VIPs Only: Inside American's Flagship Check-In at LAX

Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com

Most travelers trudge through crowded main terminals to check-in for airline flights. But at American Airlines, select VIP fliers have access to a private oasis separate from the bustling terminal dubbed Flagship Check-In.

On Monday, I toured Flagship Check-In at Los Angeles International Airport with Jeff Plant, American's managing director at LAX. American's super-elite frequent fliers, certain first-class passengers and celebrities are the primary users of this check-in area.

The exclusive pre-boarding area features a separate curbside entrance complete with a greeter in a top hat, dedicated agents, comfortable seating and an elevator leading to front-of-line access to airport security.

(Read more: Unique, Luxurious and Exclusive Airport Lounges)

Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com

It's a very serene environment akin to a hotel lobby. And I didn't even feel like I was at an airport once I entered through the double doors.

Beyond the two kiosks, displaying the American Airlines logo on each screen, there's no additional branding inside the upscale area. The Flagship Check-In option is in addition to separate lounges that offer snacks, beverages, work stations and other services.

American staffs the area with its best agents, who personally assist with check-in, baggage, seat assignments, itinerary changes and other individual travel requirements.

Access to Flagship Check-In is free for the following passengers:

  • Concierge Key frequent fliers (an invitation-only program for American's most valuable customers).
  • Passengers traveling in first class on American's three-class transcontinental aircraft between Los Angeles and Miami or New York's JFK Airport.
  • International first class passengers on American or any oneworld alliance member airline.
Photo by Darren Booth for CNBC.com

You can also buy your way in if you sign up for American's Five Star Service. At LAX, the rate is $125 for the first passenger and $75 for each additional passenger traveling together. Five Star Service includes a personal assistant, who escorts you through every step of the airport process, including check-in at the Flagship area.

In addition to Los Angeles location, which opened in November 2011, lagship Check-In is available at Miami International Airport and London's Heathrow Airport. American plans to add additional locations across their network later this year and in 2013, Plant said.


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