounge and — in select lounges— Flagship First Dining.
But this option doesn't come cheap: Five Star Select is $650 for the first passenger plus $150 for each additional adult and $75 per child age 17 or younger.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
If you want to access American's Flagship Lounges
After a long closure, American Airlines is reopening its Flagship Lounges. In addition to getting access through qualifying flights and/or elite status, American is now making Flagship Lounges available to anyone who's willing to pay for the access.
The reopening of Flagship Lounges marks a significant upgrade to the ground experience for qualifying American Airlines and Oneworld passengers. And as we all long for a return to normalcy, we can appreciate this step in the right direction.
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