Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge

Review: Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge

Country:
United States
Airport:
Los Angeles
Cabin Class:
Business
Alliance:
Oneworld
Airline:
QF (Qantas)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Good layout with many separate spaces
  • Fast Internet, even in peak times
  • Decent variety of food

What's Not

  • Won’t be complete until January 2015

X-Factor

  • Great service

Introduction

The new Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge – a joint venture with Oneworld partners British Airways and Cathay Pacific – is the first stage in a revamp of the Qantas/Oneworld LAX lounges.

Although there's nothing seemingly 'unfinished' about it, Stage Two – to be completed in January 2015 – will take the business lounge up another few notches as well as seeing the opening of a new Qantas first class lounge.

Location & Impressions

The Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge is is located on Level 5 of the newly-renovated wing of the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

After you get through security, just follow the signs – and the flow of your fellow travellers – until you reach the new duty free shopping area, then head up the escalators.

The entry adopts the same open approach as we’ve seen in the Qantas Singapore and Hong Kong lounges.

It tends to funnel travellers through to the right side of the lounge, towards the bar, which is as good a place as any to begin our tour.

This is one of the first ‘LA cues’ of the design – it’s almost your classic airport bar, albeit a bit classier. 

Passengers can choose from a selection of beers, wines and spirits (with champagne available for for first class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers) plus cocktails.

A recessed seating area with a curved banquette is tucked away opposite one corner of the bar.

 It’s worth noting that the barista station at the other end of the bar brews a great coffee. This will be a welcome change if you’ve been making do with Starbucks and hotel coffee during your stay in LA.

Beyond the bar is a 'communal fireplace'.

This is a signature element of the lounge’s design and is bound to become a popular meeting place for travellers.

But forget about roasting marshmallows over the open flames – there are, in fact, no flames.

Due to safety restrictions this is a faux fireplace, with red LED lighting and water vapour to create the illusion of flames.

Despite being completely cold to the touch, it’s enough to generate some social ambience and create a necessary focal point for the circular banquette seating.

Just past the fireplace are the bathrooms and nine shower suites, each of which includes Aurora Spa amenities.

A further seven suites will be added when the business lounge is extended in early 2015.

Apart from the bar and faux fireplace the rest of the Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge is rectangular is shape and fitted around one of three atriums which bring natural light into and through the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

This also creates an odd shift in the tone of the lounge.

The bar and fireplace tend towards darker palette and materials, creating an almost a den-like feel...

... while the rest of the lounge leans towards a lighter scheme dictated by the central atrium.

The result could almost be two different lounges, which speaks to a deliberate aspect of the lounge’s overall design: the creation of several discrete zones to match each passenger’s moods and tastes.

To the immediate left of the bar as you enter the lounge is the first wave of a sea of chairs surrounding the atrium.

The Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge has seating for some 400 passengers, but even so it quickly fills up in the evening as passengers stream in to catch the Qantas flights back to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as the evening British Airways and Cathay Pacific services.

But what makes the most difference between the new and old business lounges isn’t as much the number of seats as the space between and around them. There’s less awkward navigation, fewer bumped elbows and knees and excuse me’s exchanged.

Stretching along one side of the atrium is an area informally dubbed ‘the deck’.

Unlike the bar and fireplace this is all light, white and airy.

Chairs are lined up along the window into the atrium, with a laptop-friendly bench along the middle.

Around the corner is what will best pass for a ‘quiet zone’ in the lounge.

It’s certainly the best place to relax, with a row of iconic Eames lounge chairs facing the atrium.

(If you grab a seat by the round column you can also charge up your travel tech.)

At the end of this ‘strip of solitude’ is a self-serve drinks area where you can grab a soft drink, orange juice, tea or coffee.

However, you might not even need to move from your seat – the lounge staff, who are employed and trained by Sofitel, continually circulate to offer refreshments and sometimes snacks to the passengers.

This friendly pro-active approach is becoming a hallmark of domestic and international Qantas lounges.

The concierge staff in particular are constantly engaging with passengers and doing pretty much everything which could fall under the banner of ‘looking after the customer’ and making them feel more like a guest in a friendly five-star hotel than somebody who’s sitting around, waiting to board a plane.

The final side of the lounge’s atrium-centred square includes several different seating areas.

This includes two elevated workbenches – one in a semi-private nook – flanking what’s currently designated as a de facto VIP area, with ‘reserved’ signs to mark out the territory.

This is where lounge staff intend to settle VIP guests until the opening of the new first class lounge, which will have several private rooms.

It’s not absolute seclusion but it’s perhaps the least busy part of the lounge. 

Another secluded space is behind the wooden ‘cabana’ screen between the lounge entry and the atrium.

This area also includes a service desk, although the split between airlines is at odds with the lounge’s ostensibly shared nature.

Want to change your seat or make any other request or enquiry regarding a Qantas booking? You’ll need to see a Qantas staffer on duty at the desk.

For British Airways requests you have to buttonhole a uniformed BA staffer.

But we’re told that Cathay Pacific won’t have any staff assigned to the service desk, so any last-minute requests prior to your CX flight will need to be done at the boarding gate.

Given how often the Oneworld Alliance trumpets cooperation between member airlines and their integrated approach to service, many travellers may expect a more streamlined system where a single staffer could attend to matters relating to any of the three airlines.

Finally, with the early 2015 opening of the new Qantas Los Angeles First Lounge still a good six months away, travellers who’d usually head to the first class lounge will be treated to a few extra perks in the business lounge.

First class passengers plus top-tier frequent flyers – Platinum-grade Qantas Frequent Flyers, BA Executive Club Golds, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Diamonds and their Oneworld Emerald equivalents – have access to a free shirt pressing and shoe shine service, and can also jump the queue when it comes to waiting for the showers.

Access

The Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge is open from 6.30am to midnight for the following passengers:

  • Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific business class and first class travellers
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members
  • Qantas Club members
  • Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond members
  • British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold members
  • Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members of other Oneworld airlines

In all cases, of course, you have to be travelling on a Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific or other Oneworld member airline flight.

However, as this is a shared Oneworld lounge rather than a dedicated Qantas lounge, passengers on Emirates flights are not permitted entry.

Dining

Qantas has been beating the drum long and loud over the lounge's menu, which it promised would be influenced by the multicultural nature of Los Angeles and see influences from Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Korean dishes alongside ‘US West Coast’ cuisine.

In fact, Qantas consulting chef Neil Perry has been quick to attest that "the food will certainly be the very best airport lounge food in America, by a long way" (although many regular travellers to the US would suggest this is not, in itself, a Herculean feat).

However, the lounge’s current dining options can't make good on that pledge – and are arguably a noticeable shortcoming – until the lounge is completed in early 2015.

That's because the new Los Angeles Business Lounge is still making do with the old lounge's kitchen and the many constraints it imposes.

As a result, even Qantas' Singapore and Hong Kong lounges out-gun the Los Angeles lounge with their daily plates and dedicated dining areas.

The Los Angeles lounge won't see any of this until the opening of a second wing (and new kitchen) in January next year.

With that caveat in mind, here's what's on the menu right now.

First up, two 'food carts' in the lounge offer freshly-prepared light snacks. (They're thankfully not dressed up like actual street food carts.)

During our visit this includes a choice of delightful crumbed cod or pulled pork tacos, plus a 'gourmet hot dog' of Spanish chorizo & black bean salsa.

We'd definitely recommend trying one of each!

Less adventurous fare is found at the buffet, which is stocked with the usual salads plus a selection of hot dishes and desserts.

However, we were pleased to see a solid array of healthy and even vegan options at the buffet, including a great (and very LA) quinoa salad.

During our visit the hot dishes included  a gluten-free cream of mushroom soup, roast chicken with za'atar spice and lemon sumac, and a vegetable caponata (a tasty cooked vegetable salad).

Desserts includes ever-popular tiramisu, apricot and almond tart, white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake and key lime pie.

While the position of the buffet hints that the rear section closest to the drinks area is a staff-only area, that isn't so...

...  guests can help themselves to drinks as well as whatever dishes are on this side of the buffet, so don't hang back!

Work

In keeping with the trend towards travellers toting their own laptops and tablets, the Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge lacks a stand-alone business zone with desktop computers.

We’re told this will change when the extension to the lounge opens in January 2015, with the current ‘VIP area’ seeing the installation of several iMacs set up to run both Windows and Mac software, plus a networked printer/fax/copier.

In the meantime, the wifi Internet is fast and free (but password-protected, to keep freeloaders out).

Even during the lounge’s busiest period, prior to the evening departure of the Qantas flights, we clocked an average of 30Mbps for both downloads and uploads.

The lounge’s wireless network connects to a HP printer (which also works with the iPad’s AirPrint option) located behind the service desk.

Plenty of AC sockets dot the lounge, ready for charging up your laptop, tablet or ebook reader ahead of your flight.

However, while the neighbouring Star Alliance Los Angeles Business Lounge boasts scores of combo AC and USB power sockets, most of the wall sockets in this Qantas/Oneworld lounge are strictly of the AC type.

If you want to plug your tablet, smartphone or ebook reader directly into a USB socket, grab a seat at one of the workbenches.

Here’s where you’ll find both AC and USB sockets, with the latter boasting sufficient juice to charge a tablet.

Due to airport regulations only US-style AC sockets could be fitted so don’t forget to pack that multi-plug adaptor in your hand luggage

Summary

While the new Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge ticks most boxes for the business traveller, it can’t be fully or fairly judged until the lounge’s second stage opens in January 2015.

That will take in the footprint of the old Qantas/Oneworld business lounge and include a new kitchen which will set all of the current lounge’s shortcomings to rights, including rounding out the meal service with a dedicated dining area and a ‘daily plate’ dinner.

A family room will offer parents somewhere to park the kids, while an extra seven shower suites plus 200 more seats will relieve the crush during peak travel times.

For now, Qantas has delivered a vast improvement over the previous lounges which could conceivably stand without any improvement if the airline was content to settle for ‘good enough’.

But come January next year, with the larger business lounge plus the opening of a new first class lounge, we expect the result will be a new benchmark for Qantas’ international lounge network.

Australian Business Traveller attended the opening of the Qantas Los Angeles Business Lounge as a guest of Qantas.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

14 comments

  • DB

    aussieboyaussie

    24 Jun, 2014 08:58 am

    Looks amazing. Something for everyone.

    No member give thanks

  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    24 Jun, 2014 09:57 am

    I've been waiting for this. Thank you David!

    Glad there are private rooms for VIPs. I was in the BA T3 LHR lounge once and found Christopher Pyne and his possy lurking around just as I was tucking into dinner. It was a challenge keeping my food down! 

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  • David Flynn

    David

    24 Jun, 2014 10:02 am

    There aren't private rooms for VIPs, not yet at any rate. That's for the new F lounge in Jan 2015.

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    24 Jun, 2014 10:12 am

    Thanks David for the clarification. Apologies if I caused confusion.

    No member give thanks

  • LoveToFly

    LoveToFly

    24 Jun, 2014 10:00 am

    Great review David. I am looking forward to trying this out on route to JFK in September. On the return journey to Australia I will be checking out the new Star lounge aswell so it will be interesting to do a comparison of the two lounges.

    No member give thanks

  • airtraveladdict

    airtraveladdict

    24 Jun, 2014 10:39 am

    This is pretty awesome.

    Looks like a good lounge to rest and wait for a plane.

    It has taken awhile but LAX is the battleground for chic new lounges, first the Star Alliance and now 1W.

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  • inkymath

    inkymath

    24 Jun, 2014 08:04 pm

    I visited it last week one evening while waiting for QF108.  Sorry to say it was crowded and somewhat chaotic. Had to really hunt to find a spare seat.  Food an improvement but overall thought it was pretty underwhelming...sorry!

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  • woganfan

    woganfan

    24 Jun, 2014 08:55 pm

    I don't think you need to apologise for your opinion.  If you were not satisfied, there must be a reason for it and it is good to see all personal experiences on this site to allow us all to  make informed considered decisions.  I'm certain the author appreciates all feedback positive and negative. I know I certainly do. 

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  • Robert Eden

    reno
    Banned

    25 Jun, 2014 01:41 am

    The Lax lounge is a big step up from what was previously offered.The decor and food were more than fine in my opinion.I agree with Inkymath that it does get very crowed for a short periods before the last BA departure,and if possible a good time to arrive is after the last BA flight.Then my experience was that it started to get really full prior to the later QF departures.The shirt pressing and shoe shine are a nice touch.

    Hopefully the new P Lounge will releive some of the congestion.Staff i also note are still asking customers to remove personal item from seats for other,s to sit down which is fine,but gives an idea as to how busy it getslate evening. 

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  • P.B.

    mr_pb

    25 Jun, 2014 01:51 am

    Looks a bit cramped at the moment, and a lack of plate of the day service is a bit disappointing, but it's set to be an amazing lounge once the other wings are open! Can't wait to be back at LAX.

    No member give thanks

  • VHOEJ

    VHOEJ

    27 Jun, 2014 08:18 am

    So it seems there are no views of the airport? A bit underwhelming if all you can see is that artisitc thing in the middle of the terminal. What is wrong with having a view of the aircraft from a lounge?

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  • ShivaJasper

    ShivaJasper

    5 Oct, 2014 04:09 pm

    Hi VHOEJ

    The airport is undergoing major revamp - so compare with my visits in Nov 13, Apr 14 and now - things are definitely looking up. Westfield is helping LAX building a lot of new restaurants and shopping / retail outlets which are welcoming.

    Even the arrival area and going through customs have improved. There are still long lines esp if you arrive on the A380 - but the staffs are helpful. 

    Overall, this is probably reaching a middle rank Asia Airport? It is definitely no HKG / Singapore yet (but at least it is way better than CDG / JFK / SFO and other American Hubs)

    No member give thanks

  • L T

    gemini573

    9 Aug, 2014 11:46 pm

    I think it's a TERRIBLY designed lounge.  It's certainly an improvemnt asthetiscally but in terms of pratical design.  It gets an F.  Look at the buffet area.  If you compare the QF lounge at HKG vs LAX, there is a big difference.  At HKG, you can walk a full circle around the buffet display if you choose.  

    At LAX, that wall is in the way.  You can't turn left to get out.  You have to walk back where you came from.  Can you imagine when it's evening time when you have the QF, CX, and BA flights? Plus, the aisle is so narrow.  

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  • ShivaJasper

    ShivaJasper

    5 Oct, 2014 04:02 pm

    So this is my first time in the new LA lounge, agreeing with inkymath and other users - this is surely better than the old lounge (which was small, dated and old). But here I am on a saturday night waiting for QF108, the lounge is heaving with people with very minimal spare seats (There are the BA / CX / QF flights from about 9pm) . Staffs were courteous but cleaniness certainly has gone out of the window tonight, shower wait is 45min! (when I mention that as a Platinum QFF - there was mention we get prioritise until the first class lounge is completed - well no one seems to know that). The products they use is nice though.

    Decor is certainly better - but when lounge is full - there is NO privacy / quiet space. The internet keeps dropping out from time to time (no idea why)

    Food area hampered by lack of space - think of going to a $10 all you can eat buffet. The food itself - even more unexciting. I had the enjoyment of watching Neil Perry's (who was also in the lounge) unimpressed facial expression (wish I could have taken a pic and post on here!)

    Barstaffs are helpful, though there is no wine/cocktail list, and unlike the HKG lounge - no signature cocktails.

    So I personally do not know what is a good advice for anyone flying QF until the first class lounge is opened. Put it bluntly, there was no GOOD time to come - the lounge is constantly full) But if the design of the lounge is anything like the business class lounge - then ... well maybe we have all been too spoiled by the Syd first class lounge and the HKG CX first class lounge (The Wing) and need to readjust our expectation!

    No member give thanks

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22 May, 2019 03:11 pm

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