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American Airlines is revamping its network of airport lounges across the USA, but there's room for plenty of confusion surrounding the changes.
The Qantas partner's top-tier Flagship Lounges are temporarily getting a new name during the refurbishment, and will welcome a larger group of travellers once those renovations are complete.
At the same time, a new Flagship Dining space will open within selected Flagship Lounges – but with access restricted solely to American Airlines’ first class travellers, as not even the shiniest or rarest of frequent flyer cards will get you a table.
Here’s what the overhaul means for Aussie flyers holding Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge status on their next visit to the USA.
Stage 1: American Airlines International First Class Lounges
In Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and London, what were previously American Airlines ‘Flagship Lounges’ are now known as ‘American Airlines International First Class Lounges’ while they undergo renovations.
Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers can visit these lounges prior to travel on all American Airlines and Oneworld flights, including domestic hops.
These lounges also continue to welcome passengers booked in first class on AA’s three-class domestic and international flights (including Los Angeles-New York and LA-Sydney), plus travellers flying in first class with Qantas and other Oneworld airlines, or connecting to or from the same.
Stage 2: American Airlines Flagship Lounges
Once renovation works are complete (expected by mid-2017), these International First Class Lounges will regain their original name and become part of the new-look Flagship Lounge network – which will include brand new Flagship Lounges in Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami and Philadelphia.
All will feature upgraded buffet dining along with extra power points and more privacy options, remaining separate from AA’s Admirals Club lounges: the US equivalent of a domestic Qantas Club lounge, being a step below the higher-tier lounge.
The good news is that Qantas Gold frequent flyers will gain entry to the new-look Flagship Lounges prior to all AA and Oneworld flights, alongside business class passengers aboard American Airlines’ three-class domestic (Airbus A321T) and international flights, plus other Oneworld business class flyers booked with Qantas and other alliance airlines.
That’s in addition to the travellers who can currently access AA’s ‘International First Class Lounges’ – the new Flagship Lounges will bring together Gold and Platinum frequent flyers plus business and first class passengers in a single space.
Stage 3: American Airlines Flagship First Dining
Over and above the amenities offered to other Flagship Lounge guests, American Airlines’ own international and domestic three-class (Airbus A321T) first class passengers will also find new Flagship First Dining facilities in Los Angeles, New York, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami from later this year.
Unlike the Flagship Lounge itself, these exclusive spaces will not be for frequent flyers or even first class passengers of other Oneworld airlines like Qantas – it’s an ‘American Airlines first class only’ affair, so unless you’re flying AA First, slide that Qantas Platinum card back into your wallet!
It’s a similar concept to Singapore Airlines’ The Private Room, where SQ’s own first class flyers use one space, and first class passengers booked on partner airlines – plus top-tier frequent flyers – use another.
High flyers eligible for Flagship Dining will be treated to multi-course a la carte dining menus with matching wines and complementary cocktails (which also come complimentary): a step above the buffet dining options available to all other Flagship Lounge guests.