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).
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.
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)
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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?