It’s been three long years since American Airlines tantalized the industry by announcing a complete reboot of premium ground services, complete with elegant seating areas exclusively for elite and Business Class passengers, and a luxurious complimentary full-service dining experience for First Class customers.
The largest US carrier promptly rolled out the new-generation Flagship Lounges at New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami, and Los Angeles airports in 2017, but passengers traveling through the airline’s largest hub in Dallas-Ft. Worth have been left to linger.
Relief is just around the corner. The new American Airlines Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining opens on May 16th, 2019. The date will also mark the permanent closure of the temporary International First Class Dining facility.
Jamie Larounis from The Forward Cabin attended today’s American Airlines media preview and has graciously offered to share his pictures with us.
American Airlines Flagship Lounge DFW design
Located in Terminal D, the Flagship Lounge at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport has a familiar flair. The design favors consistency to a fault: at a first glance, guests would be hard pressed to know whether they’re in Miami, New York, or Dallas.
Combined with the Flagship First Dining area, the Flagship Lounge spans across 24,560 square feet, shy of Miami’s 29,000 square feet. The space receives ample daylight and boasts panoramic tarmac views.
The decor features Earth tones and an overall muted palette, with splashes of bright and vivid colors. It’s modern, convivial, but ruthlessly functional—and despite its relatively generous dimensions, the lounge is bound to be packed at peak times.
Seating options include high-backed seats for enhanced privacy, communal work tables, dining tables, and booths. Most seats are outfitted with power and USB outlets.
There’s also five recliners in a nook, though the concept feels poorly executed: the designers did not make any attempt at providing additional privacy or dimmer lighting.
American Flagship Lounge DFW amenities
We’ve come to know what to expect of Flagship Lounges in terms of amenities, and the new Dallas-Ft. Worth locations meets the bar.
The highlight is the impressive buffet spread, with a generous assortment of appetizers, salads, hot entrees, and desserts; all freshly-made on location. American has not disclosed yet whether patrons will be able to also order a-la-carte options. At JFK airport, for example, the cooked-to-order line-up includes the airline’s flagship burger and a wild mushroom flatbread.
The bar is all self-serve, with an expansive array of wines, Champagnes, liqueurs, and spirits, and all necessary accoutrements to mix the perfect cocktail.
Non-alcoholic beverages include espresso, juices, and soft drinks. A Coca-Cola Freestyle machine dispenses hundreds of creative concoctions.
The shower suites are outfitted with a walk-in rain shower, a sink, and a toilet, and stocked with CO Bigelow bath amenities.
How to get into the Flagship Lounge
American Airlines’ Flagship Lounge at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport welcomes the following guests:
- American Airlines First and Business Class passengers departing on an international flight from DFW or another airport on a same-day itinerary. (International flights include flights to Mexico City, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.)
- American Airlines First and Business Class passengers departing on a three-class nonstop transcontinental flight from DFW or another airport on a same-day itinerary.
- ConciergeKey passengers departing on an same-day flight operated by American Airlines or a oneworld airline, in any class of service.
- American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum departing on or connecting to an international flight, operated by American Airlines or another oneworld airline, in any class of service.
- oneworld First and Business Class passengers departing on or connecting to an international flight operated by a oneworld airline.
- oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members (except for passengers whose status was issued by American Airlines) departing on or connecting to any flight operated by a oneworld airline (international or domestic.)
The guest policy varies by status and class of service—check out the detailed access rules in our lounge index.
Flagship First Dining DFW
Within the Flagship Lounge is Flagship First Dining, a section exclusively for American Airlines’ international First Class customers and domestic First Class passengers traveling on three-cabin aircraft. ConciergeKey members are also welcome on a limited basis, upon presentation of an invitation.
To put it more simply, Flagship First Dining is off-limits to all elite members, Business Class customers, and First Class passengers traveling on partner airlines. With the number of First Class seats dwindling over time, the club-within-a-club is American Airlines’ most exclusive facility.
Behind the frosted door is an elegant and serene space with a complimentary full-service restaurant and a staffed bar.
In the morning, American Airlines offers a full hot breakfast selection along with fresh squeezed juices and espresso. Throughout the day, visitors will enjoy a complimentary three-course meals, along with an expanded wine and cocktail selection. Dishes are crafted from locally-sourced ingredients, and menus will rotate seasonally.
Flagship First Dining is a treat for the lucky few, but also comes across as a token amenity, given the stringent eligibility rules. The service primarily reflects American Airlines’ desire to create a high-end product that casts a halo on their overall brand, although it also gives First Class transcontinental service a distinct competitive advantage.
The opening of the Flagship Lounge and Flagship First Dining at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on May 16, 2019 mark the end of a three-year-wait. Business Class and elite customers can look forward to an elevated dining experience and world-class amenities, though the lounge is bound to be busy. First Class passengers will find a much more exclusive environment in the elegant confines of the Flagship First Dining area.
With United and American both dramatically stepping up their lounge game, it’s fair to ask who comes ahead. Both airlines have chosen a similar strategy: market segmentation or, in plain terms, separate lounges for club members and premium passengers. (That’s in contrast to Delta, which, for the time being, is sticking with a one-size-fits-all approach.)
We have reviewed all Polaris Lounges on day one (Chicago, San Francisco, Newark, Houston, and Los Angeles) and have found the product to be consistently excellent. Design-wise, United Polaris Lounges and Flagship Lounges are roughly in the same league, though United’s concept tends to foster better privacy. In terms of amenities, American’s impressive buffet spread leads the pack, but United’s full-service dining experience is available to all Business Class passengers, in contrast with American’s token Flagship Dining. United’s bar service is also a winner, though some guests might prefer American’s self-serve approach. United also delivers a much more polished experience when it comes to private nap rooms, pressing/laundry service, and overall customer service.
Ultimately, the key difference between the two premium products lies primarily in the access policy. Whereas American’s Flagship Lounges welcome oneworld Sapphire passengers flying in Economy, United Polaris Lounges are the exclusive territory of Business Class passengers. Elite passengers flying in Economy are relegated to the much more mundane United Club. United treats Business Class passengers to more privacy and more elevated services, while American rewards loyalty more effectively, so individual travel patterns are likely to dictate personal preferences.
Next on American’s agenda are Flagship Lounges at Philadelphia and London Heathrow airports. The London location will also feature Flagship Dining.
Photo credit: Jamie Larounis, The Forward Cabin