A little while ago, I used American miles to book a first class flight from SFO to BKK. Since I live at the international gateway city (in this case, SFO), it’s easy for me to add a free domestic one-way prior to the flight, so I took advantage to have my actual itinerary be JFK to SFO in American Airlines three-cabin first class at no additional cost, and then fly SFO to BKK several months later.
One of the perks of flying first class on an American three-class transcontinental flight is the Flagship Check-In experience. They currently have this service at Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK), and you can access it by being a ConciergeKey member or a Five Star Service customer, or flying first class on a three-class transcon flight or an international flight (including on oneworld carriers British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Qantas).
Upon arriving at JFK, I was first a little bit confused by the Premium Check-In area, which is NOT where you want to go if you’re eligible for Flagship Check-In. The Flagship Check-In area is located to the far right area of Terminal 8.
At the entrance, there was a woman standing guard who had a mobile device where she looked up my name to see whether or not I was eligible to use Flagship Check-In. I was at the airport quite early since I was pretty jetlagged and had nothing better to do, so I was a little bit nervous that my name wouldn’t yet be on the list, but she did find my name and I was let in.
The Flagship Check-In area is sparsely but elegantly decorated. There were only two other passengers present while I was checking in, and given the fact that the area is located behind frosted doors and a guard, the experience feels very exclusive.
The check-in process was quick, and I had a friendly chat with the agent who was checking me in. I’m not entirely sure why there’s seating in the check-in area, as I’m not sure when it would be used.
After exiting the Flagship Check-In area, you’re immediately deposited at a segmented-off security line, which is equivalent to TSA PreCheck security. From what I saw, it looked like everyone with Flagship Check-In gets to be in this line, regardless of whether he/she is normally eligible for TSA PreCheck. Since there’s no removing things from your bag or removing your shoes and it’s just a metal detector, the security process was quick and painless.
Overall, I thought that the Flagship Check-In experience was great. It was quick and efficient, and it felt like a nice respite from the bustle of the rest of the airport.