Recently, Qantas opened a new lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Â The Qantas First Lounge serves first class passengersÂ from Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines, along with oneworld Emerald and Qantas’ own top-tier elites.Â As such, it is a good-sized lounge.
I had a long layover in Los Angeles as part of my trip to Santiago with LAN AirlinesÂ to check out business class on their 787-8 Dreamliner, so we were able to arrange with Qantas to visit their new lounge and experience what it had to offer. Â It didn’t disappoint.
Upon arriving at the lounge, I was asked to take a seat wherever I liked, and offered a glass of champagne while I waited for my guide. Â The service in the lounge really was impeccable throughout my visit. After a few minutes, I met with Mariam, the Customer Service Manager.
Mariam oversees the Qantas First Lounge, along with the oneworld Business Lounge. The two lounges share back-of-house space, including kitchens, as well as the 128 employees it takes to run both.
We started our tour back at the entrance. Â Near there, is a self-service station, with snack and drink options that rotate throughout the day.
Just down the way, there are two private rooms. Â These are available for VVIPs; celebrities, politicians, etc. Â They can also be combined to make one larger private room. Â Mariam shared with me that during the holidays, they had filled them with gear from Ikea to make them a play lounge for kids – as a parent, that sounded pretty cool to me.
The focal point of the lounge is the massive bar, which serves a wide variety of top-shelf wines and drinks in fancy Riedel glassware (I’m a glass snob). Â Fun fact: the lounge goes through about 400 bottles of champagne per week!
The lounge offers the usual shower suites that you’d expect at a premier international first class lounge. Â I was especially impressed that they had a shower suite that catered to families with children. Â Along with the prior-mentioned “play lounge” and a fancy children’s menu, the lounge was surprisingly kid-friendly (although I did not see any – my guess is that they are few and far between).
I finished my tour back out by the bar, where there is a 74-seat restaurant featuring an a la carte menu crafted by Australian celebrity chef Neil Perry of the Rockpool Group. Â Mariam insisted that I stay and sampleÂ some items from the menu, as well as do a wine tasting. Â Who was I to say no? I asked her to bring me her favorites.
While I waited for the chefÂ to whip up a few specialties, I made a rookie mistake and ordered the “bowl of chips” side. Â I had toured the kitchen earlier, and seen some fantastic-looking fresh-cut potato chips. Those aren’t the “chips” I got.
However, the specialties I was served wereÂ fantastic; the “salt &Â pepper squid” was the best calamari I’ve ever tasted. Â The burrata with prosciutto was equally impressive. Â I gladly would have tried just about everything on the menu, and regretted eating my domestic first class United meal on the flight from Denver. Â The three wines I sampled matched the quality of the food.
Overall, my experience in the Qantas First Lounge was exceptional. Â The service, food and drink, furnishings, and amenities were all top-notch. Â I’ve visited other “top-tier” lounges, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and I would put this lounge in the same ballpark. Â I hope to get to visit them again soon.
While I would have had access to the oneworld Business Lounge due to my ticket, I was Qantas’ guest in the First Lounge. All opinions are my own.