Qantas First Class Lounge, LAX

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For access to the Qantas First Lounge at TBIT just one of the following needs to be true:
.
  1. Non AAdvantage oneworld Emerald travelling on a oneworld Marketed and operated flight.
  2. AAdvantage Executive Platinum travelling on a oneworld Marketed and Operated flight NOT solely on a "North American* Itinerary".
  3. First Class passengers travelling on a oneworld Marketed and Operated flight not solely on a "North American* Itinerary".
  4. Passengers in First Class on a flight longer than five hours connecting§ to/from an international short haul or domestic oneworld Marketed and Operated flight and not solely on a "North American* Itinerary".
  5. First Class passengers^ travelling on a transcontinental American Airlines Marketed and Operated flight between Los Angeles & New York or Los Angeles & Miami.
.
* A "North American* Itinerary" is travel on solely domestic flights within the U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico [except Mexico City], the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean.
§ Connecting the same day or before 6am the following day.
^ Regarding AA EXP in any cabin. This is a "Class of Service" based access, so status should not be relevant. Rules indicate NO ACCESS unless in First on JFK/MIA transcon, but there had been some contradictory experiences about this. Early on EXP based access had sometimes been granted; not so these days. Presumably this related to confusion about the rules on behalf of the agents.
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Lounge access rules

All non-AA Oneworld Emerald members have access to this lounge on any oneworld itinerary regardless of cabin or final destination.

AA EXP have access when traveling to all destinations outside North America and Mexico City. Includes if pax is flying LAX-DFW-LHR because you are flying internationally that day.

No Class of Service access for domestic F without non AA Emerald status unless on designated (generally 3-class) flights to JFK and MIA.

Passengers on any 3-cabin AA flight to JFK or MIA in First Class or in Business or Economy with status, AA oneworld Emerald holders have access.

Emirates pax do not have access except for Qantas Platinum One. EDIT: Appears to be that Qantas removed that access criteria from their lounge access page so I wouldn't count on this working.

No access if connecting to a non-Oneworld airline or partner.

Separate tickets within oneworld do not matter other than it has to be same day . E.g. QF F to AA Y on the same day.

To walk from T4 to TBIT will take approximately 10 minutes one way so plan accordingly if visiting this lounge.

More detail here: Lounge Access | oneworld.com
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Old Mar 3, 15, 8:26 pm
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Qantas First Class Lounge, LAX

I recently visited the new-ish Qantas lounges in LAX, both in the evening on my way to SYD and in the early afternoon on my return. I was really looking forward to it, since I know how amazing the Sydney lounge is.

My first impression of the lounge: so loud! Not a calm, peaceful lounge. First Class lounges normally seem like an oasis in an airport, but not this one. I was stunned by the clamor.

One problem might be the open kitchen, which adds a nice esthetic, but leads to a lot of clanking noises, which in turn makes everyone talk loudly over the background noise. But the real issue is that there were tons of children. I've never seen such a high percentage of children in a lounge, let alone a first class lounge. It was close to midnight, and it was clear that these children were up way, way past their bedtimes. And finally, it was full. To the brim. I found it hard to believe that all of these people had status.

Overall, it just felt crowded, hectic, chaotic, and not at all peaceful. On my return journey, since it was mid-day rather than mid-night, it was completely different, as there were literally only two other groups in the entire lounge (international flights are all at night, so there was no reason for anyone else to be there). It actually was pretty relaxing then!

Seating


When we stopped back in on our return flight, the lounge was basically empty. There were only 5 people total in the lounge, as it was early in the day, and no international flights depart until evening. A total different experience, but, since you'll likely be using the lounge in the evening, be prepared for chaos.

The red chairs added a nice pop of color, but there were no power plugs nearby, making all these seats undesirable.

At night, since it was packed, we felt fortunate to find any chairs open. The only type of seating available was these cool looking chairs, that turned out to be really uncomfortable, and also had no power outlets.

Snacks

The only self-serve snack area is for coffee, tea, and house wines. There are also mixed nuts if you want to nibble on something. The nuts at least included macadamias, the only real notable thing here.

On our return visit, they also added pastries to this area. I imagine they are put out in the morning. I tried a cinnamon roll and it was actually decent, drizzled with a nice icing, moist inside and not dried out, filled with good cinnamon flavor. I was fairly shocked. It is hard to get a decent cinnamon roll outside a bakery.

Ok, I lied. There is one more self-serve area: the candy station!

I loved the idea of this, but perhaps it is why the kids were all so loud and crazy? The offerings were two types of hard mints, Andes mints, and (previously) Red Vines. Alas, not the most exciting candy jars, but still, credit for candy jars.

Later on in our stay, another candy jar was brought out. I of course went rushing over to check it out. me and the kids. It was filled with custom M&Ms. Cute. Except ... they said "Qantaz". Doh!
Of course, on our return visit, the jars were actually full. The big jar contained potato chips, which sounds basic, but they were the crazy largest chips I've ever seen. I took a few out of pure fascination, but, they were just basic chips.
Dining

Table service is offered in a more formal dining area, or from any seat in the lounge, since there is no other food available in buffets or snack stations.

Service was much better on our first visit, although, there were still a number of mishaps, like us asking for more sparkling water and it never arriving. On our second visit, no one paid any attention to us, so there wasn't even someone to ask for more water. I ended up just getting up from my table and going to the bar directly to get more drinks.

The formal dining area is open to the rest of the lounge, with no real division. The only difference is the style of seating, and existence of place settings. They really need to break the space up better to provide some minimal noise isolation.

The winter "All Day Dining" menu consists of small plates, mains, sides, and desserts.

The main plates are inspired by Rockpool Bar & Grill, Neil Perry's Flagship restaurant in Sydney:
  • Strozzapreti with broccolini, chilli, garlic and parmesan
  • Black Angus minute steak with chipotle butter and lime
  • Grilled striped bass with herb salad

Sides:
  • Bowl of chips
  • Mixed leaves with palm sugar vinaigrette
  • Carrots inspired by St. John's
  • Roasted mushrooms with garlic butter
  • Cabbage potato gratin
  • Seasonal greens with California olive oil

Small plates:
  • Belgioioso burrata with slow roasted tomatoes, basil, and olives
  • Kohlrabi and fenel salad with pomegranate, chickpeas, sesame and mint
  • Hamachi crudo with coriander, jalapeño, lemon and extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli

And, Dessert:
  • Seasonal fruit plate
  • Tiramisu
  • Panna cotta with champagne jelly, raspberries and pistachios
  • Cheese plate of Point Reyes blue, Humboldt Fog goat cheese, Marin Country triple brie served with accompaniments

Overall, the menu was much smaller, and lacked the gusto of, the one in the Sydney lounge. As I'd soon find out, it wasn't just the menu that paled in comparison, the food preparation was also not up to par. Then again, the Sydney lounge sets a crazy high bar. This is an airline lounge after all!

The concept of the open kitchen was nice. It was clear that the food was being cooked to order, not frozen food being reheated. The kitchen did look great. But, I blame the kitchen, or more specifically probably the dish area, for contributing greatly to the ridiculous noise level of the lounge. So much clanking! Of course, the Sydney lounge also has an open kitchen, and isn't crazy noisy, so, that wasn't all that was going on here.

Visit #1: Evening

Hamachi crudo with coriander, jalapeño, lemon and extra virgin olive oil.
The hamachi dish looked the most stunning. Slices of hamachi, thin sliced jalapeño and red onion, garnished with cilantro. Really nice plating for a lounge!

But the fish itself was a bit warm, not cooked obviously, but not the chilled temperature I'd expect for raw seafood. It was also a bit fishy, not necessarily as fresh as I'd like for raw.

However, the seasoning was really nicely done, great salt level, and drizzled with a bit of olive oil. It is clear the kitchen has skills, with expert salting and plating, but the product wasn't quite right.

Kohlrabi and fennel salad with pomegranate, chickpeas, sesame and mint.
I was excited for this dish because I like kohlrabi and fennel, so I was a bit surprised when a plate of endive arrived. This was actually our order, but the endive, the prominent feature of the dish, was not included in the description.

Again, they cared about the plating. They are trying.

The two colors of endive were pretty, but it was very bitter. The kohlrabi and fennel were shredded and I didn't really taste them against the strong endive. I don't like chickpeas or pomegranate, so those components were uninteresting to me. There was also way, way too much cilantro.

Salt & pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli.
And finally, salt and pepper squid!

The salt & pepper squid is a signature dish at Qantas First Class lounges worldwide. I still remember the first time I had it in the Sydney lounge years ago, and I was blown away. It is a menu staple at all lounges.

It was the best of the small plates, hands down.

The squid wasn't rubbery, it was well fried, and well seasoned. The slivers of red pepper were crazy spicy though, and I made the mistake of eating one on its own just to taste it.

The green chili sauce was also quite spicy, and of course, I loved the creamy aioli, although it was a bit heavy on the garlic. I also appreciated the lemon to squeeze over the squid.

Overall, this was a solid dish, not earth shattering, but the best of our dishes that day. A few weeks later, I had it in the Sydney lounge (stay tuned!), and it was much, much better there.

Panna cotta with champagne jelly, raspberries and pistachios.
I didn't want tiramisu due to the late hour, and I wanted to have some chance of sleeping on the flight, so caffeine consumption was out. The only other options were a fruit platter or a cheese platter, so I had to settle for the panna cotta. Not that this is a bad thing.

It was a good enough panna cotta. Very creamy, good buttermilk tang, well set. The champagne jelly on top was a bit strange. My dining companion loved this dessert. He kept commenting on how much he liked it, and easily devoured it. He also thought it was "light and fluffy", a point I contested. It was firm, well set panna cotta, totally not fluffy!

A trio of simple fresh raspberries were the garnish, along with shavings of something green, which I'm assuming were pistachio, but we weren't able to taste it at all.

Visit #2: Midday
The food took a very long time to arrive, as in, more than 40 minutes. If I were actually taking a flight anytime soon, this would be concerning. I'm not really sure why it was so slow, as they clearly were not busy at all, only one other table was seated, and they ordered after us.


Grilled Striped Bass with Herb Salad. Potato and Cabbage Gratin.
The bass was very simple, no sauce provided, just a lemon to drizzle over it. The skin was fairly crispy, so it was a decent dish, but not exactly exciting. Not my thing, but, if you wanted a simple protein, a well prepared selection.

The gratin was insanely decadent. Layers of thin sliced potato and bits of cabbage, in a creamy, rich, cheesy sauce, topped with more melted cheese. I actually quite enjoyed the sauce, but I wasn't really digging the cabbage. The potatoes were well cooked. I loved the cheese on top. But wow this was heavy, and I really wasn't in the mood for it at all.


Dessert: Tiramisu!

It was decent, but not great. A layered creation, with two layers of soggy cake, that didn't really seem soaked in any espresso, two layers of sweetened marscarpone, and topped with cocoa powder. The cocoa layer was too thick, making it hard to eat without ingesting cocoa powder and choking, but I liked the sweet mascarpone pudding, particularly when paired with a decent decaf Americano. The portion size was rather large for such a rich dessert.

Drinks
The wine list had 3 choices each in every category: champagne, red wine, white wine, and beer, along with a few cocktails. I asked about one of the cocktails, as just a name was given, no description, but my server didn't know what was in it. They are clearly still training the staff.


Once seated, I started with a negroni from the cocktail menu, because there were no descriptions for their specialty cocktails. I asked my server what an "Italian Fizz" was, but she didn't know, and didn't offer to find out, so I just went with something I knew.

It was served in a substantial glass, quite heavy. It was a fine drink.


When we returned to the lounge after visiting the business class section, I decided to go for another cocktail. Since no one seemed to know what the speciality cocktails were, I just asked for something with gin in it. The bartender said that he'd make me something he'd been experimenting with.

He muddled mint and lime, and I know the final step was a splash of zesty ginger beer, but I'm not really certain what else was in here, besides the requested gin of course. It was ok, and I'm glad he had fun making something, but I wouldn't get it again.

The bar was decently stocked, a fact which I remarked on, and the bartender disagreed. He was quick to tell me that they had only one type of single malt and no port or other dessert wines, so he thought they could do much better. And, compared to the Sydney lounge, yes, they didn't actually have anything that great.

Bathroom.

The bathrooms were modern, with nice smelling Aspar products. The layout was a bit odd however, as they were single-sex areas, yet they had entirely separate enclosed rooms with toilets and sinks. I didn't really see why they were divided into men's and women's if they were so private, and it seemed like a bit of a waste of space.

Last edited by jewree; Mar 3, 15 at 10:24 pm
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Old Mar 3, 15, 10:01 pm
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One reason why the lounge gets so crowded is that children are not counted as guests even though they take up just as much room and make just as much noise as an adult. 1 person with status could bring a spouse and 2-3+ children.

There is a breakfast menu in the morning but they switch to the all day dining menu around 11am.

Is it proper etiquette to tip the staff? We were told by some of the staff that several people quit because they did not receive tips. There is a tip jar at the bar and a tip jar in the shower area.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 4:22 am
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Originally Posted by antkleve View Post
Is it proper etiquette to tip the staff? We were told by some of the staff that several people quit because they did not receive tips. There is a tip jar at the bar and a tip jar in the shower area.
I have not seen a tips jar in the LAX T4 AA Flounge. So why should there be one in the TBIT QF F lounge? I assume the only difference is that someone brings the food to a table on a plate rather than someone placing bulk food on the counter?
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Old Mar 4, 15, 8:11 am
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Great detailed review jewree!

I have not been to the 'new' LAX F lounge but now know what to expect. One minor disagreement - I find the SYD F lounge very noisy in the dining area due to the open kitchen, lots of clanging going on. Guess I'd better take the earplugs to LAX.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 6:13 pm
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I always tip bar and wait staff in lounges. I have had soem tell me that it is not necessary but I still leave at least a small tip. ALL are very appreciative.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 6:53 pm
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Thanks for the comprehensive report including menu. It's very timely for me as I will be in that lounge very soon. Now I know what to expect.

I'm surprised that there would be tip jars and an expectation of tips. That seems very gauche and not in keeping with the ambiance of a first class lounge.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 6:59 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
I'm surprised that there would be tip jars and an expectation of tips. That seems very gauche and not in keeping with the ambiance of a first class lounge.
+1
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Old Mar 4, 15, 9:14 pm
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Good review.

As well as tipping, if you get great service, go tell the manager or email customer care! It really makes a difference to moral, and will probably ensure you get even more great service next time.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 10:09 pm
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Good review. I was in there in Jan and agree with your comments - it's a good start but needs a lot of tuning to really make it first class. At the moment it is too bright open and noisy - the J lounge is actually better in that respect. A self serve food bar would also be a good option for those who don't want a full sit down meal, or who don't have the time.

At least it's bigger than the old one...
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Old Mar 5, 15, 1:52 am
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Absence of power points in my of the lounge was my bugbear in December - such a basic thing these days (and somewhat unforgivable not to integrate into design)
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Old Mar 5, 15, 6:29 am
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Originally Posted by jewree View Post
But the real issue is that there were tons of children. I've never seen such a high percentage of children in a lounge, let alone a first class lounge. It was close to midnight, and it was clear that these children were up way, way past their bedtimes. And finally, it was full. To the brim. I found it hard to believe that all of these people had status.
Why is it so hard to believe 'all these people had status?' They clearly do or are flying F and have access based on class of service.

If you don't like children, you should fly private. You seem to forget it's public transport.

Oh, and when you're in an international airline lounge, the time of day does not matter. You have no idea if these pax were on SYD, LAX or JFK or any other time.
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Old Mar 5, 15, 11:37 am
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Originally Posted by m0hamed View Post
Why is it so hard to believe 'all these people had status?' They clearly do or are flying F and have access based on class of service.

If you don't like children, you should fly private. You seem to forget it's public transport.
Totally agree!! It's always amusing when people flying F are shocked to see crowded lounges and children. Lounge attendants don't let hordes of people and kids inside just to ruin your trip!! Those bratty kids have as much right as you to enjoy the facilites.

On a side note, those pics of the LAX F lounge are very underwhelming! Is the SYD lounge really much better? I've also not been terribly impressed with QF premium cabin reviews on A380. I'm Planning a future trip to australia in J (with not so bratty kids ) - and was planning on using EK or EY from DXB/AUH. Any reason to go w/ QF instead?
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Old Mar 5, 15, 1:44 pm
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Very comprehensive review and pictures. Thankyou for this. I have my first visit there in June, fortunately it will be a morning one so looking forward to the peace and quiet.
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Old Mar 5, 15, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Princess fiona View Post
Very comprehensive review and pictures. Thankyou for this. I have my first visit there in June, fortunately it will be a morning one so looking forward to the peace and quiet.
Aside from a 7 minute visit a few weeks ago, this Sunday will be my 1st time enjoying the hospitality there

All being well with flights from the East coast, I'll have around 3 hours before my transPac, so will do my best to inspect everything ..
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Old Mar 5, 15, 4:22 pm
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Thanks for the great report & pics. Spoiled at SYD, I'm afraid.
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