What You Should Know About American Airlines First Class

American Airlines offers two very different types of first class. On short-haul domestic and international routes, American Airlines sells a first-class domestic product. Generally, this means a seat that is a bit better than economy, although you may be lucky enough to get a flat seat on some routes and planes (usually coast-to-coast flights). Depending on the length of the flight, you may get a full meal. However, you will only have access to the VIP lounge on international routes.

On premium coast-to-coast flights and long-haul international routes, American Airlines offers "Flagship First" class. Flagship First class is a true first class product that is always offered in addition to the Flagship Business class. This distinguishes American Airlines from Delta and American, which no longer offer a true international first-class product.

First class insignia vs. Business class insignia

On its ultra-premium aircraft, American Airlines offers two types of premium cabins with reclining seats: Flagship Business class and Flagship First class. The flagship business class offers you a reclining seat, chef-inspired dining, premium lounge access, an amenity kit, and more premium perks. Flagship First Class takes all of this up a notch with even better seating, dining, and a special dining area in select salons.


Flagship First Class vs. National First Class

Although they share the same name, there is a big difference between the Flagship First class and the National First class. The Flagship First class always offers a reclining seat, multi-course meals, premium lounge access (including Flagship First Dining), an amenity kit, and more.

Meanwhile, domestic first class is generally the slightly more pleasant seats you may be used to walking on domestic flights. Reserving these seats, which are certainly roomier than the economy ones, provides free alcohol and maybe a meal, but it doesn't come with all the amazing advantages of Flagship First class.

First flagship routes

What domestic routes have American Airlines' first flagship class?

American Airlines currently offers Flagship First class on just five premium transcontinental routes:

• New York (JFK) - Los Angeles (LAX)

• New York (JFK) - San Francisco (SFO)

• New York (JFK) - Orange County (SNA)

• Los Angeles (LAX) - Boston (BOS)

• Los Angeles (LAX) - Miami (MIA)

However, not all flights on these routes are Flagship First. You will need to fly first class on a Boeing 777-300ER or Airbus A321T aircraft to be in Flagship First class


What planes have Flagship First?

Only two aircraft in the American Airlines fleet have a first-class and executive cabin: the Boeing 777-300ER and the specialized Airbus A321 Transcon (A321T). As its name might imply, the A321T operates transcontinental routes. Meanwhile, the 777-300ER operates both premium domestic routes and long-haul international routes.

On both planes, all first-class seats have direct aisle access. And on the A321T, all first-class passengers also have a window.

American Airlines First Class Airport Experience

American Airlines First Class Lounges

When you fly domestically, you don't get access to the lounge when you book American Airlines first class. That's true no matter how far you go. I could fly from Fort Lauderdale to Hawaii in first class. But, unless your ticket has the magic word "Flagship" on it, you will not have access to the lounge unless you have a lounge membership, qualifying credit card, or pay for a day pass.

First class on short-haul international flights generally does not grant access to lounges. However, "for a limited time," American Airlines is providing access to first-class passengers traveling between the American States and Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. That means you are assured of access to the Admirals Club lounge as long as you fly American Airlines first class internationally.

Passengers of the first-class flagship have a completely different experience. When you fly Flagship First, you will have access to the best lounge available (Admirals Club or the nicest Flagship Lounge).

Flagship Lounges are American Airlines' premium lounges that offer buffet meals, self-serve alcohol, a variety of seating options, from desks to loungers, and even showers.


Flagship salons are located at the following AA locations:

• Chicago O'Hare (ORD)

• Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW)

• Los Angeles (LAX)

• Miami (MIA)

• New York (JFK)

But you'll want to skip the Flagship Lounge buffet when flying Flagship First. At four Flagship Lounge locations, American Airlines offers a seated dining experience called Flagship First Dining. This restaurant-style dining option is exclusive to Flagship First passengers and AA will sometimes invite its elite Concierge Key members by invitation only.


These meals are designed for luxury rather than speed. So you'll want to arrive at the airport early enough so that you can enjoy the full seated dining experience. You'll enjoy multi-course meals designed by local chefs using locally sourced ingredients. Each venue also has a bartender available to make cocktails or serve wine, beer, or champagne.

Flagship First Dining is found in four Flagship Lounge locations:

• Dallas / Fort Worth (DFW)

• Los Angeles (LAX)

• Miami (MIA)

• New York (JFK)

American Airlines First Class Check-in

As long as you fly American Airlines first class, you have access to the priority check-in line. That means you can skip the check-in kiosks and register with a real front desk agent.


Additionally, Flagship First passengers can use American Airlines Flagship First Check-in at five airports: Chicago O'Hare (ORD), London Heathrow (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK) . This is a special check-in area usually with walls only for Flagship First passengers, qualified elite customers, and passengers who paid for Five Star Service.

• American Airlines First Class Experience in the Air

• First-class national benefits

• Booking American Airlines First Class offers you much more than a better-than-economy seat. The benefits of flying American Airlines domestic first class include priority airport check-in, priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, a better seat, free drinks, snacks on shorter routes, and meals on longer routes.

• First-class international benefits

• The advantages of Flagship First Class are even better. At the airport, you will have access to the exclusive Flagship First Check-in area. Then you can quickly go through security to the best lounge available, including Flagship First Dining in some locations.

• On board, all Flagship First class seats are flat and have direct aisle access. You'll get multi-course meals, an amenity kit, and a Casper brand sleeping set.

• American Airlines First Class Seats

• • 777 First Class: American Airlines uses its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on its most premium routes. The first-class cabin is arranged in two rows of 1-2-1 seats. That means there is a window seat on either side of the aisle with two seats in the middle. All seats have aisle access. Couples who want to sit together will want to opt for the two middle seats.


• • A321T First Class: American Airlines uses specially configured A321 aircraft on its premium transcontinental routes. In these aircraft called "A321T", the first class consists of five rows of 1 to 1 seats. That means all seats have window and aisle access. Couples traveling together have the option of sitting across the aisle or facing each other.

• • 737 First Class: American Airlines recently completed a "Project Oasis" modernization to "harmonize" the onboard experience on all 737 aircraft. Now, you will find four rows of economy-class premium reclining seats in first class on all 737 aircraft. American Airlines removed all inflight entertainment screens as part of the update, so be sure to bring your own tablet to see the streaming entertainment options. The plus side of the mod: All seats have power outlets, the overhead bins are larger, and all planes have high-speed Wi-Fi available for purchase.

• • A321 First Class: Not to be confused with the A321T, the A321 is a workhorse of the American Airlines domestic fleet. American is almost done with updating these planes. Soon, all A321 aircraft will have five rows of 2-2 seats. Like the 737, it won't have an inflight entertainment screen. But, at least American Airlines is adding larger power outlets and overhead compartments to its woefully outdated A321 aircraft.

• American Airlines Domestic First Class Baggage

• First-class passengers can check two bags free of charge when flying short-haul domestic and international routes. Even better, you don't have to worry about packing light. You can pack up to 70 pounds of stuff in each bag for free before worrying about overweight charges.

• You can get a free third piece of checked baggage if you are traveling on a Flagship First class ticket, have AAdvantage Platinum Pro or Executive Platinum elite status, Oneworld Emerald elite status, or are an active member of the US military.

• American Airlines International First Class Baggage

• When flying in Flagship First class, you can check up to three free checked bags of up to 70 pounds each. Just keep in mind that the free third piece of checked baggage only applies to Flagship First class tickets. If you are traveling "first class" on short-haul international routes, you will only receive two free checked bags (up to £ 70 each).

First Class International Dining at AA

On international flights, Flagship First passengers receive hot multi-course meals designed by chefs from the James Beard Foundation. As with transcon flights, you can choose when you want to eat and you can reserve your food before your flight to ensure you have your choice on board.

Meals are tailored to individual destination. So you'll enjoy Japanese specialties on flights to or from Japan and local seasonal ingredients when you depart from Sydney or Auckland.

First Class National Alcohol in AA

American Airlines first class flights feature beers, wines and spirits. However, beverage service will depend on the length of your flight and your flight attendant. On some short flights, you may need to proactively order a drink. On other flights, flight attendants can perform multiple beverage services and offer to refill your beverage.


First Class International Alcohol in AA

Beverage service should be a bit more standardized on international Flagship First flights. Flight attendants will generally offer a "pre-departure" drink before the flight and should proactively check back to see if you would like more drinks. However, American Airlines service is notoriously inconsistent. So don't be afraid to order a drink if you wait.

How to book American Airlines first class

How much does a first class ticket cost on American?

American Airlines prices for first class tickets depend on the route, flight demand, seasonality, and how close to departure you are booking. For the best first class deals from American Airlines, become an Elite member of Scott's Cheap Flights. We'll be sure to let you know when the price of American Airlines first class drops to attractive rates.

How to upgrade to first class on American for free

American Airlines AAdvantage elites can upgrade to domestic first class for free through AA's 500-mile upgrade program. However, these supplemental updates are limited to routes within North and Central America.

Additionally, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum and Million Milers elites can use system-wide upgrades to upgrade from a paid business class ticket to Flagship First class. While you can use system-wide upgrades to go from economy to domestic first class, these great-value upgrade certificates are best used on international travel.

How much does it cost to upgrade to first class at American?

American Airlines often offers paid upgrades to domestic first class. These upgrade offers are dependent on demand for the flight and how much American thinks it can charge for an upgrade. If you're interested in paying for an upgrade, check your travels on the American Airlines app or website in the weeks and days leading up to your flight.

How many miles must be upgraded to American first?

You can use 15,000 AAdvantage miles plus a $ 75 cash copay each way to upgrade from Economy Class to Domestic First Class on routes within North America (except Hawaii). For Hawaii routes, you will need to pay 15,000 miles plus a $ 175 copayment each way to upgrade from Economy Class to Domestic First Class, or Flagship Business Class, if offered.

To upgrade to Flagship First class with miles, you will need to originally book an American Airlines Business Class ticket. It costs 15,000 AAdvantage miles plus $ 175 to upgrade from Flagship Business Class to Flagship First Class on transcontinental routes. On international routes, you can use 25,000 miles plus a $ 550 copay to upgrade from Flagship Business to Flagship First.

Please note that the cash copay does not apply if you originally booked a full fare ticket. However, full-fare tickets are the most expensive type of ticket and are extremely expensive, so this rarely applies.

What are the best credit cards to get free upgrades to American First?

Unfortunately, no credit card will offer you free upgrades to American Airlines first class. However, you can use credit cards to get elite AAdvantage status, and elite status is the best way to get free upgrades on American Airlines.

Starting in 2022, you can earn elite AAdvantage status just by spending on a credit card. Typically, you will earn 1 loyalty point for every dollar spent on an eligible AAdvantage credit card. So if you spend $ 125,000 on an eligible card during the elite qualification period, you will earn AAdvantage Platinum Pro elite status. And elite Platinum Pro members get unlimited, automatically requested upgrades to American Airlines Domestic First Class on all paid tickets.

American Airlines First Class and Flagship First FAQs

What does the first American class include?

American Airlines First Class includes free drinks, priority check-in, additional checked baggage allowance, and a seat in the forward cabin of the aircraft. That's all you get in domestic first class. However, the American Airlines Flagship First class also grants access to great lounges, reclining seats, premium bedding, an amenity kit, multi-course meals, and more.

Do you have access to the VIP lounge with American First Class?

American Airlines first class passengers only have access to the lounge when they have "Flagship First" class tickets or when flying internationally. Unfortunately, the first national class does not have access to the lounge.

Is food served first class at American?

American Airlines serves snacks first class on flights between 500 and 899 miles away. On flights over 900 miles, first class passengers will receive full meal service during meal times. On international long-haul and premium coast-to-coast flights, American Airlines serves multi-course meals to Flagship First class passengers.

How many pieces of checked baggage do you get at American First?

In American Airlines Domestic First Class, you will receive two free pieces of checked baggage up to 70 pounds each. Passengers booked in Flagship First class get a free third piece of checked luggage up to 70 pounds.

How can you cancel or reschedule your first American flight?

As long as your ticket originates from North or South America, American Airlines first class passengers can change their flight free of charge. Just keep in mind that you may have to pay a price difference if the price of the new flight is higher.

What are the best seats in the first American class?

The best American Airlines first class seats are found on the Boeing 777-300ER. The seats lie flat on a bed, or you can rotate the seat to work at the seat's dedicated desk.

Note that American Airlines only has true First Class seats on its Boeing 777-300ER and its Airbus A321 Transcon specialty aircraft. However, American Airlines will sometimes sell its business class seats as domestic first class on some routes.

For full details on the seat chosen for your particular aircraft, see SeatGuru.

Are the seats in US First Class flat?

American Airlines first-class seats are found flat on long-haul international flights and coast-to-coast premium flights. You'll make sure you get a flat seat if your ticket says "Flagship First." On other domestic routes, you can get a flat seat by booking first class on a flight operated by a Boeing 777 or 787 aircraft.


As you can see, American Airlines First Class varies greatly between Domestic First Class and Flagship First Class. In both cases, you'll get priority check-in, extra baggage allowance, early boarding, and free drinks. However, that's where the similarities end. The first domestic class generally only consists of a better seat than the economy. But the Flagship First class is a completely different level.

American Airlines Flagship First Class wins Best First Class product of any American airline by default, as Delta and American no longer offer International First Class products. While Flagship First seats aren't the newest or best, American Airlines provides a great experience on the ground with Flagship Check-in, Flagship Lounges, and their exclusive Flagship First Dining.

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