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Lounge Review: Qantas First Class Lounge LAX

Disclaimer: I visited this lounge quite a while ago, so things may have changed since my visit.

When I visited this lounge, I was connecting from an international first class flight to a domestic first class flight. According to oneworld lounge rules, I should have had access to the Qantas First Class lounge in the international terminal of LAX since I was an international first class passenger on a oneworld flight. That being said, when I tried to get into the lounge, one of the lounge agents was adamant that I shouldn’t have access. When I tried to bring up the oneworld website to show the agent the actual oneworld lounge access rules, another of the agents mentioned that he had never actually read the lounge access rules before… So I’d say that unless it’s the “typical” case of departing LAX on an international oneworld flight in first class/having oneworld emerald status, you might be in for a fight about getting access. (The agent did make a “one-time exception” for me given that the lounge was pretty empty at the time).

Entrance to the lounge

Entrance to the lounge

The lounge is essentially one enormous room with tons of seating. There’s tons of seating both in the dining room and otherwise. The lounge chairs by the window seem especially popular.

Seating

Seating

More seating

More seating

Lounge chairs

Lounge chairs

Bar seating

Bar seating

There’s no self-service buffet, but there’s an extensive made-to-order menu. The food reminded me a lot of the Qantas first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, both in that everything is done by table service and the actual food items.

Dining area

Dining area

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu

All day menu

All day menu

Muesli

Muesli

I didn’t have much to eat since I was still full from my previous flight, but I ordered a couple of items to take one for the team. I ordered some eggs over medium, and the eggs were cooked correctly although they were over salted. The bread served with the eggs was good, and more airlines should have better bread. The muesli was also pretty tasty, although I don’t know if I’ve encountered a muesli that I didn’t like.

I’d love to come back to this lounge and check out the all-day dining menu. The lounge itself isn’t anything special except for the dining room, but the dining room is very, very good for an airport lounge (it’s worlds better than the newish AA flagship dining room in Dallas, for example).

Sydney 2014: LAX TBIT Oneworld Business Class Lounge

I was really excited to try a number of different airport lounges on this trip, and first up was the relatively new oneworld Business Class Lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. Unfortunately, the first class lounge wasn’t yet open by the time I was there (and in fact opened up only a month ago or so), which meant that the business class lounge was quite crowded with premium cabin passengers as well as all oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members. There were many stories at the time of people being refused entry to the lounge because of overcrowding, but fortunately, that did not happen to me.

Airlines that use this lounge (AA is in Terminal 4)

Airlines that use this lounge (AA is in Terminal 4)

On this trip, I visited a number of Qantas lounges, and I’m a pretty big fan overall. The lounges are generally very smartly designed and cater to things that are important to people who visit lounges frequently (like electrical outlets). That being said, the main problem with this lounge during my visit was overcrowding, which should be better alleviated by now.

Crowded

Pretty spacious

Pretty large

But also pretty crowded

I imagine this sign is gone by now

I imagine this sign is gone by now (it was advertising the future first class lounge)

So many people

So many people

There was a fair amount of seating, including a funky circular area around a fireplace. I ended up sharing a communal table so I could get some work done.

Fire place

Fire place

Bar

Bar

The food options were quite impressive for a business class lounge. There were over 8 different cold salads, 4 hot dishes, 5 desserts, 2 different food carts, rice, and bread. And besides the variety, the food was actually pretty good and healthful. Just some examples of the food options: quinoa with sweet potatoes, chickpeas and cauliflower, broccoli with blue cheese. The food wasn’t particularly well labeled, though, so you might need to ask someone if you have allergies/restrictions/aversions. Like I love broccoli, but I really didn’t want to be eating blue cheese with it (I know, my life is so hard sometimes).

I’d say the food was on a par with the Amex Centurion Lounge at DFW in terms of quality/tastiness/freshness. It’s definitely some of the better food I’ve had in an airport lounge, and it’s significantly better than the food at the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at LAX (which was serving soupy mongolian beef for dinner that day). If I were taking an overnight flight in business class, I would probably just eat this food in the lounge and go straight to sleep on the plane.

 

Decently healthful food options

Decently healthful food options

Cold food

Cold food

Hot food

Hot food

More hot food

More hot food

Desserts

Desserts

One problem with the food options is the buffet location. The buffet is positioned in the corner, which means there are definite people-flow issues on one side, and given how busy this lounge can get, I’m surprised that’s where they chose to situate the buffet.

Not much space to maneuver around buffet

Not much space to maneuver around buffet

They also have food carts in the lounge to provide a more local touch, and the woman in the picture was preparing tacos.

Food carts (she was making tacos)

Food carts (she was making tacos)

The wifi in the lounge was decently fast, even given the number of people in the lounge, and they have a number of showers available, which worked well.

Shower stall with Aurora Spa products

Shower stall with Aurora Spa products

Overall, this lounge has some features that make it really impressive for a business class lounge (at least for a lounge in the United States). The food selection is good and varied, the wifi is decent, there are tons of electrical outlets, the showers are good, there were lots of servers going around collecting plates. But it was just really crowded while I was there. Hopefully the crowding issues are better now that they’ve expanded, as this could be a great airport lounge.

How to Do the LAX In-N-Out Layover

If you’ve got a lengthly layover at LAX, you should consider the In-N-Out layover. There’s an In-N-Out not too far from the airport, and you can sit outside and watch the planes pass by overhead as you enjoy your animal-style fries and burger.

While the In-N-Out is within walking distance of the airport (it takes about 25 minutes to walk from Terminal 3 to the In-N-Out, but it’s not a particularly well-marked walk), there’s a shuttle that makes the trip much shorter. The Parking Spot Sepulveda parking garage is right behind the In-N-Out, so if you take the Parking Spot shuttle to Sepulveda, you get dropped off right behind the In-N-Out. Heck, there’s even a marked door in the parking garage that says that it’s the way to In-N-Out.

So make your way out of the terminal and wait under one of the “Hotel & Courtesy Shuttles” signs (there should be one in front of every terminal), and wait for one of the spotted shuttles with a red sign saying “Sepulveda”. Do not go on one that has a blue sign that says “Century”. When you board, if the driver asks, tell them you did self parking.

Look for this sign

Look for this sign

Make sure the shuttle says Sepulveda

Make sure the shuttle says Sepulveda

Don't just rely on the color of the shuttle

Don’t just rely on the color of the shuttle

Cushy seating

Cushy seating

Once you’re at the In-N-Out, order whatever you want. Check out their not-so-secret menu for more options.

The fabled In-N-Out

The fabled In-N-Out

Quite busy inside, so budget your time accordingly

Quite busy inside, so budget your time accordingly

The menu

The menu

Animal style burger and fries

Animal-style burger and fries

And then go outside and enjoy the sun and plane watching. You can see some planes moving on the apron and taking off, but the real fun is the planes that are landing that fly seemingly directly overhead. There will be plenty of other airplane fanatics milling around, and I’m sure you’ll run into other points/miles enthusiasts if you’re willing to strike up a conversation.

The Singapore A380 that I took to get to LAX

The Singapore A380 that I took to get to LAX

Great plane watching right overhead

Great plane watching right overhead

After you’re done watching planes and stuffing your face, you can take the Parking Spot shuttle back to LAX. Or you can try to burn off some calories and walk (again, it’s about a 25-minute walk to Terminal 3–longer if you need to go to a different terminal).

For me, I’d want a layover of at least 2 hours to go to In-N-Out. Assuming I want to be back at LAX about 30 minutes before my flight, that leaves about 90 minutes to get to/from In-N-Out, order and wait for food, and enjoy the food and planes.

Lounge Review: American Airlines Flagship Lounge LAX

This next set of trip report posts is from February of this year when I went to Tokyo to cheer on some friends who were running the Tokyo Marathon. I booked flights on American Airlines of SFO-LAX-NRT and back and applied SWUs to the outbound and return that cleared about 3 days prior to departure both ways.

Since I was flying an international itinerary, I had access to the AA Flagship Lounge at LAX instead of the normal Admirals Club. The Flagship Lounge requires top tier oneworld status or a first class ticket to enter. This means that the lounge is generally a bit less crowded than the Admirals Club and that there are more food options.

To get into the Flagship Lounge, you check in at the same place as the Admirals Club, but they give you a key card to use to open the sliding door to the Flagship Lounge part.

Entrance to the Flagship Lounge area

Entrance to the Flagship Lounge area

The lounge is a large, long room with a number of seating options, good light, and decent views of the apron.

Airy and open

Airy and open

Lots of seating

Lots of seating

Drinks

Drinks

More drinks

More drinks

I arrived in the morning, so they were serving breakfast. There were a couple of hot food options like eggs, potatoes, sausage, and oatmeal, as well as cereals, fruits, bagels, and danishes. I was pleasantly surprised to see berries in the fruit selection (a big step up in my mind to the whole apples and oranges in normal Admirals Clubs). The eggs were inedible, though.

Breakfast options

Breakfast options

More breakfast

More breakfast

As I was leaving, they had set up the lunch spread, which featured sandwiches, salads, cheeses, chips, vegetables, fruits, cookies, and a kinda nasty looking pasta dish. Granted, I didn’t try the pasta dish, but it didn’t look that appetizing to me.

Lunch spread

Lunch spread

Hot food at lunch

Hot food at lunch

More lunch

More lunch

I took a shower during my layover, and the shower rooms were perfectly fine. I felt like the rooms were a little small to handle a suitcase, but they were clean and functional.

Overall, the service was good, with people regularly going around to clean things up and ask if you needed anything. The lounge felt busy when I was there, but there were plenty of seats available, and it didn’t feel crowded. Definitely a step up from normal domestic lounges, but still a far cry from most non-US airlines’ first class lounges.