Interestingly, the Qantas International First Lounge Los Angeles (LAX) is one of the most divisive lounges in the USA. Some love it. Some call it extremely overrated. After my recent visit, I can understand both sides, though I give the lounge high marks overall.
Qantas International First Lounge LAX Review
Ask some about this lounge and they will wax eloquent about the a la carte dining, great coffee, and posh space. Ask others and they will bemoan the lack of buffet, weak showers, and the sterile feeling of the lounge. Let’s unpack the enigma of this lounge.
Hours + Access + Location
This lounge is located on Level 5 of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX. If you are entering the secure side of the terminal via the Bradley Terminal, head upstairs one level once you clear security and you will find the lounge down the hall on the left. If you are walking over from Terminal 4, as you cross into TBIT do not take the escalator downstairs. Instead, stay left, walk past the pet relief area, and once you turn, you will be there.
It is open daily from 6:30 am until about boarding time for the last Qantas flight departure of the day, currently about 9:30 pm.
Access is reserved for:
- oneworld international first class customers
- oneworld Emerald members
- Alaska Airlines and American Airlines Emeralds can only access when flying on an intercontinental itinerary (Mexico City flights used to be exempt, but this does not appear to be the case any longer)
- Other oneworld Emerald members can access the lounge when traveling on any oneworld flight in any cabin of service (for example, even on domestic American Airlines flights in economy class)
- Air France First Class guests departing from Los Angeles (this because the SkyTeam-affiliated Korean Air lounge is so dismal)
All with eligible access can take in one guest (Qantas frequent flyers are allowed to take in their immediate family members), except for Air France First Class guests.
Design + Seating
Unique features of this lounge include:
- Californian Knoll furniture
- American oak walls
- Tuscan Carrara marbled floors and 48-foot-long bar
- Tai Ping wool carpets from Hong Kong featuring the signature Qantas hexagonal design
The seating area is not very private, with rows of chairs facing each other with limited space between them. In all my years visiting this lounge, though, I have never seen the lounge crowded. Proceed back further for a huge dining area and that’s really the extent of the lounge.
There are no tarmac views and while natural light proceeds indirectly through a glass wall that look up to skylights in the terminal outside, the lounge does have a bit of dark feel.
For VIPs, there are two private rooms toward the front of the lounge.
Food + Drink
You will not find a buffet in the lounge. Instead, a Neil Perry-inspired menu a la carte menu is offered in a restaurant area that comprises a substantial portion of the lounge.
Seating is self-serve and once seated, a Sofitel-trained waiter or waitress will approach you to present a menu and eventually take your order. The menu includes a number of appetizers, main courses, and desserts as well as a cocktail and wine list. It changes quarterly, though changes were minimal in 2022 and certain signature items like the Black Angus steak or salt and pepper squid will always be on the menu.
I ordered a “Pimms Cup No. 78” cocktail to start dinner (Pimms No. 1, rose vermouth, gin, lemon, mint, ginger ale, and cucumber).
Everyone seems to love the salt and pepper squid, but not me – I’m not going to order it for the sake of ordering it or because every other blogger does. I generally try to avoid fried food and I am not a squid fan, but thankfully there are many options on the menu.
To start dinner, I ordered jalapeño and avocado humus with pico de gallo off the “plant-based dining” sub-menu. It was very nice.
Next, I ordered a bowl of cauliflower soup, which was delicious (with almond dukkah, a spice blend that originated in the Middle East, and parsley oil).
Next, I ordered a wild rocket (arugula) salad topped with parmesan cheese.
For my main course, I chose the “Black Angus minute steak” with chipotle butter and French Fries. Here, I was disappointed. Granted, this was not a steakhouse, but the steak was cooked too long (I did not send it back) and it did not taste like a high-quality cut.
I was still hungry and ordered the Adobo chicken, served with a freekeh salad on the side (a green grain made from young durum wheat which is roasted or smoked then polished to remove the shells).
This was a much better dish.
Next, I enjoyed a delicious seasonal fruit plate. The fruit was ripe and sweet…you remember those days when you could only get fruit when locally in season?
Finally, I ordered the “Burnt Basque cheesecake” with strawberry salsa and pistachios for dessert a long with a flat white.
I cannot tell you how good or bad the cheesecake was, however, because it was frozen so solid I could not eat it…
Do ask your waiter or waitress to thaw out the cheesecake when you arrive, though…
A note on the coffee: it is AMAZING and easily the best feature of this lounge. With a beautiful coffee machine and coffee from Vittoria of Australia, you can always count on a nice cup of coffee in this lounge.
Restrooms + Showers
Restrooms are available in both the front and rear of the lounge. In the rear, showers are also available. I did not take a shower during my visit, but others have complained the pressure is not great (this is already difficult in California, where pressure is regulated due to water conservation efforts). The shower suites have white tiles and are spartan in design.
Shower suites include Aurora Spa amenities.
This lounge does not have a spa.
Staff are lovely here (I find this to the case in all Qantas lounges). Front desk staff wear Qantas uniforms while the dining staff are from Sofitel. I appreciate that you can come in here and be consistently warmly greeted at the door, then promptly assisted in the restaurant. I find this an ideal lounge experience versus getting up and down to eat from a buffet.
The Qantas First Class Lounge remains one of my favorites in the USA. Compared to the American Airlines Flagship lounge or the next-door oneworld business lounge, I think this lounge wins because of the combination of a la carte dining and great coffee. That said, I understand that some appreciate buffets and that the seating offers little privacy. Still, this is a lounge I always look forward to returning to.