Rumor: American Opening First Class Flagship Lounge in Dallas

Via JonNYC at,

Full [Flagship Lounge] rumored to be returning to DFW D [terminal]. With temp[orary Flagship Lounge] (very limited in scope) to open imminently (in that closed smoking room, if I understand correctly.)

I think for sure we’ll be seeing more improvements and upgrades in lounges and lounge food in particular in coming months. I sense a big focus in this area developing…

American’s Flagship Lounges are their first class lounges. They are in:

They feature hot food, open bar, and restricted access.

american airlines flagship lounge dfw

american airlines flagship lounge dfw

Flagship lounges are open to international first class passengers, first class passengers on American’s New York JFK – Los Angeles and San Francisco flights, top tier 100,000 mile flyers traveling same-day international, and oneworld emeralds (top tier elite members of their oneworld partner airlines).

American Didn’t Replace Its First Class Lounge With the Opening of the New International Terminal

Dallas used to have a first class lounge in the A terminal. It’s still there inside the Admirals Club, a separate room, that seemingly no one ever uses. It’s where I always go in the A terminal — you take the elevator up into the club and instead of walking straight ahead past the desk of agents, you turn around 180 degrees and the room is behind you, it has its own bathrooms and it’s quiet.

Once the D terminal opened as the international terminal in 2005, there was no more need for a first class lounge in A. And American opened its Admirals Club in DC but without a Flagship Lounge.

American Has Moved Away from an International First Class Strategy

In recent times American has been moving away from international first class. Once its Boeing 777-200s are done getting reconfigured with new business class seats they won’t have a first class any longer. And the only planes left with international first class will be Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, most of which fly to London although there are departures from Dallas with the aircraft as well. (American’s A321T transcon Los Angeles and San Francisco – New York JFK have a first class, but those don’t visit Dallas.)

So with fewer first class seats, it made sense that Los Angeles, New York, and London Heathrow kept first class lounges. But Chicago’s lounge is a bit of an anachronism, though it hosts Japan Airlines first class passengers. And the idea of a Dallas first class lounge is surprising, since that means building out a new one.

Why a First Class Lounge Now?

If this rumor is correct, it would signal a commitment to premium service on the part of American. They’ve worked hard to demonstrate product investment. They’ve fought an uphill battle, given management’s reputation coming from US Airways and the initial deep cuts in meal service imposed in September (that they’ve slightly walked back from).

The D terminal is home to the Dallas American Express Centurion lounge, so there’s some competitive pressure.

American is newly investing in its lounges.

And the DFW airport has been looking to bring a premium experience lounge to the D terminal. The plan was to consolidate the independent lounges hosting several carriers in the terminal, build a new premium lounge, and even co-brand with a hotel possibly to run it. The most recent action taken, that I can see from the airport website, is increasing the contract ceiling for consulting services to the firm advising them on the project back in March (from $1.2 million to $1.24 million, having at that point spent $1.138mm).

American was vehemently opposed to the airport authority’s leasing space to American Express for its Centurion lounge, arguing against premium competition by suggesting that their lounges weren’t full so there was ‘no need’ for more lounges. Perhaps American has gotten out ahead of the airport authority’s plan for a new premium lounge by agreeing to operate one of its own in the terminal.

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. American, United & Delta have a lot of gaul trying to keep the Centurion Clubs out of the airports. For years they have been providing mediocre clubs and the only reason they are upping their game is because Amex has done such a better job of creating an airport club that is actually a pleasure to use. When in SFO I barely use the United Club even though I’m a member. Why hang out in a tired old United Club when you can have a much better experience with something to eat in a Centurion lounge. Kudos to American Express for forcing the airlines into improving their service. This is also why I’m against all the pressure they are putting on the Middle East carriers. Those carriers offer a better a value and better service. When the U.S. airlines start offering better service and a better value I assure you they will be more than able to compete. It’s important to be watching shareholder value but it’s equally important to make sure the airlines are making the necessary investments to compete and win in a global economy. I’m tired of hearing them cry all the time about foreign subsidies when most of the time they are their own worst enemy.

  2. Mark, did you possibly mean “gall”, rather than gaul? Other than that, your post is right on.

  3. @Mark – sorry, I see evidence of neither.

    How does “competition” with 4-5 domestic Centurion Clubs up the domestic carriers’ game? I understand that you’re happy with the Centurion Clubs. But they don’t compete with an entire airline. What am I missing?

  4. AA’s 77Ws with first class not only fly to London (as mentioned in the article), they also go to Sao Paulo and Hong Kong from DFW.

  5. Mark, you’re forgiven, but for only this one time, so don’t let it happen again. You’re now on our radar. Finance major; ugh. I guess that’s better than being a lawyer. Or a travel blogger. (Apologies to Gary)

  6. AA needs to make a separate F class check in for international flights as well.
    It’s a joke trying to check in terminal D for international F class along with anyone who has priority access.

  7. @Colleen- I assure you that AA & United consider it competition when American Express opens a Centurion Club inside one of their terminals especially a major hub. They do not like competition especially if it makes them look bad.

  8. Total agree with Mark. The only interest of these big three is to reduce competition so they can rip passengers off by charging us high fare and fees.

  9. What do you think will happen to the Flagship Check-In areas in airports like MIA and ORD, once AA removes all the F cabins from the 772s? That would leave Flagship Check In accessible only to ConciergeKey, Five Star Service and international F passengers on OW alliance flights. MIA only has one 773 service per day to LHR, so in all that really wouldn’t be very many eligible passengers. I’m guessing either they would be discontinued or else become Premium Check In, like at LHR but I’m not sure if they are designed with enough desks to cope with all the business passengers.

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