In the competitive arena of airline lounges, American Airlines is leading the pack, ahead of its rivals at United and Delta (although United has a compelling product with their Polaris lounges, just not enough of them yet). Not only has American invested millions in adding new Admirals Clubs and renovating existing ones, but they’ve invested even more in their premium Flagship Lounge network. JFK was the first lounge to open, but new Flagship Lounges were quickly opened in LAX, Chicago, and Miami. I’ve had the chance to visit quite a few of them and, without exception, they’re all wonderful spaces.
Feel free to take a moment to check out my reviews of the various Flagship Lounges:
American Airlines JFK Flagship Lounge REVIEW
American Airlines Chicago Flagship Lounge REVIEW
American Airlines LAX Flagship Lounge REVIEW
Along with the announcement of the revitalized Flagship Lounge initiative, American announced their Flagship First Dining concept: a small lounge-within-a-lounge with sit-down meal service and premium food and beverage offerings, only available to passengers traveling in First Class on 3-class international and transcontinental flights. I’ve had the chance to review the Flagship First Dining areas at JFK and LAX (it’s not offered in Chicago since there are no international 3-class flights) and, as you can read in the posts linked, the experience was wonderful.
American Airlines opened their glistening new Flagship Lounge at DFW Airport in May 2019. It’s a large, well-designed space, and I was there taking pictures during the exclusive pre-opening ceremonies. During the pre-opening reception we could walk around the entire lounge and see some of the offerings from the Flagship First Dining area but the only food samples we could eat were from the regular Flagship Lounge.
Flagship First Dining at DFW Airport
My girlfriend and I recently traveled to Iceland and had the chance to sample the full Flagship First Dining experience at DFW Airport.
[Disclaimer: this was arranged through American Airlines for this blog post, so they were very aware I’d be coming, in case you were looking for a completely “natural” review. My opinions remain my own and American Airlines hasn’t reviewed or otherwise edited this post.]
The Dining Room
The Flagship First Dining Room is about halfway down the long Flagship Lounge at DFW. When we checked in at the Flagship Lounge we were escorted to the Dining Room by one of the premium services agents at the Flagship Lounge reception area. Due to other guests being present, I’m just going to post the pictures I took during the lounge opening to protect their privacy. The Dining Room has a cool and modern design with accents similar to the rest of their Flagship Lounge network.
American Airlines were kind enough to send me menus, since, well, we would end up having a few cocktails and my menu pictures may have been a little blurry.
Our luggage was stowed in the little closet area at Flagship First Dining reception and we were escorted to our table.
American Airlines perked some ears when they announced they would be serving Krug Grand Cuvee champagne in their Flagship First Dining Rooms. I made sure to order, in the name of research, some Krug for the girlfriend and me.
Delicious, as always.
American refreshes their cocktail menu seasonally, and the manager brought all of them for us to sample and take pictures. We started with the Headin’ Down South (made with whiskey, raspberry lemonade, and sweet honey, finished with mint) and the Jalisco Old Fashioned (Republic tequila, agave, and aromatic Whiskey Barrel bitters). The Jalisco Old Fashioned was good but I’m too much of a regular Old Fashioned enthusiast and prefer those, called me old fashioned I guess (HAHA GET IT?). The Headin’ Down South was really light and refreshing, which would come in handy later since we chose such savory and rich dishes.
Up next were the Prickly Pear (Maestro Dobel tequila, Cointreau, prickly pear syrup, lime juice, and garnished with black lava salt) and the Farmers Branch (gin, lime, cucumber, and basil syrup). The Farmers Branch (named after the town just northwest of my office in Dallas), which is on the right in the picture below, was very light and crisp, similar to the Headin’ Down South only not as sweet. All cocktails would bow down before the Prickly Pear, however. Put simply, it’s my favorite drink out of any of the Flagship First Dining experiences I’ve had (yes, even better than the Pisco Sour in JFK!) and one of my favorite cocktails ever. It was a little more on the sweet side but not as sweet as the Headin’ Down South. The salt on the rim of the glass was the absolute perfect complement to the fruity elements of the drink. Absolutely phenomenal.
Oh, and they made sure that our glasses of Krug were never too empty.
Suggestion for American
Figure out some sort of way to bottle up these cocktails and offer them to First/Business Class passengers. It would be a cool way to tie together the Flagship products. Yes, yes, I know there’s probably all manner of contracts involved and completely legitimate reasons this wouldn’t be possible, but suggesting it anyway.
We looked over the menus and I decided on the BBQ Texas Quail appetizer while Emily opted for the Baby Beet salad. Both were brought out promptly, with meticulous attention paid to plating, which made it feel all the more premium.
The quail was really nice. The BBQ sauce offset the gaminess of the quail nicely and it was cooked just right, which can be tough with quail. The Baby Beet salad got good reviews as well, although I cannot personally verify, as neither Baby, Beet, nor Salad interested me.
I had heard from other frequent flyers that the filet was just wonderful at DFW and I was excited to try it for myself. The manager informed me, though, that the filet had recently been swapped out for a locally-sourced ribeye from Dean & Peeler. Well, my philosophy is that the only thing better than steak is More Steak, so I went with that. Emily took my recommendation of the Flagship Burger, which is one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.
While waiting for our mains the manager brought by another round of cocktails, which made us crack up because we were both feeling well-imbibed by that point and wanted to be sure we’d be able to make our flight. They told us we wouldn’t have any issues making our flight (I’d find out why in a bit), but just to be safe we slowed down our cocktailing.
The mains arrived perfectly on schedule.
The ribeye was juicy and cooked to perfection. It rested on cheddar gratin and was topped with a few Shiner beer-battered onion rings.
The Flagship Burger looked just as good as I remembered and tasted as such.
The dessert menu was handed out and I went for the classic Flagship Sundae. Emily chose the Peach & Blackberry Cobbler.
The plating was absolutely wonderful, eclipsed only by how great both tasted. Both dishes were savory without being too rich, which was especially appreciated as we were about to board a long flight. I loved the southern-ness of the cobbler, it made me think of big family meals where two or three aunts would each bring enormous cobblers and we’d all nap the Nap of the Truly Carefree the rest of the day afterward.
Flagship First Dining Staff
The staff were absolutely wonderful. Granted, our visit being for media purposes was pretty obvious, and one of the attendants at the reception area even recognized me and reads the blog! We felt very well cared for and, most importantly, it looked like paying customers were receiving great service as well.
Five-Star Select Service
Unbeknownst to me, American had arranged for us to try their Five-Star Select service as well. After dinner, our lounge attendant came to gather us and get us to our flight. But we wouldn’t be taking the SkyLink. Our attendant took us into an elevator down to the ramp where a Cadillac Escalade was waiting for us!
We left from the middle of Terminal D for a quick ride over to our 757 at Terminal A. Having previously been driven to my plane as part of Lufthansa First Class Terminal service in Frankfurt, I can vouch personally that it never gets old!
As we passed some of the A gates we saw the Stand Up To Cancer A321 at a gate.
We arrived at our 757 taking us to Iceland right as they began boarding.
Yes, we may have been
slightly buzzed by that point but we ended up safely ensconced in our seats with full bellies and great memories of a great premium dining experience.
I’m happy to report that the DFW Flagship First Dining experience meets (and the Prickly Pear exceeds) the already sterling reputation set by the JFK and LAX rooms. If you have the chance to experience it, either by flying in First Class on a qualifying itinerary or, as it turns out, paying for it via Five Star Select service, get to the airport early and leave yourself plenty of time, you’ll enjoy it!
Have you eaten at Flagship First Dining? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!