The American Airlines Admirals Club at Los Angeles LAX is a familiar haunt for many business travellers heading Stateside, acting as a virtual springboard between Australia and other cities in the USA like Chicago, San Diego, Las Vegas and New York.
It's also home to passengers flying home on AA's nightly flight from LA to Sydney where business class passengers can relax and freshen up before the long journey ahead.
Location & Impressions
You'll find the Admirals Club in Terminal 4 at LAX and a short walk beyond the security checkpoint.
- American Airlines business class and first class passengers flying to Europe, Asia, Central and South America, Mexico City and Australia, including before same-day domestic connections to the same
- AA's domestic business and first class passengers travelling to New York on Miami on three-class Airbus A321T flights
- American Airlines Platinum and Executive Platinum members travelling on or connecting to a same-day international flight with any Oneworld airline, excluding to Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean
- Admirals Club, Qantas Club and Alaska Airlines Board Room members
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members travelling onwards with American Airlines to all domestic and international locations
- Other Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers (excl. American Airlines Platinum and Executive Platinum) flying with American Airlines to any destination
- Holders of US-issued Citi/AAdvantage Executive and Citi Prestige credit cards (excludes Australian Citi Prestige cards)
- US military personnel travelling with American Airlines on active duty with appropriate ID and working orders
- Anybody not covered by the above for a payment of US$50
Selected first class passengers and eligible Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers may also visit the adjacent Flagship Lounge.
Stopping by in the morning during a connection between Australia and New York, we found the usual 'US lounge' staples of bagels and brewed coffee awaiting us... ... along with cereals, mini sandwiches and small snacks... ... in plentiful supply at several stations throughout the lounge: For something even more fresh, look to the fruit salads and yoghurts – both sitting in ice-filled containers to keep them cool – and fruits with the apples thoughtfully wrapped for hygiene reasons: Hungrier travellers can also order more substantial food like BLTs, club sandwiches and sometimes sushi, but which comes at a charge even if you've dropped thousands of dollars on an international business class ticket.
In our case, we'd eaten breakfast before our Sydney-LAX flight touched down and had a second breakfast service to graze through en route to JFK, so didn't indulge on the cooked-to-order menu during this visit.
We did, however, enjoy a latte from the self-serve machine which produces reasonable-ish coffee but still without coming close to anything made by an Australian barista... ... and for guests flying later in the day or who simply want to wet their whistle before a morning flight, the bar is always open and staffed by friendly bartenders: House wines, beers and basic spirits come free for all Admirals Club guests, while premium selections, cocktails and liqueurs are covered by drink vouchers you'll get from reception as a Qantas Club member or Qantas Gold frequent flyer.
Keep it to yourselves, but it's not uncommon for Qantas frequent flyers to come across extra drink vouchers in AA lounges, and while it's never to be expected, returning to the front desk and politely asking for another often yields results.
Whether your drink is 'free' from the house menu, obtained using a voucher or paid for outright, be mindful that tipping your bartender is still customary: we'd suggest US$1 per mixed drink or glass of wine or US$2 for something more complex like a cocktail.
Getting things done is easy here with boarding announcements the exception rather than the rule and AC power points in easy-to-find locations: usually directly below the lamps.
Complemented by super-fast WiFi, sending and receiving large files is a breeze with speeds hovering around 75mbps, or almost 10 times as fast as a traditional home-based ADSL1 connection.
No tech or a flat battery? No problem: perch yourself at one of these Windows computers with great views out onto the tarmac and with power points to re-juice your own gadgets... ... or plug your phone in at the charging bar if remaining close by: Some quiet zones, particularly at the far end of the lounge, are also designated as 'mobile phone-free zones' to maintain the peace... ... and for any serious discussion, meeting rooms including a larger boardroom can be hired by the hour: Absent for the most part are USB charging ports, now common and almost expected of major domestic and international lounges.
Depending on your mood there are many ways to pass the time here, starting with a communal TV viewing room... ... often-overlooked quiet zones towards the rear of the lounge... ... which are perfect for casual browsing on a tablet or for reading one of the complimentary magazines which are yours to keep. There are also comfy chairs with outdoor views for enjoying a variety of music via the attached Bose headsets, but on several visits we've never seen these put to use. More popular with business travellers are the shower suites after arriving from Australia or before returning to Sydney on AA73 in the evenings... ... access to which can be arranged via the reception desk.
All up, the Admirals Club is about what you'd expect of a US domestic airport lounge in a major city like Los Angeles, but for international travellers and Australians with higher lounge standards, here's hoping the planned refurbishments really kick things up a notch.
Chris Chamberlin was travelling as a guest of American Airlines.
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