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Old Jul 30, 12, 12:50 am   #1
 
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New LAX lounge

Is this a step up or following the recent trend a downgrading of what we use to love. A star alliance branded facility gives me LHR bad dreams.



Media releases 2003
30 July 2012
Air.New.Zealand is to have a new home at Los Angeles International Airport..
After nearly 20 years based in Terminal 2, the airline will in early 2014 move to the Tom Bradley International Terminal which is currently undergoing a US$1.7 billion make-over. In a first for the airline, Air.New.Zealand has also been appointed to design and operate a brand new Star Alliance lounge in the terminal.
The terminal move will enable passengers to access better facilities when arriving or departing Los Angeles and also while in transit. Passengers transiting through Los Angeles on NZ1 and NZ2 will no longer be in a small transit lounge. Instead they’ll be able to quickly clear a more efficient customs processing facility and then make use of 180,000 square feet of dining, shopping, retail and passenger amenities while they await their onward journey.
The Tom Bradley International Terminal upgrade will add 18 new gates and a brand new dining and retail precinct. The project will be completed in stages over the next two years.
The new Star Alliance Lounge, designed in conjunction with international architecture firm Gensler, will be used by eight Star Alliance partner airlines that also operate out of the Tom Bradley terminal including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Swiss Air.
This large and well equipped work and relaxation space will replace Air.New.Zealand’s existing Los Angeles based lounge in Terminal 2.
Air.New.Zealand’s General Manager Americas, Roger Poulton, says the move will make a big difference to the overall passenger experience when travelling via Los Angeles.
“The new terminal facilities have been designed to accommodate 30% more passengers an hour, so our customers can look forward to faster boarding and disembarking, more efficient customs and immigration processing and a much better food and retail experience.
“Our customers will enjoy the new lounge which will be three times the size of the existing facility with different spaces to suit customer needs from a bar area for socialising through to a library space for some quiet time. A special feature will be the outdoor terrace with views over the northern runway towards the Hollywood hills.
“The design of the Star Alliance lounge is being led by Air.New.Zealand’s in-house design team and we will manage its day to day operation - so our customers are going to feel right at home.”

Ends
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Old Jul 30, 12, 1:04 am   #2
 
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When will they upgrade Auckland?
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Old Jul 30, 12, 1:19 am   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebound View Post
When will they upgrade Auckland?
Not until they perceive they have "real" competition.

FWIW, my perception is the quality of the catering at the LAX T2 NZ lounge has deteriorated over the last year or three (a bit like that of AKL). (The showers are still hot though.)

Being a common *A lounge one can hope that aspect of the product improves.

Last edited by serfty; Jul 30, 12 at 1:57 am.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 1:53 am   #4
 
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Sounds like good news for LHR transiters.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 2:11 am   #5
 
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This will be a better setup for those transiting, and admittedly the lounge at T2 has become crowded with AF and VS pax. I must admit that I enjoyed the fact that T2 was smaller and tended to be less crowded overall (for the most part), but this is a moot point personally as my impending move to Oz will mean more flights to NA via QF and VA.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 2:19 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waipara_Sam View Post
will be used by eight Star Alliance partner airlines that also operate out of the Tom Bradley terminal including ... Swiss Air.s
*ahem* Swiss International Air Lines, given Swiss Air is long gone.

However, this IS good because the LAX transit puts off plenty from going that way, yet this press release talks of customs clearance not immigration. Those using the transit pen now don't effectively go through customs, just immigration. The mere fact of having to do that at all will still mean flying through Asia retains an advantage - nobody clears immigration and customs transiting Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Inchon, KL etc.

It will mean an end to the rush to the terminal with the VS flights from LHR, both of which seem to parallel NZ2 and NZ1's arrival at LAX (and which make a world of difference between getting through immigration in 5-10 minutes vs 1-1.5 hours).

The good thing is that it should mean everyone with status in transit can readily get to the lounge, whereas at present only BP passengers are allowed to.

However, let's just hope that the new lounge, at 3x the size, will be adequate for NZ, SQ, LH, LX, NH, OZ, TG and TK (and maybe there will be a first class area given all of those airlines, except NZ have first, and then maybe GEs get access to that like they do at LHR). It should also have plenty of showers as well.

Now, how about the same for SFO? (The EVA lounge is a zoo, SQ lounge is closed and UA lounge is a UA lounge).

Last edited by libertyuk; Jul 30, 12 at 7:25 am.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 11:58 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyuk View Post
However, let's just hope that the new lounge, at 3x the size, will be adequate for NZ, SQ, LH, LX, NH, OZ, TG and TK (and maybe there will be a first class area given all of those airlines, except NZ have first, and then maybe GEs get access to that like they do at LHR). It should also have plenty of showers as well.
The new concept sounds nice (especially the outdoor terrace with runway views ) but I am concerned that 3x the space does not sound sufficient for at least double the passenger demand. It feels like this will end up very crowded and lose the uniqueness the NZ lounge had at T2.

This will also make NZ-AC transfers a little more annoying (as well as no improvement for UA or US), but make transfers to LH/LX/TK better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyuk View Post
Now, how about the same for SFO? (The EVA lounge is a zoo, SQ lounge is closed and UA lounge is a UA lounge).
I'd like that too but I don't see it happening.
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Old Jul 31, 12, 5:15 am   #8
 
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Reading between the lines here this appears to be bad news for those transiting NZ1/NZ2... happy to be corrected but it sounds like the removal of the transit option and all passengers will go through the full immigration and customs process.
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Old Jul 31, 12, 7:15 am   #9
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I suspect that the new CEO will reverse this.

Rob Fyfe is reported to still have considerable antipathy to the UK - which may or may not be linked to his commercial history there - and the "long-haul review" - which seems to have been buried - was reportedly tasked on numerous levels with exploring options for the closure of the LAX-LHR and HKG-LHR sectors and their replacement with codeshares. But supposedly the review could not find evidence to support those changes.

But there is a new incoming CEO who is clearly focused on developing North America and London and who reportedly does not share the outgoing CEO's preference for routes delivering package tourists from developing markets.

A move to TBIT is not compatible with the ongoing operation of the Auckland - Los Angeles - London route, because the transit time would increase time on the ground from 2 hours to 4 hours and be massively inefficient.

But I'm not sure that Luxon will sanction that. And, moreover, Air NZ's supposed leading role in the new TBIT Star Alliance lounge sounds like highly creative journalism - there is no suggestion of it being either NZ-branded or NZ-operated.

I suspect that when Mr Fyfe moves on this move will never actually happen.

Unfortunately, like all recent Air NZ communiques, you actually have to read between the lines to translate from spin to actual meaning.

Passengers transiting through Los Angeles on NZ1 and NZ2 will no longer be in a small transit lounge. Instead they’ll be able to quickly clear a more efficient customs processing facility and then make use of 180,000 square feet of dining, shopping, retail and passenger amenities while they await their onward journey.
This means the opposite of what it tries to imply.

It really means the days of transit without full baggage reclaim and customs passage are going to end, and that instead passengers are going to have to go through immigration with huge numbers of international arrivals at LAX, reclaim their luggage, go through customs, recheck their luggage back onto NZ1 or NZ2 and then proceed through security into the main international departures area.

Air.New.Zealand’s General Manager Americas, Roger Poulton, says the move will make a big difference to the overall passenger experience when travelling via Los Angeles.
“The new terminal facilities have been designed to accommodate 30% more passengers an hour, so our customers can look forward to faster boarding and disembarking, more efficient customs and immigration processing and a much better food and retail experience.

This is even more disingenuous. The building may be 30% larger, but there is no commitment to any sort of staffing levels for customs and immigration, so there is no way of knowing what the impact will be on transit times.

The new Star Alliance Lounge, designed in conjunction with international architecture firm Gensler, will be used by eight Star Alliance partner airlines that also operate out of the Tom Bradley terminal including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and Swiss Air.
This large and well equipped work and relaxation space will replace Air.New.Zealand’s existing Los Angeles based lounge in Terminal 2.

“Our customers will enjoy the new lounge which will be three times the size of the existing facility with different spaces to suit customer needs from a bar area for socialising through to a library space for some quiet time. A special feature will be the outdoor terrace with views over the northern runway towards the Hollywood hills.

Here is the real deal-breaker for elites and Koru Club members. The lounge will be three times the size of the current Air NZ lounge - but will have to cater to eight airlines rather than the current three. And as a Star Alliance-branded lounge rather than an Air NZ-branded lounge, there is no certainty that Koru Club members will actually be welcome.

Last edited by DCF; Jul 31, 12 at 7:26 am.
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Old Jul 31, 12, 7:38 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCF View Post
Here is the real deal-breaker for elites and Koru Club members. The lounge will be three times the size of the current Air NZ lounge - but will have to cater to eight airlines rather than the current three.
I can't see it being worse than the present situation. With the current lounge, it's not so much the number of airlines and flights that's an issue - but the fact that most of the flights go out in a cluster in the evenings: 2xVS flights and 2xNZ flights all within about 3 hours of each other!

It seems like there's typically a high proportion of pax on those VS flights who have lounge access too
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Old Jul 31, 12, 4:18 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reason077 View Post
I can't see it being worse than the present situation. With the current lounge, it's not so much the number of airlines and flights that's an issue - but the fact that most of the flights go out in a cluster in the evenings: 2xVS flights and 2xNZ flights all within about 3 hours of each other!
I couldn't find a way to quickly scrape the data, but looking at it roughly:

NZ2 (LAX-LHR) would share the lounge with (allowing for flights +/- 3h of the scheduled departure)
OZ to ICN
NH to NRT
LH to FRA
SQ to NRT
BR to TPE (assuming BR makes it into Star)

NZ1/NZ5 would share the lounge with:
LH to FRA
LH to MUC
LX to ZRH
OZ to ICN
NZ4011 to NAN (FJ811 - where would pax actually use the lounge in this case?)
NH to NRT

There's probably a lot that I missed. While the bulk of Star departures are out of T678 on UA, T1 on US and T2 on AC, there's still going to be considerable contention in a combined Star lounge given the number of pax likely connecting with 3-5h connections at LAX to other Star airlines... I'm sure that would offset the removal of VS and AF demand!
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Old Jul 31, 12, 5:23 pm   #12
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There is significant space being made available for the new lounges at TBIT.

The new *A lounge will be on the 6th floor 'above' and West of the (new) *O lounge area and have at least twice the space than the current 5th Floor TBIT *A lounge.

(*O will remain on the 5th Floor and absorb the current *A lounge area as well expanding somewhat.)

LAWA July 2011 newsletter - Premium Lounges

Last edited by serfty; Jul 31, 12 at 6:00 pm.
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Old Aug 1, 12, 2:03 am   #13
 
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Originally Posted by serfty View Post
Look at the size of that Emirates lounge! All that for their 1 daily LAX flight?!
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Old Aug 1, 12, 4:22 am   #14
 
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Originally Posted by DCF View Post
I suspect that the new CEO will reverse this.

Rob Fyfe is reported to still have considerable antipathy to the UK - which may or may not be linked to his commercial history there - and the "long-haul review" - which seems to have been buried - was reportedly tasked on numerous levels with exploring options for the closure of the LAX-LHR and HKG-LHR sectors and their replacement with codeshares. But supposedly the review could not find evidence to support those changes.

But there is a new incoming CEO who is clearly focused on developing North America and London and who reportedly does not share the outgoing CEO's preference for routes delivering package tourists from developing markets.

A move to TBIT is not compatible with the ongoing operation of the Auckland - Los Angeles - London route, because the transit time would increase time on the ground from 2 hours to 4 hours and be massively inefficient.

But I'm not sure that Luxon will sanction that.
Yes, some years ago a friend with some "insider knowledge" said that having an Air NZ base for staff at LHR was uneconomic without a higher frequency of service. AKL-HKG-LHR was intended specifically to:
- Address capacity limitations between Europe and NZ, specifically the UK which remains the largest market;
- Enable NZ to be competitive with SQ, EK, CX etc. because the US transit puts off a fair proportion of premium passengers flying LHR-LAX-AKL;
- Shift loyal NZ FFs off of the AKL-LAX-LHR route to enable NZ to make more from the relatively lucrative LAX-LHR sector in its own right.

With the recent collapse of UK-NZ inbound tourism (due to the economic environment and relativity of the £/NZ$) the LHR routes have been decimated. HKG-LHR suffers from a lack of premium traffic because the timing of the HKG-LHR ( but not LHR-HKG) sector isn't ideal for business travellers, and most UK and HKG business travellers are either BA or CX FFs, and have multiple frequencies on both airlines (and mutual FF privileges).

I think you're right about TBIT.

However, as all the times I've come through it on NZ1/NZ2 LHR-AKL I've been in BP, I've always gone to the lounge and so never needed to pick up my checked luggage. It is plausible that NZ could maintain this in theory, except that if people are NOT going into a holding pen, but clearing immigration they will have entered the US - and could theoretically stay there leaving checked luggage on an onward flight, which will be deemed a security risk - and need to be offloaded.

The worst I've ever had at LAX for immigration (albeit some 10 years ago) was 2 hours, I recently went through SFO where it took just over 1 hour to clear immigration. Unless NZ can somehow ensure that it gets dedicated lanes for clearance of NZ1/NZ2 in transit (extremely unlikely), it is going to be hit and miss and the onwards legs of those flights will risk being delayed as people haven't cleared immigration, customs (which wont be avoidable even with just hand baggage) and security, again.

Let's be honest, AKL-LAX-LHR isn't about the AKL-LHR traffic, which should be on the HKG route (although in my experience I pick the route based on a combination of pricing, product (PE via HKG isn't worth it) and upgrade chances if not in paid BP), it is about NZ-US and UK-US O-D traffic, in which case TBIT could be a slightly better experience.

As an aside, if VS stays in T2 it may want to takeover the NZ lounge for a Clubhouse, as this is a key part of its brand and product differentiation from BA (and on this route, NZ).
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Old Aug 1, 12, 4:42 am   #15
 
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IAH has dedicated lanes at USCBP for passengers transferring international-international with their bags being automatically transferred to their onward international flight. There's no reason why LAX if doing it properly (big assumption I know!) couldn't do the same for NZ1/2 pax.
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