I figured all SkyTeam airlines used the mediocre Korean Air Lounge LAX for premium cabin passengers.  So, color me surprised when my La Premiére guide walked me to the Qantas First lounge instead.  Like Scott a couple of years ago, I found this a very nice lounge to spend some time before your flight.

Qantas First Lounge LAX

Qantas First Lounge LAX - welcome sign

Location

Tom Bradley International Terminal, Level 5, one level above the pavilion.  Walkways connect TBIT to Terminals 4-8 airside; see James’ post for more information on the connectors.  If arriving via the connector, follow the signs to the airline lounges to your left.  The Korean Air lounge is on your left.  If clearing security at TBIT, take the elevator or escalators to Level 5 and follow the signs to the lounges.

Access

The Qantas First Lounge LAX provides access to the following passengers:

  • Qantas and other oneworld international First Class passengers (plus one guest)
  • Air France La Premiére passengers
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One and oneworld Emerald members (plus one guest)
  • Note that American AAdvantage Executive Platinum members must be traveling on a same-day international flight.

Hours of operation are 6:30 am until 11:30 pm.  Arriving international first class passengers may use the lounge even if connecting to a domestic flight.

Qantas First Lounge LAX – Review

First impressions – this is a very large lounge for a First Class lounge.  The lounge is basically one large square with a variety of seating areas.  Up front is a smaller area of single, black leather chairs next to a boardroom.  This area also contains a self-service coffee machine and a few snacks.  But don’t waste your time on those, as I’ll discuss later.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - front seating area

Qantas First Lounge LAX - snacks

I have to say, the design immediately stood out as unique, and I agree with Scott that it’s a stylish space.  Unlike too many of the minimalist designs taking over public spaces, Qantas at least tries to do something different.  The honeycomb patterns on the carpet and glass certainly stand out.

Immediately behind and to the right is a larger seating area, featuring red chairs in a mostly 2×2 configuration.  A large departures board sits in the middle, along with a self-service wine station.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - second seating area

Qantas First Lounge LAX - more second seating area

Meanwhile, to the left is a long corridor of seating stretching all the way back to the entrance. This area includes a mix of tables for two, and single seats along the windows.  While I also agree with Scott that the lounge isn’t particularly private, this section seemed to offer the most private experience.  The globe-shaped lamps also offer a thoughtful design feature.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - left-side seating

The window seats also offer what passes as a view, at least of the TBIT concourse.  My major complaint with this lounge is the lack of outdoor views.  However, that seems to be a common issue with TBIT lounges in general.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - concourse view

You’ll also find yet another self-service wine station here.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - self-service wine

Continuing farther back is another large seating area with some funky half-chairs.  The windows on the far right provide views of the other side of the TBIT concourse.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - half-chairs

Behind this seating area is the large central bar.  The design also seems rather funky, as if it’s supposed to mimic a large block of ice.  The bar offers a generous liquor selection, but also a barista for coffee drinks made to order.  This is why you should ignore the self-service machine up front!

Qantas First Lounge LAX - bar

Finally, at the far back is an oversized dining area.  Considering there were maybe half a dozen people here during my stay, this sure seems like overkill.

Qantas Lounge LAX - dining area

Qantas First Lounge LAX - more dining room seating

A few tables also line the side wall, should you prefer something a little more private.  There is also another departures board here.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - side wall dining tables

Should you fancy watching your food cook in real time, there’s even a see-through window to the kitchen.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - see-through kitchen window

My one complaint is the lack of seating choices.  I saw very few tables set up for more than two people.  That might be annoying if traveling with a large group or family.

Of course, the dining room highlights the best part of the lounge, the a la carte dining option.  Qantas offers a full menu to all lounge guests, available on demand at any time.  Just have a seat at a table, and a server will come by.  Dishes are inspired by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry.

Qantas Lounge LAX - food menu

Qantas First Lounge LAX - drinks menu

I love the concept of a la carte dining in a lounge.  The actual meal, though, was a mixed bag.  I started off with a cream of mushroom soup (not pictured), which was dreadful.  No flavor at all, even after dousing it with salt and pepper.  The main course, a Black Angus minute steak, looked great, but was unfortunately overcooked.  Hammered, in fact.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - minute steak

A side of Rockpool mac and cheese likewise looked the part, and had some good flavors.  Too bad it was a little too runny.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - mac and cheese

At least the cheese plate was first-rate.  Nice selection of cheese, with a good assortment of fruits and crackers.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - cheese plate

I finished off the meal with a flat white, which was also excellent and strong.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - flat white

Perhaps the larger issue, though, was the service.  While friendly enough, the servers were sloooooow, and not at all proactive.  I had to actively flag someone down for wine refills and to order my coffee and cheese, for example.  The entire meal took more than an hour and a quarter to complete.  I had more than 4 hours to kill, so no big deal.  If you’re in a hurry, though, keep this in mind.

If you want a quick refresh before or after your flight, the lounge also has several shower suites for guest use.  I counted about 8 in total.  A sparse crowd on a mid-afternoon Thursday meant no wait, though there is an attendant booth to sign up, presumably when the lounge is busier.  (Attendants also normally provide towels, but due to the low traffic, these were self-serve when I was there.) The showers seemed nice enough, and were kept clean.  Each suite also includes a toilet.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - shower suite

Toiletries include Aspar by Aurora Spa Rituals products, a premium Australian brand.  The products were of good quality, though pricey.  A bottle of body cleanser retails for A$32.95, for example.

Qantas First Lounge LAX - toiletries

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying, I was thrilled to have a few hours in the lounge rather than the KAL lounge.  Objectively, the lounge is a very good one in my opinion.  The First lounge is very spacious, and looks like it will have plenty of seating even during busier periods.

There are a couple of warts, though.  First, as Scott also noted, it’s not terribly private.  Not a big deal for me, but consider that if privacy is important to you.  Second, while a la carte dining is a great concept, I found the execution hit or miss.  Besides slow service, the food quality was decidedly mixed.  Finally, dare I say the lounge seemed – oversized?  Perhaps it’s just a function of visiting during a slow time of day.  But I found it just a tad eerie to see maybe half a dozen people in a lounge of this size.

Nevertheless, if you have access to this lounge, it’s a great spot to kill some time before or between flights.  If you don’t have access, the oneworld Business Class lounge and American Flagship First lounge are decent alternatives, as well.  Just beware of crowding in the Flagship First lounge.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Review: Qantas First Lounge, Los Angeles.

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