American Airlines overhauls Flagship Lounges, AA lounge access

By Chris C., January 18 2017
American Airlines overhauls Flagship Lounges, AA lounge access

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.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

Qantas - Platinum (Lifetime Gold)

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 55

As someone who recently had a 3 hour delay in YYZ with the AA lounge closed for refurb and subsequent 5 hours layover in the AA lounge in CLT which, whilst large and comfortable, could do with an improved dining offering than just crackers and cheese, anything AA does to its lounges can only hopefully be an improvement, fingers crossed.

Exact thing happened to me at YYZ and CLT last month! Were we on the same flight? LOL

Though with the delay at CLT, they offered sandwiches and drinks to all, which I was rather surprised with given it's AA. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

For readers wondering what on earth CLT and YYZ are: CLT is airport code for Charlotte (North Carolina) while YYZ is Toronto.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 12

Thank you David, not all of us are conversant with airport codes and 'speak fluent aviation'.

Qantas - Platinum (Lifetime Gold)

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 55

Thanks David, my apologies for slipping into "easy speak".

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Don't fret, it's just habit when one is so familiar with any form of shorthand or jargon and uses on an almost day-to-day basis (I used to do the same with techspeak but had to wean myself off the habit when I became a journo).

Qantas - Platinum (Lifetime Gold)

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 55

It would have been great to meet you TRB, what a shame we were not. 

I overlooked to mention the usual one drink voucher upon first entry and the 2nd one I snaffled when returning to the lounge after a gate check for a failed standby option.  My suitcase went on that flight however so the good thing was that it was faster to collect at MSY (New Orleans) from the storage office rather than wait at the luggage belt at 22:00 hrs.  There is always an upside in these travel adventures ;)

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 71

So the JFK Flagship Lounge has reopened after renovation. Does this mean oneworld sapphires can access it even if flying Economy? Or do they only get access by virtue of flying business class?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

The renovations at JFK may be complete, but it's still an 'International First Class Lounge' (first class and Oneworld Emerald only) while AA continues to renovate and build in other airports.

Once it's rebranded back to a Flagship Lounge (stage 2, above), it'll open its doors to Oneworld Sapphire and eligible business class flyers, but for now, it's still a first class/Emerald lounge.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 178

So Qantas Golds will now be able to use the AA Flagship lounges? Great news, this sounds like an actual 'enhancement'!

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2476

Indeed: we're sure there are many travellers who'll be pleasantly surprised by this move!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Aug 2014

Total posts 216

The sooner AA LAX is finished, the better. Their Flagship Lounge in T4 is straight "80's corporate chic" haha.

The buffet is sign-posted with a crumpled piece of paper printed from the front desk, and the food trays sit on a long faux-mahogany boardroom table in the former meeting room.

For any other airline, this would be an unacceptable embarsssment, but of course... we're talking about AA...!!

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1024

That's the temperary lounge because the normal Flagship area is closed for the overhaul.

19 Jan 2017

Total posts 1

I think right now, that the best option from T4 is the 10 minute walk to the Oneworld lounge in TBIT via the new Terminal Connector.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Sep 2013

Total posts 14

No end in sight to their bizarre entry policy that favours Oneworld frequent fliers over their own AAdvantage members on domestic routes?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

Given what they charge for Admiral's Club, I very much doubt it

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Jan 2013

Total posts 241

So are they still opening up American Airlines lounge access to us lowly QC members?

Sorry if I missed something. Cheers!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 May 2015

Total posts 7

Admiral's Club lounges are, by and large, the pits.

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