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Last week at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Emirates opened a brand new lounge for first and business class passengers of Emirates’ once-daily A380 flight to Dubai (DXB), as well as Platinum and Gold members of Emirates Skywards. TPG Travel Editor Melanie Wynne was there for the big reveal, and here’s her take on the airline’s 37th worldwide airport lounge and its third in the U.S.
Ever wondered what you’d find in a $6.2 million airport lounge? At the new 9,042 square-foot Emirates Lounge at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (Terminal T) at LAX, the short answer is a clean, quiet space with surprisingly tasty food, a full bar, a few pops of color and some pretty cool views—as well as a good excuse to look out for award space and fare deals for Emirates’ LAX-DXB.
Emirates‘ premium passengers used to have access to LAX’s unimpressive SkyTeam lounges, where the food and decor were decidedly lacking, but first and business class passengers didn’t have share a common space. The Dubai-based airline’s hefty investment in this new Los Angeles first/business combo lounge has resulted in a simple, intimate and attractive—if not especially glamorous—place to relax in considerable comfort.
While you won’t find the palatial pools and fountains, curved walls, and soaring ceiling of Emirates’ mothership first-class lounge at DXB’s Concourse 1, the new LAX lounge dos have butter-soft leather armchairs with velvet pillows, gleaming Italian marble floors and mahogany tables and soft mood lighting.
Featuring seating for up to 142 people, the lounge’s mid-high ceiling is studded with recessed lights, while on the floors, navy-and-gold carpeting absorbs sound and breaks up the large swaths of pale marble. A few indoor plants, bright red roses (a signature Emirates detail), ochre leather and metallic, Moorish-patterned lamps help lend warmth amidst the dark carpet, gray walls and cool, shiny tabletops.
The overall effect is soothing and calm, with enough visual interest to keep you awake long enough to board your flight.
Nearly seamless floor-to-ceiling windows and doors show off a sweeping view of the terminal’s huge, futuristic atrium, as well as far-off glimpses of the runway.
The “outdoor” terrace looks out over some of the finest boutiques at LAX—so you could perch here and window-shop at the same time.
As an Emirates‘ first and business class customer—and as long as you’re within 60 miles of the airport—you can take advantage of a private chauffeur-driven ride service to LAX. Once you’ve checked in at the Tom Bradley Terminal and found your way to the lounge, you’ll be greeted by smiling, red-capped crew members behind a desk lined with yet more marble and a remarkable wall grid inlaid with different shades of agate.
Featuring walls and counters paved in subtle shades of stone, the dining area is streamlined and functional, allowing plenty of room for movement and letting the mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine take center stage.
The food here is delicious—allowing the lounge to further stand out in Terminal T, where the surprisingly upscale array of dining choices include Petrossian Caviar & Champagne, ink.sack, and Larder at Tavern. Try the muhammara, a rich blend of red peppers, olive oil and walnuts.
The Emirates lounge’s extensive buffet includes a wide array of hot dishes—like a restaurant-worthy saag paneer and some perfectly baked salmon—as well as warm rolls, cheeses, fruits, salads and appetizers. Of the latter, I’d steer seafood fans toward a tangy plate of shrimp, squid and asparagus drizzled with mango-chili dressing.
I was also impressed by the complimentary full-bar service, which included French and Californian wines, as well as a neighborhood bar’s worth of spirits and a couple of nice Champagnes. They’ll make you a cocktail here, but you’re also free to pour for yourself.
You’ll also find espresso drinks and a lot of Emirates-branded tea, a slew of soft drinks and waters, and a lightly sweet juice blend made with honeydew. I was happy to see jars full of soft, fresh-baked cookies, unlike the sad, store-bought ones you’ll generally find in U.S.-based premium lounges.
As in all Emirates lounges, there’s a dedicated Muslim prayer room, and in each sparkling clean, marble-paved restroom, you’ll find ablution fountains for Muslim ritual washing before prayer.
Other amenities include a fully-stocked business center with WiFi (a perk that’s actually now free throughout LAX), a living room area with a huge flat-screen LED TV, a couple of reading areas, and dedicated shower facilities.
The lounge’s artwork is a mix of painted-wood collages and dreamy depictions of local Dubai landmarks in pastel shades, both of which veer towards flea-market crafts and reproductions. I couldn’t help wishing there were photos of Dubai on display, as they would not only suit the decor, but also inspire a visit to the city—say, via a direct flight on an A380.
Note that while Emirates and Qantas do have a joint venture, this doesn’t extend to lounge access for Emirates passengers in the U.S.—which means that Emirates premium passengers don’t have access to Terminal T’s snazzy oneworld/Qantas lounges just down the hall.
For them, this lovely new Emirates LAX lounge will just have to do. With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.
With some great bonus categories and an annual fee that’s waived for the first year, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card has a lot going for it. If you don’t have PRG, now’s as good a time as any to add it to your wallet, as Amex added some great new benefits several months back.