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Would You Pay $150 To Access An American Airlines Flagship Lounge?


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In February 2020, in the days when most of us still had little idea what lay ahead, rumors began to circulate that American Airlines was considering allowing flyers to pay to access the Flagship Dining facilities that it operates at a number of its US hubs. The pandemic put all those plans on hold but now that the airline is starting to reopen its Flagship Lounges around the country, the airline has confirmed that, in part, those rumors had substance.

American Airlines Is Reopening Flagship Lounges

American Airlines has announced that it plans to begin reopening its Flagship Lounges but based on the reopening schedule, the airline is in no hurry to get things back to normal.

The re-openings:

14 September 2021

  • Flagship Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 8

16 September 2021

  • Flagship Dining at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 8

28 September 2021

  • Flagship Lounge at Miami International Airport (MIA) Concourse D

30 September 2021

  • Flagship Dining at Miami International Airport (MIA) Concourse D

No dates have been put forward for the reopening of the lounges at Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, or Los Angeles but they are all expected to open this fall.

Pay To Access The Flagship Lounges

When the rumors that American Airlines was planning to allow flyers to pay to access the Flagship Lounges were first circulating, the key rumor was that the entry fee was going to be $150 and that this would include access to the Flagship Dining facilities as well as access to the rest of the lounge.

Well, as reported by Zach Griff, the rumor was only partly true.

Starting from today, 14 September 2021, flyers traveling with American Airlines or another oneworld airline can pay $150 for a one-time access pass to a single Flagship Lounge.

  • Domestic and international bookings both qualify a passenger to purchase a pass
  • Access to Flagship Dining is not included in the pass
  • The $150 fee covers just one person (children under 2 years of age are free)
  • Only adults 21 years and over can pay to access a Flagship Lounge
  • The pass covers access to just one lounge on the day of travel. If you want to access a Flagship Lounge at your destination as well as at your departure airport (e.g. if you’re flying from LAX to JFK) you’ll need to purchase two passes.

For the time being, passes will be on sale at the entrance to the Flagship Lounges (the open ones!) but as this is a permanent offering, it may be possible to book online at some point in the future.

$150 Is A Hefty Fee For A Flagship Lounge

I’m fortunate in that I hold British Airways Gold status which entitles me to access the Flagship Lounges whenever I’m traveling with American Airlines or any other oneworld airline so I’m reasonably up to speed with what the Flagship Lounge experience is like. Based on that and while I appreciate the step-up in offering that you get in the Flagship Lounges compared to the Admirals Clubs, I feel very confident when I say that most people will not get $150 of value out of visiting a Flagship Lounge.

Ok, yes, if you happen to have an incredibly long layover (for whatever reason) and don’t have the option of leaving the airport between flights, perhaps paying $150 to access the Flagship Lounge may not be the worst investment in the world…but who else is going to pay? People who can expense the fee? Probably. But who else?

As someone with complimentary access to Flagship Lounges, I’m grateful to American for making paid access to the lounges pretty expensive (we’ve all seen the mess that the Amex Centurion Lounges get into when access can be purchased for just $50 per person), but I’m struggling to understand the mindset of someone who would actually pay $150 of their own money to access a Flagship Lounge.

The Flagship Lounges aren’t *that* special and when you can access an Admirals Club for $59 or possibly even a Priority Pass lounge for nothing at all (assuming that you have a credit card that gives you Priority Pass membership as a benefit) I’m not convinced that $150 to access a Flagship Lounge represents good value outside of a very special occasion.

Note: Anyone traveling through LAX and considering paying to access the Flagship Lounge should first check to see if they can access the Qantas First Class Lounge for the same outlay (when it reopens)

Bottom Line

American Airlines is starting to reopen its Flagship lounges and it has started selling one-time access to these lounges for $150 per person. Personally, I’d struggle to justify spending $150pp on Flagship Lounge access (assuming I didn’t already have it) useless I had a truly long layover or if I was celebrating a particularly special occasion but I realize that others may feel differently. Would you pay $150 for Flagship Lounge access?

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