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While in the past I’ve felt that American Airlines lounges never measured up when compared to others like the British Airways Concorde Room — which is exclusively for first-class passengers — the new American Airlines Flagship Lounges have been changing that up a bit. In fact, AA has been working on a revival campaign of the Flagship brand in general, with lounges that include a regular dining section as well as a special one called Flagship First Dining.
How To Get In
Getting into the Flagship Lounge isn’t quite the same as having the Flagship First Dining experience. The access policy is fairly complicated but generally includes ConciergeKey and non-AA Oneworld elites, on any itinerary; first and business class passengers on international and transcontinental flights and Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum elites on international flights. EPs can now use Flagship check-in as well.
There will be seven lounges in the flagship network, but right now only the ones in New York (JFK) and Chicago (ORD) are open — Miami (MIA) should be opening later this month and Los Angeles (LAX) by the end of 2017. Next year, we’ll see new ones in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), London (LHR) and Philadelphia (PHL).
Note that only passengers traveling in first class on AA’s three-class international and transcontinental flights will receive an invitation to access Flagship First Dining, which is a step above the dining in the main part of the lounge. Once you’re in the main lounge, show your special invitation to be seated in the Flagship First Dining section, where there’s no time limit and you can stay as long as you like.
My Dining Experience
I was ready to chow down when I entered the Flagship Dining part of the lounge. You may laugh, but I’m a bit of a Caesar salad freak, so I was dying to give it a try and, well, I was a little disappointed. This one came with kale and romaine lettuce topped with brioche croutons and was pretty bland. The salad just lacked flavor and zest.
I started with a glass of Truchard Chardonnay, which I sipped alongside my salad, then switched to red and sampled the Truchard Cabernet. The wines came from a vineyard in Napa and I would love to visit — thankfully, the area was not physically harmed by the recent fires in California — as I’ve been a fan of their wines for a while now. Needless to say, I was happy in the drinks department. All the wines in the lounge were selected by master sommelier Desmond Echavarrie while the cocktails were designed by New York mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer. I’ve heard great things about the Gin Basil Lemonade cocktail, which uses Brooklyn Gin, and will definitely try one of those next time.
Thankfully, the cheeseburger turned things around for me after the unmemorable Caesar salad. It was outrageously delicious — the meat was tender and juicy, topped with Sprout Creek Farms aged cheddar cheese, a red onion and bacon marmalade, arugula and tomato. The staff even brought out a sriracha mayo for me to dip my perfectly crunchy fries in.
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I dove right into my dessert before I could snap a photo of it! I selected the dark chocolate brioche bread pudding with milk chocolate and smoked sea salt tart with white chocolate ice cream and strawberry syrup. It was rich and sweet. I remembered mid-ice cream to take the photo, so I suppose that proves how yummy it was.
Although American Airlines was a little late to the game with this new dining concept, I still think it managed to take it a step above British Airways’ first-class dining. While I would love to see even higher-end options like steak or lobster offered, in general, it’s the perfect pre-flight stop, especially if you prefer to dine before a flight between New York and London and you just want to get some sleep right away without having to wait for the in-flight food service — just skip the Caesar salad and go straight for the burger and dessert.
This post has been amended to reflect updated lounge access policies.
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