Review: Star Alliance First Class Lounge Los Angeles Airport LAX

Introduction
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Star Alliance Business Class Lounge Los Angeles Airport LAX
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I arrived at LAX at 8:20AM for my 12:20PM departure, which is much earlier than I’d usually arrive.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX exterior

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX exterior

There are a couple of reasons I arrived so early:

  • I hadn’t yet selected a seat for my flight, since I only booked a couple of days before departure. I wanted to be sure I could get a decent seat by checking in early, given that Asiana actually holds back quite a few of the best seats for airport assignment.
  • I was excited to check out the Star Alliance Lounge LAX, which I’ve heard great things about though hadn’t yet visited.

Upon entering Tom Bradley International Terminal I proceeded left to the “C” check-in row, where Asiana check-in was located.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX check-in hall

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX signage

It seemed I timed my arrival well, since check-in opened at 8:20AM, which is four hours before departure.

Check-in was efficient, and in less than a minute I was issued a boarding pass for seat 2K, which was the seat I was aiming for.

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Asiana check-in counters LAX

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Asiana first & business class signage LAX

The security checkpoint is right near Asiana’s check-in counter. The checkpoint with the premium security line is on the other side of the terminal, though in this case I was so early that there was hardly a wait regardless, so it seemed best to just pick the closest checkpoint. And for that matter I wasn’t even sure if the premium checkpoint was open yet.

Security took about 20 minutes, and I was reminded just how much it sucks not to have TSA Pre-Check!

The queue was quite short, though a Cathay Pacific crew cut in front of everyone, so that added a few minutes to the process.

Once through security I proceeded down the hospital-looking corridor to the main part of Bradley Terminal, which is just gorgeous. I’ve already reviewed the new Tom Bradley International Terminal, so check out that review if you’re interested.

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LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal walkway

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LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal lounge directory

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

The Star Alliance Lounge is located on level six, so upon entering the main part of the terminal I turned right and took the elevator up a couple of levels.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

In the case of the Star Alliance lounge, the first and business class portions of the lounge have separate entrances, even though they’re connected in the back.

I tried to enter the first class lounge, though the door wouldn’t open. I proceeded to the business class lounge, where the apologetic agent promptly opened the door for me.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX entrance

At this point it was about 8:45AM, so she explained to me that it would be about 15 minutes before the first class lounge attendant arrived. Apparently the first class lounge is only “supposed” to open at 9AM.

So not only was I the only guest in the lounge for 15 minutes, but I was literally the only person. Now that’s privacy. 😉

The lounge has a large entryway with a reception desk and then a chair next to it. Across from that was the departures monitor and a magazine rack.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX entryway

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX departures board

The first class lounge actually isn’t all that impressive, at least compared to the business class section.

It’s a decent sized room so never gets too crowded, though it lacks any sort of views.

The decor is beautiful, though, and there’s plenty of lounge seating, as well as a handful of tables for dining in the back of the room.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX dining area

The buffet was rather basic. Since it was breakfast time, they had pastries, muffins, fruit, chocolate, and cheese on display.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX buffet

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX buffet

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX buffet

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX buffet

Then one display over they had several types of snack mix, including Goldfish. There were also crackers and whole fruit.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX buffet

Then next to that was the drink spread, which was fairly impressive. They had almost a dozen types of self serve booze, wine, beer, and champagne (Beau Joie, no less, which is great for a lounge – contrast that to the SkyTeam First Class Lounge LAX, which doesn’t even have champagne).

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX alcohol selection

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX alcohol selection

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX wine/champagne selection

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX wine selection

Then they had all kinds of soft drinks, bottled Perrier and Evian, beer, and a coffee machine.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX soft drinks/beer selection

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX coffee machine

As you can see the buffet spread itself was lackluster, so they also have an a la carte menu in addition to it.

The menu read as follows:

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The selection isn’t huge, though everything I saw served looked excellent. The portions were small, which is great since it means you can try a few different things without spoiling your appetite for the flight.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX brunch — bagel and lox

I had a bagel and lox, which was excellent.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX brunch — bagel and lox

Then after seeing someone else order it, I couldn’t turn down the crepe, which was served with caramelized bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream.

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Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX dessert — Brittany crepe

Service in the lounge was extremely attentive – even though you could serve yourself drinks, the servers were eager to help if you’d like.

The first class lounge is actually connected to the business class lounge via a door in the rear, and you can go between the two lounges using it. There’s an access code to get back from the business class lounge to the first class lounge, which you’re given on a sheet of paper when you enter the lounge.

I checked out the business class lounge during my visit, though I’ll save my thoughts on it for the next installment.

There are two bathrooms in the first class lounge (they’re private rooms), and then there are shower rooms in the business class lounge.

One thing I found interesting about the first class lounge is that there’s actually a private lounge inside the first class lounge. As soon as you enter the first class lounge the door to the private room is immediately to the left, though you’d never know since it blends into the wall.

I only know this because an agent from check-in phoned the lounge agent and told her two VIPs were coming, so she responded by asking what they wanted set up in the private room.

Man, did I quickly feel like a second class citizen. 😉

Anyway, at around 11:20AM I decided to leave the lounge and head to my departure gate, given that boarding was scheduled for 11:40AM.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

My flight was leaving from Gate 150, which is the first gate in the South Concourse. It was just a three minute walk from the lounge.

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

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Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

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Gate 150 TBIT LAX

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Gate 150 TBIT LAX

The boarding process was a bit of a cluster, whereby the contract “security” agents created queues in the middle of the concourse. I found that a bit odd, since they didn’t even utilize the gate area, but instead blocked the concourse.

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Asiana gate signage LAX

There was one queue for first and business class, and then on the opposite side of the gate they were lining up economy passengers by row.

The workers were unnecessarily rude and pushy. Presumably this boarding process is Asiana’s initiative, but I think they need to review how it’s being implemented.

Fortunately I was among the first in line, and boarding did start promptly at 11:40AM.

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Asiana gate police LAX

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Asiana A380 LAX

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Asiana A380 LAX

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Asiana A380 LAX

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Qantas A380 LAX

I was excited to finally check the last A380 I’ve yet to fly off my list!

Star Alliance First Class Lounge Los Angeles Bottom Line

Lounges in the US typically aren’t that impressive, so as far as US lounges go I’d definitely consider this to be among the nicest. Ultimately there are much nicer lounges outside the US, like the the Air France First Class Lounge in Paris, Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai, Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok, though that wouldn’t be a totally fair comparison.

Kudos to Star Alliance for working together to run such a solid lounge! I think this is hands down the nicest lounge at LAX.

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

Comments

  1. I was there a few days before you were, Lucky and I agree that it was a beautiful lounge. I’m also impressed that you could write a whole review on a one room space! My shorter review, which includes the business class space is here http://goo.gl/LneQuU.

  2. @ Front Office — Was trying to adjust to local time in Seoul. That’s how you deal with jetlag, right? 😉

  3. Hows the new one world lounge is it worth checking out or not really?

    I heard they made a bunch of new changes to it.

  4. @ Brandon — The first class portion of the new one isn’t yet open, so I’m not sure. I’ve only been to the old oneworld lounge, which doesn’t compare favorably to this one.

  5. Re: the boarding process–it’s a bit of a cluster period. Both KLM and Air France have a similar setup for boarding, although they run their signs along the carpeted area (i.e. they line people up along the length of the terminal) as opposed to across the width of the corridor. The SkyPriority line is a mess… 400-500 people don’t fit in the areas provided, and that “X” stand system kind of feels like a last-minute, hot mess solution, not something a brand new terminal should be using.

  6. A bit off topic, but do you know if I’ll be able to access the new Oneworld First class lounge if I’m flying AA First to London in the future? I realize they are in different terminals but shouldn’t be too far of a walk.

  7. @ Luis — You can’t. It’s located airside, and I don’t believe you can access TBIT’s airside area unless you’re ticketed to fly out of there.

  8. A recent change in policy at LAX should now allow you to go airside in terminals you are not ticketed for. I remember reading it on some blog. I havent actually heard anyone successfuly doing this in practice however….

  9. @jason – I just did 2 weeks ago. Arrived LAX on int’l flight, connecting UA in T7. Got thru security @ TBIT with no problem. Lounge attendants might give you strange looks as they’re not used to having domestic guests, but they let me in. As always, YMMV

  10. @Luis When LAX TBIT is completely finished eventually, AA will be moving some of their international flights over. Also, there will soon be an airside passage between Terminal 4 and TBIT. When that happens, you should be able to, but that may not be until 2016 iirc.

  11. @ Anthony — Not yet, I can’t keep up with the pace at which these new lounges are opening. Soon, hopefully!

  12. @Dylan – thanks for the info. But based on what others are saying, it sounds like it’s possible as of right now.

  13. Virgin Australia Velocity Platinum frequent flyers currently get access to the Star Alliance First lounge outbound at LAX, even when flying Economy, as they do in Abu Dhabi (flying EY or VA). Whoever negotiated this gets my heartfelt thanks, twice over. As nice as the a la carte menu was here in September, the spa and service at AUH are unbelievable, and for an Aussie domestic air-warrior, quiet satisfaction at cohabiting with the great and the good are ample reward for many 0500 BNE-SYD missions.

  14. I was thoroughly unimpressed with the *A F lounge. Small room with no view of anything and very weak buffet. The J lounge is so much better it’s not even funny. Next time I wouldn’t even bother going to the F lounge.

    Same experience with F boarding on OZ201. The staff are awful. Like prison camp guards.

  15. The outdoor portion of the C Lounge looks hard to pass up vs this small space with no view. I love good champagne though – anyone know if the champagne similar in C Lounge? The two in this F review are great, assume not as good in the larger C lounge?

  16. @ JohnD — They have an inferior selection in the business lounge, unfortunately. Might be able to sneak a glass of the good stuff through the back door of the lounge and into the business lounge, though. 🙂

  17. I accessed the Star Alliance business lounge at TBIT three weeks ago on a UA LAX-IAD ticket using my UA Star Gold status under a process exactly as Italdesign stated. The lounge agent was a little confused since I was departing out of T7 later that evening, but got in the lounge no problem

  18. Lucky-

    Long time listener, first time caller. One quick question: can someone with a United BusinessFirst Ticket gain access to the Star Alliance First Class Lounge?

    I am traveling from LAX-MEL, and I am curious to see where I can hang out!

    Best,

    David R

  19. Lucky,

    If I’m traveling NH F, but friend is SQ Y (departing LAX same day), can I bring him in to this lounge as my guest?

    Star Alliance website is quite clear: one guest permitted, provided they are traveling on *A carrier and departing from same airport on same day. Contract lounges are excluded (I don’t think LAX lounge is contract tho?)

    I’ve heard stories of guests being turned away… just looking for clarification.

    Thanks!

  20. I know this thread is old but very informative. Thank you! The hours of the first class lounge are until 3am. Is their ala carte menu available until they close? How about their buffets? Do they shut down at 11pm or stay open?

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