Review: American Airlines Flagship First Dining, Dallas – Fort Worth

I recently had the chance to visit American Airlines Flagship First Dining DFW. American Airlines Flagship First Dining is an incredible experience. It’s better than anything United Airlines or Delta offer on the ground. The future of the offering is something of a question mark, with the airline unwilling to offer insight into long term plans.

There are only two Flagship First Dining locations. My favorite, the JFK location, has been closed and there are now new lounges operated in conjunction with British Airways (the equivalent to ‘First Dining’ is the new ‘Chelsea’ lounge there). The LAX location never re-opened. And that leaves Dallas – Fort Worth and Miami.

It’s located at gate D22, inside the Flagship Lounge, which shares an entrance with the Capital One lounge. Once you’re admitted to Flagship, if you’re eligible for First Dining you’ll be given an invitation card (or perhaps escorted inside, if you’d like to go right away).

When I arrived there was only one other passenger in the lounge.

A Meal At American Airlines Flagship First Dining DFW

I was shown to a table. The first thing I checked for was did it have power and noticed everything set against a wall did.

Here are the menus for the dining room. When you sit down you’re given both a drink menu and a menu of appetizers and entrees.

And after you’ve eaten you’ll be brought a menu of desserts and digestifs.

Looking over the drinks my first thought was to begin with a glass of champagne. The bottles they’re highlighting aren’t necessarily the ones you’ll want. I asked for a glass of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, however I was told they were out of it (!). I accepted a glass of the Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée 1785.

I placed an order for a glass of the Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley chardonnay, gulf oysters, snapper and burger in order to try a mix of different dishes (the burger largely to compare across other lounges offering the same).

The waiter asked whether I’d like corn bread? This is a Flagship First Dining staple, offered elsewhere as well. The server highlighted it’s from a James Beard collaboration and chef who was on… he struggled to remember the show he was supposed to cite (Top Chef). It’s quite good.

The chardonnay was an immediate disappointment, not because of the wine itself but because just after noon in an empty lounge I was brought a bottle that was three quarters empty. Normally I’d ask for a new bottle, but my goal wasn’t the enjoyment of the wine as such but to gain a better understanding of the lounge and so accepting the glass seemed on point. The fried oysters, though, were excellent.

So was the snapper, though I ate only the piece of fish itself (and I didn’t finish the oysters) because I wanted to try several things.

In 2018 I compared the American Airlines Flagship burger to the Polaris burger which United offers in its dedicated business class lounges. The Flagship burger won and the burger at New York JFK was better than the ones offered at LAX or Miami at the time. I cannot vouch that four years later this is still true, but the burger at JFK definitely delivered.

I probably should have tested the ability to customize to ask for the fries extra crispy, though, to see what would have happened. I didn’t think about that until receiving the dish and realizing that they were less crispy than I like them. I also don’t usually favor a relish on a burger but this really was delicious (“red onion bacon marmalade” how could it not be). I didn’t eat the whole burger either, of course, or more than a couple of fries.

In general I far prefer savory to sweet, and I was certainly full, so as much as I wanted to photograph a couple of desserts I decided to call it a visit.

On the way out I noticed the bartender and another employee were sitting on the ground in the corner on their phones – unprofessional to be sure but also understandably bored. In addition to the one guest who was in the lounge when I got there (and left shortly thereafter) there was only one other table occupied during my entire visit, and nobody visiting the bar.

This is hardly an issue limited to American’s under-visited Flagship First Dining room. I’ve observed employees in the Emirates first class A concourse in Dubai focused almost exclusively on their phones, with far more employees in the terminal than guests.

Who Has Access To Flagship First Dining?

American Airlines Flagship First Dining DFW is inside the Flagship lounge. It’s a special interior door, and guests present an invitation card they’re given at lounge reception.

Flagship First Dining access is limited to:

  • Flagship first class passengers flying American Airlines to Asia; Australia; Europe; or South America or flying between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco.

  • Historically, to oneworld partners who have paid for access (such as British Airways for their first class passengers in some locations, Cathay Pacific at New York JFK) and to Concierge Key members who have been given a limited number of passes, as well as to those offered a buy-in option or who purchased access through American’s Five Star premium ground service

Flights providing access to DFW Flagship First Dining are exceptionally limited at present. Two of the 3 American Airlines flights to London Heathrow are operated by a Boeing 777-300ER with Flagship First Class. British Airways first class also qualifies. Passengers connecting to Flagship First Class out of another airport to a Flagship First flight qualify.

No Tipping In Flagship First Dining

In 2017 then-LAX Managing Director Jim Moses (now Vice President for DFW) told me they consider Flagship First Dining an extension of the cabin where no tipping is permitted.

Officially, American Airlines says that tipping is neither expected nor solicited, which is a bit more careful to recognize that some guests do tip and they don’t actually say not to.

However I did not see any of the thank you cards presented at the end of the meal that used to be used, and very much looked like a $0 check – which was viewed by many as a prompt to tip.

The Future Of DFW Flagship First Dining

I thought that the meal was fine, good even, though not nearly as good as my last visit to JFK Flagship First Dining. It was comparable to the meal I had in Miami prior to the pandemic. Flagship First Dining is the best experience inside the Dallas – Fort Worth airport, for sure.

It’s located in an interior space, so that leaves something to be desired. While I like the peace and quiet, I can’t see myself spending much time aside from the meal inside of Flagship First Dining. I’d rather go back out into the Flagship Lounge near the window line.

With American Airlines eliminating Flagship First Class I’m hopeful, though, that the product survives. They make it available to people buying ‘Business Plus’ fares on long haul international. If there’s enough uptake monetizing the product it will have a future. In New York, ConciergeKey members flying long haul international and all British Airways Gold Guest List members can use the lounge regardless of class of service. This would certainly be a nice perk here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I always tip in these situations. I wish I didn’t have to, of course. No rational person enjoys the act of parting with more money than necessary. But that is the problem. Well, one of the problems. Another problem is that Gary Leff is fat and shouldn’t be eating in airports unless it’s a kale salad. And he should walk all the way, not take any moving walkways. For the uninitiated, Gary Leff needs to lose weight. Okay back to the point. Where was I? Tipping has become a sine qua non of respectable upper class social behavior. I can’t fathom leaving no tip at Flagship Dining and walking away thinking I was a respectable patron. I carry a stack of $20s in my wallet just to hand out as tips.

  2. While the product is good, it seems (and always seemed) like a waste with such low utilization. Can’t imagine American offering it for much longer.

  3. I occasionally fly First between JFK and LAX; have never been offered Flagship first dining.
    I used to use the Qantas First Class dining at LAX which was the best. (Has it re-opened?) And usually pretty full.
    I also sometimes book first to or from Heathrow; the Concorde Lounge is excellent.
    Look forward to trying Flagship First dining in the US if i can figure out how!

  4. The argument to “temporarily close” FF Dining at LAX was COVID. While COVID is behind us and all other FF Dining locations have reopened, it has remained “temporarily closed” at LAX and remains listed as such on AA’s website. This is disingenuous of AA.

    A supervisor at the LAX Flagship Lounge has related that given substantial passenger loads, FF Dining would be FULLY used if reopened . . . not under-used. Yet, the decision has ALREADY been made that FF Dining will not reopen . . . as in, permanently . . . due to cost cuts. So, AA charges a fare that includes FF Dining but it will not provide it.

    Recall that FF service at Miami has been on again/off again. It could be a target for permanent closure. Which would leave JFK and DFW. Of course, JFK has been re-branded, the Flagship Lounge moniker has been removed, and its listing as such has been removed from AA’s website.

    In light of what’s happening at LAX, whether FF Dining will survive at DFW is a good question. The greatest driving factor is that it is collocated with AA HQ . . . a hometown show-off factor . . . as well as access being extended to AA management. The second greatest driving factor has been the ramp-up of international long-haul at DFW combined with BA’s use of FF Dining for its first class passengers and GGL members. So, I think DFW is safe.

    If FF Dining were a true “elevated experience” in which AA could take pride . . . and where passenger loads justify . . . why would AA not have it in a hub city such as Philadelphia? And, speaking of elevated experiences, what’s going on with AA’s Five Star Services?

    In recent months, I’ve talked with members of AA’s executive team a few times. I’ve related that between AA’s service level cuts and the instability of AA’s network schedule, I’ve moved much of my “investment” in air travel to other providers. I appreciate they have a business to run. But, so much of what they are now selling (or will be selling) is not what I’m looking to buy.

  5. @Gary: How often do they rotate chefs?

    Who caters it at DFW? Host International?

    Presumably the superlatives are relative to other airside options. In the hurly-burly of the Dallas restaurant market this place would not survive, right?

  6. Solucia, just to clarify, there is “domestic” First service between JFK and LAX, which involves a connecting flight, neither of which is a Flagship First route and is on a “standard” Airbus 321s. Then there is Flagship First service between JFK and LAX, which involves a non-stop flight and is on the specially configured Airbus 321-T. I would be shocked if you were flying in actual Flagship First service and FF Dining had never been offered to you. When one walked into the (old) Flagship Lounge at JFK, someone at check-in personally escorted each Flagship First passenger to the FF Dining room. This was my experience every single time without exception.

    Now, those flying in Flagship First are granted access to the new “Chelsea” Lounge at JFK, which is shared with BA. While I have yet to visit the new lounge, I would have to believe the practice of escorted reception is carried over.

    Regarding the Qantas first class lounge at LAX, it has reopened. Frankly, while the food is good, the lounge’s physical layout and visual appeal is somewhat . . . dated and industrial.

    Regarding the Concorde Room at LHR, darn tootin’ . . . it’s very nice.

  7. The only way a Flagship first passenger between between lax – jfk gets FFD is if they originate or terminate in DFW or MIA.

    How about some coverage of the dumpster fire the new JFK lounges are (see the BA Flyertalk thread). . AA and BA have yo won the incompetence prize for this.

  8. Hello. Flew Flagship First JFK to LHR this past May and did not realize I had access to Flagship First Dining until an AA staffer told me and let me to the private dining room. Really enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll have a chance to experience again in one of the other locations since I guess it won’t be coming back to JFK. Seems like AA keeps cutting back on first class amenities and benefits. Thanks for your post!

  9. i’d much rather they put the money into the onboard food / beverage

    the whole sit down dining thing at an airport just doesn’t add much to time starved fliers

    i found it to be awkward at DFW in that oddly enclosed area, dragging luggage past a door, the servers forcing themselves to be polished, me needing to think about the staff

    on the ground some great wine / liquor self serve, ample seating with plugs, and some nicely curated starters / snacks are just right

  10. @Gary “My favorite, the JFK location, has been closed” – When did AA JFK Flagship dining CLOSE? (I was just there in mid-November 2022 & had a great meal – new menu etc!).

  11. I wish this was a local restaurant menu:-) ANd I’m more vegetarian:-)

    Everything just looks great and the space is beautiful too, though I still like to watch the plane activity and have windows.

    Hope they do a cookbook!

  12. I was able to visit the Chelsea Lounge Dec 4th…i flew lax to JFK in First.
    It was beautiful and the staff was amazing. I ordered Lamb Tagine and the burger.
    The manager gave me a tour around, and also the other side that overlooks the runway.
    Highly recommend JFK Chelsea lounge

  13. This concept makes zero sense. Offer a highbrow buffet — and expensive booze — to top int’l customers who want to feel special or perfer to eat something on the ground. Serve them a nice dinner in the air (if they want it).

    American is an airline. It doesn’t need to be operating a good-but-not-great restaurant.

  14. Remember that without tipping companies.would have to pay a loving wage to employees, especially now that there’s a labor shortage.

    Instead of saying “I will tip because I see a few who do it”, skip the tip “because the majority understands that tipping only lowers the wages for employees and that’s wrong”

  15. On 2022-12-09, I was flying Terminal 8 JFK-DFW in a first class seat and I am EXP and Admiral’s Club member. I tried to get into Chelsea, they said no way (I looked in there, there were only 3 people in there). I said what about Soho? They said no way (I looked in there, there were only 5 people in there). Then I walked over to Greenwich, they said no way. So disappointing.

    They said go to Admiral’s Club at gate 42. I said no way. Not interested in a schlepping it at a lowly AC. I am a longtime EXP traveling first class. Yes, I know the rules for Chelsea, Soho, Greenwich, you don’t need to educate me. Don’t bother telling me I am an idiot etc. Just read my story and don’t bother to comment. Please. Thank you.

    I went to Gate 13 to take the shuttle to Terminal 5 JetBlue. Lady said show me your JetBlue boarding pass. I said I don’t have one. She said you can’t take the bus. I said I want to get to the TWA hotel. She said go take AirTrain. I said that means I have to leave security. She said yes you have to leave security.

    Getting to the AirTrain took a lot of walking. Two stops to Terminal 5. Then downstairs. Then walk outside in the inclement weather dragging luggage on and off sidewalks with no ramps. Lots of walking.

    Ate at the Paris Cafe. So disappointed. Lousy small burger with terrible fries for $28. The worst waitress service.

    So disappointed

  16. I suspect @Gary is enjoying his Concierge Key 🙂
    I have visited the DFW Flagship First lounge several times, I like it but think the decor and specifically furniture is a bit downmarket compared to the old LAX Flagship First dining room. LAX was my favorite but unless AA starts back long-haul to Asia I don’t expect to see it open up again.
    The food at DFW is not all bad IMO, although unlike Gary I have never had the chutzpah to order multiple courses — even using the excuse of testing 🙂 Best I can see the food comes from the same kitchen that prepares the Flagship Lounge buffet food. As to who actually does the cooking — a separate chef? — I have no idea.
    I have found the service fine if a bit chatty. But that’s OK. But I do have news for some of the commentators — no American airline is ever. going to produce on-board food as good as offered in the Flagship First dining room. Just not going to happen, dream on. To me it makes sense to have a decent meal on the ground, just canapes or dessert and a drink in the air, then sleep.
    As to the future of AA’s First Class dining? Never overlook American’s predilection for completely ruining a good thing. If they can F up AAirpass (they did) they can certainly deal with First Class dining. Just watch.
    From the only passenger who pays for Flagship First — according to AA, anyway.

  17. Agree with my fellow EXP. Thirty flights this year and more to come. Boarding at our base in DFW is a zoo. The service level is so low that, as a member since 1985, I wonder if there is perhaps a better approach. Tempted to change airlines but not sure that would be a fix. So sad.

  18. Flagship servers are probably USAs highest paid at $27hr. . My Niece 22 work there -your tip was like Xmas.

  19. I visited the Dallas Flagship Lounge. It is top-notch. Great space and good showers after my Middle East flight. After the shower, I walked to the lounge checking out the decor and amenities. You have to love a place that offers Piper Heidsieck Champagne. I would give AA an A for this lounge. The weird add was the private dining room. I poked my head into the private dining room. I was greeted by a man stating it was a private dining room as he sat behind a desk with AA business cards (probably the Wi-Fi code). Apparently, this dining room is only for First Class Passengers going to London. I explained I just landed first class from the Middle East and thought I would look around. He dug in and firmly reminded me that is was a private dining room and I was not allowed in. Other than the entry, I don’t know what it looks like. Other than an awkward Private Dining experience I would recommend people to fly as much as they can to get access to the Flagship lounge.

Comments are closed.