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AA Flagship Check In + Dining @ JFK: The Redefinition of AA

A review on my Check In and Dining experience at JFK flying AA Transcontinental First Class JFK-LAX.

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First of all, I had a horrible night at JFK during my overnight transit. My flight from Madrid arrived the night before, and I would be connecting to the Flagship JFK-LAX service on AA the next morning. I originally thought that I could spend part of the night at the Flagship lounge, but I could not pass through TSA whatsoever.

Just in case you did not know, I am only 16 years old, so I could not check into a hotel due to legal constraint - which meant that I had to spend the night in the terminal - and keep in mind: this was not Singapore Changi; this was JFK.

Well - it was HORRENDOUS. Do not do this. Again - Do NOT do this. It was loud, bright, and uncomfortable throughout the whole night. THROUGHOUT the night. I wanted to sleep - I brought noise cancelling headphone and eyeshade but it did not help a bit. I ended up not getting a single hour of sleep. The suffering finally ended when check In reopened at 3 30 am so I went to the flagship first check in.

There was an AAgent outside checking for eligibility. Oneworld Emerald as well as International /Transcontinental First class guests could access the facility. The AAgent had a list of everyone who could enter and if you are not on the list, you are out of luck.

As expected - not a single person to be seen using the facility. It was a small intimate check in area. The check in agent was very sweet and welcoming - she quickly checked me in and informed me of my access to the flagship lounge and the flagship dining facilities.

There was a seating area in the check in area, although I was puzzled by its purpose. No one I could think of would ever use the seating area?

There was a small corridor that leads to the front of the TSA line - which is a sweet touch - at peak time. At 3 45 am no one at TSA - security took me 30 seconds and I was on my way to the lounge.

The lounge opened at 4 am. I was the first one there. At check in, I was handed an invitation to flagship dining.

I had never seen this lounge so quiet before (of course!) - it even felt strange haha. I was asked if I wanted to dine just yet, but I politely declined as I wanted to take a shower to freshen up a bit after all the JFK sleeping thing (this time the water pressure was better but still… subpar).

After the shower, I relaxed a bit in one of the semi-lie-flat chairs… Then I went to Flagship Dining.

(photo courtesy: AirlineReporter)

Again, no one there. A lovely waitress welcomed me and directed me a table of my choice. The atmosphere felt very elegant… and high class… and exclusive

I was soon presented with a breakfast menu. It was some very extensive offerings. However, the menu did look extremely similar to the options I had on the transcontinental flight.

The friendly waitress then came to take my order. I ordered a cup of juice, a salmon starter, some oatmeal and a sample of the steak and egg.

The table was set. Then I was poured some still water for a drink. The orange juice was served. It felt so nice - dawn + tarmac + fine dining. I started to have good feelings about AA… for the FIRST time ever.

The salmon plate was then presented. It looked great.

It tasted better. Wow. I did not know AA can serve food like this. Although arguably a simple dish, all the condiments were there and it just tasted fantastic in general. I was looking forward to the next few dishes a lot.

The oatmeal came next. Sorry I forgot to take pictures before I touched/mixed in brown sugar (or DEVOURED) it. But it was really good too. Nothing mind-blowing though.

What was mind-blowing though, was the steak & egg I sampled. The presentation simply looked like it came out of a Michelin starred kitchen. The layers of flavors perfectly complemented each other… and saucing was spot on. Hmm. Spectacular.

Stunning meal. The waitress was very attentive - my glass was never empty and she kept asking about how the meal was etc.

It was getting brighter outside. Another guest joined me in the dining room. I stayed in the dining room for another 10 minutes before heading out to the common area.

Just in case anyone is interested - I left a 5-Euro tip (haha no small dollar bills, only had $20, but I felt it was too much). Anyone asking me about the tipping in Flagship Dining - Although it is not a "must", and that the waiters/waitresses definitely earn above minimum wage, I would say that it would be a great gesture and if one tips, anywhere between $5-15 would be sufficient, depending on the quality/number of courses of the meal and service.

Wow. What a great start to my mega trip. Seriously, for the first time, the quality AA is investing could rival with and even beat Cathay Pacific’s dining in The Pier Lounge at HKG. It was fantastic to say the very least. I wonder what it would be like during lunch/dinner service (more crowded I expect) - stay tuned for the LAX Dining review on arrival.

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