With basic amenities including shower suites through to trailblazing features such as a heated outdoor terrace and an 'indoor' balcony, the Star Alliance business class lounge at Los Angeles Airport is a godsend for frequent travellers.
Operated and managed by Air New Zealand on behalf of the Star Alliance collective, the LAX lounge gives travellers a glimpse into what's to come for Sydney and rivals the Qantas business class lounge at the same airport.
But it's not just for Star Alliance passengers – it's also open to Virgin Australia business class guests and eligible frequent flyers, so Australian Business Traveller stopped by for a stickybeak before jetting home with Virgin Australia.
UPDATE: From December 19 2016, Virgin Australia business class passengers and Velocity Platinum members will no longer have access to this lounge, moving to the new Etihad Airways lounge instead.
Location & Impressions
Situated airside in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, you'll find the Star Alliance lounge up on level six and overlooking the terminal's main atrium area.
The first thing you notice as you enter is how expansive yet intimate the space feels – there are 375 seats scattered throughout and yet the lounge is divided into different zones to provide something for everyone.
Among them is a quiet library area, a manned bar with stools for chit-chat, a work-like zone, a balcony overlooking the terminal, tables immediately adjacent to the buffet for peckish travellers and even a heated outdoor terrace with several fireplaces and views out onto the tarmac.
Whatever you're in the mood for, chances are you'll find it here.
The Star Alliance Business Class Lounge at LAX opens its doors to:
- Business and first class passengers of Star Alliance airlines departing from TBIT, currently including Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines
- Star Alliance Gold members travelling onwards with the airlines above in any class of service
- Paid-up United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf members flying with the above airlines in any service class
- Air New Zealand Koru Club members travelling onwards with Air New Zealand in any cabin
- Virgin Australia business class guests and Velocity Platinum members travelling to Sydney or Brisbane (until December 19 2016 only)
- Velocity Gold cardholders flying with Virgin Australia (including beyond December 19 2016)
A number of buffet counters combine to provide everything from a quick snack to a full meal.
You'll find coffees, nibbles, juice and beer on the left after entering the lounge...
... while the more substantial food is to the right, including fresh salads...
... cheese, bread and small bites...
... fruits, chocolate chip cookies, and main-type dishes such as a yellow coconut chicken curry next to garlic roasted potatoes:
There are also a teasing number of wine bottles kept behind glass panels – some of which you'll find opened in the fridge...
... others over by the Coke machine...
... and some stashed behind the manned cocktail bar, along with two beers on tap and basic and mid-range spirits including Absolut Vodka, Baileys, Kahlua and Midori.
The bubbly is fortunately self-serve and readily available...
... which in this case is Mumm Napa Brut Prestige sparkling wine – a Californian drop from the Napa Valley following the same traditional 'méthode champenoise' used to create champagne.
Simply put, it's as close to French wine as you can get without producing the drink in the Champagne region, and suffices for a business class lounge.
The only thing missing is an Island Dining-style 'dish of the day' for something a little more restaurant-like, and a tray-around service that's useful for travellers who are focussed on their work but could do with a bite.
The overarching philoshophy here seems to be that AC and USB power points are king.
While scattered throughout the lounge, you'll mostly find them tucked away inside the cocktail tables – just press on the black square aside the table to release the charging panel.
For something more serious than iPad browsing or a quick email, head to the library for peace and quiet...
... which is another thing you'll find tucked away: this time behind a frosted glass door close to reception:
The benches in the buffet corner lend themselves well to shorter stays – there's ample space to set up your laptop and you're mere steps from food and drink, which you can rest on the table around you while remaining connected to the office.
There's also fast, free Wi-Fi and a nearby information screen to check up on your flight, although initial and final boarding calls are made for every departure.
We'd peg that most Aussie business travellers visiting this lounge are heading home after an American jaunt, and while they'll want to check emails and prepare for Virgin Australia's early morning arrivals into Sydney and Brisbane, they're likely more concerned with unwinding and toasting a successful trip.
Fortunately, relaxing is one of the lounge's strongest points, with comfy chairs close to the bar and its cocktail shaker...
... more chairs and tables out on the balcony – again with bartender service...
... a media room that feels much like a good household lounge room for casual film and television viewing...
... and what we've dubbed a 'comfy corner' – nice chairs that allow you to face your partner or workmate and have a drink and a chat, but without enough space to unfold your laptop and return to the virual office:
There are also eight fully-private shower suites: each with an en suite bathroom, lighted mirror and a hair dryer...
... for which there was no queue on our evening visit, even with several flights still on the board.
To truly unwind, head out onto the heated terrace for a more cozy and BBQ-like environment...
... complete with several fireplaces and views of the tarmac for avid planespotters and photogs.
So whether you're hoping to work, want to enjoy a bite to eat before flying home or just want to kick back and enjoy the lounge's calm and peaceful atmosphere with a beer in hand, do yourself a favour and check-in early with plenty of time to explore and relax in the Star Alliance lounge at LAX.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Virgin Australia.
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