Review: American Airlines Flagship First Dining Miami

Inside the D30 Flagship Lounge in Miami is a separate experience that’s only for three-cabin first class passengers. It’s open from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily, although before 2 p.m. the Flagship lounge is open.

This is the second Flagship Dining facility after New York JFK. This week the LAX facility opens, and there will be more in Dallas and London.

Accessing American American Flagship First Dining Miami

You enter the lounge like anyone else, open to mid-tier elites and premium cabin passengers on American (and oneworld) Europe, Asia, Central and South America departures.

Access to Flagship First Dining is only for passengers in 3-cabin first class — either international (South America, Europe, Asia) or premium domestic (New York – Los Angeles/San Francisco).

Access Requires a Paper Invitation

Customers who are connecting to 3-cabin first class — such as someone flying Miami – Dallas – Hong Kong in first, would have access. But Miami itself currently has just 3 of its own departures which allow access to First Dining:

  • Miami – London Heathrow, AA56, 7:10pm
  • Miami – Buenos Aires, AA931, 10:45pm
  • Miami – Sao Paulo, AA995, 11:00pm [Note that AA233, 10:45am has 3 cabins but departs before Flagship Dining opens at 2pm]

Each of these aircraft has only 8 seats in first. Not every one is occupied every day, or with paying passengers when they’re being used (some may be nonrev). That’s a very limited number of guests served by Flagship Dining.

While I was in the lounge there was some confusion about its opening time. The door didn’t open at 2 p.m., a few minutes later we were told to wait because they weren’t ready for us, a few minutes later we were told they’d actually been ready and the door just wasn’t automatically opening. I chalked it up to the Miami airport really being as much Latin America as it is New York, and opening within 10 minutes of schedule is on time for them.

Experiencing Everything on the Menu

I happened to be in the Flagship Lounge at the same time as Lucky from One Mile at a Time and Ed from Pizza in Motion. We had all been in Toronto the evening before. Lucky and I flew down to Miami together on the same American flight, though this wasn’t pre-planned. And Ed came down on Air Canada Rouge, he had business in town.

So we all had the opportunity to share a meal together. To be clear, while I had access to the lounge itself I was invited as a guest into Dining since I had a conflict and couldn’t attend the pre-opening event.

First Dining has a bar and a Dining Room. When we entered just after 2 p.m. we were the only ones there, and no one else came in for half an hour.

There are two top tables and booths, but staff moves two two tops together for the three of us to have lunch.

Here’s the wine and cocktail list:

And here’s the menu:

We ordered some bubbles.

Our lunch began with staff offering a choice of bread.

Since there were three of us we didn’t feel super guilty ordering most everything on the menu. It’s a limited menu and we wanted to photograph and take at least a bite out of everything to try.

First out was the goat cheese croquette. I heard good things from my lunch companions about this dish. However one of the few things in the world I don’t eat is goat cheese, so I didn’t try it.

I thought that the corn chowder with corn fritters was excellent, and it was presented wonderfully with the chowder poured over the fritter at the table.

The crispy pork belly empanadas were actually my favorite dish, the meat was flavorful and the empanadas perfectly done.

The ceviche, though, I didn’t love nearly as much. At its core it just didn’t seem like they were using the freshest fish.

The chips served with the ceviche were good, though!

The tuna, though, in the poke bowl was fantastic. I wish they’d been using this tuna for their ceviche. I think they could improve on the rice they’re serving it with though.

Since the Flagship Burger is such a hit at New York JFK (and also available to business class and mid-tier elite customers in the ‘Bridge’ dining area of the lounge there) I was excited to compare the burger in Miami. I thought it was fine, good even, but didn’t quite have that umami that the New York burger seemed to.

The black bean cake tasted exactly like what you think it would taste like, it gives them a nice vegetarian dish but I don’t think I’d order if otherwise.

The chimichurri chicken was underseasoned and I wasn’t impressed by the dish at all as a result.

The pulled pork came out beautifully presented but wasn’t as flavorful as I’d expect.

There’s still room for dessert, right? Here’s the dessert menu:

I thought the flan was very well executed, and I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again.

On the other hand the ice cream sundae was a disappointment, with ice cream that tasted like it came from the freezer of a Safeway, Vons, or HEB. They really should be using a better ice cream in Flagship First Dining.

At the end of the meal they presented a ‘check’ of sorts, a thank you card which is a nice touch along with a chocolate airplane which was delicious.

Overall I’d say the staff were friendly and the presentation of the food was fantastic. However several dishes were underseasoned. I enjoyed the pork empanadas the most. The tuna in the tuna poke was good though the rice was mediocre.

There were more staff than guests in the lounge even when an older couple traveling to London came into the dining area at 2:30 p.m. (they had been in the Flagship Lounge for quite some time before that). And unlike at New York JFK I never heard staff complaining to each other about their colleagues or about the schedules they were working.

The only thing criticism I’d offer about the service is that Lucky let them know what time he had to leave to catch a flight, the staff committed to having certain dishes out in time for him to try, but they didn’t hit that commitment or let him know when things were running behind.

That may seem like a minor quibble but in an airport where people have to watch the clock (an opportunity for improvement for such a small pool of guests would be to watch the clock for them and provide an escort to the gate) food needs to come out promptly.

We debated whether the Dining facility could survive on the number of passengers who have access to it, whether they’d eventually shut it down to expand the club or expand who can enter. It seems to me like there’s an opportunity to open it earlier for connecting passengers off of international arrivals (including British Airways) or to allow afternoon access for Executive Platinum and Concierge Key members flying in business class.

Flagship First Dining is One of the Best Airport Experiences in North America

A leisurely and serene sit down meal in this lounge is the perfect way to start a long flight, skip the first meal service (or even have it as the second meal, just let the crew know upon boarding to preserve that as an option), and go right to sleep especially for the 11 p.m. departures.

The exclusive experience is unquestionably nice. Flagship First Dining gives American one of the best lounge experiences in the U.S. You have to compare it to the Qantas first class lounge in LAX, for instance — although I think that has better food, and broader access rules (oneworld top tier elites can use it regardless of class of service) but lacks views.

The food isn’t as impressive as Air Canada’s Signature Suite. But Flagship First Dining is certainly in rarified air. And it’s presented by American Airlines which creates a certain cognitive dissonance. You don’t expect something this nice from American.

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. Two questions?
    1) can I bring my seven year old on assuming he meet’s criteria?

    2)Flying QR Business Class from MIA-DOH will I have access?

  2. @Mike, you can access to the Flagship Lounge (buffet), but not to the First Dining because is only for passenger traveling on 3-cabin first class on AA.

  3. I visited today. The staff were amazingly attentive and service was v good.

    I thought the grouper ceviche was excellent….. wow
    The burger was also very good.

    It could do with being busier, for two reasons – 1. To give it more atmosphere; and 2. To justify its existence.

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