While Korean Air certainly doesn't fly from Los Angeles to Australia, its SkyTeam business class lounge at LAX is a great go-to for Priority Pass members and Diners Club cardholders zipping to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane with either Qantas or Virgin Australia and who may not already have access to the Oneworld or Star Alliance lounges.
And, even for those who can lounge around elsewhere in the terminal, it's often a quieter place to await your flight in the evenings – but as we discovered, it's best you stop by after eating dinner in your 'regular' lounge.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, make a sharp left, take the elevator to floor five and follow the signs to the Korean Air lounge.
A large and opulent space greets you at reception before turning left and entering the lounge proper. Along with a variety of seats catering to both business and leisure travellers, the lounge boasts an 'indoor' balcony with plenty of natural light during the day and pleasant views out into the terminal... ... and also lockers with PIN-coded locks... ... perfect for storing your gear securely while you kick back.
- Korean Air business class and first class passengers
- International business class and first class passengers of other SkyTeam airlines including Aeroflot, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, KLM and Saudia
- Korean Air Skypass Morning Calm Premium Club and Million Miler Club members when flying internationally with a SkyTeam airline
- Other SkyTeam Elite Plus frequent flyers jetting abroad with a SkyTeam airline
- Diners Club, Priority Pass, Airport Angel, Lounge Club and Dragonpass cardholders when travelling with any airline to any destination, including to Australia on Qantas and Virgin Australia
Korean Air also has a separate first class lounge at LAX, while eligible passengers on Air France are also welcome to visit the Qantas lounge by special arrangement.
For a bite, look for the food and beverage nook in the centre of the lounge which on our early evening visit had a selection of fresh fruits and nibbles... ... tasty sandwiches... ... and the ingredients for assembling a nacho and salsa plate: There's also a selection of instant noodles, juices, beers, soft drinks and teas... ... although the tea cups available were particularly shallow – the tea bag in this photo is sitting on the bottom of the cup, which doesn't give you much room to dunk it: On the 'balcony side' of the lounge are dining tables and a space that could easily be opened as a manned cocktail bar... ... but which, for now at least, simply provides bench space for the self-serve spirits... ... espresso coffee... ... and wine: but just one red, and one white. Particularly before Korean Air's flights to Seoul, don't be surprised if other guests quickly appear and offer to pour your beverage for you – it's considered bad luck in Korean culture to pour your own drink, so offer to repay the favour and everybody's happy.
That said, for an international business class lounge in a major city like Los Angeles, we were surprised to find no sparkling wine – even an inexpensive bottle – and also no hot food beyond the boiling water used in the two-minute noodles.
For a casual email or a relaxed browse on your tablet, look for the seats with timber cocktail tables in the middle – each of which sports an impressive four USB power ports and two US-style AC outlets... ... or for something more serious on your laptop, pull up a perch at the longer working tables: Although there's a TV directly opposite, it's thoughtfully set to mute with captions enabled so it won't disturb your train of thought.
The WiFi here comes both lightning-fast and free with download speeds averaging 86.7mbps and uploads a reasonable 5.98mbps during our stay, but which we'd expect to drop a little during busier times.
Remember that indoor balcony? It's a great place to take your drink for a little people watching or for that 'not at an airport' feeling, and you'll be opposite those doing the same in the first class section of the lounge: Otherwise, four private shower suites are on-hand to freshen up before your long flight, and while one is usually kept for first class passengers we fortunately didn't have to wait for an opening in the business class trio. They're well-appointed with a very luxurious feel and basic amenities like shampoo and shower gel, but which is quickly supplanted by a lack of 'little things' such as hair conditioner, tissues and a face washer... ... and that the suites both aren't refreshed in between guests and use timber bathmats which are then still wet from the traveller before you. You do get your own plastic-wrapped towel, though...
Back in the lounge proper you'll find a variety of seats in different arrangements... ... with each white cocktail table doubling as a power outlet, again with 4xUSB and 2xAC slots. There's also a TV zone (above), but which was also set to mute with captions enabled. We can understand and certainly appreciate that in the business area, but in this more casual zone it means having to stare at the screen intently to understand what's happening.
Leaving the captions switched on but having the volume set on low would provide the best of both worlds – people nearby can still listen to the show while those further away with no interest in the programme aren't disturbed by the noise.
All up, Korean Air's relatively new lounge is a huge step up from the airline's previous facility at LAX, and a few simple tweaks such as a cocktail bar, some actual hot food and more attention to the shower suites could easily see it rivalling its Oneworld and Star Alliance neighbours.
- LAX business lounges compared: Oneworld vs Star Alliance
- Emirates opens new Los Angeles lounge
- Review: Qantas/Oneworld Los Angeles Business Lounge
- Star Alliance business class lounge review, Los Angeles
- Review: Star Alliance first class lounge, Los Angeles
- Qantas Los Angeles first class lounge brings luxe to LAX
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Korean Air
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