a bar with a person behind it
The Final Verdict
The Space
The Food
The Drinks
The Service
The Amenities

Note: scores are based on the best possible experience found on any airline, for which the best airline would get a 100 in that category.

It’s time to turn right, not left…

As travellers, we’re conditioned to believe that it’s always better to turn left. After all, that’s usually the direction to first class on a long flight. When American Airlines opened their much improved Flagship lounge at JFK Airport Terminal 8, that’s exactly what people did. To the right, was the Admirals Club, a lower level of sophistication mostly reserved for domestic flights.

But sometime this year American moved the Admirals Club to an entirely separate location, which opened up the potential for perhaps American’s best lounge in the world. When you get to JFK, those in the know “turn right” after check in.

a room with a bench and tables and plantsGetting In To The JFK Flagship Lounge

One Mile At A Time alluded to the best kept secret at JFK, hiding in plain sight. The JFK Flagship Lounge at T8 is up an elevator, and after check in hosts naturally direct you to the left. Entry is for travellers in Flagship Business, or frequent flyers with Oneworld Sapphire or above, with the exclusion of American Airlines elites. Basically, everyone has been conditioned to turn left, and those who go against the grain are supremely rewarded.

a room with brown leather chairs and a tableTo be clear, if you turn left, the Flagship Lounge is a tremendous improvement on previous American standards. It’s on par on an international level and features a solid buffet, real champagne and a make your own cocktail bar. It’s a fully “indoor space with high(ish) but standard ceilings and nice seating variations. But…

a room with plants and tablesFinding The Flagship Bridge Lounge

If you turn right, and then right again, you’ll find an area with incredibly high ceilings, with the open ambiance of the terminal itself. In a way, it’s like the British Airways Concorde Room, in that you can hear the buzz of travellers below, but not enough to annoy you.

a red chair and a table in a room with plantsThere’s greenery to be found everywhere, and it has almost a tropical feel, which is oddly charming in New York. The bar is beautiful as are all the seating areas, but the most precious element of the lounge is that despite articles like these, hardly anyone knows about it, or uses it.

a room with chairs and a tableIf you exit the “outdoor” feeling tropical part, you can access the more traditional Flagship elements which are basically identical to those on the left side. There’s a buffet, a bar, nooks to finish up some work and some solid tarmac views. Why you would settle for that space, when you have the bridge just across the hall eludes me though.

a bar with a person behind itFlagship Bridge Lounge Food And Service

I’ve never felt as if personal ‘service’ was a part of the Flagship experience those enjoy to the left. That’s far more buffet style. But on the Bridge at T8, a very friendly team offered proactive service which would be commendable even to a standard of say… Virgin Atlantic. I took a look at the a la carte menu from the kitchen and was fairly blown away by the quality of the Korean short rib tacos. To my delight, there was a cocktail menu as well.

a room with couches and tablesWines and cocktails in the JFK Flagship Bridge Terminal 8 are well above average and I noticed some real sommelier level thought process in the wines. There was a Finger Lakes riesling from New York, which is arguably one of the world’s better areas for riesling, and also a very quaffable Nebbiolo from Italy, widely regarded as the king of grapes. Cocktails were just above basic, but nicely inspired with twists here and there.

a long counter in a room with red chairsThe Best American Lounge At JFK T8

Without question this is my favourite American Airlines space in the United States, and I’m so glad I was tipped off. Time flew by without hardly seeing a soul, except for the friendly team offering service with a smile. At American, that’s not always guaranteed, and it really made an impression. If I had time to kill before a flight out of JFK Terminal 8, the Flagship Bridge would be my choice 100 times out of 100. Just don’t tell anyone. It might ruin it…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Say bud, maybe this is overly nit picky here, but someone else who’s more unpleasant might bring it up anyway: OMAAT alluded not eluded. That aside, thanks for the review. I may be passing through the area and would love to try it. I’d always thought it was first class only.

    1. Thank you Christian. And thank you more so for helping the blog in a polite way, rather than choosing to go the way of some other commenters.

      I also noticed I forgot to drop in pictures. What a fail. They’re in there now.

  2. I’ll +1 your best comment. I’ve only been in this lounge 3 times, but unlike Centurions (which are great in their own right), this lounge is uncrowded which gives it an exclusive feeling of luxury. Great breakfast food too – the only meal I’ve had there.

  3. I am flying business with Cathay out of JFK. Do you know if this is accessible?
    btw, why is this a secret? there is only one flagship lounge at JFK, no?

    1. You’re good to go flying business with Cathay.

      It’s “secret”, because this was the Admirals Club side, so for the years that Flagship has been open, it was not a part of Flagship but rather just a standard Admirals Club. Since it moved, people still think of it as the former, and not the current.

  4. I love the bridge, super quiet and it seems like people still aren’t in the know. Get the wasabi crusted tuna and the short rib tacos 👍🏽 service is always on point and quick.

  5. Hi,

    Just visited this lounge and think you need to update your article as it is no secret lounge. When I arrived at JFK terminal to 8 and proceeded to the signs for the flagship, the reception staff clearly said to every customer if you want a hot buffet go left, if you want an al la carte menu (only consists of 4 items) go right. So it is now actively pushed by AA as their al la carte side, it is still pretty empty compared to the left side and yes the tacos are nice as well as as the space, but I wouldnt call it anything special or amazing.

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