Fair warning: It's not easy to get.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
May 25, 2017

American Airlines has opened its Flagship Lounge at John F. Kennedy International in New York City.

Setting aside the luxuries of a gorgeous space filled with natural light, an all-day dining buffet, the make-your-own cocktail bar, and flowing champagne and wine, the lounge has something even more special: the best hamburger to be found at any airport in the world.

When I visited the Flagship lounge this week with colleagues for an exclusive sneak peek, we were treated to tastings from the Flagship First dining room menu, which is complimentary to first class passengers. Watch the video above to see some of the items we sampled, including the Flagship Burger, which will be coming eventually to American's renovated Flagship Lounges when they re-open in the airports in Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Los Angeles.

Made with grass-fed Aberdeen Angus beef sourced from North Carolina’s Joyce Farms, American’s new burger is a delectable juicy treat that uses “naked beef” — meaning no hormones, antibiotics, animal by-products, or artificial ingredients. It’s served on a brioche bun and is topped with a red onion-bacon marmalade that American should consider bottling and selling in supermarkets everywhere. I could get drunk off the marmalade alone.

Burgers may be simple to prepare, but they're not easy. Getting the freshest sustainable ingredients can be difficult for airport food vendors, who have to go through just as much security as travelers, and must also pass rigid heath and food quality inspections.

When it comes to burgers, price doesn’t dictate quality. I’ve had some really rotten ones at some of the purportedly better sit-down airport restaurants. No, the typical burger is not very fancy, but they’re frequently the easiest and safest choice before a long flight. When Shake Shack opened at JFK in 2013, I started flying JetBlue again after years in the wilderness. On a long layover at LAX, I will leave the airport to walk across the street to the In-N-Out for a Double Double. And if I know there’s a Five Guys at my layover, I’ll take a train or a bus for a detour. In other words, I’ll go out of my way for a good burger. With American’s new Flagship Burger, the bar for airport burgers has been set high.

But there’s a catch

Unfortunately, not everyone with access to the lounge can order the burger; it’s only available inside the Flagship First dining room, which is exclusive to first class fliers on international and transcontinental flights. For more on the lounge and how to gain entry, check out our inside look at the new American Airlines Flagship Lounge.

Can’t afford that first class ticket? Shake Shack is located inside Terminal 4.