American Flagship First Check-In: Who Has Access?


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One of the premium services that American Airlines offers is Flagship First Check-In. The catch is that eligibility for this doesn’t exactly match eligibility for any of American’s other premium services, so I wanted to go over the details of that in this post.

What is American Flagship First Check-In?

Flagship First Check-In includes American’s most exclusive check-in facilities, available at select hubs. This is generally completely separate from the standard priority check-in that premium cabin passengers and elite members have access to.

What makes Flagship First Check-In special?

  • It’s an exclusive area that’s partitioned off and separated from the rest of the terminal, typically with some seating
  • It’s supposed to offer a higher level of service and shorter wait times, given how exclusive use of it is
  • It generally offers fast track security, whereby you get a shortcut in the security line

Obviously this can be useful if you need any reservation assistance, are checking bags, etc. However, for those of us who travel light and check-in online, the only potential benefit is a shortcut at security. That could save you a bit of time, assuming there’s otherwise a wait.

Flagship First Check-In offers an elevated check-in experience

Which airports have American Flagship First Check-In?

American’s Flagship First Check-In is currently available at four airports:

  • At Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD) it’s located in Terminal 3, near Checkpoint 8, by the standard first class check-in area
  • At London Heathrow Airport (LHR) it’s located in Terminal 3, in Zone J
  • At Los Angeles Airport (LAX) it’s located in Terminal 4, and there’s a separate curbside entrance for it
  • At Miami Airport (MIA) it’s located in the North Terminal, in Concourse D, near curbside door two

On top of that, there’s also a similar check-in space at New York Kennedy Airport (JFK), but it’s shared between American Airlines and British Airways, and isn’t explicitly a Flagship First Check-In area. It’s located in Terminal 8, to the right of the standard premium check-in area.

Flagship First Check-In is available at select airports

Who has access to American Flagship First Check-In?

Access rules for American Flagship First Check-In can be kind of confusing, as they’re different than American Flagship Lounge access rules.

For better or worse, if you’re not eligible you’ll quickly find out, because Flagship First Check-In has a “bouncer” of sorts, who admits you if you’re eligible. There’s a list of passengers who have access to it, and if you’re not on the list, you won’t have access to it.

You can use Flagship First Check-In either based on the class of service you’re traveling in, or based on your elite status. So let’s look at the details of that.

Accessing Flagship First Check-In based on your ticket

Independent of your elite status, you can use Flagship First Check-In if you’re traveling on an eligible ticket in Flagship First or Flagship Business Plus (which is a fare bundle American offers select passengers in business class).

Flagship First itineraries include those between the United States and Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America, where you’re traveling in four cabin first class (meaning it’s a cabin above business class).

On top of that, Flagship First is available on select domestic nonstop flights, including select frequencies between the following city pairs:

  • New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO)
  • New York (JFK) and Orange County (SNA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) and Miami (MIA)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) and Boston (BOS)

Flagship First is only available on Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A321Ts. If you’re on any other type of aircraft, there’s not a Flagship First aircraft. That being said, American does sell Flagship Business Plus fares on some aircraft without first class.

Not that eligibility is based on same day travel. In other words, if you’re flying from Miami to Dallas to London (with the transatlantic flight in Flagship First), you could use Flagship First Check-In at Miami Airport.

American Flagship First flights offer special check-in privileges

Accessing Flagship First Check-In based on your status

It’s also possible to access Flagship First Check-In based on your elite status.

The following passengers receive Flagship First Check-In regardless of where they’re traveling, as long as they’re traveling on an American flight:

In addition to that, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members receive Flagship First Check-In when traveling in any cabin on a same day qualifying international itinerary. This includes flights between the United States and Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and South America (excluding Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela).

Interestingly even though AAdvantage Platinum Pro also gets you oneworld Emerald status, those members aren’t eligible for Flagship First Check-In.

Select business class passengers can use Flagship First Check-In

Bottom line

Flagship First Check-In is American’s most exclusive check-in facility available at select hubs. It’s a nice service, but don’t get too excited, since check-in is something that many travelers can skip. I figured it would be worthwhile recapping who has access to these facilities, since it can cause some confusion.

If you’ve used American Flagship First Check-In, what was your experience like?

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