US airlines have never been known for topping lists of the best airline lounges in the world.
With operations largely focused on domestic flights in the US, where typically only First and business class on select premium transcontinental routes offer lounge access, US airlines have primarily offered membership club lounges with relatively limited food and beverage.
However, there are signs of improvement. With growing international long-haul networks and a need to offer comparable service to joint-venture partners in Europe and Asia, US airlines have been raising their game.
United has been rolling out its “Polaris” lounges. American Airlines has also been rolling out its “Flagship” lounges. These are available at Chicago O’Hare Terminal 3, Dallas Fort Worth Terminal D, Los Angeles Terminal 4 and New York JFK Terminal 8. Further lounges are due to open at London Heathrow and Philadelphia.
American also has a Flagship lounge on Concourse D in the North Terminal of Miami International airport, which is the subject of this review.
Lounge location and access
The Flagship lounge is located near Gate 30 on Concourse D in the North Terminal, with one of American’s two Admirals Clubs in the terminal.
The lounge can be accessed by Oneworld Emerald & Sapphire cardholders and international First and business class passengers. When you arrive at the lounge complex entrance you’ll be handed a laminated card to access the Flagship lounge upstairs.
Note if you’re flying on BA to London Heathrow from Concourse E you can also use this lounge instead of the Oneworld premium lounge on Concourse E, albeit with quite a walk to the gate.
To the lounge itself, and a quick tip that applies to almost any large airline lounge.
In lounges, passengers naturally gravitate towards the bars and where they see food. If you want peace and quiet, and don’t want to have to listen in on others’ conference calls, just head in another direction.
If you immediately turn left on entering the lounge you will find plenty of largely unoccupied seating areas:
There are also plenty more seating choices around the lounge:
Not pictured is a dimly lit quiet seating area with high walled solo chairs, day beds and a no mobile phone policy – not that this was actually observed by some passengers.
Also, one thing you cannot criticise this lounge for is a lack of USB and two pin plug charging points. They are pretty much always in arm’s reach at every single seat.
Food and Beverage
This is a real step up over American Airlines’ “Admirals Club” lounges.
If you’ve ever visited an Admirals Club, you’d know that on entering the lounge you’re handed a chit for two drinks from the bar and food is quite minimal.
The Flagship lounge has a self-pour bar with a wide range of spirits. There’s also a fridge with beers such as Blue Room, Budweiser, Samuel Adams and Stella Artois.
Champagne from Besserat de Bellefon was also available which, judging by the number of passengers repeatedly reaching for the bottle, proved very popular.
Minimising use of single-use plastics is is very much on the agenda at the moment and with liquid restrictions still in place, this is not easily done at airports. All credit to American for offering water in cartons from Just Water, made from paper and plant based plastic.
The bar area also has good views of the airport apron.
Also not pictured is a dedicated Flagship First dining area with table service for passengers flying international First Class.
There is a buffet option with cold meats, salads, and hot dishes such as grilled swordfish and beef. The buffet area is well maintained and regularly replenished by staff.
You’ll also find plenty of coffee stations around the lounge:
This is a good and very well-run lounge. It is a huge improvement over American’s Admirals Clubs.
When American opens its Flagship lounge at London Heathrow, will it rival Cathay Pacific and Qantas for the prize of best Oneworld lounge in Terminal 3? Probably not. Nonetheless, it will be a good option to have.
Disclosure: This review was carried out as part of a self-funded trip.