American Airlines has been working hard at upgrading the lounges that international travelers have access to. At the same time, they’ve also expanded access to more total passengers. Earlier this week, I had the chance to check out the second new Flagship Lounge, located in Miami International Airport.
The first new Flagship Lounge opened back in May at New York’s JFK Airport. The lounge itself was a big departure from what American had offered at JFK previously. On top of that, the new Flagship Dining experience really was quite special. Would Miami deliver the same level of quality? I’ll cover the Flagship Dining in a separate post, but here’s my impression of an hour hanging out in the new Miami Flagship Lounge.
As a refresher, the list of folks who can access these new Flagship Lounges has expanded. It’s a bit complicated. Here’s a summary of who has access:
- International First passengers plus 1 guest, either on AA or other oneworld carrier.
- First class passengers on JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO and MIA-LAX.
- ConciergeKey members plus 2 guests or immediate family.
- Executive Platinum members traveling on international flights, regardless of class of service.
- oneworld Emerald members who obtain their status through a carrier other than AA, traveling internationally or on the transcontinental routes noted above.
You’ll find the entrance to the lounge at gate D30. Long-time AA fliers will recognize this as the same place you access one of the Admirals Clubs. That club is now under renovation. American has taken some extra space here to create the Flagship Lounge as well as taking some space from the previous Admirals Club (now under renovation).
A quick elevator ride upstairs opens to an unbelievably big space. I thought the JFK lounge was big. The Miami Flagship Lounge is positively huge, at almost 30,000 square feet. I happened to be there the same time as Ben from One Mile at a Time and Gary of View From The Wing. They made two interesting observations that give context here. Ben notes in his review that the United Polaris Lounge in Chicago is less than half the size of the Miami Flagship Lounge. Gary noted that this lounge is one of the largest in the world.
I think American did a fabulous job with the layout of the lounge. There are so many different areas where you can find a place to sit. Given the sheer size, I doubt there will be many times where you won’t be able to find a seat.
As you enter the club, there’s a whole labyrinth of seating areas off to your right. There are some lounge chairs if you’re looking to take a nap. And, there are some interesting seating areas where they make good use of space. They might not be ideal for everyone, but the small bench areas were kinda cool.
There’s also a separate food area on that side with light snacks, a specialty coffee machine and a “craft your own cocktail” station. I’m not a big drinker, and bad things happen when I drink hard alcohol. But, I thought it was a nice touch.
If you head to the left when you enter, there’s a bar with some stools across from two separate rooms. One is specifically geared for television watching.
As you make your way around the open atrium, there’s a business center with a handful of computers to utilize. This side of the lounge also has a bunch of windows facing the runways, something mostly missing from the previous Admirals Club.
You’ll also find another small snack station here with drinks and those color-coded jelly beans. A common theme throughout the lounge is power at virtually every seat. You won’t be stuck looking for a place to plug in. And, a few seats have wireless charging pads.
There’s one more large seating area before you get to the dining room. Part of that area is a “bar” of sorts. There was an employee pouring wine as well as a self-service drink area. You’ll find high-quality Bollinger champagne as well as a bottled wine and a refrigerator packed full of a variety of beer and soft drinks. I’m not a beer expert, but I suspect beer drinkers will find something enjoyable amongst the mix.
There’s a large newspaper and magazine rack as you exit the elevator and move down the hallway towards the main dining area as well as some more seating.
Main Dining Area
In the main dining area, you’ll find seating for close to 100 people. American did a good job hiding power outlets throughout the dining space as well.
The buffet features a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, another specialty coffee machine, a brewed coffee station, iced tea and a soup station. Further down there’s an action station I missed taking pictures of. Currently, there are some specialty items the staff will cook fresh in the mid-afternoon when the first bank of international flights is preparing to depart.
The main buffet is fairly similar in variety to the JFK buffet I sampled. The team in Miami has customized it with a local flair, a nice touch. There were easily a dozen smaller plates with a few entrees and side items. The food was plentiful and fresh during my entire visit. I’ll be reviewing the Flagship Dining Room separately in a future post. If you’re not one of the chosen few that gets to eat in the private dining room, there’s still plenty to be happy about from the Flagship Lounge dining experience.
The lounge has 6 showers that share the finish scheme from JFK as well. There’s tons of light, bright clean surfaces and awesome shower heads. While I’m sad that my favorite airline lounge shower of all-time is disappearing from the Admirals Club in the A terminal at DFW airport, these new showers are pretty darn good.
It was around 3pm when my meeting finished up. The lounge was quite a bit more crowded as we were in the thick of afternoon international departures. Still, there were empty seats and no noticeable din of people talking. I’d be surprised if this lounge got overly crowded.
The Final Two Pennies
I was expecting to be impressed with the Miami Flagship Lounge, especially based on my time in the JFK Flagship Lounge earlier this year. I’d say this lounge easily met those lofty expectations.
The space is massive and well-appointed. The presence of the satellite beverage and snack areas keep people from overwhelming the main dining room. The space just has a really nice flow. They’ve rolled out the same Flagship Dining concept from JFK, which I’ll review in a separate post. My recent visit to the new Air Canada Signature Suite blew me away, whereas I’ve heard mostly negative feedback about the United Polaris lounge in Chicago.
American’s Flagship product sits in between. As a larger lounge, it seems far superior to the United Polaris lounge. The food quality isn’t quite on par with the Air Canada Signature Suite, but that product is more narrowly focused. I’d rank the Miami Flagship Lounge slightly ahead of the JFK one for the great layout.
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