Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK

Flagship Lounge entrance sign - Notice the marks left from the old First Class Lounge signage
Flagship Lounge entrance sign – Notice the marks left from the old First Class Lounge signage

Read more from this trip – Thanksgiving in Florence:

Introduction

Lounge Visit Details:

  • Date visited: November 27, 2019
  • Where: JFK – John F. Kennedy International Airport, Terminal 8
  • Class: Business Class Lounge

I’ve been to American Airline’s Flagship lounge more than any other lounge, but have never actually gotten around to reviewing it. I’m usually visiting the lounge after a full day of seeking out acacia trees in Manhattan and end up relaxing instead of taking pictures. Eating over 100 pounds of leaves and twigs makes giraffes so sleepy!

The Flagship Lounge opened back in May 2017 and has since expanded to take over the space that was previously occupied by an Admirals Club. It’s located in Terminal 8 just past security. The terminal primarily serves American Airlines and other Oneworld carriers such as Cathay Pacific, Finnair, LATAM, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and Qatar Airways.

Access

American Airlines Flagship lounge has some of the most complicated access rules. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

CategoryPrimary passengerGuests
Concierge Key MembersMembers traveling the same day on any flight marketed and operated by American or a Oneworld airline regardless of cabin. Immediate family (spouse, domestic partner and/or children under 18) or up to 2 guests
First or Business Class passengers Passengers on a qualifying international¹ or transcontinental² flight (JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO) marketed and operated by American or a Oneworld airline First Class passengers: 1 guest (children over 2 count as a guest), Business Class passengers: none
AAdvantage Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro and Platinum membersMembers regardless of cabin on a qualifying international¹ itinerary1 guest (children over 2 count as a guest)
Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire membersMembers departing on or connecting to any flight marketed and operated by American or Oneworld airline regardless of cabin1 guest (children over 2 count as a guest)

1Qualifying international flights include flights from the U.S. to Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City (MEX), New Zealand or South America
²Qualifying transcontinental flights include 3-class nonstop flights between: New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), JFK and San Francisco (SFO), LAX and Boston (BOS) – traveling on A321T aircraft only, LAX and Miami (MIA) – traveling on Boeing 777-300 aircraft only

Flagship Bridge

You have two options after completing check-in formalities at the Flagship Lounge. You can turn left and head to the main lounge or turn right and head to the Flagship Bridge, which now occupies what used to be the Admirals Club.

The Flagship Bridge feels open and spacious. While not open to the outside it’s a terrace over the main terminal. The plants that surround the seating area give the space an outdoorsy feel. That’s something giraffes like myself really appreciate.

There’s seating in a few different configurations and an 8-seat staffed bar in the main section. Note that you can only order beer, champagne and wine from this bar. What’s unique about this space is that it features made-to-order food. I didn’t manage to get a picture of the menu and didn’t have time to indulge, but all the reason to come back.

Flagship Bridge terrace
Flagship Bridge terrace

When American Airlines shut down the Admirals Club they did so with the intention of renovating the space to expand the Flagship Lounge. With 6 Oneworld carriers now using the Flagship Lounge for their premium and elite passengers the lounge would get overcrowded so the additional square footage was a welcome addition.

The renovated space has similar styling to the main Flagship Lounge, but the colors are bit more muted. There’s a small seating area, which wasn’t very busy in comparison to the main lounge.

Flagship Bridge seating area
Flagship Bridge seating area

Moving on there’s a staffed bar and dining area behind a wooden partition that separates it from the seating area. The same made-to-order food menu available on the terrace area is also available in this section. The bar here has hard liquor in addition to beer, champagne and wine.

Flagship Bridge dining / bar area
Flagship Bridge dining / bar area

For passengers who don’t have time to order off the menu there’s a buffet with a few salad and meat options available. However, if you’re looking to hit the buffet you’re much better off heading to the main Flagship Lounge, which has hot food items as well.

Flagship Bridge buffet
Flagship Bridge buffet

As you walk back towards the main Flagship Lounge you’ll find a coat and luggage storage area. I personally wouldn’t want to leave my personal belongings unattended and based on the low utilization seen in the picture below I think a lot of other people feel the same way.

Flagship Bridge luggage storage area
Flagship Bridge luggage storage area

The Flagship Bridge also features a TV lounge with lots of additional seating. Power ports are available at each seat so you wont have to struggle to find a place to charge your devices.

Flagship Bridge TV lounge
Flagship Bridge TV lounge

Along the wall American built out five private workspaces. I think these are great especially if you’re trying to get some sensitive work done ahead of your flight. You never know who’s looking over your shoulder in the main lounge area and any element of privacy is greatly appreciated.

Flagship Bridge private work area
Flagship Bridge private work area

Flagship Lounge

The main Flagship Lounge has seating for 310 people / giraffes. I visited the lounge on Thanksgiving Eve, which is one of the busiest travel days of the year. The main Flagship Lounge was absolutely mobbed and in stark comparison to the Flagship Bridge almost every seat was taken.

Main Flagship Lounge
Main Flagship Lounge

I absolutely love the design of this lounge. The ultra modern chandeliers above the champagne / wine bar are gorgeous. There’s seating in a variety of configurations suitable for those traveling solo, with a partner or in groups.

Flagship Lounge champagne and wine bar
Flagship Lounge champagne and wine bar

Food and Beverage

The Flagship Lounge has one of the best airline lounge buffets I’ve come across. An assortment of cold cuts, cheese and salads is available and is an identical to what’s offered at the Flagship bridge.

Cold cuts, cheeses and salads buffet
Cold cuts, cheeses and salad buffet

The holiday season was in full swing at the Flagship Lounge. The buffet was American Thanksgiving themed and included roast turkey and for those pescatarian giraffes fish was also available. The turkey was really juicy and delicious.

Roast turkey and fish
Roast turkey and fish

Continuing with the Thanksgiving theme they had traditional sweet potato casserole, Brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes and cornbread.

Thanksgiving sides
Thanksgiving sides

There was also a variety of delicious looking sweet treats. I didn’t manage to try any, but don’t these look great?

Sweet treats
Sweet treats

American has a stellar beverage program at the Flagship Lounge. In the cooler they have environmentally friendly boxed water, Perrier sparkling water, Budweiser, Bud Light, Guinness, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Winter Lager, Pacifico, Blue Moon, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Blue Point NY Pinstripe Pilsner and Heineken.

Beverage cooler
Beverage cooler

The self-serve hard liquor selection is also impressive for a business class lounge. Premium liquor brands such as Belvedere Vodka and Hendricks Gin are perfect for making a lovely pre-flight cocktail.

Hard liquor selection
Hard liquor selection

American seems to rotate their champagne at the Flagship Lounge. They’re currently serving Champagne Besserat de Bellefon. It’s a blend of Pinot Meunier (45%), Chardonnay (35%) and Pinot Noir (20%). It’s crisp, refreshing and at $35 per bottle is a respectable offering for a business class lounge. Just try not to think about the people drinking Krug a few hundred feet away in Flagship First Dining.

Champagne Besserat de Bellefon
Champagne Besserat de Bellefon

After enjoying some turkey, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts I poured myself a glass of champagne and found a seat overlooking the tarmac while I waited for my flight to Madrid.

First Class Giraffe lounging pre-flight
First Class Giraffe lounging pre-flight

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Approved

The American Airlines Flagship longe is one of my favorite business class lounges. On Thanksgiving Eve the main lounge was very crowded, but the Flagship Bridge offered a more tranquil environment. I love that American had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the buffet and it was actually very tasty. You can’t say that about many airline lounge buffets. The variety and quality of the beverages at the lounge is impressive. You even have a choice of making your own cocktail or getting a bartender to make one for you. Next time I visit I’ll have to try the made-to-order food at the Flagship Bridge and if I’m lucky I’ll have an opportunity to try Flagship First Dining.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s