American Airlines Flagship First Class is the only true First Class cabin offered by a major North American airline.
To add unnecessary confusion, American Airlines also has domestic “First Class” seats. This product isn’t much better than premium economy, though, and it can be found on most intra-North American flights, as well as on some short-haul international flights.
In this guide, we’ll be focusing on American’s “real deal” Flagship First Class product, touching upon everything from the ground experience to what you can look forward to in the air.
Most importantly, we’ll examine how you can enjoy American Airlines Flagship First Class at a fraction of the cost by using points.
The American Airlines Flagship First Class Experience
While American Airlines Flagship First Class doesn’t quite measure up to many First Class cabins offered by other major airlines, you can still expect to have a memorable experience on your flight.
In addition to high-quality food and drinks in a fairly large First Class seat, you’ll receive a set of pajamas and slippers to go along with your lie-flat seat, as well as a pillow and blanket for optimum comfort.
While First Class is best experienced in the air, American Airlines’s signature experience begins in earnest with access to its Flagship Lounges. In some airports, you can also enjoy the more exclusive Flagship First Dining.
In North America, Flagship Lounges can be found in Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Miami, with a lounge in Philadelphia set to open in the near future.
Abroad, London Heathrow has an American Airlines Flagship lounge that you’ll have access to on both arrival and departure.
On the other hand, Flagship First Dining can be found nestled inside the lounges in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Miami.
These fine-dining areas take the lounge experience to another level, with a more exclusive and elevated dining service and an à la carte menu.
If you’re flying out of New York (JFK), you’ll have access to two premium lounges: the Soho Lounge and the Chelsea Lounge. These premium lounges are a step up from American Airlines’s other Admirals Club lounges, which tend to be far more crowded.
In the Flagship lounges, you can expect better quality food, premium wine, and top-shelf Champagne options, as well as a more comfortable environment to relax before it’s time to board.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the American Airlines Flagship First Class seat is that it can swivel up to 90 degrees.
In practice, this means that if you’re situated next to a window, you can rotate your seat to completely face the window.
What’s more, the counter space to your side, which is right in front of you with your chair swivelled, can fold out to act as a desk that’s large enough for a laptop, allowing you to get some work done or just relax with views of the horizon straight ahead of you.
Rotating your seat also helps to provide more privacy, as it blocks out all views of the aisle. Unfortunately, American Airlines doesn’t have any doors or dividers to close off your First Class seat.
Despite not being industry-leading by way of size, these seats are still noticeably larger than American Airlines’s business class seats. You’ll enjoy a seat width of 21” and a bed length of 82.5” on the Airbus A321, and a width of 21.5” and bed length of 78” on the Boeing 777-300ER.
Every seat also has an ottoman by your feet. You can choose to kick up your feet and relax, or to have someone join you during the meal service, as it’s also equipped with a seatbelt.
Food and Drink
The American Airlines Flagship First Class food and drink service is designed to provide a luxurious and premium experience in the air. Passengers can expect to be served a range of high-quality seasonal dishes and a host of top-shelf beverages.
For meals, passengers are able to dine-on-demand, which means you can order off of the Flagship First Class menu whenever you’d like.
You can expect to find a selection of entrées, salads, and soups. Some of the dishes that are commonly served include grilled steak, pan-seared salmon, roasted chicken, and pasta dishes.
The meals are typically accompanied by side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, potatoes, and bread.
In addition to the main meal, Flagship First Class passengers are also offered a choice of snacks and light bites throughout the flight, including fresh fruit, cheese, and crackers.
As for drinks, American Airlines offers a nice selection of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. This includes an extensive wine list, featuring vintages from around the world, as well as a variety of cocktails, beers, spirits, and of course, Champagne.
Non-alcoholic options include fresh juices, soft drinks, and hot drinks, such as coffee and tea.
American Airlines Flagship First Class Cabins
The American Airlines Flagship First Class cabins can only be found on two aircraft: the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A321 transcontinental, or “A321T” layout.
The Boeing 777-300ER Flagship First Class cabin consists of eight First Class seats in a 1-2-1 layout across two rows.
If you’re travelling on your own, Seats 1A, 1J, 2A, and 2J by the windows provide the most privacy. However, Seat 2A is the best choice as it’s furthest from the toilets, and you’ll have fewer people walking in the aisle next to you.
If you’re travelling with a companion, then Seats 1D and 1G or 2D and 2G allow you the best chance at experiencing American Airlines Flagship First Class together. In these seats, a partition can be lowered or raised, depending on whether or not you want privacy.
The Airbus A321T has similar seats, but a very different Flagship First Class layout. Instead of eight seats, there are 10 First Class seats across five rows in a 1-1 configuration.
This means that every seat is a window seat and an aisle seat, and there’s little advantage of choosing one seat over the other.
With that in mind, Seats 5A and 5F are furthest from the toilets and will have fewer people walking in the aisle beside you.
If you’re travelling with a companion, choosing two seats across the same row will give you the best chance of interacting with each other during the flight, but you’ll still be separated by an aisle.
Keep in mind that you can always have your travel companion join you in your seat by using the ottoman as a buddy seat.
Elimination of First Class Cabins
In late 2024, American Airlines will be phasing out all Flagship First cabins in favour of newly renovated business class cabins that arguably look more impressive than the current First Class models. You’ll want to act quick if you’d like to try out Flagship First Class.
Debuting in 2024 on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A321XLR aircraft, these new premium seats will include many features that are lacking in the current First Class cabins.
Most importantly, they’ll feature a privacy door, larger storage spaces, and updated high definition personal entertainment units.
American Airlines Flagship First Class Routes
American Airlines only operates their Flagship First Class cabin on select transcontinental and international routes.
The transcontinental Flagship First Class routes are available on both the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A321T, and can be found on the following domestic routes:
Meanwhile, the American Airlines international Flagship First Class can only be found on the Boeing 777-300ER on the following long-haul routes, spanning quite a number of American Airlines hubs and premium-heavy international destinations:
How to Redeem Points for American Airlines Flagship First Class
American Airlines is a part of the Oneworld alliance, which has many partners that can be used to book American Airlines Flagship First Class flights.
American Airlines AAdvantage Miles
In Canada, American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be most easily earned by transferring from RBC Avion points at a ratio of 1:0.7, or from Marriott Bonvoy points at a ratio of 3:1.
In the US, you can earn AAdvantage miles on a series of co-branded credit cards from Citi.
Note that American Airlines doesn’t have a fixed award schedule for booking Flagship First Class flights with AAdvantage miles.
Because of this, there’s a wide range you can expect pay when redeeming AAdvantage miles for a Flagship First Class seat, but it’s still possible to get a decent deal.
For example, flying on the popular New York (JFK) to London Heathrow (LHR) route can cost as much as 400,000 AAdvantage miles + $5.60 (USD) in taxes and fees under the dynamic pricing model.
However, it’s still possible, albeit more difficult, to find seats on select flights at a cost of 85,000 miles + $5.60 (USD).
American Airlines also offers “Web Special – First Award” flights, which can help cut down on the inflated costs.
With Web Specials, you can still cancel at no charge, but you won’t be able to make any other changes once it’s ticketed.
The best way to search for American Airlines Flagship First Class availability is on the American Airlines website. After searching your desired routes and dates, you can select “Calendar” on the next page.
Here are some examples of the best prices in AAdvantage miles for a one-way flight in Flagship First Class on a selection of transcontinental routes:
- Los Angeles (LAX) – New York (JFK): 43,500 miles + $5.60
- San Francisco (SFO) – New York (JFK): 42,000 miles + $5.60
- New York (JFK) – Orange County (SNA): 37,500 miles + $5.60
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Boston (BOS): 42,000 miles + $5.60
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Miami (MIA): 52,000 miles + $5.60
And here’s some examples for international routes:
- New York (JFK) – London Heathrow (LHR): 85,000 miles + $5.60
- New York (JFK) – Doha (DOH): 104,000 miles + $7.65
- New York (JFK) – New Delhi (DEL): 93,500 miles + $5.60
- Los Angeles (LAX) – London Heathrow (LHR): 85,000 miles + $5.60
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD): 220,000 miles + $27.40
- Miami (MIA) – São Paulo (GRU): 60,000 miles + $5.60
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – London Heathrow (LHR): 85,000 miles + $5.60
Keep in mind that some of these prices are more easy to come across, and others are more rare.
For example, in an entire year, the New York (JFK) to Doha (DOH) route only had a single flight at 104,000 miles, with most dates requiring around 350,000 miles per person per direction.
American Airlines also tends to release last-minute award availability a couple of weeks out, with most of the cheapest options found within a week of searching.
If you have points in the Etihad Guest loyalty program, you can get some American Airlines Flagship First Class flights for a lot cheaper than if you were to use American AAdvantage miles.
In Canada, Etihad Guest is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards at a 1:0.75, with the transfer taking around three business days.
In the US, Etihad Guest is a transfer partner with American Express US Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One, all at a 1:1 ratio. The transfer times with Amex US and Citi ThankYou are instant, while Capital One transfers can take up to 36 hours.
On both sides of the border, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Etihad Guest at an ratio of 60,000 points = 25,000 miles.
Indeed, Etihad Guest miles are easier to earn than AAdvantage miles, and there are also some very compelling prices for redemptions if you are able to find award space.
The transcontinental Flagship First Class routes cost just 25,000 miles, and the international routes price out as follows:
- New York (JFK) – London Heathrow (LHR): 50,000 miles
- New York (JFK) – Doha (DOH): 67,500 miles
- New York (JFK) – New Delhi (DEL): 67,500 miles
- Los Angeles (LAX) – London Heathrow (LHR): 50,000 miles
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Sydney (SYD): 62,500 miles
- Miami (MIA) – São Paulo (GRU): 50,000 miles
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – London Heathrow (LHR): 50,000 miles
As of now, you’ll have to call Etihad Guest to make a booking, but the program is set to debut booking partner airlines online as of Spring 2023.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
It’s possible to redeem miles in Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan for American Airlines First Class flights.
Alaska Mileage Plan recently stopped publishing individual award charts for each partner airline, but you can expect the pricing to be similar to what American Airlines AAdvantage themselves would charge.
It’s gotten significantly harder for Canadians to earn Alaska miles with the phasing out of the MBNA Alaska credit card.
Nowadays, the best way to rack up Alaska miles would be via the US-issued Bank of America co-branded credit cards or by transferring Marriott Bonvoy points at the optimal ratio of 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 Alaska miles.
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank
The amount of Japan Airlines miles you’ll need to redeem for American Airlines flights are based off of a distance-based award chart, rather than a region-based one.
For round-trip flights, transcontinental Flagship First Class routes cost 90,000 miles, and the international routes cost anywhere between 120,000–145,000 miles depending on the route for a round-trip flight for one person.
While the redemption rates via JAL Mileage Bank are reasonable, the only way to meaningfully earn JAL miles is by converting Marriott Bonvoy points at the optimal ratio of 60,000 Bonvoy points = 25,000 JAL miles.
American Airlines Flagship First Class Award Availability
Since American AAdvantage uses a dynamic pricing model, Flagship First Class award availability is easily found, but can be extremely expensive if you aren’t able to find prices at the lower level.
As a result, the best way to secure a First Class seat at a cheaper rate – either with AAdvantage or a partner airline program – is to either book a flight within two weeks of departure, or closer to a year out.
Tips & Tricks for American Airlines Flagship First Class
When booking American Airlines Flagship First Class flights, you’ll want to pay attention to make sure that you are in fact getting a Flagship First Class seat, and not a domestic First Class seat, which vastly pales in comparison.
To do so, you’ll want to pay attention to the aircraft and the seat map. Anything other than the Boeing 777-300ER and the Airbus A321T won’t be a Flagship First Class product.
Note that American Airlines AAdvantage will hold an award seat for you for up to five days. This means that if you’re able to find an award flight with Flagship First Class and need some time to transfer, say, RBC Avion or Marriott Bonvoy points into your account, you won’t have to worry about your seat disappearing in the meantime.
If you’re able to be flexible on your departure location, then it’s best to fly out of Miami, Dallas, or Los Angeles in order to get access to Flagship First Dining. While you’ll still have access to lounges in other airports, American Airlines’s Flagship First Dining Lounges are a step above the rest.
It’s also possible to upgrade a business class ticket to Flagship First Class. If you’re ticketed in business class, keep an eye out for an upgrade offer at check-in, or in advance of your flight.
Lastly, if you only have a limited amount of points to spend, it may be worth waiting until late 2024 to test out American Airlines’s new business class product instead, which looks to be a step above their current Flagship First cabins.
With American Airlines Flagship First Class set to be phased out in 2024, there isn’t much time left to try out North America’s only “true” First Class product.
With a swivel chair that equips you with your own window-facing desk in the sky, the American Airlines Flagship First Class experience is certainly worth trying out, even if it might not compare to some of the world’s best First Class flights.
Luckily, American Airlines Flagship First Class can be booked using a number of different points currencies. On the whole, while it may be tricky to find availability, booking via Etihad Guest will give you the best balance between the ease of earning points and the cost of redeeming them.