Oneworld Clarifies Qantas Lounge LAX Access Policy

Late last year Qantas opened their first class lounge at LAX, which is a spectacular lounge. Not only does it have beautiful decor, but it has a full Neil Perry sit down restaurant. I’ve argued it’s probably the best airline lounge in the US.

Qantas-First-Lounge-LAX-01

At the beginning of the month I wrote about the rather shocking and confrontational email which a Qantas executive sent to the LAX lounge staff, “reminding” them of the lounge access policies (which he was incorrect about), and encouraging them to call the police on guests who try to “bully” their way into the lounge.

Reader stvr even shared his firsthand experience after being threatened with airport police when asking to speak to a manager after incorrectly being denied access:

Lucky. This post is quite timely. I am a Qantas Gold and was denied access to the biz lounge today on a LAX-JFK flight. The gate agents were quite mean. They said this was a new policy for the last 3 months and that “American doesn’t pay its bills.” Even though I am a Qantas elite! When I asked to speak to a manager, the lounge agent threatened to call airport police. I shuffled off to the Admirals Club. It’s so funny that you’re posting about this now. I was also told by the lounge agent Isaac that “nobody knows this yet but this isn’t going to be a one world lounge anymore”

So, what was the Qantas executive wrong about the access policy for the lounge? He specifically said the following in the email, which is in clear violation of oneworld policy:

Any one on an AA or other OW Domestic flight, originating their journey in LAX regardless of status or cabin to be flown, does NOT have access to the Qantas First or Business Lounges.

This is incorrect:

  • Any non-American AAdvantage oneworld Emerald member traveling domestically on American should get access to the Qantas First Class Lounge (AAdvantage members are excluded, as they only get lounge access when traveling outside of the US)
  • Any oneworld Emerald member (including AAdvantage Executive Platinums) traveling internationally same day should have access to the lounge, even when their first flight is domestic

Qantas-First-Lounge-LAX-09

Anyway, AusBT followed up with oneworld’s vice president of corporate communications regarding the situation, and shared the following update:

While AA exempts its own AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members from that perk when flying within North America, Blunt confirmed that Qantas frequent flyers and all other Sapphire/Emerald members “should be granted access” to the TBIT lounges prior to all AA domestic flights.

Similarly, AA’s long-haul business and first class passengers “travelling on a domestic flight to connect to or from an international long-haul flight in a premium cabin as part of single itinerary … too should have (lounge) access.”

Blunt also stressed that “the LAX Tom Bradley lounge developed and operated by Qantas on behalf of its oneworld partners is NOT among the small number of lounges excluded from the oneworld agreement, as detailed at oneworld.com.”

“We have been liaising with Qantas and have asked them to remind their colleagues at Los Angeles of the oneworld lounge access rules – which they tell us has now been done.”

Hopefully they mean it when they say that the Qantas lounge staff at LAX have been reminded of the correct policy.

Qantas-First-Lounge-LAX-18

Bottom line

It’s nice to have the correct policy confirmed, and to be assured that it’s now being followed. This really is a fantastic lounge, so if you have extra time and are departing out of the American terminal, it may still be worth a visit, assuming you have access.

Again, non-American oneworld Emerald members will have access even when traveling domestically, while American Executive Platinum members would get access to this lounge when traveling internationally same day, even if the segment out of LAX is domestic.

I’m still shocked by how off-base and confrontational the Qantas executive was in the email.

So, has anyone visited the Qantas Lounge LAX the past few days to confirm that the correct procedure is being followed? Please report back with your experiences!

Comments

  1. Maybe the rest of Oneworld ahould start kicking out Quantas elites from their lounges.

    CX lounges for examples could benefit from the extra room in HK.

  2. Really glad you’ve shared about this topic!

    So if I am flying from HKG to LAX in CX First Class departing 12:15 AM on 1/15 and arriving at 8:50 PM on the previous day (1/14) due to time zones, will I have access to Qantas lounge in LAX when I arrive, if my connecting A321 Transcon first isn’t till 6 AM the next day (1/15)?

    Second much more simpler scenario, I land at LAX from a CX First class flight. Will I have access at Qantas lounge before my A321 Transcon First departing from diff terminal in a few hours?

    Thanks so much!

  3. What I would like to know is what if anything Qantas has said/done to the executive responsible for the email? Maybe he needs reminding or retraining on all OW policies. This may not be his first transgression given the aggressive nature of the correspondence to the LAX staff. Also in light of these facts, access to any lounge should be in written form and available at the check-in desk upon request. People making up the rules as they go along is a big irritation. I will be in LAX soon and plan to test the waters.

  4. I’m a Qantas Platinum One member and was refused access to this lounge a month or so ago and threatened with the police. Needless to say I was less than impressed and upon my return to Australia I wrote to Alan Joyce. The reply was sincerely apologetic and they threw in a rather nice gift by way of apology but if I’m honest it would take a lot to make up for the humiliation of being threatened with the police. I’ve started spending a lot more time on CX……

  5. I am flying through LAX in business class on American to and from Sydney. Will I have access to this lounge?

  6. Written confirmation from a Oneworld rep is a big step in the right direction. But the best thing would be written confirmation from Qantas.

    If I were planning a visit, I’d write Qantas about my qualifications and my expectation and print their response. It would be handy to club the gatekeeper.

  7. While I wasn’t denied access to LAX lounge, I had similar experiences with other lounge.

    I was traveling on Qantas business class from NRT to SYD and was denied access to the Sakura lounge in NRT, and I was referred to use the Qantas lounge.

    Another experience was with star alliance. I was traveling EVA business BNE to TPE but was denied access to use Air NZ lounge. I was told that EVA has contracted to Qantas lounge so I need to use it. It was quite interesting on the desk where they have a list of all Star Alliance members, EVA wasn’t there.

  8. Lucky,

    I can confirm that the agents have been retrained (I call it “Staff Retraining 3.0”) and access was correctly granted last night.

    I am led to believe that the correct policy has finally been correctly communicated.

  9. My wife and I had no problem getting into the Qantas First lounge today at LAX. I’m an AAdvantage Executive Platinum and both of us were flying LAX-LHR on AA metal. We visited just before 1pm on a weekday and had the whole place to ourselves for nearly a half hour. It was a blast.

  10. BA lounges are notorious for enacting “capacity controls” (I’ve often found to be arbitrary/not based on actual capacity) for those not flying ON a BA flight.

    The OW site says this about non-F/J travelers (but instead based on status only) and exceptions applicable to their right of access to OW lounges:

    1. American Airlines and Qantas offer programmes enabling customers to pay to gain access to their lounges. These programmes are not part of the oneworld agreement, and members of these programmes are not entitled to access lounges under the oneworld agreement.

    2. American Airlines AAdvantage® members, regardless of their tier status or class of travel, are not eligible for lounge access when travelling solely on North American flights within or between the U.S., Canada, Mexico (except Mexico City), the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean. For more information, visit, http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/airportAmenities/AdmiralsClub.jsp

    3. Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold members, regardless of their oneworld tier status, cannot access Qantas Domestic Business Lounges.

    4. Qatar Airways Al Safwa and Al Mourjan lounges at Hamad International Airport in Doha and Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4 are excluded.

  11. The lounge is lately very poorly managed. It used to be a great lounge with great staff, now the staff is mostly just so so . I guess they got union contracts.

  12. Can’t wait to try this lounge for the first time. Just snagged a ridiculous $900 SYD-LAX-DFW-PEK-DFW-LAX-SYD fare on AA metal for next month. 60k RDM + upgradeable inventory made this a no-brainer.

  13. I visited here on 3/17/16 and they are still making the same mistakes and having the same rude attitude.

    On the return to Pittsburgh from Hong Kong I stopped in LAX. I had splurged and booked the return in Business on American Airlines and then further upgraded my trip to FIRST using the $550 + 25,000 mile upgrade. I first flew from Hong Kong to Tokyo on a code share operated by Cathay pacific in Business (because it’s just a 2 class flight). From NRT to LAX I was FIRST on AA. From LAX to PIT I had booked a separate ticket on American Airlines the same day. I booked it separate so I could have a long layover and enjoy the lounges. I had used the Cathay Lounges in Hong Kong (the Wing and the Pier) with no problem. (although they did comment on the fact I had a business class ticket I simply indicated that I had a flight the same day on American, a Oneworld partner, in FIRST and then it was no problem to enter and they were very welcoming. Their lounge entry policy can be seen here: http://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_US/travel-information/airport/lounges/lounge-admittance.html

    I had no time between flights to visit any lounges on my short layover in Japan

    Now comes the Qantas FIRST lounge in LAX. I read this article and wanted to go try it for myself. I was prepared. I had printed out the admittance policy requirements from this lounge’s own website!!! ….

    http://www.qantas.com/travel/airlines/lounge-locations/los-angeles/tom-bradley/international-first-lounge/global/en

    I also had the Oneworld policy printed out:

    https://www.oneworld.com/ffp/lounge-access

    Both of them made it clear. The only stipulation seemed to be I had to have an ongoing flight booked that same day on a Oneworld carrier, and I did. I had my LAX to PIT ticket booked that same day (via CLT) on AA. I had found a great deal on Delta, but bought the AA ticket specifically so I could get in the Quantas Lounge and other Oneworld lounges and check them out.

    I was created by one very snobbish “Eva” at the FIRST desk where she proceeded to tell me that I did not have a flight on Qantas and could not go in, but I could go to the Oneworld business lounge next door. I told here I was flying FIRST not Business and was eligible to go in as I was flying that day first on a Oneworld airline and had an onward flight on a Oneworld carrier that same day as well. I showed her the Oneworld policy AND their own lounge policy I had printed out where it spells things out so clearly that they even put it in a chart of 3 categories of eligibility for entrance: Eligible Class of Travel, Eligible Qantas Members, and Eligible Oneworld Status … and under that one they have the category of Emerald and International FIRST Oneworld customers; (that would be me). Then it went on to say “Next onward flight that day must be on a oneworld operated and marketed flight. One guest allowed and must be travelling on a oneworld operated and marketed flight.” – VERY CLEARY STATED – AND FROM THIS LOUNGES OWN WEB PAGE ON THE QANTAS SITE!!!!!

    Eva had no interest in looking at her own lounge policy that she was clearly mistaken about and then started to say something about Emerald status … and I said my status (Ruby) was irrelevant because I was flying first class on a Oneworld airline and had a onward flight, the same day, on a Oneworld airline, and said I have your own policy printed out right here as well as Oneworld’s policy. She got defensive and stated they they abide by Oneworld policy (clearly not the case) and while I didn’t get threatened with the police she was quite rude and after a bit of back and forth she said something like I’ll let you in this time, but next time you have to meet the requirements (as to not admit she was wrong). Well, I bit my tongue at this point because she was letting me in and didn’t see the point to argue with a rock anymore.

    While in the lounge I wasn’t that impressed. It was dull. I ate a meal the full service restaurant which was nice (Korean beef tacos) and the service was great – friendly. The wine was good as well (Penfold’s Bin 2 I think it was that I tried), but the rest of the place just felt basic. It was like being in a corporate office reception area. It was definitely no comparison to the Wing or the Pier in Hong Kong. My experience was also a let down because I was made to feel like some sort of scoundrel with Eva in lieu of being welcomed.

    I then went to check out the Business lounge next door. The guy (didn’t get his name) at the door was thumbing threw my boarding passes and didn’t seem to know what he was doing. He said something about them giving me an ‘invitation’ at check in which I think is what they gave me in Hong Kong and I had already presented it to the lounge there, but I’m eligible to enter this one … and surly they won’t give me a problem as it’s labeled as a ‘Oneworld’ Business Lounge and I’m flying FIRST on a Oneworld airline; right? Wrong. The guy went behind a wall and who should emerge but Eva. Eva said I could not enter this lounge because I had already entered the FIRST lounge next door. (Are they just making the rules up as they go along now?). This was after Eva had told me I could enter the Business lounge when I was talking to her at the Qantas FIRST desk earlier. Eva left and I said to the guy I have the Oneworld, Quantas, and Cathay Pacific polices printed out right here. His reply was to say “So, you’re trying to be smart with me now!?”. I said no, it seems everyone is giving me conflicting information which was also indicated by the reviews I read online. At this point the guy said, “you know what boss, go ahead in.” He then said there had been a lot of back and forth the past month (confusion with the admittance policy perhaps). I guess he had empathy in the conflicting info part as that was his own experience too.

    I had been polite but firm with these two individuals. I worked in customer service at Nordstrom before and we would never talk to a customer like that, even if the customer was being rude. You’d simply be fired for saying something like that if a manager heard you or a customer complained. I didn’t take it too personally with the gentleman as he seemed to indicate he was getting conflicting information from his superiors and I could empathize with that. Eva on the other hand was just, well, fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind.

    You know the best premium customers, like the guy that writes this blog, are going to know these policies inside and it seems important, critical, that the staff know the product at least as well as their own customers. And if you’re not sure then tell the customer you don’t know, but you’ll find out. And listen to the customer. If you’re not sure give the customer the light most favorable. For example, when I worked at Nordstrom I once had a customer who wanted the quick shine wipe I cleaned his new shoes with, while he make the smug comment “I just paid $400 for those shoes I think you can afford it”. I didn’t say, well if you can afford the $400 shoes then you can afford to pay for the accessory – instead I said no problem sir, in fact, let me give you a new one. I just told my manager afterwards and it was fine … because the company handbook was simply one sentence: “Use your best judgement.” My point is did either of these staff, the people that greet the bread and butter of the airline business, use their best judgement? I think not! These staff should be trained in the policy and be competent. And out of anyone you think these staff would have customer service training and be competent in it. Certainly don’t take out your workplace frustrations on the customer that just got off a 12 hour flight.

    The Qantas FIRST lounge is overrated. I had no idea why Lucky would call it ‘fantastic’ and I wondered if I was missing something. I enjoyed the Business lounge much better as it was in a rectangle shape around a glass atrium looking out into other parts of the airport instead of a cubicle like space that was the FIRST lounge. There were more cozy nooks to relax and work or rest. The furniture was midcentury modern; Eames like chairs. There was a bar and a buffet and many seating areas, almost like different neighborhoods. There was even one around a fireplace (although not lit at the time). I didn’t sample the alcohol here as I can’t drink much in airplanes or while traveling without feeling ill. Overall this lounge was by far better than the FIRST one. The only thing it lacked was the full service restaurant which was no big deal for me. Because of it’s layout I didn’t have to worry about bumping into the guy at the door again as in the FIRST lounge where I was constantly reminded of my interaction with Eva because she was right there and the place was just this small square.

    After leaving the Oneworld business lounge I walked over to terminal 4 to the Flagship lounge where at least they treated me as customer. Shoot, they even treated me like a first class customer instead of a hobo trying to hop a ride. The flagship lounge wasn’t as nice as the Oneworld Business lounge but there was decent food and drinks and everything you would need including showers (which I thought were nicer than either of the other places).

    Well, that was my experience. Qantas made me feel like an aboriginal in 1950’s Australia trying to enter a white establishment instead of a Oneworld FIRST customer. I’ve flown Qantas before and I’d certainly never get a ticket with them again if I could avoid it; and I would never get a first or business ticket with them (even an award ticket) to even have a chance of having that kind of horrible service again.

    Lastly, being an officer myself, don’t ever let anyone intimidate you by threatening to call the police (as mentioned in the article). Unless you’re committing a criminal act you have no reason to worry as the police are not going to do anything … the one catch all to this is if you’re publicly intoxicated or if your behavior rises to the level of disorderly conduct, you make threats or say something else beyond the scope of your 1st amendment rights (which even foreign visitors have while here) … and it’s rather difficult to cross that line (think of the Westboro Baptist Church). You could even pull out your phone and film your interaction with Eva or whatever other misinformed rude person they have there; the same way you can film the TSA or the police (as long as you doing so doesn’t obstruct the administration of justice … i.e. …getting so close you’re in the way or a potential danger). In fact, you can film or photograph anyone in public. So, in summary the police can not arrest you for asking a question or having a disagreement with a airline representative or filming and so on. If it’s private property they can ask you to leave … but if they call the police and the police show up they will almost certainly ask you to leave before arresting or citing you for trespassing. The police have better things to do (like lunch) and will get tired pretty quickly of getting BS calls from one particular location that’s trying to use the police as the boogie man to scare people. In all seriousness if the police do come and ask you to leave then at that point I would.

    There are some lounges in the Oneworld agreement that are excluded but this is not one of them. If they want to be excluded then make that the policy and have it written into the Oneworld agreement as one of the excluded lounges. If Qantas doesn’t want to respect the reciprocity of other Oneworld partners perhaps they should withdrawal from Oneworld. AA should deny access to the Flagship Lounge for Qantas passengers if Qantas is denying AA international First customers access to their FIRST lounges. Otherwise, start treating premium customers as such instead of like crap!

  14. I’m QF Emerald and had no problems accessing both the First and Business lounges at LAX yesterday when travelling domestically.

  15. Flew BOS-LAX this month in AA First as part of an intl. ticket from Heathrow. Was connecting on a separately booked domestic AA coach ticket with 4h to kill in LAX. After spending some time at the Admirals Club in T4 I thought I’d check out the TBIT connector and lounges there (I was BA Silver / Oneworld Sapphire at the time). Went to the Oneworld Lounge first and was promptly sent away by an Australian gentleman, stating that the reason was that I had a domestic ticket, and “maybe if I was Emerald” . I only 10 mins anyway and could be bothered to argue, nor try my luck at the Quantas Lounge next. It appears they should have let me in, even as a lowly Sapphire, as long as I was travelling on a Oneworld ticket that day?

  16. @Lounge To Lobby That would depend on your class of travel on the ticket from Heathrow, which should have been on the same day. If you were in AA First international, you should have been allowed access. But how does “connecting on a separately booked domestic AA coach ticket” match with “BOS-LAX this month in AA First as part of an intl. ticket from Heathrow”?

    My wife have a similar connection in three days: LHR-LAX-SAN, connection from BA First to AA First. She will lawyer up; print OW policies, Qantas LAX access policies and this page, and use yellow marker pen on relevant sections. If any issues, she will first state why she is allowed access, and then ref the law and show them the access rules. I will report back, once she gets there.

    Anyway, is this how Qantas treats their first class customers and elites?

  17. My wife had no problems accessing this lounge on her LHR-LAX-SAN trip. She was connecting from BA First to AA First and showed both BPs. They seem fully updated on the rules now, especially considering the press this got. Thanks Lucky.

  18. I got denied entry by the First Class Lounge attendant (oneworld emerald/EXP connecting onto a domestic leg from international business class). The business class attendant initially wanted to send me back to the first class lounge until I said I had just been there.

    The Qantas employees say that “American called [them] this morning” with the new policy. Because I flew J (the highest cabin offered on my flight!), I am only eligible for the business class lounge according to them.

  19. After having been denied access to the QF First lounge by the same cast of characters listed above. As an AA EXP, I was told that the AA LAX to NYC flights were eligible for entry. Anyone know if this is the case?

  20. Hi Lucky

    I am flying AA operated by American Eagle out of T6 on a donestic flight but am BAEC Emerald. Can I get from T6 to the QF F lounge without going thru security again? And do I need to go thru immigration to use the QF F lounge?

    Thanks !

  21. Just made it to the First lax Quantas a day before the AA flight with BA’s Gold.
    However, even folks at the First counter of BA had no idea who is eligible for this foodie mecca

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