Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK

I reviewed the American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK shortly after it opened in 2017. And I recently reviewed the incredible Flagship First Dining inside the Flagship lounge there. But it’s the business class Flagship lounge that more customers will have access to, and I hadn’t been since before the pandemic. An update is in order.

Finding The American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK

Once you pass through the security checkpoint in New York JFK’s terminal 8, veer to the left and walk forward to the elevator. That’s how you go up a floor to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK. This space also used to house the main Admirals Club in the terminal, but that space was converted to expand Flagship. Now there’s only one Admirals Club, on the midfield concourse.

new york jfk terminal 8 interior

Currently the lounge is open 4 a.m. – 11:15 p.m. but that will be extended come June with the launch of the airline’s Doha flight which leaves after midnight.

When you enter the lounge there’s a set of check-in desks where you’ll show your credentials (usually boarding pass) for access to the lounge. Then you can turn either right or left – left is where most of the food is, right is quieter space.

When I entered the hallway to the left there was an unstaffed champagne display. I walked past it into the lounge.

The Main Lounge

The lounge is large with plenty of seating – it was busy but not crowded when I visited at around 5 p.m. (though likely gets even busier as some of the later international flights approach).

I do find the overhead lighting to be too bright and institutional, but other design elements offset this far better than they do in redesigned Admirals Clubs.

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk interior

You’re going to find numerous seating zones for work and relaxation, whether it’s views of the tarmac, stools with power ports, work booths, or comfortable chairs.

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk work desks

You’ll also find a large enclosed ‘quiet area’ which didn’t have very many people at all in it, even when the rest of the lounge was fairly busy.

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk quiet area

This is the most attractive area from a design perspective, and also in some ways the most functional, and it what gets photographed most:

And of course the lounge has showers on offer, even more valuable now that it’s open to eligible passengers on arrival and not just departure.

Food and Beverage

The key to the value proposition of this lounge is the buffet. They’re no longer offering a limited menu to order off of, like they did when the lounge first opened (‘Bridge Dining’), but the self-serve options are extensive and high quality.

Here’s the menu from when I visited:
american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk menu

The food was attractively presented, and dishes are refilled constantly. It looked genuinely good – this isn’t your Admirals Club Snack Tower of Sadness, and it wasn’t Golden Corral. These are quality dishes that make a meal with plenty of variety and choice.

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk buffet

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk buffet

There’s even a selection of desserts that looked delicious.

american airlines flagship lounge new york jfk dessert

Beyond the food there’s also a nice and extensive self-service bar as well as refrigerators with beer and soft drinks (plus the requisite soda and coffee machines).

american airlines flagship lounge new york bar

In addition to finding drinks in the main kitchen area there’s also drinks offered elsewhere in the lounge for convenience.

Finally, in the middle of the lounge and just beyond the buffet is the lounge’s centerpiece, the wine and champagne bar:

The ‘Quiet Space’ No One Uses Inside The American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK

Instead of walking left into the Flagship lounge, where the buffet is located, consider turning to your right. That’s where the old ‘Bridge Dining’ space inside the lounge used to be (where Flagship lounge guests could order off of a menu) and also where the Admirals Club on the main concourse was located.

The Flagship lounge was expanded into the old Admirals Club space, leaving the club on the midfield concourse as the only space at JFK for Admirals Club members.

Very few people use this rather large space. It has its own bar and snack area, though it isn’t catered as extensively as the main lounge. Visit the main area for food, or even bring the food back with you into this quiet area of the lounge.

Accessing Flagship Lounges

American Airlines Flagship lounges are generally a little bit less impressive than United Polaris lounges, but many more customers have access. Entrance isn’t restricted just to same day business class passengers. Mid-tier elites flying international coach can use them, and mid-tier oneworld partner elites can even use them when traveling domestically. The broad access to an elevated lounges makes me a span.

Specifically access to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge New York JFK and other 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 and Boston – Los Angeles flights as well as New York JFK – Orange County).

  • Business class passengers on long haul Hawaii 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

Access was recently expanded to include not just prior to departure of a qualifying flight, or a departure connecting to a qualifying flight, but also after arrival of a qualifying flight. Treating it as an arrivals lounge can be great for after a redeye from the West Coast landing in New York. And now oneworld sapphire members flying domestically to cities with Flagship lounges can have a meal on arrival.

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. @gary did you use your royal maroc status to get in? If so, did you simply have to show them your card or did you have to book the ticket using your royal maroc ff# hence crediting your miles there?

  2. The former Admirals Club space in Concourse B reopened some time ago as a separate lounge for AC members.

    According to lounge reps, it will remain an Admirals Club location at least until the joint AA-BA lounge is constructed.

  3. This lounge can be hit or miss. Sometime the food is OK, the wine is usually good, much better than the swill they serve on the airplanes. Easy to earn OneWorld status from other carriers.

  4. It’s a very nice lounge overall, but it does get crowded in the late afternoon. Agree with the comment on the industrial lighting. The tarmac views are amazing. Flagship Lounge access is less restrictive than United’s Polaris Lounges, which are a bit better food and beverage choice and presentation wise but miles ahead of Delta’s Sky Clubs, which are always crowded and have all the charm of a cafeteria.

  5. I was in this lounge a few weeks ago flying biz on Finnair and it was packed to the brim. It was so crazy that they couldn’t even keep glasses stocked, and the glasses that finally came out were so warm from the dishwasher that they melted all the ice. Also, the showers are not administered well. There is no check-in and check-out process, which means that they are basically a locker room where anyone can walk in and out with no indication whether the room is clean. The showers are only marginally better than the “shower cabinets” in the Helsinki Schengen lounge, which use a self-service towel bin and from my last experience did not get cleaned after the person who used it before me.

  6. Can you press AA as to why they no longer allow access for most countries in South America?

  7. I don’t consider this an honest review because it omits the barely functional status of the frequently out of service elevators.

  8. I was at the lounge on Saturday afternoon for my business class trip to Europe.. Business class experience with regard to food is sub par compared to other international clubs I have experienced. Food is so so. sushi is not really sushi experience. it is version of California roll and vegetarian with crab stick. chicken noodle soup was excellent. if one is a frequent flyer then one get’s bored of the same menu.
    at breakfast time it was very good. avocado toast had to be requested. it used to be a station. for the price they are no charging for most business class flight almost $2500K-$3800K one way they should be able to offer variety and higher quality.

    certainly better than the inflight meal I had on trip to London. my experience with American inflight service /attitude can use a training or changing to Emirates or Qutar style, employing service oriented staff. it is standard to find staff going above and Beyound in many international flights but at American it is available, but rare.

    at check in I found such a gem. who made the decision to allow me to check at Flagship counter as it was empty and business class lines were full once I shared I am a EP with 4.5 million miler. now that was impressive and I gave him a coupon thanking him profusely as he saved me almost 30 minutes . so you see their is some good and they majority not so good should be able to be fixed with regular training and incentives like giving each business class passenger a survey to be filled out each time they conclude the flight.

  9. We used the lounge at LAX recently. We had a marvelous experience. Flagship full dining (menu ordering) was not available. I’m confused as to whether it’s ever coming back. Not too crowded. excellent selection of dishes and drinks. Everything was kept well stocked. Good attitude by the employees. I really enjoyed the Flagship check in at LAX, had never been able to use that previously.

    Flagship first flight to LHR was disappointing in service. Never felt like I was anything special or got any recognition. Food was better than I expected.

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