Ranking The Lounges At LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

Over the past few years Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX has undergone a very nice renovation, and I’d argue it’s now possibly the nicest terminal in the US (though arguments could certainly be made for a few other terminals as well).

Etihad-Airways-Lounge-LAX - 3

If you’re someone who typically flies in premium cabins or has elite status, you may also appreciate Tom Bradley International Terminal for the fact that it has some of the best airline lounges in the US. However, not all of these lounges are created equal, so I figured it would be fun to rank the lounges, from best to worst.

Up front let me add that the disclaimer that everyone is looking for different things when it comes to lounges, so there’s no objective, universal way to rank these from best to worst. Some lounges have great food, some have great cocktails, some are spacious, some are quiet, etc. I’ll try to mention those attributes below, though I’m not suggesting my ranking should work for everyone.

1. Qantas First Class Lounge

Who has access: oneworld first class passengers, oneworld Emerald members (if oneworld Emerald through American AAdvantage, you must be traveling internationally same day)

Pros: Beautiful decor, fantastic a la carte dining, great selection of drinks (ranging from several types of champagne to barista-made espresso drinks)

Cons: No natural light, food quality and service seem to be on the decline (perhaps largely a function of how popular this lounge is becoming)

Qantas-First-Lounge-Breakfast-5

2. Star Alliance First & Business Class Lounge

Who has access to the first class lounge: Star Alliance first class passengers
Who has access to the business class class lounge: Star Alliance business class passengers, Star Alliance Gold members

Pros: Incredibly spacious, with an outdoor terrace, great LA-themed decor, and a separate first class section with a la carte dining

Cons: The dining in the first class lounge isn’t nearly to the level of what’s offered by Qantas

Star-Alliance-First-Lounge-LAX-15

3. Etihad Lounge

Who has access: Etihad first & business class passengers, Etihad Airways Partner Gold & Platinum members

Pros: Beautiful decor, delicious international-themed cocktails, a la carte dining (the only airline at the airport to offer that for business class passengers)

Cons: The lounge is on the small side, and also lacks natural light

Etihad-Airways-Lounge-LAX - 12

4. Emirates Lounge

Who has access: Emirates first & business class passengers, Emirates Skywards Gold & Platinum members

Pros: Extremely spacious, elegant decor that’s typical of Emirates, high quality buffet, terrace overlooking the interior of the terminal

Cons: No a la carte dining or signature cocktails (unlike Etihad), decor won’t be everyone’s style (as it feels a bit like a cigar bar)

Emirates-Lounge-LAX-Airport-04

5. Oneworld Business Class Lounge

Who has access: oneworld business class passengers, oneworld Sapphire members (if oneworld Sapphire through American AAdvantage, you must be traveling internationally same day)

Pros: Extremely spacious, good selection of food & drinks

Cons: No natural light, can get very crowded during peak times

oneworld-lounge-LAX-17

6. Los Angeles International Lounge

Who has access: El Al first & business class passengers, Air Tahiti Nui business class passengers, Fiji Airways business class passengers, Philippine Airlines business class passengers, and JAL premium economy passengers

Pros: Lounge doesn’t get as crowded as some of the other lounges, for a contract lounge reasonably nice decor

Cons: Food and drink selection limited, really nothing special

Los-Angeles-International-Lounge - 22

7. Korean Air First & Business Class Lounge

Who has access: SkyTeam first & business class passengers, Priority Pass members

Pros: The lounge is big

Cons: Just about everything else, including the lounge becoming way too crowded, a terrible food & drink selection (even the first class section has horrible food), a limited selection of drinks, etc.; for what it’s worth, even though Air France is in SkyTeam, they send their first class passengers to the Qantas First Class Lounge, which should tell you what you need to know about the quality of this lounge

korean-air-lounge-lax

Bottom line

Hopefully the above provides a fair summary of the pros and cons of each lounge. While Tom Bradley International Terminal has quite a few lounges, keep in mind that on any given trip you may only have access to one lounge, given the number of airlines operating out of the terminal. However, having visited all the lounges in the terminal, hopefully this gives you a good idea of what you are (or aren’t) missing out on.

The “best” lounge really does vary depending on what you’re looking for. If I’m hungry, I love the Qantas lounge. If I’m looking for some awesome cocktails, I love the Etihad lounge. If I just want to relax, I love the Star Alliance lounge. If I want to not eat anything and be in a bad mood, I love the Korean Air lounge. 😉

What’s your favorite lounge at LAX?

Comments

  1. Star Alliance and Oneworld have good lounges at LAX.
    On the other hand, Sky Team really needs to step up their game.

  2. On the upside, if you want rice crackers to eat while you’re reading Le Monde or a french magazine the Korean Air Lounge is superlative!

  3. Ben, Why did you not talk about the First section for the KAL lounge? I have not been in that part of the lounge, but I assumed and was told once that it was the First class lounge.
    But your ranking at least of putting the KAL lounge at the bottom is right. Luckily I have a connection into LAX, so I do prefer to use the SkyClub before moving to this lounge.

    Pity to hear the food quality dropping @ the Qantas First lounge – have not used it for sometime.

    Cheers!

  4. So is it the policy for AAdvantage Elite members that you cannot access ANY Oneworld lounge when traveling domestically? I’m pretty sure that people who are MileagePlus Premier Gold (Star Alliance Gold) cannot access United Clubs when travelling domestically but should still have access to lounges operated by Star Alliance partners e.g. if you were flying IAD-LAX you wouldn’t be allowed in to the United Club but you could get in to the Turkish Airlines Lounge. I thought Oneworld had that same policy as well whereas our favorite punching bag, SkyTeam, plain and simple does not allow elite passengers into their lounges if travel is domestic in any country.

  5. “elegant decor that’s typical of Emirates”

    Funny, given that Emirates is known for their tacky over-the-top bling bling gold cabins. Though I guess their lounges (with the new refurbish) does have a bit more understated elegance.

  6. Nice ending line.
    In a previous post, Ben stated he is “too old” for domestic redeyes. Given his relatively young age, can he provide further explanation for this curious, loyal reader. Thanks. And keep on it.

  7. Not to put too big a point on it, but my favorite LAX lounge is the one into which I can gain access. Which is pretty much my attitude for any airport: lounge time is much better than boarding area time.

  8. Weymar Osbourne: well unlike *A, oneworld has no lounges domestically, or i should say no lounges that at terminals you can access while flying AA domestically. (you cant get pass security at A gates at SFO in order to use CX lounge when you are flying AA at T2) Even for *A, there are basically 4 lounges that you can use while flying UA domestically as *G. LH lounge at IAD, TK lounge at IAD, LH lounge at DTW, and also star alliance lounge at LAX TBIT (this one you have to clear security at TBIT, then exit out reclear security at T7, so unless you have like 4 hours between flights, not adviseable to even go there)

  9. Philippine Airlines should already open their own lounge at LAX, instead of contracting it to LAX International Lounge. Because their MNL-LAX will now be twice daily with their delivery of an additional 777-300ER last month and another one coming this December, plus they now have thrice weekly CEB-LAX flights. By comparison, they have their own lounge at SFO, yet they only have daily flights and occasionally an additional three weekly flights.

  10. Lucky, thanks for a great post. If flying on an award ticket in Emirates First using Korean Air miles, does one have access to the Emirates lounge at LAX?

  11. What lounge can we access if we are flying with Air France? Do we have to be flying first class or business class?

  12. To answer my own question (in case anyone else wondered as well) one does have access to the Emirates Lounge when flying on an Emirates First award using Korean miles.

  13. My parents are flying back to London from LAX with Air New Zealand this Friday 31st March. Is there a ‘general’ lounge they can use at the Thomas Bradbury Terminal for a once only flight (they are flying economy). When they flew from London I booked the No 1 Lounge for a great price.

    Any help appreciated!

  14. To be fair, that KAL lounge photo looks spectacular compared to the tattered and torn state of the lounge now in late 2017. I’ve never seen a lounge age so quickly.

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