The queen of LAX: Qantas International First Lounge in Los Angeles
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To The Point
The Qantas First Lounge at LAX provides comfortable seating, but you’ll primarily want to visit this lounge for its food and drink offerings. Pros: Seated dining from a menu, top-shelf alcohol choices and good service. Cons: No spa services, no desks for working and the lounge can get crowded.
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Some travelers build in a long layover when flying through Los Angeles to go planespot at the In-N-Out — which I highly recommend. But I usually build in a long layover (when flying Oneworld internationally) primarily to enjoy my favorite lounge in the US: the Qantas International First Lounge.
Over the summer, I built in a couple of layovers at the Qantas lounge at LAX. Here’s my take.
The Qantas International First Lounge is located after security on Level 5 of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
If you arrive in the Bradley terminal, you’ll need to go up one level after going through security or deplaning from your flight. You can go up the escalator in the main atrium toward P.F. Chang’s (a popular Priority Pass restaurant), turn right at the top of the escalator and then turn left at the end of the hallway and into the lounge. Or you can turn left after clearing security, take the elevator to Level 5 and the turn right from the elevator to the lounge entrance.
If you’re connecting from an American Airlines flight, you may arrive in another terminal. If so, you’ll need to walk through the connector from Terminal 4 to the Bradley terminal. But, don’t take the escalator down after walking past the windows overlooking the Bradley check-in desks and security screening. Instead, walk straight and you’ll find the lounge immediately after you turn right at the end of the hallway.
There are a few ways you can gain access to the Qantas International First lounge:
- Your next onward flight that day is in first class on a Qantas flight (one guest is allowed but must be traveling with the member on the same flight)
- You are a Platinum One or Platinum frequent flyer with Qantas and your next onward flight is on a flight operated and marketed by Qantas or Oneworld (one guest is allowed who must be traveling with the member on the same flight)
- You are a Oneworld Emerald frequent flyer and your next onward flight that day is on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld (one guest is allowed who must be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld)
- Exception: American Airlines elites traveling solely on North American flights, except Mexico City, don’t have access
- Your next onward flight that day is in International First on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld (one guest is allowed who must be traveling on a flight operated and marketed by Oneworld)
The lounge is open from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.
If you don’t have access to this lounge, there are some great Priority Pass lounges and restaurants in LAX. You can access them using the Priority Pass Select membership that comes as a benefit of select credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You enter a large atrium with the entrance desks at the far end. Champagne is available by the desk if you don’t want to wait any longer for your first drink.
Enter the lounge to the left of the entrance desks. You’ll walk into a long, open lounge.
There are various types of seating in the lounge.
Some seating has a TV nearby, but the seating doesn’t focus on the TV as the chairs aren’t oriented toward it.
There are a couple of conference rooms that can be reserved.
My favorite seating area overlooks a cutout in the building that extends down to baggage claim. From these seats you can look across at the Korean Air Lounge, which is accessible through Priority Pass from 1 p.m. to 7p.m. daily.
These seats have foot stools, which are great for lounging while watching travelers hurry past.
Walking deeper into the lounge, you’ll enter a large dining room. If you want to eat, simply wait to be seated.
Along one side of the dining room is a long bar.
There are showers but unlike some first-class lounges, no spa services are provided. And there’s no dedicated work area with desks, meaning those who want to work on their laptops must do so in normal lounge seats or at the tables in the dining room.
There’s a large shelf of magazines available, although the selection is somewhat limited and some seem to be airline-produced magazines.
Bathrooms are located in two small hallways along the edge of the lounge.
Each hallway has three unisex bathroom stalls, one of which is handicap accessible.
There are also bathrooms at the end of the dining area, near the showers. Near these bathrooms is a desk with an attendant who can provide access to the lounge’s seven unisex shower stalls. You can also get various items from this attendant, like a razor or toothbrush and toothpaste or a shower cap.
The shower stalls are more practical than luxurious, but each stall has what you need: a shower cubicle, toilet, sink, luggage shelf, stool and hooks. The only towels provided in my stall were bath towels and a floor mat. A modestly powered hair dryer is provided in a bag.
There’s an overhead showerhead as well as a handheld shower wand. The shower contained shampoo, conditioner and body wash — all with mandarin and sweet orange scents.
Near the conference rooms next to a self-service drink area is a printer and a paper shredder.
The Wi-Fi in the lounge is fast enough at 22.91 Mbps download, 31.87 Mbps upload and 5 ms ping, but it’s not nearly as fast as I’ve experienced at the nearby Oneworld Business Lounge.
Food and beverage
The Qantas first-class lounge doesn’t have a buffet, instead offering table service of freshly prepared foods from a seasonal menu. During my most recent visit with my husband JT, the summer menu was available. Our server realized our flight wasn’t until hours later and asked if we’d like to slow down the pace at which each course was served, but previous lounge visits showed that the kitchen can usually produce any course within about 10 minutes.
We started with the salt and pepper squid and the coconut chicken salad. (We’d planned to order the tuna poke salad, but it wasn’t served until after 6 p.m.) The salt and pepper squid were better than we’d had on previous visits, so we finally understand why everyone raves about this dish. The coconut chicken salad was refreshing and light.
For our main dishes, we ordered the crumbled pork cutlet and the seared baja bass. Both dishes looked and tasted wonderful. The pork was served on the bone, which made the meat more flavorful but required more work to eat.
For dessert, we split the key lime pie and the banana tart. The banana tart crumbled awkwardly and was simply a collection of layered ingredients — but it was tasty. The key lime pie had the perfect level of tartness and sweetness.
Around the lounge, there are three self-service drink areas. One area also has light snacks, like cookies and candy, as well as a self-service coffee machine. If you’re looking for more than light snacks but don’t have time for sit-down dining, you’ll want to visit the nearby Oneworld Business Lounge for a quick meal from its buffet.
Another self-service drink area has a selection of five red wines, six white wines, still water and sparkling water. And the third self-service drink area has a similar selection of wines and water with some light snacks like chips and trail mix.
Near the dining area, there’s a long bar with an impressive selection of spirits. When JT waffled over which whiskey to order, the bartender offered an informal tasting. As you can see below, the bar has more than just whiskey — it probably has whatever you’re looking for, including mocktails and coffee drinks. You can order drinks at the bar or from servers in the dining area or in the lounge seating areas.
Perhaps the best part of the food and beverage experience is the service. We’ve received adaptable, professional service while enjoying sit-down dining on all our visits.
As a Oneworld frequent-flyer elite, I want to compare the Qantas International First Lounge in LAX to the JAL First Class Lounge in Narita or Cathay’s The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong. I look forward to visiting them, but each has particular aspects that set it apart — and may make some travelers prefer one lounge over another.
The signature element of the Qantas International First Lounge is sit-down dining. The combination of friendly and well-trained staff, excellent food and an extensive bar with top-shelf choices make the dining experience consistently enjoyable. Plus, the rest of the lounge is spacious and offers a variety of comfortable seating, meaning you can relax before or after your meal.
On the other hand, the Qantas International First Lounge lacks a few notable amenities that travelers expect from a first-class lounge. There’s no nap or rest area, no true work space and no spa services. The bathrooms and shower rooms are simpler than you’d normally see in a first-class lounge. Although the Qantas First Lounge does sit-down dining and service right, it’s missing some key elements.
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