Recently, I had the opportunity to check out the new Star Alliance lounge located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The old lounge wasn’t terribly bad, but it was ready for some upgrades. I was very excited about what I found in the new lounge.
To describe the feeling of the new lounge in one word: Home. It has different areas that each have their own energy, but all come back to being very home-like. Well, it’s a higher-end feeling than my home, but still it feels like it was meant for be lived in, rather than just looked at or enjoyed for a short amount of time.
Although the majority of the space is for business class passengers, there is a special, more private section reserved those flying first class. There are even smaller VIP rooms located in the first class section for those who might require a meeting space or additional privacy (read: famous people).
The lounge can accomedate up to 380 guests, but it feels much smaller due to being divided into different sections. Passengers traveling in premium cabins on international flights (on Star Alliance airlines, of course) are offered admission to the lounge, as are Star Alliance Gold members. Unfortunately, day passes aren’t available.
One of the more important features are the showers – which can be an oasis for passengers using LAX only as a stopover. The lounge offers eight shower suites which include a large shower, toilet, and sink to allow one to freshen up.
If demand for a shower is high, passengers are able to sign up and then receive a device to alert them when it is their turn – very similar to waiting to eat at a restaurant. Speaking of food, passengers have some tasty (and free) options to keep their hunger under control.
There is a “kitchen” area with self-serve cold food options, as well as a noodle bar that has proved to be quite popular with the guests.
Although you may pour your own drink at the bar, lounge employees are also there to get you something while you relax.
Although many will stay entertained using the free (and surprisingly fast) Wi-Fi, there is also a theater room that has multiple seats facing a large screen. When I visited, there was a football game playing with a few guests enjoying beers and cheering on their team, which made if feel like a real living room. Luckily, they weren’t too loud.
Interestingly enough, the lounge was designed, and is operated by, Air New Zealand. I say it is interesting since the airline is known for having a quirky sense of humor and it had to be difficult holding back in the design process to keep more conservative Star Alliance airlines satisfied. Although the new lounge is quite different than Air New Zealand’s older Koru Club, the friendly Kiwi service still comes through.
Two of the coolest parts of the lounge relate to the outdoors. First, there is an internal balcony that overlooks the terminal. The (fake) plants on the balcony with the large LED screen on the wall actually gives a pretty good impression of being outside.
If that is not good enough for you, then head on out on the real outdoor deck with a propane fireplace, excellent airplane views, a waterfall wall, and enough awesomeness to make you want to arrive to the airport extra early. Just hope that it is not raining (although, it is L.A.).
I have been lucky enough to have visited and enjoyed some of the world’s best airline lounges. Many are beyond impressive with their luxury and amenities, but often they make me feel out of place. I feel more like I am hanging out in a museum than someplace that makes me feel… well, at home.
Although the Star Alliance lounge at LAX is luxurious, it doesn’t make me feel out of place. It is a good combination for those who are used to being surrounded by luxury and for those who get to enter into the world every now-and-again (aka me) to relax before their next flight.