After over a year of construction, American’s new Flagship Lounge in Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) is finally opening on May 16th. That also includes the opening of a renovated Admirals Club in Terminal D. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of both spaces prior to the opening later this week.
American has been investing over $200 million on its passenger experience with updated premium lounge facilities in New York (JFK), Chicago (ORD), Miami (MIA), and Los Angeles (LAX). The airline went on a tear opening these new spaces within a short period back in 2017, but it’s been well over a year since the last Flagship Lounge opened. Besides Dallas, new lounges are expected in London (LHR) and Philadelphia (PHL). Notably, the only American hubs that are excluded from getting new Flagship Lounges are Charlotte and Phoenix.
Who Can Access American’s Flagship Lounge DFW?
Unlike the Admirals Club which is a membership-based club, Flagship Lounges are more exclusive spaces with upgraded food and amenities that are only accessible to the following passengers:
- Passengers traveling on qualifying Oneworld international first and business class flights.
- American Executive Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Platinum members traveling on a qualifying Oneworld international flights, regardless of the class of service.
- All non-American Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members traveling on any Oneworld flight, even domestically.
- Concierge Key members traveling on any American Airlines flight
- Travelers flying in business or first on a premium transcon theoretically also have access. These are all JFK-LAX, all JFK-SFO, 3-class service LAX-BOS, and 3-class service LAX-MIA.
- That mean if you were going DFW-LAX-JFK all in business or first, you’d also have access.
Also, American defines “qualifying international flights” as Asia, Australia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, New Zealand, and South America.
What Is Flagship First Dining And Who Has Access?
Flagship First Dining is a “lounge within a lounge concept” with exclusive access for American Airlines first class passengers only. Instead of a buffet, there’s sit-down a la carte-style dining, more personalized service, and an elevated food and drink menu. (And as you’ll see in the photos below, it’s swanky.)
What Flights Have Flagship First Class?
American only has first class onboard its 20 Boeing 777-300ERs as well as its premium-heavy configured Airbus A321T’s for transcontinental flights. From Dallas, the four-class 777-300ER (first, business, premium economy, economy) international flights include:
- Hong Kong
- Sao Paolo
However, passengers with same day connecting itineraries on international first class would also get access. For instance, someone flying DFW-LAX-HKG in first class would get access to the DFW and LAX Flagship Lounge and Flagship First spaces (and you should probably take full advantage of that).
What Are The Hours?
The Flagship Lounge will be open from 5:00am to 10:15pm daily and Flagship First Dining will be open from 8:00am to 10:00pm daily. The first 777-300ER flight of the day (with first class) is to Hong Kong around 10:30am so that slightly later opening of FFD seems to make sense.
How Big Are The Lounges?
The Flagship Lounge is 24,570 square feet (including Flagship First Dining) which makes the DFW lounge slightly smaller than American’s Flagship in Miami (29,000 sq feet). However, it is significantly larger than both the Chicago and Los Angeles locations, which measure 14,500 sq feet and 17,000 sq feet respectively.
Over on the Admirals Club side (which I will have a separate post with photos), we’re talking 10,430 square feet. Prior to the renovations, the Admirals Club (including International First Class Dining) in Terminal D was 21,000 square feet so this new Admirals Club is about half the size of what it used to be.
However, the total lounge footprint for Flagship + Admirals is 35,000 square feet, which is much larger than before.
Flagship First Dining
Entering the Flagship Lounge DFW
For the Flagship Lounge, entry is next to Gate D21 where there’s a general airline club facility space. Take the elevator up one floor, turn right, and you’ll see the new American Flagship.
American has a similar motif and theme going on across all of the Flagship Lounge locations, including this centerpiece and carpeting at the entryway. I was taken aback by just how high the ceilings were in this lounge though, up to 20 feet according to American, creating a feeling of openness and expansiveness.
There’s a ton of artwork in both the Flagship Lounge and Admirals Club, and you notice this immediately. The art is lovely and all done by a local Dallas-based artist — which American highlighted — but also didn’t feel distinctively Dallas or Texas at all. The art was kind of…random.
However, you can see a lot of Texas (and how flat it is) with the awesome runway views from this lounge. American was touting just how long this lounge is at 500 feet long from end to end, approximately 1½ football fields. The benefit of that is not only does a ton of natural light shine through, but also planespotting and airfield views are incredible. There’s no obstruction to sight lines and it’s a full floor to ceiling view.
A potential downside to this length is that during peak times, I could see the passageway getting a bit congested since there’s only one main path.
Flagship Buffet Food
Now, let’s get to the food. After the initial entryway seating, you’ll reach the centerpiece wine bar and buffet area where the main dining room is.
Food is now all done by a food service company called HMS Host across all the Flagship Lounge (and most Admirals Club) locations. I thought the buffet food was on par with the Flagship Lounge JFK which I’ve frequented many times. That’s to say the food was just alright — way better than an Admirals Club, United Club, or Delta SkyClub, but not at the level of many other international business class lounges, or even American Express’s Centurion Lounges. There was a tuna poke small plate that was amazing though (not pictured).
At least for this initial menu, vegetarians may be disappointed that I didn’t see any non-meat hot protein dishes available. The protein entrees you see below are chicken wings, salmon, and brisket.
There’s also a self-service bar drinks, beer, a soft-drink Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, bottled water, Perrier, and a coffee machine.
The entire length of the lounge has seating near the windows (warning: it does get a bit warm in the lounge but thankfully there’s retractable shades when it becomes oppressive). After the dining area, the Flagship First Dining section comes into view to your right.
Flagship First Dining
Here’s a short video tour of the Flagship First space. The doorway leads to an absolutely stunning space, and I particularly love the window cutouts which are not only a nice novelty, but also allow for runway views and light to shine though. Those windows are heavily-tinted from the outside so people walking in the passageway can’t see into the Flagship First dining space.
I’ve included some of the sample dishes as well as the full menu for breakfast, lunch / dinner, drinks, and dessert. Speaking of the dishes, while the buffet food was only “meh,” the sampled Flagship First dishes were stellar. Everything that I tried was delicious, particularly the “roasted redfish” dish.
The Flagship Lounges now also offer an Impossible Burger option in addition to the well-respected Flagship Burger that is offered at all the Flagship locations. The rest of the menu is unique to each lounge location.
Lunch and Dinner Menu (Served From 11:00am to 10:00pm)
Yes, Krug is still served in the Flagship First lounges.
Breakfast Menu (Served From 8:00am to 11:00am)
Other Areas Of The Lounge
Exiting the Flagship Dining space to the right, you can continue walking down the football field…errr…lounge to a rather exposed work station area that seems very much like an afterthought. While there’s fantastic views (like much of the lounge), I wish this section had a bit more privacy. Speaking of which, I did not see any phone rooms to take private calls in either.
Further along, there’s more seating again, a long counter for drinks and snacks, a TV room and a separate quiet and relaxation room with about 10 loungers. While the loungers are fine in a pinch, I do wish American offered some kind of pillow or bedding if you did want to take a quick snooze.
Showers and Bathrooms
The new combined shower count is 12 (8 in the Flagship Lounge, 4 for the Admirals Club). This is compared to only 5 showers total pre-renovation. The shower suites are spacious and feature C.O. Bigelow amenities.
Also, the main Flagship Lounge restrooms will feature Toto Washlets. Yes, the Japanese-style toilets that do all kinds of things to your tushy. With three daily flights to Tokyo (one being a Japan Airlines-operated flight), there’s a large Japanese customer base. Still, this is totally unexpected, but I guess a marketable amenity?
While I don’t think it’s hugely different than the other Flagship Lounges American has opened already, I think the American Flagship Lounge DFW is a real winner overall. It feels spacious and well-designed, the runway views are top-notch, and Flagship First is a stunner. The access policy for American’s lounges are also a lot less restrictive than say, United’s Polaris lounges which require a business class or first class ticket.
I think I was slightly disappointed that the buffet food wasn’t an improvement over other Flagships, but hey, at least American is being consistent and the food was totally fine, just not memorable. For those lucky enough to get Flagship Dining access, that food was incredible though.
Since this was a pre-opening event, I also can’t judge the service, operations, or crowds until I get to pass through the lounge on an actual flight — which I definitely hope to do soon.