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American Airlines has been spending a lot of time and money lately with the goal upgrading the experience it provides for its premium passengers. In addition to updating its entire long-haul fleet to include lie-flat seating in business class, AA has opened four Flagship Lounges in the last few months in New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA) and Los Angeles (LAX). I had the chance to check out the LAX lounge before a recent flight to Shanghai (PVG), and I found that this lounge offers a similar experience to that of its other Flagship Lounges — meaning it’s very good.

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Access

The Flagship Lounge and its Flagship First Dining areas are reserved for AA’s most premium customers. You’ll be granted access if you meet (at least) one of the following criteria:

  • Flying in first or business class on a qualifying transcontinental flight (JFK to either LAX or SFO)
  • Flying in first or business class on international flights to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City (MEX), New Zealand and South America
  • AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on qualifying international oneworld flights regardless of cabin
  • ConciergeKey members traveling on any oneworld flight

First-class passengers and qualifying AAdvantage elite members are allowed to bring up to one guest, while ConciergeKey members can bring immediate family or up to two guests. I’d flown from Chicago to LA the previous day, and was allowed to access the Flagship Lounge at O’Hare as well since I was booked on an international business-class itinerary.

Location & Entrance

The lounge is open daily from 4:45am to 12:45am, and is located just past the security checkpoint in Terminal 4, across from gate 40. This space houses both the Flagship Lounge and the Admirals Club.

After handing my boarding pass to a check-in AAgent, I was given an invitation to the Flagship Lounge and headed up the stairs to the second floor.

Seating Areas

The lounge itself measures in at 14,500 square feet — including the Flagship First Dining area that’s only available to passengers traveling in first class on a three-cabin aircraft.

The lounge is rectangular in shape, with the entrance right in the middle. Just inside the door was a seating area that offered views of the concourse below. But, given the amount of foot traffic that this area gets, I would go elsewhere to sit.

To the left were a number of lounge chairs facing two TVs, as well as smaller dining tables along the windows.

Turn left again, and you’ll find yourself in an open seating area with beautiful AvGeek views thanks to the floor-to-ceiling glass widows.

Since it was early in the morning, many of the gates on this side of the terminal were full with AA Dreamliners getting ready for their early departures to Asia.

Food & Beverage

The main dining room is spacious and offers offers the same impressive  views as the smaller seating area that was mentioned above.

The centerpiece of this room is the long communal table with a self-serve wine bar in the middle. There was an impressive selection of both red and white wines available.

The real star of the show, though, is the never-ending tub of Bollinger Champagne. I thought it was nice that AA provided orange juice for DIY mimosas — especially since it was early in the morning — but I didn’t see anyone actually take advantage of this specific option. However, the Champagne itself was wildly popular.

I arrived at the lounge just before 8:00am, and lounge staff were already filling up the Bollinger tub for the second time that morning. During my visit, I observed the staff go through another three cases before it was time for me to board. Another note about the Champagne: Maybe it was because the lounge guests had collectively drank about 30 bottles of bubbly before 8:00am, but no one seemed to understand how to use the resealable corks. This meant that every five minutes or so, a cork would pop into the air — startling everyone momentarily.

There were plenty of hot options for breakfast including potatoes and a few different egg dishes.

There was also a selection of cold items such as cheese, cold cuts, fruits and vegetables.

All the food looked fresh, though I didn’t sample any of the cold options. The lounge was busy when I was there, but the food was replaced regularly by the staff.

I chose to take advantage of the made-to-order omelette station, which offered a nice variety of meats, cheeses and vegetables as fillings.

Behind the main buffet was a massive bar. I’ll let the fact that it was too big to fit in one single picture speak for itself.

There was also a make-your-own Bloody Mary station complete with an instruction card and a nice selection of garnishes.

Scattered throughout the lounge were a number of small drink stations stocked with water and fruit, so you never had to walk too far.

Other Amenities

I liked the open and airy feeling of the main dining room but it did start to get noisy as the lounge filled up. If you headed to the right after entering the lounge, there was a long hallway that housed a “quiet room” next to the Flagship First Dining facility with lounge chairs to nap in.

The bathrooms and shower suites were down the same hallway, both of which featured C.O. Bigelow toiletries, which is the same brand that AA stocks its amenity kits with.

The lounge also featured a business center with computers and a printer/scanner.

Overall Impression

Since the first location opened at New York’s Kennedy Airport (JFK), American’s Flagship Lounges have set the bar high for domestic lounges. The latest iteration in Los Angeles (LAX) is no exception. From the extensive food and drink options to some excellent plane spotting opportunities, this lounge is a great place to pass the time before your next flight from (or through) LAX. If you’re able to access the lounge, make sure you build some extra time into your itinerary so you can spend a good amount of time here.

Know before you go.

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