Lounge Reviews

Review: Qantas LAX International First Lounge

The Ol' Fashioned - my drink of choice
The Ol' Fashioned - my drink of choice

This is probably the best Oneworld lounge in the USA.

That’s not an overstatement – as it stands, the Qantas LAX International First Class Lounge offers a product that excels in many ways. If you are an international Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire customer, or you bought a business/first class ticket on a Oneworld partner, you get lounge access. I’ve been to plenty of AA Admirals Club locations, and I even pay for the service. That’s not to say that it’s not worth the price, but man – as a One World Emerald customer, I would choose this lounge over the AA Admirals Club any day!

The Qantas Lounge Space

Admittedly, I am writing this on my second visit here.

This 5th floor Tom Bradley International lounge is BIG, and offers lots of space and seats for its guests. Even on a busy day, it does not feel crowded, it is a very open atmosphere. The staff here are very attentive. Within a half second of setting my bags down at a seat without having sat down yet, a server kindly asks me if I would like a drink, and some food from the kitchen. The Qantas lounge easily seats a hundred people, and there were probably that many this time, so to give that level of attention to one person constitutes some excellent service! I was also checked on at least 4 times by the same guy to ensure everything was delicious, that I was well fed and well inebriated, so to speak…

Wide red armchairs to enjoy your newspaper... or cell phone
Wide red armchairs to enjoy your newspaper… or cell phone

Walking into the club, you can pick up some Australian Newspapers, or grab a coffee/espresso from the machines and watch the TV’s playing Australian news and sports. Window seats are a little harder to come by, as the ones on the left part of the lounge sport ottomans for you to kick back and relax, of course its always a popular option.

Large couches to spread out on!
Large couches to spread out on!

There are plenty of seats that are equally as comfortable as the next, and they are indeed comfortable. I appreciate that the staff offers the full menu at the few coffee tables next to the dining area. I’m sure they realize that there is only so much dining room space.

Big seats in front of large glass coffee tables
Big seats in front of large glass coffee tables

EVERYTHING HERE IS FREE.

Want some food? Done. Want a drink? Done. Want to get it yourself? Done, done, and DONE.

You can choose any seat and walk on over to the mini bar to serve yourself wines both red and white, rosees, even just some bottled water.

Just pick up a glass and choose!
Just pick up a glass and choose!
Don't worry, no one will stop you!
Don’t worry, no one will stop you!

The free bar alone is enough to speak to the value that the Qantas lounge product provides. You can drink French champagne, martinis, old fashioned cocktails and the like. So long as the staff knows how to make it, they will. I would not even put it above them to make you something they have not made before if you show them the recipe, although I’ve yet to try.

Plenty of people set up shop here and type away on their laptops over cocktails.
Plenty of people set up shop here and type away on their laptops over cocktails.

The bartenders were friendly, and I struck up a conversation with them over an Old Fashioned. Normally, I get a bit hungry after drinking, so my Wife and I head over to the dining room area, drinks in tow.

The Ol' Fashioned - my drink of choice.
The Ol’ Fashioned – my drink of choice.
In case you were wondering, they serve the full dining menu here as well!
In case you were wondering, they serve the full dining menu here as well!

The Mains

The free dining options are relatively sophisticated, with a taste to match. I had the Guangxi style crispy pork belly while my wife had the Grilled Zucchini. The crispy pork belly was indeed crispy, and the spiciness from the chili paste complimented the rich and fatty pork. From what I’ve been told by the wife, the zucchini was great in its own right, but they were somewhat small dishes, and we were pretty hungry. NO MATTER! EVERYTHING HERE IS FREE! We simply asked our kind and attentive waitress for some additional food.

You can order anything from the bar at the dining room tables as well. Try the champagne!
You can order anything from the bar at the dining room tables as well. Try the champagne!
The Guangxi-style Crispy Pork Belly
The Guangxi-style Crispy Pork Belly
The Grilled Zucchini.
The Grilled Zucchini.

I additionally asked for the Black Angus minute steak and the Sauteed Mushrooms, and my Wife had a carrot soup, while pecking at my French Fries (i.e. chips, on the menu). The mushrooms were awesome. Thick wedges of mushroom almost burst with juicy, earthy flavor. The steak, however, was not steakhouse caliber of course. As the name implies, minute steak means you probably could not pull this off with a nice thick cut. But what I did receive was at least tender and surprisingly juicy. The chips were not soggy either, and the flavored butter on top of the steak was excellent. I’m glad they served it with a wedge of lime – as a Hispanic, we put that **** on everything…

The Minute Steak with Chips
The Minute Steak with Chips

The Desserts

So our server comes over, and she asks if we would like any desserts, dessert wines, dessert cocktails – and in disbelief, I stopped her at cocktails. “Yeah sure, we do a chocolate martini-“ SAY NO MORE. So, I ordered one, along with a latte. My wife and I also ordered the Three Milks cake, more affectionately known in the Hispanic community as the “Tres Leches” cake, as well as the Key Lime Tart. Both were excellent desserts. I’ve had some sad, dry, stale Tres Leches cakes before, but this one was cool and moist, not cloyingly sweet, which shows that whoever serves as the pastry chef has a good handle on the use of condensed milk. The chocolate martini came out with a smirk, like our server who brought it over; apparently, coffee bean smiley faces are not usually done at this lounge.

The Chocolate Martini, with a special coffee bean smiley face :3
The Chocolate Martini, with a special coffee bean smiley face :3
The Three Milks Cake (it's Tres Leches, man. Just sounds better that way)
The Three Milks Cake (it’s Tres Leches, man. Just sounds better that way)
The Key Lime Tart - Sweet and definitely tart!
The Key Lime Tart – Sweet and definitely tart!

The Nits

Unfortunately, there are few electrical outlets for charging in relation to how many people can fill up the Qantas lounge. If you’re here on a less busy day like my flight out to London two weeks ago, obviously you’re in luck. Otherwise, finding the telltale sign of an outlet is much harder during a full day as some are in use, and some are hidden behind coffee tables, chairs, etc. It’s not obvious.

Similar things could be said for the restrooms. Although the rooms themselves give plenty of space, there’s not a lot of them, in relation to other lounges I’ve been to. I don’t mind waiting, but I haven’t had to in other lounges because of lack of stalls.

If you want to get something to eat, you’re much better off eating at the actual dining tables towards the back of the Qantas lounge. It is a little uncomfortable to bend over so much to eat at a low sitting coffee table. Sometimes, you just may not be able to due to how busy the lounge is.

Still not a bad deal to eat at the coffee tables though. The Steelhead Trout with Garlic Butter Mushrooms
Still not a bad deal to eat at the coffee tables though. The Steelhead Trout with Garlic Butter Mushrooms

The Verdict

Overall, the Qantas LAX International First Class Lounge is a very comfortable lounge with excellent staff service and delicious free meals and drinks. You may want to make it a point to arrive at the airport even earlier just for some extra lounge time! I could easily forgive the small shortcomings. You will likely not find another lounge with this level of service and this much value in the US. But, I would be happy to be proven wrong!

  • The Qantas LAX International First Class Lounge
5

Summary

Pros:
EVERYTHING IS FREE
Comfortable Seats
Open Atmosphere
Attentive Staff
Self Serve Options

Cons:
Lack of charging stations / outlets
Small amount of restroom space

About the author

Jonny

Jonathan "Jonny" Avila is a chubby young professional with a cat, wife, and a taste for life! Believes in 'paying it forward' by sharing the tools, tips, tricks, and lessons from his own experiences so you too can jump on the Travel Bandwagon and enjoy what this wonderful world has to offer!

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