To compete for the travel dollars of big-spending fliers, American Airlines recently unveiled two ways to pamper its most elite fliers.
The Fort Worth-based carrier, the world's largest, opened a new lounge at Los Angeles International Airport last month that includes all the luxuries of a buffet restaurant and bar, plus a counter where fliers can make Bloody Mary drinks with crispy strips of bacon.
American Airlines already operates three Admirals Club lounges at LAX that offer free snacks and self-serve bars. Those lounges are open to any AAdvantage frequent flier member who buys an annual pass or any traveler who pays $59 for a daily pass.
But the Flagship Lounge in Terminal 4 is reserved for first- or business-class passengers who are flying on international flights or transcontinental flights to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Elite members of the airline's AAdvantage frequent flier program also get access.
The lounge offers free food from hot and cold buffets, a station where a chef makes custom dishes and a self-service wine and champagne bar. Showers and a quiet room for naps are nearby.
But for the super-elite flier who wants to enjoy a restaurant-style sit-down meal, American Airlines has also added a 59-seat restaurant called Flagship First Dining, reserved only for first-class passengers on certain flights. During a recent visit, the menu included New York strip steak, tagliatelle pasta and a burger made with Japanese Wagyu beef.
"We want to differentiate ourselves from other domestic carriers," said Suzanne Boda, American Airlines' senior vice president for Los Angeles.
American operates four Flagship Lounges in the U.S., but only three have a Flagship First Dinning restaurant attached.