American Airlines shuttered airport closes at the start of the pandemic. They’ve gradually re-opened many clubs as travel has returned. Club members have continued to pay full price, receiving a 6 month membership extension (or equivalent premium credit card annual fee credit) against 15 months of lounges that have been only partially open.
The good news is that by August all remaining domestic Admirals Club lounges except Honolulu will be re-opened. Based on travel trends Honolulu should have been one of the first to re-open, but that’s waiting on Japan Airlines with whom American shares the club.
Even more significantly, American will be re-opening:
- International business class (Flagship) lounges in Los Angeles, New York JFK, Dallas – Fort Worth, Chicago O’Hare and Miami
- Flagship First Dining in Miami, Dallas – Fort Worth and New York JFK
That’s wonderful because these lounges were fantastic. United’s Polaris lounges were probably a step above American’s Flagship lounges, but Flagship lounges were open to many more people and nicer than anything American had ever done before. American’s Flagship First Dining product was nicer than anything any U.S. airline has done in recent years, period.
American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX
These lounges have remained closed, in airline President Robert Isom’s words, ‘until demand warrants opening them back up’.
Re-Opening Timetable For Premium Lounges
Miami’s Flagship lounge and Flagship First Dining will re-open in September. The other Flagship lounges will re-open “throughout Fall 2021.” Flagship First Dining will also re-open in Dallas and New York “this fall” however the Los Angeles location seems unlikely to re-open at that time since a spokesperson confirms “LAX Flagship First Dining is still being evaluated as part of the phased approach.”
Los Angeles has served as American’s primary gateway to Asia but recent plans have called for a shift in Asia focus to Dallas, while de-emphasizing the role that Los Angeles has played in international travel. American has joint ventures with Japan Airlines and Qantas, which both have a significant presence in Los Angeles. However support for service to China and Hong Kong is not as great.
There’s no timetable announced for opening of the planned Flagship lounge in Philadelphia, whose schedule is coming back more slowly than other hubs (since it relied heavily on transatlantic flying and Europe’s re-opening is coming too late for American to build back its schedule for this summer) – even Philadelphia’s domestic schedule was in some measure built around supporting transatlantic banks.
It appears that American’s plans for a Flagship lounge at London Heathrow no longer appear to be moving forward.
American Airlines Flagship Lounge Buffet New York JFK
Accessing Flagship Lounges And Flagship First Dining
Interestingly American shared that they will announce “plans to make its Flagship Lounges accessible to even more premium customers” this summer. Whether that’s a buy-in option or change in access rules is not yet clear. For now, access to Flagship lounges is available to:
- Business and first class passengers flying on a oneworld airline to Asia; Australia or New Zealand; Europe; South America (excluding Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela) as well as business and first class passengers flying premium transcon routes (New York – Los Angeles and San Francisco and certain Miami – Los Angeles flights).
- American Platinum members and above and Alaska MVP Gold members and above who are flying to one of these eligible destinations on a oneworld airline.
- oneworld sapphire and emerald members in programs other than American AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan who are flying on any oneworld flight (including American and Alaska domestic flights)
- ConciergeKey members flying on a oneworld airline, including American and Alaska domestic
Flagship Dining Dining access is limited to:
- Three-cabin 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) and to ConciergeKey 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
Flagship First Dining New York JFK
Miami First Dining Corn Chowder With Corn Fritters
This Should Elicit A Competitive Response
While Delta’s Sky Clubs range from being marginally nicer than American’s Admirals Clubs and United’s Clubs to being far superior (such as the incredible club in Austin), Delta lacks a premium international business class lounge product. This move by American will almost certainly spur United to have to re-open its Polaris lounges.