American’s Flagship Lounges are…well…their flagship lounges, the best of the best they have to offer. As you’ve seen from my Lounge Reviews page, they have some pretty stiff competition around the world. As part of their continuous lounge investment initiative, American is renovating their existing Flagship lounges and adding new ones (in PHL, DFW, and MIA). The first one to receive a new treatment is at JFK.
I recently was invited to a media preview of the new Flagship First Dining experience, which I reviewed here, and took the chance to review the Flagship lounge (My buddy Ed from Pizza in Motion also attended, you can read his thoughts about the lounge here). And, since I was permitted to bring all of my photography nonsense with me to cover Flagship First Dining it meant I could break out the proper lenses for some of my highest-quality lounge pictures ever!
Where is the lounge?
The Flagship Lounge and Admiral’s Club are in the same space in Terminal 8 at JFK. Just past security, as you walk toward the gate areas, you’ll see a big pillar, which is really just an elevator shaft. You’ll see the following signage on the pillar.
Simply take the elevator up and you’re good to go. You’ll find some lovely lounge entry attendants to greet you and, given a qualifying itinerary, will be directed to your left through frosted glass doors into the Flagship Lounge.
The entry hallway to the lounge is long and will feature an enormous frosted glass installation on one side (that wasn’t quite ready when I was there so I couldn’t photograph it) and some excellent black and white images of NYC on the other side. I thought it was a grand and appropriate entrance in a city like New York.
The first impression I got when I walked into the lounge was that it’s ENORMOUS. You’re greeted by a seating area that kind of forces you to either go left (toward the quiet room, showers, and bathrooms) or right (to food and booze).
The Quiet Room
I first went into the quiet room area (you can usually find the most comfortable chairs in quiet rooms, quick little travel hack for you). They had some very nice lounging chairs as well as the more typical “two-wall” seats. And thankfully there were power outlets everywhere.
From there I wanted to see the shower space. I love lounge showers before long flights, the showers here were nicely sized and had good amenities. The bathroom was nice as well, about what you’d expect for a lounge of this size.
So I covered the Quiet Room and the lavatories, now for the good part!
The Main Seating Area
In the middle of the main seating area, reminiscent of The Wing in Hong Kong, is a self-serve wine and champagne bar. There’s plenty of bar type seating on either side of this area.
You can start to see the huge space, but there’s even more seating closer to the floor-to-ceiling windows with amazing tarmac views.
A little further back you’ll find some bigger seats that have two “walls”, allowing for privacy and a few different ways to get comfortable.
And then there’s the business center. Instead of being a long table with computers on it like most lounges they went with a semi-private sort of arrangement that actually reminded me of airplane seats.
Walking back toward the buffet area there was seating a little better suited for groups, again with power outlets everywhere.
Hopefully this next picture gives you an appropriate amount of scale.
OK OK FINE I’LL GET TO THE FOOD PART.
When we arrived into the lounge they had the last vestiges of the breakfast buffet out on display. It was a very solid selection of both healthy and Haha Ok We Know You’ll Actually Eat This Instead Of The Healthy Stuff choices.
Behind the buffet area was a coffee machine, soda fountain, refrigerators featuring beer and probably some other stuff, and a self-serve booze station with all of your favorites.
Oh and then of course they had some breakfast pastries.
The Make-Your-Own Bloody Mary and Old Manhattan Area…wait really?
Yep, really. From opening until 1pm this station is a make-your-own Bloody Mary bar (with local selections purposefully picked by the mixologist). After 1pm it turns into a make-your-own Old Manhattan station. I could easily see myself spending quite a bit of time in this area…
The Food, Part II
As we were touring around the lounge the staff made the transition from breakfast food to all-day food, so I went for another traipse around the buffet area for some more pics.
The fruit and cheese board were just beautiful, I thought.
The main dishes looked great and flavorful, better than the offerings I have seen in the past from Flagship lounges. It’s good to see American incorporate customer feedback into their food options.
Oh and then they had some absolutely lovely-looking dessert options, including the famous NYC black and white cookie!
I couldn’t sample much of the food, however, since I needed to save room for American’s new Flagship First Dining experience.
How do I get in?
To get into the Flagship lounge you need to have a qualifying itinerary. I’ll try to summarize this the best I can. If you’re traveling on an international or 3-class transcontinental American flight with a First Class ticket, you get in (international flight passengers can bring a guest as well). If you’re traveling on an international or 3-class transcontinental American flight in Business you get in but no guest. If you’re traveling on a non-American Oneworld flight in First you get in and can bring a guest. If you’re traveling on a non-American Oneworld flight in Business you get in but no guest. If you’re a ConciergeKey member, you get access. If you’re American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Platinum and are traveling on an international itinerary you get in and can bring a guest. If you’re Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire through a non-American carrier you get access plus one guest.
So how was the lounge though?
I really liked it! I think the decor was a good mix of modern design and functionality. I’ve kind of beaten this horse to death but a very important element that American got right was power outlets. They’re everywhere. The seats were comfortable, the food looked amazing, and the lounge was big enough for the crazy busy times at a busy terminal like Terminal 8 at JFK.
The JFK Flagship Lounge is the first renovated lounge to open and I think it bodes really well for the lounges to come. American is being smart with the locations they’re choosing and are incorporating local vendors into things like drink and food selection. JFK can only be considered a great success in my opinion and I look forward to seeing the rest of the new lounges!
Have you been to the new Flagship lounge at JFK? What did you think? Which picture did you like the best from this post? Tell me in the comments below!