The Qantas First Lounge in Los Angeles is a haven for first class travellers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers preparing to board the airline's overnight flights from LAX to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, or continuing their journey onward to New York in the mornings aboard QF11.
Also welcome are eligible passengers travelling with other Oneworld airlines from Los Angeles such as British Airways and Cathay Pacific, and even first class passengers of SkyTeam alliance member Air France.
Australian Business Traveller stopped by during a recent visit to the United States to bring you this review.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, proceed over the indoor 'bridge', take a hard left, and then take the lift up to level five, where you'll emerge near the lounge entrance:
If you're connecting from an American Airlines flight arriving at LAX's Terminal 4, don't leave the terminal's secure area – you can take advantage of the airside terminal connector to avoid clearing security again, with the walk from T4 to TBIT taking around 10 minutes: after which, you can dart up to the Qantas First Lounge.
If you're being 'guested' into the lounge by a first class passenger or an eligible frequent flyer who hasn't yet arrived, there are chairs in the entry lobby where you can wait, rather than being stuck outside...
... and once past reception, you'll find a space created with a variety of zones...
... whether your goal is to work, relax or dine.
Flight information screens are located throughout the lounge, although during my late evening visit, that didn't stop constant announcements being made regarding flight updates and delays, with passengers advised to "ignore the screens as they're wrong".
Having the screens display the correct information – the reason they're there to begin with – would reduce these disturbances and keep the lounge environment more tranquil.
- Qantas' first class passengers, plus first class flyers of Oneworld partners British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines from Los Angeles.
- Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers travelling on a Qantas or Oneworld flight, including Qantas codeshare flights operated by non-Oneworld partners such as Alaska Airlines and Fiji Airways, or an American Airlines flight to any destination.
- Connecting passengers arriving on long-haul first class Oneworld flights (such as Qantas First) continuing onto a short-haul Oneworld flight in any class of travel (such as AA domestic), including where the onward flight is in economy.
- American Airlines' first class passengers departing on flights to Asia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, South America, Australia and New Zealand only (as offered).
- Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers, other than those belonging to the American Airlines AAdvantage scheme, prior to any Oneworld flight to any destination (including before AA domestic flights).
- American Airlines Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members taking a Oneworld flight to Australia, Asia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, New Zealand or South America only. No access for USA domestic travellers (including to Alaska, Hawaii and JFK) or on short-haul international trips to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico (except Mexico City).
- Holders of a single-use Qantas first class lounge pass, such as issued to Platinum One frequent flyers which can be shared with friends and family.
- Air France first class passengers, by special arrangement between Air France and Qantas.
That might seem like a pretty extensive door list, but realistically, you'll only get inside if you're travelling in first class, are a top-tier frequent flyer or are invited by the same.
... while another provides machine-made coffee, nibbles, and boiling water for making Steven Smith Teamaker teas:
Everything else is offered via the a la carte menu, which is naturally available in the dedicated dining room...
... at the bar...
... or, if you prefer (and ask nicely), at any other seat within the lounge, where the waiters will take your order:
From the Rockpool seasonal menu, I began with a frequent flyer favourite in the salt and pepper squid: on this occasion, served with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli, accompanied by a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut (NV) Champagne...
... followed by Fazzoletti pasta with mascarpone, Tuscan kale and pangrattato – a simple dish on the surface, but one perfectly-balanced with both sweet and savoury elements, and a nice crunch from the bread crumbs, which went well with a glass of the Penfolds Max's Cabernet Sauvignon (2015):
It'd been a long time since lunch and my flight was delayed until nearly 2am, so I also sampled the lounge's signature beef burger – would definitely recommend for one last taste of American-style food – and added some mixed leaves on the side to make the plate seem more 'healthy', without going so far as requesting a full salad:
For dessert, I couldn't pass up the caramelised white chocolate mousse with banana, coffee and quinoa crisp, but chose to skip the dessert wine: the Beringer Botrytis Semillon Sauvignon Blanc (2012).
Speaking of wines, you'll find the full selection of behind the bar, joined by beers and spirits...
... and also outlined on the printed dining menus, where guests have four Champagnes to choose from, including a Rosé. However, while the PJ, Mumm and Nicolas Feuillatte wines are enjoyable drops in my book, I've never particularly cared for the Pommery, and wouldn't recommend it.
Barista-made coffee is available too, and as mentioned earlier, the staff will happily serve you from anywhere in the lounge:
The dining menu here changes seasonally, so if you're a frequent visitor, keep your eye out for the "market inspirations" on the menu, which offer a bit more variety. Cocktails are available too, and even though they're not on the menu, the staff here make mean Espresso Martinis.
A downside of this lounge is that there isn't really an ideal place to set up and work on a laptop, unless you commandeer a table in the dining room, which are in high demand before Qantas' bank of evening flights depart.
Instead, you'll find power points scattered throughout the lounge – usually at the base of large poles...
... or against the wall. Just keep your US adaptors handy, as Australian plugs aren't accepted here, and there's no USB power either.
Separately, there are two suites within the first class lounge for large groups travelling together or to afford extra privacy for VIPs and celebrities, which can be booked via reception, if available.
Wireless Internet is available throughout the lounge, but the speeds I measured were pretty average, with downloads ranging from 2.85Mbps to 14Mbps and uploads sitting around the 3-4Mbps mark.
To compare, I also visited the American Airlines Flagship Lounge at LAX on the same day which welcomes many of the same passengers, and measured download speeds there of 201Mbps – up to 70x faster than in the Qantas First Lounge – and uploads of 266Mbps, being over 88x faster than found here, which is a staggering difference.
With little focus on working, most of the lounge is given over to relaxing, with seats tailored towards larger groups...
... as well as duos and solo travellers:
There are no tarmac views here or other outdoor-facing windows, but during the day, the lounge gets some natural light via the design of the building, where you can look back on the queue you finally got through (or dodged, because you're flying first class):
A selection of international reading material is available, including some foreign-language titles...
... along with private shower suites, as you'd expect:
Absent is a day spa, as present in Qantas' Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges, but also missing is a true first class luxury feel in some of the relaxation zones, where a handful of the seats and tables are a tad 'basic', and are grouped in ways better-resembling a business class lounge, despite Qantas' signature first class lounge carpet underneath.
Not sure what we're talking about? Here's a snap from a similar space in the Melbourne Qantas First Lounge to compare, where the design is much more considered and refined:
However, this is me being particularly fussy – as many first class flyers are, of course! – and I was content awaiting my flight elsewhere in the space with a final glass of Perrier-Jouët, feeling relaxed, refreshed and well-fed ahead of my onward 15-hour flight, in what's still arguably one of the best airport lounges in the United States.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Qantas.