(Initially reported by JonNYC on Twitter and confirmed by Ben from One Mile at a Time)

My Flagship First Dining Reviews:
JFK
LAX
DFW

American Airlines has an absolutely wonderful Flagship First Dining concept.  Ultra-exclusive restaurant-style dining within their already semi-exclusive Flagship Lounges (at least those from where flights with International or Transcontinental First Class depart).

To whet your whistle, before continuing let’s pause and take a look at some of the amazing dishes I’ve personally tasted at JFK, LAX, and DFW.

Flagship Burger at JFK
american airlines flagship first dining lax Poached Egg at LAX
american airlines flagship first dining lax Pork Belly and Deep-Friend Cauliflower, surprisingly NOT in Texas but rather LAX
Prime Rib at DFW
Dessert at JFK
Dessert at DFW

Ok so, needless to say, I love American’s Flagship First Dining concept.  From the beginning, though, I’ve wondered just how they were planning on filling the rooms.  American only has international First Class on their 777-300ER (my review here) jets and there are only a few Transcon A321T flights per day between LAX/SFO and JFK.  At the same time, though, American has the data and I don’t, so surely they figured all that out before heading down this road.

There now might be another way to experience Flagship First Dining.  I’m saying “might” because this is a three-month test by American Airlines, is only available to ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members, and only at DFW.

If you meet all of the above and already have an itinerary which grants you access to the Flagship Lounge you can pay for Flagship First Dining during this test.

The price?  $150 per person.

 

OMG that’s so expensive…or is it?

Honestly the price isn’t that bad, in my opinion.  This is a test, after all, and American doesn’t want to ruin the experience for those who have access to it as a result of being on a First Class itinerary.  $150 is enough to make sure that there will be enough takers to get some robust data yet not too many, which could overwhelm the staff and harm the experience.

 

Wait so you’re telling me you’d pay $150 for a Flagship Burger?

Ok that’s not fair, as the American Flagship Burger is the best hamburger I’ve ever had.  Ever.  Plus I don’t think that’s a completely fair question.  Yes, to pay $300 for a lunch or dinner for two is a tough comparison to a restaurant outside an airport, but stay with me here.  Imagine you’re going on a fancy trip in Business Class to, say, London, with a traveling companion.  The Business Class menu on American flights is nice, but it’s not the same as a nice restaurant.  Plus, say you want to go right to bed and sleep through the overnight flight and not mess with the on-board dining.  Flagship First Dining would be a relatively reasonable premium experience before your flight.

It’s not as simple as comparing a dish in an airport lounge to one in a fancy restaurant.  You have to look at other options available.  At DFW it doesn’t get better than Flagship First Dining, so if you want to have absolutely great food and a strong drink or two (including Krug champagne), there’s only one place to go for a relatively private dining experience.

 

Exclusivity is kind of the point.  Data, too.

$150 per person is a lot of money, full stop.  That’s the point.  American has only so many seats in the dining room.  They don’t want to harm the experience and overwhelm staff.  What’s the best way of keeping guests coming in to a trickle instead of a deluge?  Price accordingly.  I think $150 per person is at a good equilibrium point where few passengers will actually purchase it while at the same time providing good data.  What kind of passenger would pay $150 per person?  American is about to find out.  As I discussed with American Senior Vice President of Customer Experience Kurt Stache, American has access to a broad amount of data on their customers.  A test like this allows American to test the kind of customer who will pay for Flagship First Dining access and either grow the program to other airports or refine pricing (upward or downward).  Since it’s only open to ConciergeKey and Executive Platinum members, you can be sure that American already has a pretty solid amount of data on the customers who will take advantage of this test.

It will be interesting to see how the test goes.  Per some testimonials on Twitter, the test is live, so if you’re ok with throwing down the dollars ($150 is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $10,000 First Class seat, after all), give it a go and report back what you think!

 

Would you pay $150 for Flagship First Dining?  Tell me in the comments below!

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