My journey around the world started with a short flight to Los Angeles on Alaska Air and a stay at The Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel. Since my flight was to Hong Kong was departing LAX at 8:25am, I thought it would be better to fly in the night before to minimize stress before the long flight, and have the opportunity to review a new hotel and the Qantas First Class Lounge at The Tom Bradley International Terminal.
I left the hotel at 6:00am and was at the terminal in less than 10 minutes, even with a couple of passengers getting dropped off before me. I had read a lot of reviews that LAX security can be a bit of a disaster, with no premium lanes open in the morning, so I arrived with plenty of time. Worst case scenario I would have more time to enjoy the lounge.
Check-in was a breeze, with nobody waiting in line (not even in economy – I would later learn the flight only had a total of 71 passengers due to the Chinese New Year). I had my boarding pass within 5 minutes and cleared security in less than 10 minutes. Off to a great start!
I had read many great reviews of the Qantas lounge at LAX and my expectations were high. I recently visited the Cathay Pacific lounge in Vancouver and was blown away by the service and style in the recently re-opened space, which has easily become my favourite pre-flight hangout in North America. Generally I find North American lounges to be boring, and often don’t review them. Access is available to anyone departing LAX on a oneworld operated flight, or those with oneworld Emerald status.
The Qantas lounge is up another floor from security and just down the hall from the elevator. The entrance is discreet, which I like.
Unfortunately I didn’t check the opening hours prior to arrival and found the doors locked at 6:20am. I quickly checked the website and found the operating hours were 6:30am to 11:30pm daily.
After a few minutes of waiting awkwardly outside a guest service agent saw me and quickly opened the door. He apologized for making me wait and quickly welcomed me into the lounge.
There were many displays with boarding times and gate assignments but the agent informed me who would come and get me when my flight was ready to board! My initial impression of the lounge was that it was huge! I imagine the space gets quite busy with the bulk of international flights departing LAX in the afternoon. I struggle to see how this lounge could be overcrowded given the number of seats, but many other bloggers have reported the space is very tight later in the day.
The lounge is basically one huge room, with many different seating areas ranging from couches and comfortable armchairs to stylish loungers.
I decided to pick one of the comfortable lounge chairs overlooking the terminal, as there were no windows overlooking the runway. I generally prefer lounges with airside views, like the Cathay Pacific lounge in Vancouver, but at least the chair was extremely comfortable!
I dropped my bags and decided to give myself a tour around the lounge. I was the only passenger in sight for the first 30 minutes or so, which made taking pictures a little easier.
There were a couple small business areas with printer, fax machine etc. The Wifi in the lounge was super fast and I had no issues with spotty service areas.
There was also a large area separate from the rest of the seating with a variety of toys, presumably for children, although I must admit I was tempted…
The lounge featured shower suites and semi-private washrooms, although I was really underwhelmed by both the style and cleanliness. The washrooms felt quite institutional with white tile and industrial hardware. I’m still not sure how the bathrooms managed to stay dirty considering I was the only person in the lounge for much of the morning and it was just after opening….
There was a nice selection of teas and coffee on the outside edge of the seating area, along with some light breakfast pastries. There was also plenty of chilled bottle water, sparkling and still, throughout the seating area.
For those with a larger appetite, the far end of the lounge features a full-service restaurant and bar, which looks stunning. Unfortunately I wasn’t hungry at all (wanted to save my appetite for Cathay Pacific first class) and didn’t order anything off the menu. The bar area had a large selection of top shelf liquor, but again, I didn’t indulge – it was a little too early, even for me!
Overall The Qantas First Class lounge at LAX didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I think the bar was set high, with many other bloggers before me giving the space top marks. For me, it felt just a little too big, and a little too commercial to be ‘first class’ (and I can’t even imagine how it would feel when crowded). I think a second visit is in order before I can officially decide how I feel, as I would like to try the dining and bar service, as those are two areas often cited as setting this lounge apart from the competition.
There’s no doubt it still beats sitting in the terminal, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit this lounge again. I would love to see Cathay Pacific open a lounge at LAX, considering they operate four flights daily to Hong Kong!