The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK is so close to being perfect

The American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK is so close to being perfect

It’s no secret that the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK is one of my favorites. It’s large, fairly quiet, and the food is usually pretty good.

That being said, it’s not perfect. I personally don’t think that there are enough “comfortable” seats to actually lounge in – which is especially inconvenient when it gets busy and you’re fighting for any spot you can get to sit and relax.

I know. First world problems, right? But stick with me. I’ve got so many good things to say about this lounge that, by the time you finish reading this review, you’ll think that I love it so much that I wanna marry it. Ew.

Where is the American Airlines Flagship Lounge located at JFK?

The American Airlines Flagship Lounge is located in Terminal 8 at the John F. Kennedy Airport. This is the American Airlines terminal, and it’s a pretty nice one at that.

The Flagship Lounge is very near to the main security checkpoint. Once you clear that checkpoint, walk straight ahead through the mini courtyard area and you’ll see the American Airlines Flagship Lounge logo on the wall to your left (next to the elevators).

American Airlines flagship lounge logo
This is the logo you’re looking for!

The lounge is located on the second floor, and you can either take the elevators or use the stairs (which are located on the other side of the wall).

American Airlines flagship lounge jfk entrance
Are you a stair person, or an elevator person? This is not the most extravagant lounge entrance I’ve ever seen, but the low-budget ATM is a nice touch.

If you’re wandering around inside the terminal and you can’t seem to find it, walk towards the very center of the concourse (towards the exit) – it’s very near gate 12.

The layout of the JFK AA Flagship Lounge

Unlike the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 4 here at JFK, the American Airlines Flagship Lounge is essentially one big room. This makes the lounge feel a bit less exclusive in my opinion. One open room (where you can see and hear everybody) is not exactly my idea of a “flagship” experience.

American Airlines flagship lounge jfk entrance hallway
Once they decide if you’ve met the requirements needed to get in, they’ll point you down this long hallway.
Flagship lounge welcome drink
There’s some weird looking champagne en route – stop only if you must.
American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK
Assuming you didn’t go heavy on the welcome drink on the way in, you’ll see this. It’s pretty much the entire lounge.
American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK layout
Although the JFK Flagship Lounge is essentially one large room, there are partitions scattered about to help break up the space.
American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK interior design
Hold your horses! I’ll get to the food pics in a moment…

FYI, there are quiet rooms available if you’re feeling desperate to get away from everyone. In addition, there are some seating areas located in the back are partitioned off from the main area – which is also a nice place to escape the noise.

American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK quiet room
Behind those tinted glass doors is the quiet room. I have to wonder: is that one of those things where “what happens in the quiet room stays in the quiet room?” I didn’t dare step inside.

What is the seating like in this lounge?

As I mentioned at the top of this review, I personally don’t find the seating options at the JFK Flagship Lounge to be all that comfortable. The majority of the seating is designed for working and or eating.

Those of you hoping to find a wide variety of comfortable chairs to stretch out and relax in will be disappointed. Yes, there are a number of soft chairs scattered about that you can recline in, but they go quick. Your chances of getting one of them when things are busy is slim to none.

American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK chairs
Those are pretty neat looking chars on the right, but…I wouldn’t even know how to sit in something like that.
American Airlines Flagship lounge JFK diner seating
I’ll just sit here, thanks. A table for one, in near total isolation. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
American Airlines flagship lounge seating options
See those chairs over there by the window? Those are usually the first to go when this lounge gets busy.
American Airlines flagship lounge dining seating
RIP to your travel-battered soul if these are the only seats left.
Place to to zoom calls JFK flagship lounge
This is where people sit and do Zoom calls. Usually at full volume with zero regard to anyone around them.

Is the food any good?

One of the best things about the Flagship Lounge here at JFK is the food. The first time I visited this lounge was back in December 2019. The food was spectacular. During my most recent visit, in January 2022, I was happy to see that the food was just as good.

There’s a full kitchen at this lounge, staffed by an entire team of talented chefs to put on a pretty good spread.

Not only that, both of the times that I visited this lounge, there were lounge attendants hovering around the self-serve food island eager to help in anyway possible. It was easy to sense that they are proud of what they do.

JFK American Airlines flagship lounge self serve food bar
This is what the main self-serve food bar looked like at 5am on my last visit (which, and I don’t mean to throw shade here, looks a lot better than what you’ll see in the KAL Lounge at LAX). Somebody was up earlier than I was this morning!
JFK American Airlines flagship lounge self serve coffee and drinks
There are also a handful of coffee and drink stations located throughout the lounge…
JFK American Airlines flagship lounge self serve snack bar
…and what appeared to be a Bloody Mary station located within easy stumbling distance from pretty much everything.
JFK American Airlines flagship lounge breakfast
No Bloody Mary’s for me, thanks. This plate of scrambled eggs and chicken sausage is about as wild and crazy and I’m willing to get before the sun comes up.
SANspotter selfie American Airlines flagship lounge JFK
5am is far too early for scrambled eggs and sausage. I should have went for the Bloody Mary…

How do you get into the AA Flagship Lounge at JFK?

Getting into the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK is slightly more difficult than it is to access a typical AAdvantage lounge in American Airlines network. Here’s a quick list of all the ways to do it:

  • You must be holding a ticket for international business or first class on American Airlines or a Oneworld partner airline.
  • A domestic first class ticket will not get you in. However, having a ticket in American Airlines Flagship Business Class (or Flagship First Class) to San Francisco or Los Angeles is valid.
  • Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members, as well as ConciergeKey members, have complimentary access to Flagship Lounges – regardless of what class of service they are flying on any American Airlines or Oneworld partner airline flight.
  • You can purchase a single visit pass (if available). In my experience, this option comes and goes, and it’s not always available.
  • If you’re still unsure whether you have access or not, be sure to check the latest requirements on the Flagship Lounge terms and conditions page.

What time of day is this lounge the busiest?

Terminal 8 at JFK is generally a busy place at all hours of the day. That being said, from what I’ve been told, this lounge seems to be the least busy in the early morning hours (6-10am).

American Airlines Flagship Lounge JFK busiest times
It was standing room only when I visited this lounge in the late afternoon before my first ever Cathay Pacific business class experience. Nobody was kind enough to stand up and offer me their seat, so I ended up leaving and finding a quiet spot in the main terminal to relax instead.

Mid afternoon is another good time to visit. However, keep in mind that these quiet times can vary based on American Airlines (and Oneworld partner airline) flight schedules.

What time of day is this lounge the most quiet?

Mid-morning (10am-12pm) and late afternoon (4-7pm) is when the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at JFK is the busiest. This is when a vast majority of premium-heavy flights are scheduled to depart from Terminal 8, and chances are pretty good that you’ll be fighting for a good place to sit during those times.

Not busy American Airlines flagship lounge JFK
It’s usually pretty dead in the early morning hours (about as dead as I was feeling taking this pic at 5:30am).

It should also be noted that this lounge becomes exponentially busier in the two hours or so leading up to any international departure.

There are a lot of international departures from Terminal8 at JFK (most of them in the late afternoon and early evening), so do plan accordingly.

Pros and cons of the AA JFK Flagship Lounge

Despite some of the criticisms you’ve read so far, I consider the American Airlines JFK Flagship Lounge to be in the top 10 of all airline lounges that I have ever visited.

It’s a fantastically comfortable and relaxing place to hang out before a flight – just as long as you’re lucky enough to visit it at a time when it’s not so busy. Not being sad, here’s a list of all the pros and cons:

Pros

  • It’s a beautiful lounge. I don’t know the first thing about interior design, but I do know that it feels very high end (and I get good vibes walking through it). It truly feels like a special experience once you’re inside.
  • The self serve food bar is fantastic. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the food “gourmet”or anything, but there’s lots of it, and there’s always usually a pretty good variety of things to choose from.
  • The kitchen staff manning the self-serve food bar are top-notch. If you have a special request, just ask, and they will be happy to oblige.

Cons

  • If you’re a big fan of large windows and natural light, you might not find the JFK Flagship Lounge to be all that appealing. Compared to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at LAX, the windows in the one here at the John F Kennedy Airport are not as good.
  • Although the kitchen staff is quite good, I found that the staff wandering through the lounge keeping things tidy were somewhat on the lazy side. Both times that I visited this lounge, they didn’t seem to be in very much of a hurry to take my used dishes away.
  • There are a lot of business travelers who use this lounge. That means that there will inevitably be a handful of folks yapping loudly on their phones in close proximity to you. It’s annoying.

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