American Airlines announced a major overhaul of its premium Flagship Lounge product earlier today.

american airlines, flagship dining, flagship lounge, flagship lounge changes

Flagship Dining image courtesy of American Airlines

First, American is introducing Flagship Dining at its major international gateways of New York’s JFK, Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Miami International (MIA), and Los Angeles (LAX). This is a first for U.S. based airlines, and will include full tableside service. Travelers can enjoy a full meal prior to flight, and maximize sleeping or working time onboard. Not coincidentally, Flagship Dining will be provided at the international gateway cities that feature three-class service aboard American’s Boeing 777-300ER fleet. Flagship Dining will be exclusively for American’s three-class international and transcontinental First Class customers.

american airlines, flagship lounge, flagship lounge changes

Flagship Lounge Concept – Courtesy of American Airlines

Further, American will revitalize its existing Flagship Lounge product at JFK, LAX, and ORD with increased space, better furnishings, and enhanced access. Improved Flagship Lounges will debut at DFW, MIA, and Philadelphia (PHL). With the addition of a Flagship Lounge at Philadelphia, one might expect a continued large international presence at the primary international gateway of the former US Airways.

Changes to American’s Flagship Lounge product will be wide-ranging. All lounges will be expanded to offer increased comfort and improved ambiance. All trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic, deep South America, and A321T transcontinental customers booked in First Class and Business Class will have access to Flagship services beginning in 2017. This represents a big step forward in American’s premium cabin lounge offering.

Finally, a previously announced refresh of the Admirals Club product will continue and American travelers can expect new lounges at Houston Intercontinental (IAH) and Orlando (MCO). Incidentally, IAH was previously home to an Admirals Club while MCO once had a US Airways Club. It’s good to see American’s lounge product returning to these two key airports.

admirals club, american airlines, flagship lounge, mco admirals club

Future MCO Admirals Club image courtesy of American Airlines

My Take

The biggest question in my mind – will American’s primary domestic competitor, Delta, respond in some way? They have invested in significant improvements in their Sky Club product. Can an international premium class lounge offering be in the offing? Only time will tell.

U.S. based airlines are light-years behind many of their foreign counterparts when it comes to premium cabin customer experience. American has been investing heavily in aircraft and airport facility improvements and this is the next step in the evolution of American’s premium product. I like it! I can’t wait to sample these new premium offerings.

-MJ, February 17, 2016