Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge, New York JFK T8

Overall Rating

By Chris C., March 1 2016
American Airlines Flagship Lounge, New York JFK T8

United States


New York (NY)


New York (JFK)




American Airlines



The Good
  • Dedicated business nook
  • Real Champagne (Taittinger)
The Bad
  • Food and beverage is all self-serve
  • Feels like a solid business class lounge, rather than above-business
  • A variety of hot food: a rarity in USA lounges


While American Airlines doesn't have 'first class' lounges per se, its better-than-business class 'Flagship Lounges' are where first class passengers and some top-level frequent flyers can relax in a space that's their own.

We go behind the frosted glass doors in New York's JFK Airport to see what the AA Flagship Lounge has to offer.

Location & Impressions

You'll find the Flagship Lounge adjacent to the Admirals Club at JFK – simply clear security and follow the Admirals Club signage until you reach the main entrance, where eligible travellers will be swiped into the Flagship Lounge.

Inside, the lounge feels similar in size and shape to the Qantas domestic business class lounge in Brisbane, with tarmac views available out the right-hand side.


  • International first class passengers of American Airlines flying to Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Mexico City and Australia/New Zealand, including before same-day domestic connections to the same
  • Domestic first class passengers travelling to Los Angeles or San Francisco on three-class Airbus A321T flights, or after arriving on the same
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum members travelling on or connecting to a same-day international flight with any Oneworld airline, excluding to Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean
  • Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members travelling onwards with American Airlines and other Oneworld airlines to all domestic and international locations
  • Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers (excl. American Airlines Executive Platinum) flying with American Airlines or any Oneworld airline to any destination


AA's Flagship Lounges differ from the regular Admirals Clubs in offering travellers a variety of cooked dishes at all times of the day at no charge, rather than providing only snacks for free and charging for any hot food.

Our morning visit found a nice selection of breads and pastries on-hand, expected of any lounge in the US...

... joined by tasty parfaits of either apple or blueberry...

... plus hot items like sausages and bacon...

... scrambled eggs, spinach rolls...

... and potatoes:

In the beverage department is machine-made espresso coffee or more typical American java if you'd prefer, plus a vast range of spirits, beers and wines.

Champagne lovers, fear not: you'll also find Taittinger NV in the fridge, but it's a self-pour affair.

By US lounge standards where bagels are normally the dining highlight, that's a pretty solid offering for passengers travelling within the US, and is again comparable to Qantas' own domestic business class lounges: sans baristas and bartenders.

However, unlike the Flagship Lounge in Los Angeles which is primarily a domestic lounge (aside from a handful of daily overseas flights), the JFK Flagship also serves as the de facto international first class lounge for all Oneworld airlines departing New York from Terminal 8.

Along with AA that also includes Airberlin, Finnair, LAN, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian and TAM – and as far as international-grade first class lounges go in 2016, top-tier travellers now expect more than make-it-yourself coffee, pour-it-yourself Champagne and serve-yourself buffet fare.

Table service with even a limited sit down dining menu would really kick things up a notch and make the Flagship Lounge more 'first class'.


Turn right after gliding through the Flagship Lounge doors to find the quieter business area, complete with power-equipped and window-facing work stations...

... wireless printing facilities...

... and computer terminals if you didn't pack your own tech...

Peckish travellers could instead plonk their laptops at a bench nearer the buffet...

... while more casual tasks are easily done in the many lounge chairs...

... the bulk of which have easy access to AC power points inside the cocktail tables:

Fast and free WiFi also blankets the lounge and proved adequate for emails and web browsing, although USB charging ports – commonly found in many newer lounges – are for the most part absent.


When your visit doesn't involve work, kick back in front of the TV or enjoy a quick drink at these 'short stay' chairs near reception...

... pick up a magazine or newspaper...

... or simply kick lean back and relax while watching the world fly by:

You can also take a shower in one of several private suites...

... featuring amenities by Red Flower:

All up, AA's JFK Flagship Lounge is head and shoulders above what top-tier travellers of Delta and United get to experience in New York, and may well entice premium passengers to travel with American over its competitors.

But on a more global scale, it's certainly not up there with the likes of the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney or even the Star Alliance First Lounge in LA: both of which boast a significantly more modern decor and have restaurant-style dining facilities for high-paying passengers.

Also read: American Airlines 'Flagship Lounge' review, Los Angeles T4

Chris Chamberlin was travelling as a guest of American Airlines.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

"All up, AA's JFK Flagship Lounge is head and shoulders above what top-tier travellers of Delta and United get to experience in New York, and may well entice premium passengers to travel with American over its competitors."

Really? I'd take the Delta T4 lounge over the Flagship lounge any day of the week. Sure the more substantial food attracts a charge but it's still nicer than bain marie slop.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

If you're super keen to dine off a menu instead of the buffet, you could ask the Flagship Lounge staff to fetch you an a la carte menu from the adjacent Admirals Club lounge and can order from that, but just like in the Delta Sky Club you'd need to pay for what you order. :)

(It's not really promoted, but we've done it there before by asking nicely.)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

But there's no outdoor terrace! :D 

Probably a bit cool at the moment but I absolutely love the outdoor terrace at the DL lounge in the warmer month (ditto with LAX Star Alliance lounge - I take some champagne from the F lounge and walk out to the terrace).

I'm probably a bit unusual in that I get really sick of lounge (and hotel) buffets when travelling. Even in Sydney I'll often head out to Movida instead of sitting in the VA lounge if it's meal time.

FYI, the machine made espresso is in fact instant coffee mix. It's not your normal Qantas Club coffee machines using ground beans.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 240

Ok let's not go there with the US and coffee...

We're spoilt in Oz big time!!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2012

Total posts 74

I was there yesterday. QF P flying J to Barbados via MIA. 

There are 2 admirals club lounges in T8 one opp gate 12 and other gate 42. 

Only the one opp 12 has a flagship lounge. 

I was told at check in that I wasn't eligible for flagship but had been several times before so went to gate 12 and was welcomed to what they called their 1st class lounge   No fuss. 

Staff were friendly and helpful the food was good as was the drink. Service in US is always inferior to AU so don't want to do international comparisons. However I have experienced admirals club and can assure you that this surpasses by far anything offered there. 

Sure it's not QF or cx but by us standards it's pretty good. The staff make it better

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 213

When I was there recently (15/3/16) throughout the entire breakfast hours, even up to 1230, there was NO hot breakfast food (as pictured in this article) at all, at any time. It was a mish-mash of this 'n that that only Americans can do, the only hot thing being a few plates of warm, but tired looking, deepfried wontons, bought out occassionally. I was expecting a hot breakfast, apparently no unknown to that lounge, so was very disappointed in what was in fact on offer.

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