Earlier I wrote about Delta VIP Select, which is Delta’s secret program offering priority ground services for a fee. In this post I wanted to talk about American Five Star Service. Unlike at Delta, this is a published program, and there are some differences between what the two programs offer.
How American’s Five Star Service works
American Five Star Service is the Fort Worth-based carrier’s premium ground service package that’s available to select passengers. For those willing to pay, American Five Star Service offers customized service and extra amenities, which should make your ground experience seamless. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
What does American Five Star Service offer?
American Five Star Service is intended primarily for passengers who are either departing or connecting. When you book American Five Star Service, you’ll receive the following perks:
- Access to Flagship First Check-in, which is American’s exclusive international first class check-in facility; at airports without Flagship First Check-in, you’ll get priority check-in
- Access to American Admirals Club locations
- Priority boarding and re-accommodation status
- Car service coordination, so that you’ll be met when you arrive at the airport
- Personalized service throughout the airport, so that you’ll be escorted every step of the way
Note that officially Five Star Service doesn’t include any car or golf cart transfers within the airport, but rather you can expect to be escorted by foot. Your actual experience may vary based on the airport or the exact situation, as it’s not uncommon to be driven in a golf cart. As I’ll cover below, Five Star Select is more likely to get you this service, and that costs extra.
Who is eligible for American Five Star Service?
American Five Star Service is exclusively available to first and business class passengers, so you can’t buy it when traveling in economy or premium economy. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling internationally or domestically.
You can use this service if traveling on American, including on itineraries that include travel on select oneworld partners. You’ll have to reach out to Five Star Service to ask about specific eligibility with partners, since it’s all based on whether American agents have the ability to provide this kind of service at a particular airport.
How much does American Five Star Service cost?
American Five Star Service costs $350 for the first passenger, and $100 for each additional passenger. Children up to 17 years old can be added for $50 each.
You can also redeem miles toward the experience, at the rate of one cent per mile (which is less than I value AAdvantage miles). So you could book this for 35,000 AAdvantage miles for the first person, 10,000 AAdvantage miles for each additional adult, and 5,000 AAdvantage miles for each additional child.
When you purchase American Five Star Service, you’re paying specifically for the service at one airport. So if you wanted this service at all points of your itinerary, you’d have to pay the fee separately for each airport. You need to book at least 24 hours in advance for US locations, and 48 hours in advance for international locations.
What airports have American Five Star Service?
American Five Star Service is available at 22 airports, including 16 airports in the United States and six airports abroad.
The following 16 airports in the United States offer Five Star Service:
- Austin (AUS)
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Boston (BOS)
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Nashville (BNA)
- New York (JFK & LGA)
- Newark (EWR)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Washington (DCA)
The following six airports outside the United States offer Five Star Service:
- Buenos Aires (EZE)
- London (LHR)
- Rio de Janeiro (GIG)
- Sao Paolo (GRU)
- Tokyo (HND & NRT)
How do you book American Five Star Service?
American Five Star Service is bookable by phone, at 877.578.2702. Alternatively, you can book by email by contacting Five Star Service at [email protected].
American’s uber-exclusive Five Star Select
In addition to Five Star Service, American has Five Star Select, which is an even more exclusive service. What’s the incremental value of this?
- You’ll be driven in a vehicle across the apron or in a golf cart through the terminal, when possible
- You’ll get access to American Flagship First Dining, which is the carrier’s exclusive pre-dining facility, located inside Flagship Lounges; there are only Flagship First Dining facilities in Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA)
American Five Star Select costs $650 for the first passenger, and $150 for each additional passenger. Children up to 17 years old can be added to your plan for $75 each. In other words, this costs an extra $300 for the first passenger, an extra $50 for each extra passenger, and an extra $25 for each child.
Is American Five Star Service worth it?
Admittedly everyone values their time and minor incremental convenience differently, though personally I have a hard time getting excited about the value proposition of Five Star Service. $350 is a lot to spend for a little hand holding at the airport, especially if you already have Admirals Club access:
- You’re unlikely to be driven on the apron to or from your aircraft, but rather you’re typically just escorted
- Flagship First Check-in might save you a few minutes, but if you have TSA PreCheck, I can’t imagine it’ll make much of a difference
- I suppose some might be able to justify this for a very special occasion, if a loved one who doesn’t travel often is flying (and you want to make their journey easy), or if you have a tight connection and it’s very important that you make it
Just as a point of comparison, I’d consider Delta’s equivalent service to be a better value. If you’re connecting, you’ll typically be driven across the apron to both your arriving and departing flight, and you won’t have to wait in any line to get into a Sky Club.
As far as Five Star Select goes, you’re basically paying an extra $300 to be sure you won’t have to walk, and to get access to Flagship First Dining. I think there are much better dining experiences that can be had for that kind of a premium outside of an airport. But that’s just me.
American Airlines Five Star Service is the carrier’s paid VIP service, intended to take any hassle out of the ground experience. For an extra $350 (for one person) you can be looked after from the curb to the gate, and get access to the Admirals Club. Then for $650 you can buy Five Star Select, which offers the incremental value of being driven through the airport, and also getting access to Flagship First Dining.
I wouldn’t consider any of this to be a very good value, but I figured it’s at least worth covering…
What do you make of the value proposition of American Five Star Service?