American Airlines opened the Flagship First Dining officially at New York JFK International Airport (JFK) exclusively catered to its first class passengers. Given that JFK is already home to a Delta Sky Club Lounge, passengers will be spoiled for choice. This is especially true if you are an American Express Platinum Credit Cardholder. You will find this article explains the traveling perks that come with American Express credit cards in much greater detail.
Location / Time Of Service
American Airlines is one of the first in the world to operate an airport lounge back in the 1950s (Insight). The new Flagship First Dining is American Airlines’ first foray into full service private dining experience (News). The service is located within the airline’s Flagship® Lounge on the mezzanine level after the Concourse B security checkpoint. Dining is available between the times of 0415 to 2330 (415am to 1130pm) with a variation of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Who Is Eligible For Flagship First Dining?
Customers are eligible for Flagship First Dining based on the ticketed cabin. Eligibility is summed up in the following table:
|Fare / Status||Flagship First Dining||Flagship First Dining|
|AA marketed and operated International First Class (e.g. AA 193 LAX > HKG operated by AA's Boeing 777-300)||✔︎||1 (all guests over 2 years old count as 1)|
|AA marketed and operated Transcontinental First Class (AA 1 JFK > LAX operated by AA Airbus A321T)||✔︎||No guests allowed|
|Other airline marketed and AA operated International or Transcontinental First Class (e.g. BA 1510 JFK > LHR operated by AA Boeing 777-300 as AA 107)||✖︎||N/A|
|oneworld® Emerald(SM) and Sapphire(SM) Expand||✖︎||N/A|
Note that industry non-revenue ticket holders are not eligible for access. Qualifying international flights are those between United States and Asia/Australia/Europe/South America. Transcontinental flights include JFK to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), JFK to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and LAX to Miami International Airport (MIA). All flights must depart on the same day or before 0600 (6am) the following day.
Many have mistaken that American Airlines ConciergeKey (SM) will automatically gain access to this exclusive dining area when departing on or connecting to any flight marketed and operated by American Airlines or a oneworld® airline (regardless of cabin). That is not the case. They will be welcomed to the Flagship First Lounge section only which has an enhanced buffet service compared to the food from the regular Admiral Clubs.
No more than 150 passengers daily will have access to the Flagship First Dining area at JFK. Those with the special invitation will have an exclusive sit-down restaurant experience with complimentary full service meal off a menu inspired by local dishes and ingredients. At launch, the New York menu will feature American’s signature Flagship Burger with cheese from Sprout Creek Farms and grass-fed beef from Joyce Farms. Customers will also enjoy specialty cocktails designed by one of America’s top mixologist Pamela Wiznitzer and hand-selected wines from master sommelier Desmond Echavarrie.
“Customers in the Flagship Lounge and in Flagship First Dining will enjoy elevated service throughout their trip,” said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Loyalty and Sales. “We already provide the best premium in-flight experience among U.S. airlines. Now we’re thrilled to unveil our remodeled Flagship Lounges and to be the first U.S. airline to offer top-of-the-line dining in the airport. We are proud of our Flagship experience and we hope our customers will agree it’s the best product out there.”
American Airlines have plans to add Flagship First Dining inside existing lounge facilities in the following hub airports used as international gateways:
- Miami International Airport (2017)
- Los Angeles International Airport (2017)
- London Heathrow Airport (2017)
- Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (2018)
We note that there are no plans to provide oneworld® Emerald status holders with access. This is to preserve exclusivity and avoid overcrowding to the dining area. San Francisco customers will also be disappointed to know that they will not be getting this unique experience as American Airlines only operates transcontinental service there to JFK. The airline does not operate any 3-class international flights out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) currently.
Consistent Experience Is Key
Chief US competitors Delta Air Lines (DL) and United Airlines (UA) (News) have continually upgraded their dining options on board for the past 18 months. American Airlines has been viewed as lagging behind when it comes to food quality, taste and presentation. The airline has been using a similar array of dishes for the past twelve months which is troubling for customers who fly the same routes frequently.
American Airlines can use the recently opened Flagship First Dining experience as a springboard to design new dishes for its first class passengers travelling on international and transcontinental flights. This is important as passengers will have a new level of expectation from the exclusive dining experience which they will bring on board. Feedback could be harsh if the on-board dining service is not as consistent in quality, taste and presentation.
It is not all bad news. American Airlines is the only one in North American that allows its premium cabin passengers to reserve their main course from 30 days up to 24 hours prior to departure. Other airlines with similar technology include British Airways (News) and Qantas Airways (News). American Airlines customers can select their choice on the phone or online. The better option is to request online as the website provides a clear description of the dishes available.
Sample of main course with beef medallion, greens and macaroni and cheese. Source: American Airlines