Recently, Qantas opened a new lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The Qantas First Lounge serves first class passengers from Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines, along with oneworld Emerald and Qantas’ own top-tier elites. 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 Airlines 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. 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. 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. 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. These are available for VVIPs; celebrities, politicians, etc. They can also be combined to make one larger private room. 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). 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. I was especially impressed that they had a shower suite that catered to families with children. 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. Mariam insisted that I stay and sample some items from the menu, as well as do a wine tasting. Who was I to say no? I asked her to bring me her favorites.
While I waited for the chef to whip up a few specialties, I made a rookie mistake and ordered the “bowl of chips” side. 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 were fantastic; the “salt & pepper squid” was the best calamari I’ve ever tasted. The burrata with prosciutto was equally impressive. 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. The three wines I sampled matched the quality of the food.
Overall, my experience in the Qantas First Lounge was exceptional. The service, food and drink, furnishings, and amenities were all top-notch. I’ve visited other “top-tier” lounges, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and I would put this lounge in the same ballpark. 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.