The 3 New American Airlines-British Airways Lounges at New York JFK, Explained

American Airlines has (4) levels of lounge at New York JFK, and it gets confusing for passengers. Part of it is that the lounge names don’t describe who has access, part of it is that the lounges are brand new, with three of them shared with British Airways now that BA has moved into the terminal.

There is no more Flagship Lounge or Flagship First Dining. Those have been replaced, and expanded. And there’s only one Admirals Club, all the way on the midfield concourse. The old Admirals Club near the TSA checkpoint, where long haul flights depart from, will eventually become part of the joint American Airlines – British Airways business class lounge.

Here are the (3) joint American Airlines – BA lounges, all an elevator ride upstairs just after the security checkpoint, all named for neighborhoods found both in New York and London:

  1. Chelsea: this is effectively the Concorde Room, for long haul and premium cross country first class only along with BA Gold Guest List and American Airlines ConciergeKey members flying on these same routes. Only British Airways and American flights are eligible, not currently other oneworld or partner first class (so you won’t have access off of Japan Airlines first class, for instance).

    There’s a gorgeous bar, sit down dining, and premium wine and champagne. It’s not as good as the old Flagship First Dining, but accessible to many more passengers. There are no outside views.

  2. Soho: this is basically a British Airways first class lounge, which isn’t actually for first class passengers but for oneworld emeralds. American and Alaska top elites must be flying internationally to qualify, while similar elites from other oneworld airlines (along with American’s ConciergeKey members) can access the lounge when flying American domestically.

    The buffet here is the same as the business class lounge, but there’s sit down dining (order by QR code), a staffed bar, and unlike the Chelsea lounge there are windows out over airport opreations.

  3. Greenwich: this is the business class lounge for long haul international and premium cross country passengers. American and Alaska mid-tier elites must be flying internationally to qualify, while oneworld sapphires from other oneworld airlines can access the lounge when flying American domestically.

    It is the old Flagship lounge, which will expand into the old Admirals Club space behind it and old Flagship First Dining space as well. The buffet here is the same as the buffet in the Soho lounge. While large it will get busy around peak transatlantic departures.

The business class (Greenwich) lounge is the old Flagship lounge space, with the old Admirals Club not yet open as part of it, and Flagship Dining being used as employee space though eventually the plan is to make it part of the lounge. Buffet catering is the same as in Soho lounge.

First class (oneworld emerald) Soho lounge adds sit down dining to the buffet that is in Greenwich, but service is more miss than hit, it took several attempts when I was there before they accepted my food order and there were only four choices on the menu.

Greenwich has self-serve bar, while Soho is a staffed bar. Soho has a quiet room that nobody seems to realize is there and is basically empty. There was no dessert in Soho while I was there at 7 p.m. on
a Thursday evening.

The Chelsea (true First Class, a la Concorde Room) lounge is very nice but no windows, food a step down from Flagship Dining but still enjoyable. There are supply chain problems. Menu is limited but they didn’t have everything on it still when I was there and champagne that started out high end and extensive has been cut back to one premium champagne rotated out weekly.

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. Since it’s gone dollars-spent-for-points, domestic EP’s really get no recognition at all.

    Get a membership, get lowest their access, pay for a bottled water.

  2. I am a card holder of the premium AA credit card (whose primary holder is EP) and I am lifetime gold. Which Lounge can I use at JFK?

  3. @Gary – great summary. You and I emailed once about PHL getting screwed (I think it has) and whether it warrants better domestic service (class, not number of flights. F on PHL-LAX is often more than BOS-LAX on the 321T. Granted, that is just one example. And AA faces competition in BOS for better service, not in PHL).

    As someone who flies on my own money AND only if/when I want, I found myself purchasing J out of JFK to LAX and SFO. Meet a client in Manhattan, head to JFK. Use SWU to upgrade to F and use Flagship Dining, which rivaled the best airport food I’ve had anywhere. But I’m not sure that is worth it any longer with the downgrade to “the Chelsea” for F. FFD was terrific and a good use of SWU’s in my opinion (heading westbound. Eastbound not so much, unless on a red-eye).

    In short, all of the lounges seem to be a bit of a downgrade, except Chelsea which is a large downgrade in terms of dining.

    @Greg – when flying domestically the Admiral’s Club; unless in J or F on a transcon.

  4. Putting number is parentheses— like (3) and (4) — derives from the practice of lawyers trying to look important by writing numbers in both letters and numbers — i.e., three (3) and four (4). There’s absolutely no reason to do that when writing a post. Just write three or 3, or four or 4. (Many grammar guides say it should be spelled out in letters if less than 10, and written out in numbers if 10 or higher.) There’s no reason in include parentheses.

  5. @Greg – lifetime Gold does not get you lounge access. Show your authorized user card on a Citi Executive account and you can use the Admirals Club. If you are flying business or first class on a Flagship flight then your ticket will determine access to the 3 new AA/BA lounges.

  6. Gary
    Thanks for the JFK lounges overview. My wife and I met you a few years ago in the opening of the DFW Fine Dining lounge. We had a delightful conversation on your approach to the reviews of various facilities and events.
    While your indepth reviews were quite helpful, it would be nice if, in your informed opinion, you would rank the lounges. When flying international, we usual arrive early at the lounges to not only ready ourselves but also to enjoy the ambiance of the moment. Obviously your “tastes” or expectations might be different but your reflections would be appreciated.

    John and Norma

  7. Huh??? The renaming has nothing to do with earned status level. What a silly mistake that is sure to cause much confusion & anger amongst travelers who can’t decipher the new system. I sure don’t want to spend my time finding than checking to see if I were accepted into the lounge. Also, the highest level lounge has no windows. Poor planning. Sounds as if they now have three mediocre lounges.

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