Cathay Pacific First Class Passengers Get Access to American Flagship First Dining in New York

American recently opened the first of its new Flagship Lounges at New York JFK. It’s a much nicer lounge than anything they’ve offered before, but it does get busy. Access is fairly broad. All American ConciergeKey members, Platinum members and above flying internationally, oneworld partner mid-tier elites, as well as oneworld international business and first class passengers (and American business class passengers on flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles) have access.

That’s why the renovated Admirals Club next door isn’t super crowded, everyone’s in the Flagship Lounge.

Inside the Flagship Lounge though is an exclusive experience, Flagship First Dining. It’s advertised as being for American’s own international and premium transcon first class passengers only. It’s never busy, features sit down dining and table service.

I have to give them credit, the food inside Flagship First Dining is quite good.

American’s published rules are that while Flagship Lounge is open to oneworld partner premium cabin passengers and elites, First Dining is for their own first class customers only — and not even for their ConciergeKey members flying business class.

It turns out though that the ‘no exceptions’ policy isn’t quite accurate. Cathay Pacific recently moved from terminal 7 at New York JFK (where it was housed alongside British Airways and Qantas) over to terminal 8 with American.

Reader JB let me know, and American Airlines confirmed, that they have an arrangement with Cathay Pacific for that carrier’s first class passengers to be given access to Flagship First Dining at New York JFK.

JB expressed disappointment that he was leaving on the morning Cathay Pacific departure and Flagship Dining had none of the menu’s advertised fresh juices, “fruit delivery didn’t come” he was told. But he was still surprised and delighted to receive access as a Cathay Pacific (award) first class customer.

This raises an interesting question, it’s clearly possible for American to negotiate such arrangements where they (1) offer Flagship Dining, (2) are in the same terminal as a oneworld partner which offers an international first class product, (3) which doesn’t have its own lounge.

It will be interest to see whether British Airways and Qantas will arrange access in Dallas once the First Dining facility opens there, for instance.

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 »

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  1. It’s a win-win arrangement – at barely 24 max CX F pax per day (4 flights x 6 seats on 77W), it would hardly contribute any meaningful increase to the crowdedness of the lounge while giving them a differentiated experience.

    further helped by the fact that the CX flights largely avoid the 5-7pm peak transcon/TATL bank that turns the normally tranquil T8 into Bronx Zoo.

  2. My understanding is that Qatar Business Class will have access to the one in MIA when it opens later this year.

  3. If AA hadn’t extended FC Dinning to CX first class, surely CX would have been justified in kicking out AA Oneworld Emeralds from CX first class lounges or at least a la carte dinning rooms. AA FC Dinning should be open to all Oneworld Emeralds on international flights.

  4. This is not exactly breaking news. Cathay First pax (even those traveling JFK-YVR) have had access since the JFK Flagship First Dining opened.

  5. Can someone ask AA why CX/QF allows OWE elites access to their exclusive F lounges and dining (regardless of flying cabin) where AA does not?

  6. As a qantas platinum flying J to SYD I got access to the old first dining facility in Dallas last year.

  7. OWE elites do get access to FS dining at DFW now, regardless of class of service, when flying international. With such few F seats, AA should allow OWE in FS dining. They do allow CK I believe.

  8. Gary thanks for the news that the company is opening a lounge at Love Field and that BA and Qantas operate from there, I guess that’s news to WN, DL, and the city.

    You know full well it’s DFW or Dallas-Ft. Worth.

    You hold yourself to high esteem and are a self-proclaimed “thought leader” so put out a polished product. You lose credibility.

  9. @Josh G – enough of the silliness, I use the colloquial Dallas to reference DFW as airlines operating from that airport frequently do. We’ve had this discussion, I won’t change that practice.

  10. I had a CX First Class JFK to HKG 2 weeks ago and was given access to Flagship Dining. Service provided by Brian and his crew was excellent. He said I could have the best burger I had ever eaten……and I did! Spacious and appealing lounge(s).

  11. I was rejected for entry to AA flagship dining at LAX in December, flying first class on Cathay Pacific.

  12. Does anyone know the answer to @Ian’s question regarding whether you can bring a guest into JFK Flagship Dining when flying Cathay First Class to HKG?

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