American Airlines JFK Flagship Lounge

Multiple Locations Nationwide

Travel is all about the experience. But whether it’s to an exotic island in the South Pacific or a chalet on the ski slopes of the Swiss Alps, these experiences must have a starting point. For select guests who fly American Airlines, that starting point is the Flagship Lounge.  To maximize the premium lounge experience at JFK International Airport, we worked closely with AA to expand and develop a variety of new spaces to cater to a diverse range of customers. Our work there ultimately redefined the airline’s vision for its premium lounge services.

Airport renovations, like most projects, are highly complex. JFK operates 24/7, so we used a phased approach for construction to minimize inconveniences to guests and successfully navigate logistic-heavy coordination with the airport.

Phase 1 involved co-locating daily operations to staging areas while we renovated and expanded the existing lounge. One staging area was an oversized bridge that connects the lounge complex to offices and crew areas across the terminal. This bridge—referred to as a terrace from here on out—had enough space for us to build a temporary lounge, including a full bar, turning an underutilized space into a new amenity. We also repurposed an existing storage space into the new Check In area.

Phase 2 initiated construction of the new Flagship Lounge itself, along with a few behind-the-scenes administrative spaces. Working with AA’s team, we expanded the space to provide ample seating areas, added a dedicated restroom and new Flagship shower suites (they’re SO nice), new quiet spaces, entertainment and kids’ zones (bye kids!), and an employee lounge, while the kitchen remained in operation for daily use.

Once complete and once the Flagship Lounge was ready for guests, Phase 3 relocated guest services while keeping the terrace open for the temporary Admiral’s Club, the airline’s secondary lounge space for its customers. We also started work on the new Flagship Dining room that features a full bar overlooking the JFK runway, new shower suites and restrooms for Admiral’s Club passengers, and a new centralized kitchen that would fully serve both spaces more efficiently than any other lounge in existence.

Our goal with the design of the Flagship Lounge at JFK was to eliminate that “time wasted” feeling we all can get at an airport. We worked closely with the airline to realize their brand through a creative use of space that offers guests a number of choices that rival what other airlines are offering their premium guests. Our design was adopted by the airline for future Flagship lounges in select destinations across the country, with each injecting local flavor according to our standards.

Once guests check in, they pass through a hallway with a designed wall feature that turned an otherwise blank space into a more elevated experience with a series of slats that, when viewed at the right angle, display NYC landmarks. Once  through, the Flagship Lounge’s variety of seating options is in full view, creating unique destinations within the space.

We organized the space after being inspired by the company’s branding. The diagonal layout of the centrally-located Premium Wine Table evokes the logo’s wing shape and creates visual flow through the lounge. We designed custom millwork and lighting to define the space. A tiered seating layout also affords guests a direct view of the runway from whichever table they sit.

Next to the wine bar are cozy work pods where individual desks are “nooked” into the wall. They’re perfect for those looking for their own semi-private space and work great for calls or focused work while on the go. We incorporated these pods into both the Flagship Lounge and Admiral’s Club spaces.

The new Flagship Dining was the first of its kind for the airline’s US lounges when introduced. The fine-dining venue offers amenities that keep the airline’s offerings on-par with competing carriers while responding to the expectations and demands of today’s premium traveler. A dedicated bar services the dining room and world-class chefs prepare menu items in the new kitchen. Both lounges also offer full buffet serveries that complete the amenities rewarded to guests.

Our partnership with AA and Holt Construction utilized an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method for the Flagship Lounge at JFK. This process of bringing a project from ideation through design and construction is a more open, collaborative, and collectively beneficial method where the entire team is working together toward a united goal. The IPD process allowed us to gain the insights and information necessary, early in the process, to inform how we could make our design not only meet American’s goals for the project, but to set a new standard for projects in the future. When the goals of the project come first, there are fewer issues during construction and less time and materials wasted.

Since designing the JFK lounge, we’ve been able to work with AA on additional projects at Boston Logan International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, LaGuardia International Airport, and Philadelphia International Airport. Our work in these locations includes a lounge space similar in scale to the one at JFK, back-of-house and administrative areas, and building improvements that benefit AA’s efficient operations at each location.