Review: Qantas First Class Lounge LAX

On Thursday I wrote about how the new Qantas First Class Lounge LAX is finally open.

The press release was quite detailed and had some great media images. As luck would have it I was passing through LAX on Thursday, so I reached out to Qantas to see if I could see the lounge in person. They were able to oblige on short notice, which was much appreciated.

The lounge is located airside up a level from the main concourse, and is a short walk from the Korean Air Lounge entrance.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX entrance

Based on the entrance you’d think you were at the Qantas First Class Lounge in Sydney or Melbourne, as it has the same marble entrance and frosted glass doors. There are a couple of agents at reception to welcome guests, as well as some seating by the entrance.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX entrance

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX signage

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX signage

The lounge is roughly 15,000 square feet and has seating for 220 people. So not only does it have a high seating capacity, but it’s actually a very large space.

Just past the reception desk are a dozen or so chairs, near a self service buffet with coffee and wine.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

This is the only self service bar in the entire lounge, which I appreciate.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX self service snack area

Near that is a wireless printer.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX printer

And then in the corner of the lounge are two “VIP” rooms. The Star Alliance First Class Lounge has a similar private room. Apparently they’re still in the process of tinting the windows to those private rooms, since they’re not especially private as of now.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX private rooms

The lounge is more or less in a rectangular shape, and there are five distinct seating areas. There are black leather chairs near the entrance, as you see above.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX magazines

Then in the center of the lounge are some nicely padded red seats.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

Then past that are circular seats with circular coffee tables.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

Then in the side of the lounge by the windows are some white leather chairs and then some burgundy lounge chairs facing the windows (the windows overlook the customs facility and not the tarmac).

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX seating

On the other side of the lounge is the 48-foot long bar. I just love the design. It’s clean and minimalist while still being snazzy.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX bar

The Qantas First Class Lounge has four kinds of champagne on offer:

  • Laurent-Perrier Brut
  • Mumm Brut
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve
  • Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX champagne selection

Then in the back of the lounge is the dining area, which features ~70 seats spread across dining tables with two to four seats each.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX dining area

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX dining area

That overlooks the open kitchen. I love the open kitchen concept, given that it’s easy to wonder whether food is actually fresh or just coming out of a freezer and being microwaved. No microwaving here, from the looks of it!

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX kitchen

The lounge has a “proper” food menu as well, designed by Neil Perry and based around his Rockpool restaurants. While I didn’t have a chance to sample the food, if it’s anywhere close to as good as the food in their Australia lounges then we’re in for a treat.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX menu

The lounge also has seven shower rooms with ASPAR amenities.

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX shower room

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX shower room

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX shower room

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Qantas First Class Lounge LAX shower room

Obviously I can’t really objectively review the service, since I was a media guest on opening day, and since I didn’t eat anything. That being said, all the servers in the lounge were trained by Sofitel and seemed very eager to please. The intent is for there to be table service throughout the lounge, so regardless of where you’re sitting you should be offered drinks, snacks, etc.

The servers also wear really sharp white coats, much like in the Qantas lounges in Australia.

Is this a Qantas lounge or a oneworld lounge?

It’s worth mentioning that the oneworld lounge setup at LAX is kind of confusing. There’s the oneworld business class lounge, which is a joint venture between British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. Other oneworld passengers flying out of Tom Bradley International Terminal can use it as well, though those three airlines own the lounge.

The first class lounge, however, is exclusively run by Qantas. Other oneworld flyers can use it as well, but the lounge does feel significantly more “Qantas” than the other lounge.

Who can access the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX?

One of my favorite things about oneworld is how Emerald members get international first class lounge access, even when they’re flying in economy. So this lounge can be accessed by passengers flying oneworld international first class, as well as oneworld Emerald members. That’s why this lounge is larger than some other first class lounges, since presumably it will be significantly busier, given all the non-first class customers it will accommodate.

Is this the nicest lounge in North America?

US airline lounges are notoriously crappy — crowded seating, cubes of cheese, drinks in cups, etc. So generally speaking even the foreign airline lounges in North America aren’t quite to the standard they’d be overseas.

In this case the Qantas First Class Lounge is excellent by international standards. So… is it the best in North America?

Let’s compare it to the other best lounge at LAX, which I think is the Star Alliance First & Business Class Lounge. I do think the Star Alliance Business Class Lounge is nicer than the oneworld Business Class Lounge. The Star Alliance Lounge has a terrace, balcony, etc. However, I think that the Qantas First Class Lounge is hands down nicer than the Star Alliance First Class Lounge.

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I know I’ll probably be chastised for this, but I think my other favorite lounge in North America is the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse New York. It’s technically only a business class lounge, but it’s such a fun space, the staff are amazing, and they have a spa.

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I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the Qantas First Class Lounge wins on overall design and food (at least based on the food in the Sydney & Melbourne lounges). If the lounge had a spa I’d say it would hands down be the best lounge in North America. As is stands I’d say it’s probably the best lounge in North America.

Amazing job, Qantas!

Bottom line

For me, this is a lounge that will impact my flight decisions. For example, if I’m flying Cathay Pacific first class out of the US, I now have a reason to go through Los Angeles instead of Chicago, New York, etc.

Do you have plans to visit the new Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles soon?

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

Comments

  1. Was going to ask why so much square footage for first class, but you explained it.
    Now let’s see if that way ticks off the first class passengers with it being too busy.

  2. One slight disappointment (though I guess not a huge surprise): apparently the lounge does not open until 10:30 a.m. This means it’s not open at all for passengers on the 0835 CX flight, and only for the briefest of visits by passengers on the 1125 CX flight.

  3. @Tom R: This lounge is open until 0030, which should usually be sufficient. (No idea, of course, if it will stay open when the CX flight is delayed.)

  4. @ James — Apparently that agreement doesn’t extend to Emirates passengers. I specifically asked the lounge manager about that.

  5. Oh Al are you ever happy? Misery loves company. I think QF is the best airline in the world with beaut lounges. I should know. I worked for the company for 19 years

  6. Now, I try not to think there is any special treatment for any of the bloggers (naive as that may be), but saying that you reached out and they let you in: I roll my eyes at that. I would bet almost any amount of money that were I to do the same, I wouldn’t even get a reply.

  7. Greetings from the lounge 🙂 The service and food is excellent, the lack of any working space (desks) is disappointing. The lounge is great for relaxing but not if you plan to work.

    @Jeff R: The lounge was open at 9:00AM when I arrived today.

  8. @Phil – thanks for the report. I got the 1030 opening time from QF’s website. If it’s wrong, that’s great!

  9. Compared to the Qantas First Class lounge in SYD, the LAX one looks like an Admirals Club Lounge. No lounge will match my experience at SYD. Maybe the old Premium Terminal at DOH could be a close second (I’ve yet to go to the new Al Mourjan lounge).

  10. @Al – this is this first time I’ve ever heard seating by Miles van de Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Warren Platner and so on referred to as mediocre.

  11. @ Nick — Sorry, not sure I follow. What’s strange about media getting to take pictures of a brand new product?

  12. 3 things I don’t like about this lounge:
    – Champagne selection is rather disappointing.
    – The showers don’t really say First Class (I mean, LAX-SYD RT is ~$13,000. Where’s the marble??)
    – The lounge doesn’t necessarily have the exclusive feel given the 220 seats. Less seats, higher quality!

  13. Studying the pictures there do not appear to be many electrical sockets which if that is the case it is somewhat bizarre!

  14. Gotta say the “First” signage was done rather sloppy. The kerning is way off and the tittle (the dot in the letter ‘i’ – yes, that’s what it’s called) shouldn’t be higher than the top of ‘F’. Yeah, I notice these things.

  15. Agreed very much like the MEL and SYD F lounges. Looking at the menu, however, I notice there are no Australian beers/ales. Does QF assume their august customers will only drink the over-hyped, rather bland international European brands? Might qualify as the best airline lounge in the US, but the Centurion lounges come pretty close.

  16. I think the LAX lounge looks beautiful – can’t want to access it later this year. A few weeks ago I flew QF and had to use the J lounge – which was very crowded and provided no services for a passenger traveling in F. I had to ask (and they did find someone) who could provide an escort to the aircraft (the escort was very pleasant).

    But on the SYD versus MEL F lounge – I much prefer the MEL lounge. The SYD is big and seems more like a J lounge (just above the J lounge anyway). On my return trip, service was bad at the SYD lounge. When check in – I asked about looking for a SPA appointment – but the agent keep interrupting the search to check in people (another agent was on the phone for a long period of time). The time to book took 15 seconds – so not sure why the agent was constantly checking tickets in between.

    But the worst part of the SYD lounge, was the service at the restaurant. There are two adjacent sections. We sat down and were given a menu (it was 11:50am). But since it was the breakfast menu which switches to lunch at 12 noon – we requested that the server wait and bring the lunch menu in 10 minutes. But the waiter then disappears for over 30 minutes and I had to call in another waiter. Now the other side had many waiters and quick service (should have just got up and moved over to the other section).

    Another waiter passed out lunch menus to others that arrived later – and they ordered and received food before we could get a waiter to bring a menu. Our waiter was still missing. So I called over the supervisor and indicated our waiter disappeared and we would like a new waiter. So another waiter served us – but it took 1.5 hours to get served from the time we sat down. About 15 minutes after the food was served, the disappearing waiter then reappeared and asked if we wanted anything else. How bizarre.

    The SYD F lounge has definitely declined (in my view).

  17. @Ben Your post definitely makes it sound like you just called someone up and they let you in as if any person could do the same.

    That was apparently my wrong assumption, but perhaps you should disclose to your readers when you receive perks due to your status as media like you do when AA gives you a free flight to give away to HEL, etc.

  18. @ Nick — And I always do. In this case I called their press office and asked if it would be possible to get a media tour. I didn’t “get” anything out of this. It’s not like I got a free flight or five course meals. Instead I had the opportunity to snap some pictures, which I think I clearly disclosed.

  19. @DavidB: I’m glad someone else mentioned the beer list. I really don’t understand; it’s so much cheaper to provide good beer than it is to provide good wines/Champagnes/spirits. If they offered good beer I would choose it, but with this list, I’ll opt for things that cost more.

    @Randy: No question, MEL lounge >>>> SYD lounge. You are right; the service standards are night and day.

  20. IIRC the business class lounge has some passable local beer options, so it’s surprising that the first class lounge wouldn’t.

    Australian beers though? Yuck.

  21. Before the previous OW lounges, QF had its own dedicated lounges – a separate F and J, with the F on a different floor in TBIT. (I am going back now 20 years and more). The F lounge was only F passengers. Not sure if OW Emerald was around then with access, but it was very exclusive. The lounge staff – escorted the passengers to the F cabin. Just was really classy back then.

  22. @Ben I didn’t mean to imply you got anything out of the visit. It was more a comment that it seemed like you got something that most of us would never get the pleasure of doing! Knowing that it was due to media connections as opposed to perceived “special” treatment is just a different facet to how I read it.

    Keep doing what you’re doing; I appreciate how you help all of your readership achieve these fantastic experiences.

  23. The lounge looks nice overall, but the finishes in the shower cabins are underwhelming. The 4″x4″ ceramic tiles would be out of place in a Hilton or Hyatt, to say nothing of an international first class airline lounge. Where are the marble, premium fixtures, and counter space?

  24. Am I correct to assume that this is the lounge I will be given access to before my upcoming flight on JAL from LAX to NRT in first class??

  25. Be careful not to leave things unattended in first class lounge. I left my zip jersey on a chair here for ten minutes and it was taken. Staff said they hadn’t seen it. Presumably they have no cameras vetting the area?

  26. Ben. I am flying AA lax to jfk First. Am I able to visit the One World First lounge just to see it? Then flying JFK to YVR via CX First.

  27. @ arthur — Since you’re not flying international you can’t technically access it, though you can use the Flagship Lounge.

  28. note that despite reporting loss from this lounge of article of clothing to LAX police I have never received a response from them
    Proceed to use this lounge with caution until police are responding to reports

  29. I am a Qantas Plantinum FF arriving from SYD to LAX, then flying out of LAX to Vancouver from Terminal 6. Can I use this lounge before transferring to Terminal 6 for my outbound flight?

  30. @ Isaac — Technically you could enter the terminal since you have a same day boarding pass, though I don’t think you’d have access to the lounge without a same day oneworld boarding pass.

  31. Great review Lucky. Perfectly fine for Qantas PR to let you in to take some photos for use in a first looks review – you are a well established and widely recognised airline travel writer, so no surprises that they did (something they wouldn’t do for less well known airline travel bloggers or just members of the public). I’m glad they did, so I could get a decent impression of the newly opened lounge before eligible access later this year.

    Have to agree with others here that while the Qantas SYD First lounge is the flasher than MEL, MEL is better for service/warmth (typical SYD – MEL distinction, SYD is the brash cousin to MEL’s more humanistic style).

  32. Thanks Lucky. I will have a boarding pass for a departure on the same day so that wont be a problem.

    Im more concerned that I will be in the Tom Brady arrivals hall and collect my baggage and recheck it all. Can I then go back in to the terminal after all that?

  33. I visited the QF First Lounge in May while transiting on my way to Sydney. It was completely chokka at 9pm and I couldn’t get a seat at a table to dine so had to eat off my lap in another area. Also the showers had no hooks to hang clothes on, just one beside the shower for the towel. Having been open for a few months one would have imagined such oversights would’ve been rectified but when I brought it to the attention of the shower attendant and the person on the front desk as I exited they both gave the impression I was the first to mention it….

  34. I’m guessing that this thread is no longer being monitored, but just in case: I started this hobby (and your blog) about a year ago and my first ever aspirational trip (designed by Alex at PP) is this Sept. I’ve got all the flights and hotels figured out, and am now focusing on lounges. ; )
    So, the only questionable part is on the way home, which is a very long layover, so very important from a lounge perspective (sorry folks, I will not have the energy to go explore L.A.–I’ll wait until Lucky settles in and go visit him ; ). I fly in from SIN to LAX on Singapore suites arriving at 1:30 p.m. I don’t fly out to ATL until 11:25 p.m., and that’s on AA, in F (it was a reasonably timed flight in the back or the red-eye in front–I’ll hate myself in the morning, but at least I won’t hate myself for 4+ hours in the air!). What are my lounge options? I see that returning to TBIT will be possible, but if I did that, who will let me in their lounge? Any feedback would be very appreciated.

  35. @mbh

    “it was a reasonably timed flight in the back or the red-eye in front–I’ll hate myself in the morning, but at least I won’t hate myself for 4+ hours in the air!” – Lol, that’s how I’d feel too!

    I don’t have enough direct knowledge to comment on your specific situation with surety, but I suspect the lounge dragons within TBIT will push you to a domestic lounge outside of TBIT (thus giving some very sad choices). Hopefully someone with direct experience here can say otherwise. Good luck!

  36. @ mbh — Your Singapore ticket doesn’t get you arrivals lounge access, and the American domestic first class ticket in and of itself doesn’t get you lounge access. So if you have an Admirals Club membership you could access that, but it’s about your only “real” option. In your shoes I would consider getting a day room at an airport hotel so you can nap. Enjoy the trip! 🙂

  37. @ mbh – on my recent trip to LAX we had a long layover before heading to Vancouver on Westjet from Terminal 2. I am a Qantas Platinum FF so wanted to access the Qantas First Lounge in TBIT. Given I had my Vancouver boarding passes, we were able to clear security in TBIT and go to the Qantas first lounge for 4 hours before our Vancouver flight. You can then exit TBIT and walk to the Terminal for your flight to ATL.

    As @lucky says, I don’t know if you have any lounge membership but if you do, you have your ATL boarding pass and the lounge is in TBIT, you can go all around the terminal before your next flight.

  38. Hi Lucky,

    Two questions for you:

    1. If I am flying from HKG-LAX in CX First class, and then am flying from there to JFK in AA First class, will I have access to the Qantas First Class Lounge?

    2. Those segments are actually part of a larger trip I am putting together which is PEK-HKG-LAX-JFK-CVG in First for first 3 segments and then economy for the last for 67500 AA miles. Do you see anything wrong with this itinerary?

    I already have a business class trip booked from PEK-CVG going PEK-HKG-ORD-CLT-CVG but want to change it up once CX availability opens up close to the travel date.

    Thanks and I love your blog!

  39. I found two interesting loopholes that could get me access from the terms I’ve included below.

    1. If I connect on the same day of travel it looks like I’m good, but unfortunately my flight from HKG lands at 8:50 PM and the flight going out to JFK isn’t till the next day. Now I could fly before 6 and get access, but more interestingly I notice that my departure date from HKG is a day ahead of when I arrive!!!

    So if they consider that the departure date instead of the arrival date, i have a whole 22 hours to play with and can be more flexible. Do you think they’ll look at it that way, or will they consider arrival date as the base for the T&C?

    TERMS & Conditions (Truncated to only include relevant portions)
    oneworld lounge access for First Class or Business Class customers

    Connecting between oneworld marketed and operated flights:

    First and Business Class customers connecting on the same day of travel, or before 6am the following day, can access the lounge when travelling between an international long haul and an international short haul or domestic flight (and vice-versa).

    Lounge access will be determined on the international long haul ticketed flight (either First of Business Class) regardless of the ticketed class of travel on the international short haul or domestic flight.

    You must be prepared to show your boarding pass or itinerary showing travel in First or Business class on the international long haul flight, in order to access the lounge before your international short haul or domestic flight.

    The following exceptions apply:
    Customers travelling in First or Business class on U.S. transcontinental flights between JFK-LAX, JFK-SFO and MIA-LAX (and vice-versa) are eligible for lounge access.

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