As many of you know I just returned from a two-week work trip to Asia. My company is flexible in terms of the routing I could use to get there as long as the cost was reasonable (and in coach, blech). So, bearing in mind I wanted to maximize my enjoyment on the long flights, I booked the routing as follows:
- DFW-LAX on American Airlines in a 737-800
- LAX-HND on American Airlines in a 787-8
- HND-SIN on Japan Airlines in a 777-200
- SIN-HKG on Cathay Pacific in an A330
- HKG-DFW on American Airlines in a 777-300ER
Both American and Japan Airlines fly nonstops from Dallas to Narita Airport (about an hour outside of Tokyo) but I picked the above routing for a couple of reasons: 1) American flies a dumpy old 777-200 with angled lie-flat seats to Narita and 2) my upgrades (that I have from having Executive Platinum status with American) do not work on Japan Airlines, so even though they fly a 787-8 to DFW I would not have a chance at an upgrade.
Since I last visited LAX there have been two important developments: the opening of the Tom Bradley International Terminal Connector and the opening of the Qantas First Class Lounge. Connecting through LAX on an international itinerary would give me a chance to try out both!
The Tom Bradley International Terminal Connector
LAX is one of the big hub airports in the world, since almost every region in the world can fly nonstop to LAX with the right equipment. Most international flights at LAX (at least on Oneworld airlines) depart from the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT for short). LAX has quite a few other terminals and historically there wasn’t an easy way to move between whatever terminal you arrived at and TBIT. I typically fly to LAX on American, which uses Terminal 4 for domestic flights at LAX. I’d have to completely exit security, walk over to TBIT, then re-clear security (which could have legendarily long lines at times). This was frustrating for many reasons, but the world rejoiced a few months ago when the TBIT Connector opened between Terminal 4 and TBIT. Now you can freely walk between Terminals 4-8 and TBIT without having to re-clear security!
Of course I wanted to go see the Connector, but not just to see it. I had heard great things about the new Qantas First Class Lounge in TBIT and being able to walk freely between Terminal 4 (from where my HND flight would depart) and TBIT meant I could go visit and review it for you!
The Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX
Qantas has a reputation for excellent airport lounges. Indeed, I’ve visited two of their best, in Sydney and in Hong Kong, and have found them to be excellent while not being over the top like Qatar or the other Middle East carriers.
Now, earlier, I told you I was flying in coach, so how could I access the First Class lounge? Executive Platinum status with American qualifies me for oneworld Emerald status, which means I can access First Class lounges in the oneworld network whenever I’m on an international itinerary, regardless of the class of travel I booked.
The Qantas Lounge is located past security and actually right next to the TBIT Connector. It was about a 5-minute walk from Terminal 4, so I could see myself visiting this lounge in lieu of American’s Flagship First Class lounge whenever I’m on a qualifying flight.
As I walked into the lounge I was greeted promptly and, after a quick scan of my boarding pass, welcomed into the lounge. For those of you familiar with the typical Qantas lounge decor, this lounge will definitely look familiar! The lounge is basically a long rectangle that unfortunately does not have any good tarmac views. Like the other Qantas lounges I’ve visited there was plenty of seating in this lounge.
There were basically two kinds of seating: the window-facing seats and the more interior seats, if that makes any sense.
As I looked down the lounge towards the restaurant area there was, yes, more seating.
At the far end of the lounge is the restaurant. It’s a little different from most American lounges, in the sense that there’s no buffet, it’s a full-service dining experience! I was at the lounge with a few friends and we sat down to enjoy some of the food on offer.
We ordered a variety of items and found all to be very tasty. The wait staff was prompt and very courteous.
There was a truly massive bar going down almost the entire length of the restaurant, but our waiters were happy to get any drinks for us that we needed. Like I said, a bit different than most US lounges but it was pretty easy to adjust 🙂
There were showers available and I took a quick one. The shower rooms were nothing blogworthy, they were very similar to the showers at the BA lounges in LHR if you’ve ever seen those, just a bunch of white tile.
The new Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX is perfectly functional with plenty of seating, lots of power outlets, and attentive staff. I don’t think it has the variety of seating that the Hong Kong lounge has nor the amenities of the Sydney lounge, but to be honest it doesn’t really need to have all of those things, since there are no out-of-this-world lounges at LAX in the first place.
American Airlines just kicked off their renovations to the Admirals Club in Terminal 4. I don’t expect their offering to be materially better, so the Qantas First Class Lounge at LAX will be my preferred lounge at LAX whenever I’m on an international oneworld itinerary.
I think the quality of the food is superb. The sea bass is a must, as is the squid.
Also terrific cocktails at the bar.