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American Ups the Ante for Premium Airport Lounges

In its latest effort to capture the hearts, minds, and expense accounts of the travel universe’s most privileged 1 percent, American is raising the bar for airport lounges.

The airline has two types of lounge: the Admirals Club lounges, available to anyone willing to pay for access, and to holders of the Citi AAdvantage Elite MasterCard (annual fee: $450); and its Flagship lounges, accessible exclusively to first-class customers on transcon or international flights, and flyers with top-tier elite status in American’s AAdvantage program or with oneworld.

In a first for an American-carrier lounge, American will feature “complimentary, full-service tableside dining” at its Flagship lounges in Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and Miami, beginning in 2017.

Choose from a seasonal, multi-course menu that features fresh, regionally-inspired dishes designed by an Executive Chef. Your meal is always complimentary and will be paired with our finest wines and premium cocktails.

In other words, a free restaurant-quality meal before the flight. Nice, although it strikes me that a fine preflight meal might be a bit redundant, if not positively overindulgent, for travelers who are about to spend hours being wined and dined in their cushy first-class seats. Too much of a good thing, perhaps?

RELATED: Congressman Introduces Bill to Halt the Coach-Class Seat Squeeze

Elsewhere on the lounge front, American is in the process of renovating around 20 of its lounges, and will add two more Admirals Clubs to its network, at Houston and Orlando airports.

It’s all part of what American claims is an investment exceeding $3 billion in the “customer experience.”

Meanwhile, for those customers whose experience is limited to the coach seating in the back of the bus—the great majority of flyers, that is—American this month restored free snacks on its transcon flights, and will expand that to include all domestic flights by April. Depending on the flight departure time, passengers will be served either Biscoff cookies or pretzels.

So much for the average customer’s experience.

Reader Reality Check

How likely are you to enjoy a free meal in one of American’s Flagship lounges?

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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