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In an effort to court premium passengers, American Airlines recently launched a specialized Flagship Check-in service at Los Angeles and most recently Miami. Last week I got to test out this new service at Miami because I flew from Miami to Los Angeles in first class (on a 3-class 777 aircraft) on American using 37,500 Avios (economy is 12,500 Avios for this route) and $2.50 one way.
The dedicated Flagship check-in at Miami is walled off from the main terminal.
Flying first class on a three-class transcontinental flight entitled me to Flagship check-in in Miami- even though I only shelled out $2.50 in cash for the ticket! I used Flagship check-in when it first rolled out as a courtesy of the Oneworld Megado. The experience was convenient and in a somewhat off the beaten path location at LAX (and I happened to check in next to 30 Rock star Jane Krakowski, which was a nice little treat).
Flagship check-in is reserved for Five Star Service customers (those who pay $125+ per person to get extra TLC in the airport), ConciergeKey members (flyers who spend a lot of money on AA or who the airline considers a VIP), passengers traveling first class onboard an international American or select oneworld alliance carriers (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL or Qantas) anywhere in their outbound itinerary, and those traveling first class onboard an American three-class transcontinental aircraft between MIA and LAX, and from LAX to JFK. The service includes customer service representatives who personally assist with your individual check-in travel requirements including baggage check, seating, itinerary changes. There are dedicated self-service kiosks, so no waiting while the person in front of you breaks the touch screen, and passengers using Flagship check-in have a designated premium security line with expedited access.
In Miami the Flagship check-in space is located right in Concourse D of the North Terminal from 4:00 am – 11:00 pm daily.The counter is in the actual terminal, but walled off and right next to security, which is more convenient, and there is a separate security line that brings you directly to a TSA agent. At Miami especially, this can save a ton of time since there are so many AA elites based here, and even the elite line can take 20+ minutes. If you’re also qualified for the TSA’s Pre-Check program, that would be the ultimate combo and you should breeze through security. Though I’m a member, my trusted traveler ID is only stored in my AA.com profile, I’d booked my ticket through British Airways, which isn’t a participating airline, so I wasn’t eligible to use it.
Flagship check-in flyers are invited to use the airline’s lounge, but there’s no separate first class section to the Miami Admirals Club, which can get pretty busy.
I still got through pretty quickly and made my way to the Admirals Club lounge at the airport to wait for my flight. At LAX, the Admirals Club actually has a separate first class area so it’s nicer and quieter than the main lounge, but in Miami it’s all one space and it’s usually thronged, though I still stopped by since it’s better than waiting in the terminal! Although I have access as an Amex Platinum cardholder, I didn’t even need to show that card- simply having a First class boarding pass was enough- even on a British Airways award ticket. It needs to be in first class on a 3 class flight to get the complimentary lounge access.
All in all, having Flagship check-in made my departure quick and painless and it started me off in a great mood to get on the 777 and experience American’s first class again – there’s nothing like having a true lie-flat bed without having to cross an ocean! I wouldn’t pay $125+ for the service, unless I had a complicated itinerary and was traveling with a mobility challenged person. Stay tuned for my review of the service in an upcoming post. If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.
If you're a frequent American flyer but don't have status, additional perks that come with this card like first free checked bag on domestic AA itineraries, preferred boarding on American flights and 10% of your redeemed AA miles back (up to 10,000 miles each year) can be extremely valuable.