After checking out of the Concourse Hotel at LAX, I grabbed the shuttle for a looong drive to Terminal 4, where I could check in for my flight to Tokyo-Haneda on American Airlines. (Un)fortunately my flight was moved to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, so once I had my boarding pass I needed to head out and backtrack. A new airside connector should make this easier.
My flight didn’t depart until roughly 5 PM, but I was at the terminal by 11 AM with plans to check out the Qantas first class lounge, which I’d heard was quite impressive.
I don’t normally fly out of LAX, but it was my last month with Executive Platinum status on American Airlines, so I made it a point to go through here and check out all the premium lounges. Later in the day I also visited the oneworld business class lounge, and on a more recent trip I got to visit the Star Alliance first and business class lounges. It’s given me a lot of opportunity for comparison. The Qantas lounge is easily the best.
Taking the escalator up to the 5th floor (departures are on the 4th floor) it was a short walk down the hallway to the lounge entrance. If you arrive along the airside connector from T7, it should be your first stop. The lounge attendant swiped my boarding pass and let me in just as most of the passengers were leaving for their flights to Australia.
My first impression was that the lounge was not very private even though it was quite large. There weren’t many dividers put up between the different seating areas, but the columns helped, and the lounge chairs along the interior window were probably the most private. But without many people, it wasn’t a concern.
It was at least very stylish, and much better than I’ve seen from most airlines. I especially like those white lamps with the globes on top. Only Cathay Pacific comes to mind as possible competition in the design department.
What was more interesting to me is that a good third of the lounge is devoted to a dining area and a large bar. This is clearly a place to go for a meal. A waiter promptly showed me to seat, and I decided to have an early lunch. The sea bass with an avocado, arugula, and jalapeño salad was possibly the best preparation ever, and it paired wonderfully with an smoky mezcal margarita.
I don’t have a picture of the menu, but there were several other appetizing choices. If I could just delay my flight and come back the next day, I would. I don’t think I’ve ever had food at an airport lounge that was this good, but it was eventually time to finish the meal with some panna cotta. I enjoyed another margarita while waiting to meet up with Matthew from Live and Let’s Fly.
It’s a good thing I had the drink because there really isn’t much else to do in the lounge. I got restless and — not in the mood to do any actual work — decided to tinker with the new camera I purchased earlier that morning. (The battery gave out on the old one. These pictures, except of the food, are the first I took using it.)
The solitude is something I noticed about the Star Alliance first class lounge, too, although that one is much smaller and the food isn’t even comparable — in a bad way. Both business class lounges at this airport are more exciting, with a greater variety of spaces and opportunities for people watching.
That said, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t enjoy my time at the Qantas lounge. The food alone helped it stand out from the competition, and I do think that first class lounges need to have something (great dining, massages, smoking lounges, whatever) to merit building a separate facility. Many first class lounges fail in this regard. The Star Alliance first class lounge, as I’ll write about later, seemed like wasted space. But if you’re on a oneworld first class ticket, or if you have oneworld Emerald status, you should definitely make the effort to visit the Qantas first class lounge.