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Review: Flying American Airlines Flagship First (worth $7,500 and I paid $30 in fees for two)

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The day finally came. After waiting for six months since booking our trip to New York, the first class flight back home finally happened after my 10-day visit in New York City. I had purchased these two one-way first class tickets from New York’s JFK back to Los Angeles.

What’s the big deal?

If we haven’t met, or if you have not read any of my entries, or know anything about my travel lifestyle, flying business or first class is out of the ordinary. Very out of character. I’m a budget traveler, we have four kids, and we try to use our points where all of the kids could go on a trip with us. But thanks to MilesTalk, Dave Grossman, shared how to book this flight, and it’s exactly what I did. I used my points with American Express Membership Rewards to book this trip. I wrote a very detailed post showing all the steps I did to book. Click here for details on how I booked this trip.

How I booked American Airlines Flagship First using American Express Membership Rewards +$15 fees

IMAGE COURTESY OF American Airlines

American Airlines Flagship Lounge

We’ve never accessed lounges with American Airlines since I don’t have a status with them. Since we have first class tickets, we were told that we could use the American Airlines Flagship Lounge.

After going through security, it was a straight walk towards the stairs or the elevator that would lead you to the lounge. Upon checking in and scanning our boarding pass, Julie with American Airlines, asked if we would join them for dinner. I did not realize there was a separate private lounge within that lounge. Remember, this was our first time flying first class with American Airlines. Honestly, all I wanted or had imagined was a buffet-style lounge (very typical of many other lounges), and for me to sit in one corner and relax. But American Airlines had other plans for us.

The games commenced. Julie, escorted us to the lounge. First, we were greeted and offered a couple of glasses of champagne upon entering the lounge.

She then walked us to the Flagship Lounge Dining Room. I had no idea that it was a separate room with a sliding door as you enter. There were a couple of wait staff members who expected our arrival. Julie had advised them of our flight time, and to make sure that we enjoyed our visit and at the same time for us not to lose track of time.

We were given the food and drinks menu. To be honest, we were still full from our late afternoon meal at Chelsea Market, but we made room for this lounge visit. Nancy and I like to order different things. I had the New York Strip while Nancy opted for the halibut. We also ordered the Salmon Tataki and Grilled Artichokes and arugula salad. And for our desert, we opted for the flan and Flagship dessert sampler.

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This was a really nice, unexpected surprise…..it was a great way of ending our trip to New York City. Our server took care of our needs. I had Pellegrino to drink, and later on we ordered coffee – Americano for me, and peach hot tea for Nancy.

I also had an opportunity to walk around the lounge and took random pictures.

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A shower? Sure, why not

One of the first things I asked upon checking in at the lounge? I wanted to know if there was a shower room. I was told yes, and was shown its location. So directly after dinner, I grabbed my backpack and luggage and rolled down to the shower room located on the far left side of the lounge. There were quite a few shower rooms available, and I went to the first one that showed vacant. I wasn’t expecting much. I just needed to freshen up. All our 10 days in New York were filled with lots of adventures, but it also meant lots of legwork which I truly needed. So to end our trip with our first class flight, a hot shower was in order.

Inside the A321 Transcontinental Bus

Our flight was due to leave, and we started to board quite late. Group 1 – hey, that’s us!!! We were called and headed to the plane. I’m going to sound like a real naive travel geek. I had this idea that upon entering the plane that we’d be turning left vs. right. Instead, we turned right, and that was when I saw our seats. We went directly to our seats on the right hand side of the plane. I was trying to maintain my composure, but the inner child in me wanted to run up and down the aisle and do the happy dance. But the 50 year old in me, said, “behave, chill, relax!”

Again, please forgive me. But it’s like being handed a new toy. I needed to learn the gadgets, how to recline, lay flat, which pillows to use, how to move the screen/monitor….so yes, I was busy playing. Fine, I shouldn’t apologize. I’ve worked hard to earn these points and I deserve to be on this flight.

Boarding went by quickly. To be honest, I was so tired. Ten days of non-stop action in NYC. This plane ride was my break. I wanted to just call it a night and sleep. But I also wanted to stay up for all the first class services that would be taking place. I asked for sparkling water, and was given a can of club soda with a cup of ice. During the meal service, I opted for the chicken, while Nancy opted for the beef. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve flown business class before and first class, but not as often as I would like.

So it was a great to experience this again. For dessert, I made sure to get the ice cream sundae, and Nancy ordered caramel apple buttercake. We weren’t even hungry. We just left the Flagship Lounge and ate our hearts out there. And just two hours before that, we had a sushi feast in Chelsea. But again, I was not complaining.

It was time to finally relax. Before and during the dinner, I watched “Respect” starring Jennifer Hudson. I wanted to finish the movie so badly, but I was dead tired. So halfway through the movie, I said good night to Nancy. I laid my seat flat. And of course, I kept my mask on while sleeping.

Fast forward three to four hours later, Nancy told me that I was sound asleep when she passed by. I was snoring and slept like a log. Yes, I was so comfortable that by the time I woke up, there were only 45 minutes remaining of flight time. I was that relaxed. I slept so well. I loved it!

We arrived at LAX safely, and since we had no checked luggage, we skipped baggage claim, and we headed straight outside, and shortly after, Ethan, our son, was there to pick us up.

I could get used to this

Not gonna lie! Of course, I loved the experience. I loved the fact that I only used points to pay for this trip. There is no way I would’ve paid for this out of pocket at $3,761 or $7,522 for the two of us….no way. But with points of 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards (per person) and $15 fee (per person) – count me in! Would I do it again? You bet!

But allow me to also face a reality check. I am still the same Jason, the same Jason who does not mind flying coach, economy, basic economy. As long as you fly me safely from Point A to Point B, as long as I can get an aisle seat, and now have to pay extra for my carryon luggage, I will be happy and content.

Which credit cards offer American Express Membership Rewards

These are the following credit cards that earn you American Express Membership Rewards. Most of them have annual fees that would make you think twice. But, I want you to pause and reflect. When you use these points wisely, for instance, with my example above, I only used 25,000 American Express Membership Rewards to fly first class that was worth $3,761. It’s all about how you redeem these points to get the most value out of them

The Business Platinum Card from American
  • Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card
  • Annual Fee – $595 ($695 if application is received on or after 1/13/2022)
The Platinum Card from American Express (personal)
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Annual Fee – $695
American Express Gold Card
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
    Annual Fee – $250
American Express Business Gold
  • Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Annual Fee – $295
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Annual Fee – $0

For a list of over 60 credit cards, click here.

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Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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