The Qantas International First Lounge LAX: An Inside Look

The Qantas Airways International First Class Lounge in Los Angeles, modeled after its counterparts in Sydney and Melbourne, is undoubtedly one of the best airport lounges in North America. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce deemed this lounge the "best on-ground first class experience in North America", while Neil Perry, the lounge's head chef, upped the stakes even more with the following declaration: "I'll give my children up if it's not the best lounge in America by a country mile!"

With such high praise and high expectations, the lounge certainly had a lot to live up to before it opened. Given that Neil Perry's family is still happily intact, the lounge has clearly been a smashing success. This is a textbook example of a case where over-promising and over-delivering may not be such a bad strategy after all.

Initial Observations

The 17,500 square feet Qantas International First Lounge, offering seating for 221 guests, is located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which has catapulted to the top in recent years to find itself listed among the best airport terminals in North America. As with the flagship Qantas first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, this location is designed by Marc Newson, one of the most influential Australian designer of his generation.

If you've been to the Qantas First Class Lounges in Melbourne and Sydney, you'll immediately recognize the trademark glass and marble entryway leading into the reception area. Another special trademark is the ubiquitous honeycomb pattern, which you'll consistently discover throughout the lounge, whether it's on the frosted glass entrance doors, behind the bar, behind the self-serve bar, or even on the carpet beneath your feet.

Features like these help to create a sense of consistency and familiarity, much like Cathay Pacific does with their Noodle Bar, or Plaza Premium Lounge with their chandeliers and fish ball noodle soup. At the same time, the lounge appeals to novelty-seeking guests, differentiating itself from other Qantas First Lounges by adding a unique Californian twist, providing local California wines, and sourcing locally grown produce straight from the nation's breadbasket.

Given that the lounge is managed by renowned French hospitality brand Sofitel, the top notch service is far from surprising. Upon entering the lounge, which takes on a rectangular shape, a number of highlights may stand out if you're especially observant: California knoll furniture, American oak walls, and Tuscan Carrara marble floors, along with Tai Ping wool carpets from Hong Kong.

When it comes to seating, there's a wide range of choices, with clusters of each type confined to a specific area of the lounge. Choose from seats designed by the likes of Miles van de Rohe, Eero Saarinen, and Warren Platner. Each zone in the lounge was created with a different function in mind. Whether you're inclined to dine, relax, work, or socialize, you'll definitely find your ideal niche in one of the zones.

Relaxation Zones

Near the entrance, you'll find a self serve area with snacks and coffee, along with a selection of comfortable black leather seats for lounging. This self-serve area also contains the only self-serve bar inside the lounge. If you find yourself in need of a welcome drink, this is the place to get one, since the serviced bar is a bit of a walk towards the other side of the lounge.

As you move past the wooden divider, the chairs become red orange in color, giving this next zone an atmosphere of vibrancy and dynamism. Here, you'll discover several neat groupings of four chairs and two tables, along with a selection of newspapers, magazines, and large flat screen televisions for your entertainment.

These red orange seats eventually make way for groups of rounded chairs along with circular coffee tables, with a similar four and two configuration. Everything has truly come full circle now. Moving further along, if you head towards the left side of the lounge with the floor to ceiling windows, you'll find groups of white leather chairs to accommodate groups of varying sizes. Next to the windows looking outward, you'll find a group of individual burgundy lounge chairs with ottomans. This is the ideal environment if you're looking for a quiet place to take a nap or contemplate deeper thoughts.

Bar Service

Moving down towards the restaurant end of the lounge, you'll discover a bar with a clean and minimalist design in the opposite direction, along with high bar stools. The foundation, and main attraction, is a 48 foot slice of pure marble imported from Australia. Here, you'll find a selection of premium wines representing both Australia and California: St. Hallett Riesling from Eden Valley, South Australia, Wente Vineyards Chardonnay from Monterey, California, Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz from Barossa, South Australia, and Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma, California. Your choice of wine will be served in a fancy Riedel glass.

According to the rumor mill, the Qantas International First Lounge at LAX goes through an astonishing four hundred bottles of champagne a week. Champagne options includes Laurent-Perrier Brut, Mumm Brut, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, and Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose. If cocktails are more your style, the Mezcal Margarita, Negroni, and Pineapple Mojito are the signature specialties.

Five Star Dining Experience

Finally, at the back end of the lounge, you'll discover a spacious dining area with seating for 74 guests. Prepare yourself for a gourmet 5 star dining experience with chefs, waiters, and the whole nine yards.

While this may not be readily apparent, this dining area is America's first and only Neil Perry restaurant. It's the perfect place to get a taste of his gourmet delights before departing for Australia, Perry's home base. Neil Perry is one of Australia's leading, most influential chefs, concentrating on 7 restaurants across Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. He's also the extremely confident leader of the Rockpool Consulting Team, which designs this lounge's a la carte menu. These fresh menu items are made at the open kitchen at the very back of the lounge.

All menu items are prepared on site with fresh produce shipped directly from California farms not too far away. Much like Australia, the city of Los Angeles is highly multicultural. To celebrate the contributions of Mexican, Korean, Japanese, and Italian immigrants to the local culinary scene, the menu here incorporates elements from all of these distinct cuisines.

To start off, choose from a range of signature side dishes designed for the modern sophisticated traveler: organic carrots and potatoes, cabbage gratin, and more. Moving on to the main course, a sampling of Rockpool Bar and Grill dishes includes black angus minute steak with chipotle butter and lime, grilled striped bass with herb salad, and Snake River pork saltimbocca with pancetta, sage, and lemon.

Sandwiches and burgers are available, including a Korean beef burger with kimchi and gochujang sauce and a Reuben sandwich with sauerkraut and pickles. For breakfast, try out favorites like La Brea bread and muesli, a Croque Monsieur, an egg white omelette, and a big breakfast of two eggs any style with bacon, pork chipolata, and roast tomato.

Note: The menu undergoes seasonal changes to reflect the best local California produce available. Therefore, items available in the winter may not be available during the spring.

In addition to the restaurant, lounge hosts will offer a selection of individual small plates to guests throughout lounge and bar area, allowing them to get a taste of the gourmet offerings, even when they are away from the restaurant.

Additional Offerings

Here are some additional amenities you can enjoy:

  • Lightning fast Wi-Fi is available through the lounge.
  • There are two private rooms available for VIPs, celebrities, and politicians, much like the LAX Star Alliance Lounge. These can be combined to create one larger room.
  • Seven showers armed with Aurora Spa ASPAR products are available for freshening up before your flight.

Closing Remarks

The Qantas International First Lounge at LAX is one of the best airport lounges out there by any reasonable standard. With wonderful food made to order, exemplary service, and beautiful decor, this lounge is the perfect place to get some rest and relaxation before your long haul nonstop flight to Australia. Whether you are looking to relax, eat, rest, work, or freshen up, there's no place in the world quite like this tranquil oasis, other than its counterparts in Sydney and Melbourne.

Qantas International First Lounge LAX Recap

Capacity: 17,500 square feet, has room for 221 guests

Location: Tom Bradley International Terminal. After security, turn left before the Duty Free shop and proceed up to Level 5.

Operating Hours: Open 7 days a week from 6:30 AM to 11:30 PM

Amenities: Non-Smoking, Beer/Wine (free), Wi-Fi (free), Premium Drinks (Free), Premium Food (Free), Printers/Copiers (free), Showers (Free), Private Rooms (free), Complimentary Snacks, Newspapers/Magazines, TVs, Flight Monitors, Internet Terminals

Access Eligibility: Departing F ticket on a oneworld carrier, oneworld Emerald member flying with any other ticket on a oneworld carrier (including Qantas Platinum and Platinum One members)

Additional Resources

The Ultimate Guide to Qantas Frequent Flyer

The Ultimate Guide to oneworld

Qantas International First Lounge LAX Official Lounge Page

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