Tag Archives: sydney 2014

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.

Sydney 2014: Introduction + Trip Planning

Earlier in 2014, there was a brief period when Qantas released a bit of first class award space to Australia. Qantas first class is a pretty challenging redemption, so I jumped on the opportunity, even though it meant that I would be heading to Australia during its winter. I redeemed 72,500  American miles for a first class award to the South Pacific.

I thus had a ticket there, but no specific thoughts on how to get back. There wasn’t any award space in first class on Qantas, which meant that if I wanted to use my AA miles, I’d have to route through Asia. AA’s award routing rules don’t let you route through Asia to get to/from the South Pacific without paying for two awards, so I decided to stop in Kuala Lumpur on the way back for a couple of days. This means that I paid for a business class award from Australia to KL and paid for a separate award from KL back to the US, which I would have had to do anyway even if I hadn’t stopped at KL. I booked a business class award on Malaysia Airlines for 35k AA miles for the nonstop from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, and then I spent 67.5k AA miles for a first class award on Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong to get back to San Francisco.

Then, I considered lodging for my trip. I would be spending 4 nights in Sydney, so I booked two reservations for the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel in Sydney, one from my personal Club Carlson account and the other from my business Club Carlson account. Since I have both the personal and the business versions of the Club Carlson credit card, each reservation received one free night, so I essentially paid for two award nights and got four in return. This was 100k Club Carlson points for 4 nights at a great hotel in a great location in Sydney.

In Kuala Lumpur, I booked 2 nights at the Hilton Doubletree for 10k points per night or 20k points total.

So in total, I spent 175k American miles, 100k Club Carlson points, and 20k Hilton points for a pretty darn luxurious week-long trip to Sydney and KL.