American Airlines A321T Flagship First Class Review [LAX to JFK]

Full Disclosure: We may receive financial compensation when you click on links and are approved for credit card products from our advertising partners. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. Please see our Advertiser Disclosure for more details!

Airline: American Airlines (AA)
Aircraft: Airbus A321T
Flight #: AA 10
Route: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to John F. Kennedy International Airport – New York City (JFK)
Date: September 7, 2019
Duration: 5hrs 27min
Cabin and Layout: American Airlines Flagship First Class, 10 seat capacity across 5 rows, 1-1 configuration
Seat: 1F
Miles Used: None, booked a paid flight for $858.30 (Fare Class A)
Taxes and Fees Paid: $73.18
Typical Retail Cost: $1,409
Typical Economy Cost: ~$174

Booking American Airlines Flagship First Class

Flying from one coast to another in the U.S. is not an easy task. Luckily, travelers have a lot of options to do so in business and first class. The most premium airline route in the U.S. is Los Angeles (LAX) to New York City (JFK).

Therefore, most of the top premium products you’ll find will be on this route, whether it’s Delta One, JetBlue Mint, or American Airlines Flagship First/Business Class. I was headed to New York and I wanted to take the opportunity to review 2 of the best domestic first and business class airlines.

For this reason, I booked a flight from LAX to JFK on American Airlines Flagship First Class aboard the A321T. The “T” in the airplane model simply denotes “transcontinental.” This particular model is used by American Airlines for their premium-heavy planes featuring fully lie-flat seats in first class and business class.

These are typically only available on the most premium transcontinental flights:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – New York City (JFK)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – New York City (JFK)

American Airlines sells discounted first class tickets on most Saturdays, so I took this opportunity to nab a seat at a reasonable price of $859, including taxes and fees. I had a massive pile of $100 American Airlines gift cards, so I applied 9 of them (the maximum that can be applied per booking) towards the flight and booked a free lie-flat first class flight for literally nothing out of pocket.

My flight was booked in the A fare class, which earned me 4,950 EQMs, 1 EQS, 786 EQDs, and a total of 5,502 redeemable American Airlines miles, worth around $72 according to our travel points and miles valuations.

Because I booked a revenue ticket using gift cards, I didn’t need to search for award availability, which is a massive timesaver given how stingy American Airlines is with any sort of premium cabin availability. I booked the ticket on June 3, 2019 for a September 7, 2019 departure, which is 96 days prior to departure. The flight I booked was a red-eye flight, which features an abbreviated service.

If you managed to find some award availability on this route in first class, you could spend 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles, 45,000 Asia Miles, or 51,500 British Airways Avios.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge at LAX

I had done some research prior to the flight and found that the Flagship First Class ticket included an entire Flagship First experience. So, I arrived at the airport around 5 hours before departure in order to document and experience the entire process.

I took an Uber to the airport and was dropped off at the Flagship First Check-In area, which is located on the curbside of Terminal 4.

American Airlines Flagship First Check-In LAX
American Airlines Flagship First Check-In LAX

As I entered the Flagship First Check-In area, I saw 2 check-in counters. This area is an exclusive experience that takes you from the curbside quickly through security — definitely a nice addition to the overall Flagship First experience.

American Airlines Flagship First Check-In Counter
American Airlines Flagship First Check-In Counter

As soon as my boarding pass was printed out, I headed upstairs and cleared security. After clearing security, I headed to the Flagship Lounge, which is located in Terminal 4, near gate 40. The lounge is open daily from 4 a.m. to 12:45 a.m.

I took a quick shower in one of their 8 beautiful shower suites.

American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX Shower Suite
American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX Shower Suite

The Flagship Lounge at LAX is generally very crowded, and it features self-serve buffet dining. I headed over to the Flagship First Dining area, which is infinitely better and more peaceful than the Flagship Lounge.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining at LAX

American Airlines Flagship First Dining at LAX is the crown jewel of American Airlines’ ground experience. The facility is connected to the Flagship Lounge and contains restaurant-style seating and a full, tended bar.

Flagship First Dining offers a magnificent sit-down, à-la-carte experience for travelers that can only be accessed if you’re flying on:

  • American Airlines Flagship First Class internationally between the U.S. and Asia, Australia, Europe, or South America
    • 1 guest is allowed (children over 2 count)
  • American Airlines Flagship First Class transcontinentally between LAX and JFK, SFO and JFK, and LAX and BOS (A321T aircraft only)
    • No guests are allowed

The only exceptions to this are if you’re flying on an airline industry non-revenue (known as non-rev) ticket. This is not the same as an award ticket. Those who use points are eligible for access, too.

Notice how even top-tier elite members can’t access Flagship First Dining. It’s true that ConciergeKey members, which are American Airlines’ top, most loyal customers that spend upwards of $50,000 per year, can access the Flagship Lounges. However, even they cannot access Flagship First Dining. As a result, there was 1 other traveler in the entire venue when I went there.

As soon as I entered, I was whisked away to the seat of my choice. I chose a seat next to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the tarmac and gates. I immediately ordered a glass of Krug Champagne and a mojito.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX tarmac view with Krug and mojito
American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Tarmac View With Krug and Mojito

American Airlines Flagship First Dining has elevated itself to one of the best lounge experiences in the world, especially with its move to serve Krug Champagne at all Flagship First Dining locations.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Krug Champagne
American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Krug Champagne

In addition to custom cocktails and Champagne, you can savor loads of signature wines, craft beers, and luxurious spirits.

Needless to say, the Krug Champagne was smooth and glorious. I love Champagne (not that I’m an expert at tasting), but I was blown away by the experience so far. The Flagship First Menu combines seasonal dishes with customer favorites, so you’ll notice some dishes are always changing while others are consistently on the menu.

I ordered the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass, which was served atop a bed of forbidden black rice and shiitake mushrooms and garnished with petite tatsoi. It was fantastic. I had lofty expectations for a sit-down style restaurant experience and I was amazed.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass
American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass

I also ordered truffled mac and cheese and hamachi crudo, both of which are featured in the American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX review. As far as entrees, I loaded up another main course: the cracked peppercorn petite filet.

This particular dish consisted of natural Angus Aspen Ridge beef, Japanese sweet potatoes, kabocha squash puree, green onions, and a reduced Bordelaise sauce. The presentation was akin to what you’d get at a fancy, fine dining restaurant. The taste was phenomenal, complete with sweet richness and complex umami.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX cracked peppercorn petite filet close-up
American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Cracked Peppercorn Petite Filet, Close-Up

I finished up with 2 desserts. First up was the popular coconut pumpkin bread pudding.

American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX coconut pumpking bread pudding
American Airlines Flagship First Dining LAX Coconut Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The bread pudding was sprinkled with organic powdered sugar and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a salted caramel dressing. The bread pudding was warm, dense, and paradoxically fluffy.

The American Airlines Flagship First Dining at LAX is the gold standard for a sit-down lounge experience. It’s so refreshing to see U.S. airlines investing a lot of money on personalized and luxurious experiences. American Airlines Flagship First Dining at LAX surpasses many international first class airline lounge experiences. It is unequivocally the best ground experience you can have on a domestic flight.

Bottom Line: The pièce de résistance of the ground experience was Flagship First Dining. The sit-down experience, along with fine dining-quality meals, Krug Champagne, and ultra-private service makes this the best airport lounge food I’ve ever had.

Flight

Because American Airlines’ Flagship Lounge is strategically located in Terminal 4 near most of their gates, I walked a few steps to gate 42B where I queued for the flight. We began boarding on-time, and I stepped foot on my first narrow-body aircraft with lie-flat seats.

Seat

The Flagship First Class seats on the A321T are arranged across 5 rows in a 1-1 configuration.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Cabin
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Cabin
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Cabin Rear View
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Cabin Rear View

The seats are Zodiac reverse herringbone seats, which are identical to the business class seats on the 777-300ER, the aircraft they use on their top flights (think: Los Angeles and New York to London).

In essence, transcontinental first class is at least identical to international business class, though I would argue that the former is superior thanks to Flagship First Dining and Check-In.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T seat 1F
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Seat 1F

Each seat is 21 inches wide, 62 inches in pitch, and 82.5 inches long in bed mode. With a bed length of 6 feet 10.5 inches, nearly anybody will be able to fully extend their legs. I found the width to be excellent for its class, certainly superior to United Airlines Polaris class.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T seat
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Seat

A retractable armrest is located at the edge of your seat. To get more wiggle room in bed mode, it’s best to push it all the way down.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T armrest
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Armrest

Next to my seat was a reading light, seat controls, USB port, headphone jack, and inflight entertainment remote.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T seat functions and controls
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Seat Functions and Controls

The inflight remote was responsive and easy to use and the inflight monitor measured 15.4 inches diagonally, and it was certainly crisp, as it was fully HD.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T in-flight entertainment monitor
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Inflight Entertainment Monitor

To the right of the seat controls was a storage compartment that contained a 110V international power outlet. Also, there was a Dasani water bottle waiting at my seat already.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T water bottle and storage compartment
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Water Bottle and Storage Compartment

Underneath the seat and to the right (next to where your legs are) is another storage compartment. I used this to store the headphone case.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Storage Compartment
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Storage Compartment

The tray table was large, measuring around 17 inches wide and 18 inches long.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T tray table
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Tray Table

I tucked the bedding that was waiting at my seat in the ottoman, which was very spacious and deep.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T seat view
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Seat View

Bottom Line: American Airlines Flagship First Class on the A321T is nearly identical to the Flagship Business Class product on their international flights. 

Amenities

Amenities are plentiful on this flight, and the only thing that is absent compared to the international Flagship service is a pair of Casper slippers. Nonetheless, the amenities impressed me a lot.

Although I had to ask for the headphones (they weren’t waiting at my seat or passed out), they gave me a pair of Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones, which are actually superior (in my opinion) to their closest Bose competitor, the QuietComfort 35 headphones.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Bang and Olufsen noise cancelling headphone case
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Bang & Olufsen Noise-Canceling Headphone Case
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Bang and Olufsen noise cancelling headphones
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Bang & Olufsen Noise-Canceling Headphones

American Airlines offers different amenity kits depending on whether you’re flying Flagship First transcontinental or international.

Hot Tip: Consider bringing your own noise-canceling headphones to avoid worrying if the provided headphones will be to your liking! Here a list of our recommended noise-canceling headphones to consider.

In my case, American Airlines partnered with Athletic Propulsion Labs, which is an athletic apparel brand focused on running and basketball. I was so pleased to have an amenity kit to go with my APL shoes (pictured in the previous section).

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T APL Amenity Kit
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T APL Amenity Kit

Within the APL amenity kit, there was a:

  • ZENOLOGY sanitizing wipe
  • ZENOLOGY peppermint lip balm
  • ZENOLOGY mandarin green tea hand and body lotion
  • APL eyemask
  • Earplugs (hidden underneath the eye mask)
  • ZENOLOGY or APL 20% discount voucher
  • Toothbrush
  • Travel-sized toothpaste (0.85 oz)
  • Facial tissue bag
  • FlyFit Vitamin Cranberry Stick (direct-to-mouth vitamin and mineral shot to fight travel fatigue, support immune function, and maintain healthy blood circulation)
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T APL amenity kit contents
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T APL Amenity Kit Contents
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T ZENOLOGY toiletries
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T ZENOLOGY Toiletries

The amenity kit was certainly substantial and it actually contained brands that I like. I also saw some unique components such as the FlyFit stick.

A plastic-wrapped bedding set was waiting for me at my seat. American Airlines partners with sleep tech company Casper, which is known for its comfortable products.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Casper duvet
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Casper Duvet

In addition to a duvet, I also received a pillow, an arm pillow, and even a thin mattress pad.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Casper logo
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Casper Logo

The bedding exceeded my expectations. Besides having Casper-branded products, American Airlines also offers an additional pillow and a mattress pad. After I made my bed, I was able to catch nearly 4 hours of sleep.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T bed made
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Bed Made

Bottom Line: The amenities on American Airlines Flagship First Class on the A321T are, for the most part, on par or greater than international business class. 

Food and Beverage

As soon as I sat down, the friendly flight attendant asked me for a pre-departure beverage order. I requested a glass of Champagne, which was dutifully served in a stemless wine glass, as opposed to a Champagne flute.

The specific varietal of Champagne was a De Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut, which retails for around $40 per bottle.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Champagne
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Champagne

It wasn’t anything compared to the Krug Champagne I had just a few hours earlier, but it works. Here’s where one of the flight oddities crept in. American Airlines didn’t prepare menus for the food and beverage offerings, so they printed it on regular letter paper.

Worse, the printer quality was terrible. They apologized profusely for this, and they handed me a different menu to give me an idea of what the cover page was supposed to look like.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu Title Page
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu Title Page
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T real menu material
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Real Menu Material

Needless to say, the printers that American Airlines used probably weren’t the highest quality out there.

American Airlines partners with restauranteur Sam Choy, who is credited for inventing Pacific Rim cuisine.

The choices for main courses were:

  • Wagyu burger with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion
  • Chicken katsu with warm Japanese mushroom salad and pineapple curry sauce
  • Grain and greens bowl with fresh greens, farro, spelt, pearl barley, black beans, heirloom tomatoes, sugar snap peas, pineapple, onion, goat cheese, and grilled shrimp available upon request
  • Mezze plate with traditional hummus, dolma, bulgur salad, spicy eggplant dip, and pita rounds

There were a number of beverages and wines offered, as shown below:

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu Continued
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Menu, Continued

As soon as I ordered the Wagyu burger, a warm towel was distributed to me.

I ordered a ginger ale to go along with my burger. I was also served warm nuts, which also contained pistachios. Usually, warm nuts consist of cashews, almonds, and walnuts. As a lover of pistachios, I appreciated this idiosyncrasy.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T soda and nuts
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Soda and Nuts

The starters and main course followed shortly after. Overall, I was served:

  • Harissa carrot timbale with mixed grains (top left)
  • Wagyu burger with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion (right)
  • Lays Kettle Cooked potato chips (bottom left)
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T burger
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Burger

I found the burger to be decent. On a scale of 1 to 10, the burger falls on a 5 out of 10. While the toppings featured classic ingredients such as onions and tomatoes, the entire burger wasn’t impressive.

I closed out the meal service with an ice cream sundae. The Häagen-Dazs ice cream sundae had vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, butterscotch, whipped cream, pecans, and seasonal berry toppings.

The sundae was definitely an indulgence that I loved. This was the highlight of the meal service, for sure.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T ice cream sundae close-up
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Ice Cream Sundae, Close-Up

Shortly after waking up, I requested yogurt, and the crew obliged with a Chobani mixed berry Greek yogurt drink.

Entertainment and Service

American Airlines generally does a fantastic job of offering high-speed Wi-Fi on their planes. Whether it’s using ViaSat to Gogo Wi-Fi, the speeds are fast. At least fast enough to browse the web, watch YouTube, or send/receive emails.

This flight offered Gogo Wi-Fi, so I used one of the complimentary passes that come with my Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

I performed a speed test on the flight and found the download speeds to be decent and the upload speeds to be poor.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Wi-Fi speed
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T Wi-Fi Speed

Oddly enough, this are the slowest Wi-Fi speeds I remember having on an American Airlines flight.

Because I was on a red-eye flight, I quickly slipped into a food coma-induced slumber shortly after finishing my meal. Another aspect of American Airlines that is great is that their inflight entertainment choices are plentiful, even in economy.

On the whole, I felt that the service was well-intentioned if not a bit robotic. I didn’t find the service to be particularly warm; instead, it was efficient and quick. This is quite understandable, as the flight was a red-eye.

American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T
American Airlines Flagship First Class A321T

Final Thoughts

I had a great time flying on American Airlines Flagship First Class aboard their transcontinental A321T aircraft. If we’re talking about low points, I’d improve the quality of the food and polish up on the small things, such as having real menus aboard as opposed to printing out menus on letter paper.

All in all, I firmly believe that American Airlines Flagship First Class is the best domestic first class product. Although there are many elements that set it apart from the competition, some of the best parts include:

  • An exclusive curbside pick-up and check-in experience (most useful for international flights, as check-ins for domestic flights can be done completely online)
  • An unparalleled lounge experience with the Flagship Lounge and specifically the Flagship First Dining experience
  • Fully lie-flat seats with direct aisle access equivalent to international Flagship Business Class seats
  • A substantial soft product with the best airplane headphones I’ve seen, a worthwhile amenity kit, and a bedding offering that outclasses its peers
  • Decent service

That being said, in order for it to definitely run away from the competition of JetBlue and Delta, American Airlines needs to improve its food, polish the little touches, and perfect the service.

To be able to fly on the only airline that operates a 3-cabin airplane (first, business, economy) between Los Angeles and New York was a blessing. I contend that the American Airlines Flagship First Class experience is the best you can get domestically.


Frequently asked questions

What is Flagship First on American Airlines?

Flagship First is the name of American Airlines’ best and full first class experience. Flagship First is the collective name for the first class flight, lounge, and amenities like pajamas and food.

Do you get lounge access with American Airlines first class?

You can only get lounge access with American Airlines Flagship First Class. Domestically, this is on airplane routes from LAX to JFK and SFO to JFK.

Internationally, you can access the Flagship Lounge on any international business or first class flight. Check out our guide for all of American Airlines’ Flagship Lounges.

Sometimes, you’re able to access the Admirals Club based on your membership, class of service, or elite status. Find more details here.

What comes with first class on American Airlines?

If you’re flying on a premium transcontinental or international flight, expect lounge access, a lie-flat bed, comfortable Casper bedding, lots of amenities, and regionally-inspired catering.

If you’re flying on a simple domestic first class ticket, expect a recliner seat and (maybe) a meal.

What is Flagship on American Airlines?

Flagship is American Airlines’ name for their premier business/first class experience. United Polaris, Delta One, and JetBlue Mint also all fall under the umbrella of premier business/first class experiences.

What does American Airlines Flagship mean?

By definition, flagship means “the best or most important thing owned or produced by a particular organization.”

In other words, Flagship represents the best that American Airlines has to offer.

How much is a first class ticket on American Airlines?

Premium transcontinental flights from coast to coast can drop down as little as $859 one-way, like the one I booked. It averages $1,409 and goes as high as $2,000+.

For international flights, you’re going to be paying a lot more, upwards of $7,000-$15,000 round-trip.

Does American Airlines have international first class?

Yes! But, it’s only on their 777-300ER (77W). This aircraft is their Flagship aircraft, which includes both a first and business class cabin.

The other airplanes like the 787-9, 777-200, and 787-8 only offer business class on international flights.

If you see a domestic flight with a widebody aircraft, you might see American Airlines selling these seats as “first class.”

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.