a lobby with a table and chairs
The Final Verdict
Food & Beverage

A truly great travel experience is curated by the traveler via flexibility offered from the airline. Want to eat now? Go for it. Want a few drinks before you get on the plane? By all means. Want to unwind in a place which is conducive to the nature of your work or pleasure? Be our guest. American Airlines is making a significant investment in  airport lounges, with the JFK Flagship International First Class lounge  in Terminal 8 among the first to begin the new makeover. If this space is any indication, things are off to a great start…

Access Eligibility: International + Direct Transcontinental First Class OR OneWorld Emerald

Seating Areas…

a lobby with a table and chairs

a room with a television and chairs

a reception area with a television and chairs

At first glance the space is attractive and inviting with excellent group seating areas, large televisions and corners to tuck behind, but it’s still just “a lounge”. As you make your way into the space however the variety of options and design inspired atmospheres seem endless.

a room with a table and chairs

AA seating #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

a room with brown chairs and tables

One amazing feature found throughout the lounge areas? Power ports. Everyone is mobile, everyone needs a charge and American seem to recognize this, with an overwhelming number of charging ports in virtually every seat available.

a lounge area with chairs and tables

AA corner #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

a room with couches and chairs

Aside from clean modern interiors and varied spaces, perhaps the most attractive element of the new lounge is their investment in lighting. There are inspired fixtures all over place catering to a variety of moods, from bright lights in the business pods to cool warm tones in the more private corners. Of course the abundant light off the tarmac is a treat as well…

a room with chairs and tables and a large window

AA window corner #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

a screen on a wall

With floor to ceiling windows virtually the entire length of the lounge the most sought after spots are without a doubt those with tarmac views. I highly recommend the left or right corners of the window area, if facing the tarmac for the best plane spotting, privacy and connectivity… plus, you’re near the STUNNING new bar…

Bar & Dining Areas…

a bar with wine glasses and bottles

AA bar #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

a table and chairs in a room

The bar is simply stunning. There’s no other way to describe it. With artistic fixtures, brushed steel and an extensive array of a la carte, self serve options it’s hard to pass up a nearby seat for regular top ups.

a red chair and tables in a restaurant

AA dining #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

a room with tables and chairs

Again, American seems to have really taken into account customized spaces for the variety of traveler needs. These “tables for two” offer a perfectly nice space for a quick bite from the extensive food buffet, complete with salt and pepper shakers, giving it that “real” restaurant feel.

Food + Drinks…

a group of bottles of champagne in a bar

a bottle of champagne next to a glass of wine

One word: Bollinger. American has long served Taittinger in their New York JFK Flagship lounge but many guests (including myself) were very impressed to see Bollinger, a real crowd pleaser champagne with excellent characteristics for a non vintage offering. Help yourself meant generous portions too…

bottles of alcohol on a counter

I adored the legitimate “make your own Old Fashioned” setup. With quality bitters, excellent bourbon and fresh accompaniments, one could really settle in for the afternoon and enjoy the process of crafting the perfect drink. It’s a fun play for an otherwise standard bar.

a group of bottles of wine

a group of wine bottles on a counter

Set amidst the lovely Bollinger was an extensive variety of red and white wine, even including rosé. There were four unique white varietals on offer, three unique reds and the rosé was on par. As for food, the lounge offers a nice selection of hot and cold food. Totally forgot to photograph it though, apologies.

Final Thoughts + If We had To Be Picky…

a screens with blue text and white text on a wooden wall

The Flagship First Class lounge is an impressive evolution of an already great airport space. Blowing things out, opening things up and preserving the floor to ceiling natural light creates a very refined feeling for guests and as we’ve mentioned, the spaces are so varied there’s truly something for everyone. If we had to be picky we’d upgrade the food both in terms of presentation and selection. Celebrity chef partnerships can be overrated, but having the artistic direction of a professional who understands contemporary food can go a long way. People want comfort but people also eat with their eyes, the more appealing it looks the more happy customers will eat.

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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