The Definitive Guide To The LAX Airport Lounge Scene

By | January 19, 2015 | 0 Comment

LAX sign, via Wikimedia commons

Los Angeles. The sun, the stars, the beach, Hollywood, Disneyland, Universal Studios, the beautiful people… The appeal of the city of Angels seems to grow every year, with 43.4 million tourists visiting in 2014. Yet, the 70 million passengers who used the the nation’s third busiest airport affectionately known by its IATA code, LAX, might not have noticed the glamour. For the most part, the nine largely disconnected terminals offer a trip down the memory lane: with depressing interiors, chaotic connections served by buses in the sweltering summer heat, and no efficient transit link to the city, the airport has passed its prime.

Fortunately, an ongoing multi-billion-dollar modernization program should leave no aspect of the traveler’s experience untouched, and already a few jewels have sprung, such as the renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT.) With the refurbishment comes a renewed lounge scene, and more opportunities for travelers. We have teamed up with the Experience The Skies blog to bring you the definitive guide to the LAX lounge scene.

Note: The largest shake-up in the history of Los Angeles airport is about to begin, with 15 airlines swapping terminals between Friday, May 12h and Wednesday, May 17th. The Delta, American, Air Canada, and Virgin America lounges will close or move. Read our dedicated blog post.

The LAX story

Los Angeles city council approved and started building this historic airport from fields of wheat, barley and lima beans in 1928. Completed in 1930, the airport known as Mines Field was first named after real estate agent William W. Mines who arranged for the airport deal. It was not until 1941 that the airport changed its name officially to Los Angeles Airport. “International” was added in 1949 to highlight its use as airport of choice from overseas carriers.

The famous moniker LAX was introduced in 1947 when the International Air Transport Association (IATA) implemented the three letter airport codes to replace the two-letter system that was running out of combinations. Although there was no specific reason for choosing the “X”, the airport would not be the same with any other letter combination.

From its humble beginning of one hangar at its opening, LAX has expanded into 9 terminals and serves over 50 airlines and 130 destinations currently. It is in the midst of a multi-billion dollar multi-phase renovation that will transform and advance its facilities into the future. If the Tom Bradley International Terminal is any indication, LAX is shaping up to be a premier airport choice for passengers in the years to come.

Interested in more aviation facts? Follow the Experience The Skies blog.

SEE ALSO:  February lounge updates - GRU, LAX, HKG, United

Business class and membership lounges

From #10 to #1, here’s our ranking of the business class and membership lounges at Los Angeles airport. Read on for a brief review of each lounge and a summary of access rules and amenities, or read detailed reviews of every lounge. For each lounge, we also show you alternative options: other clubs that you may be able to use with the same credentials or boarding pass.

#10 – American Airlines Admirals Club – Terminal 4 Regional (Remote)

We feel almost guilty for ranking the small, but modern and pleasant regional Admirals Club #10. Indeed, the lounge was designed to serve regional flights, and while it is obviously weak compared to other clubs which serve international or long-haul flights, it is a lovely amenity for puddle jumpers, who will find a quiet place to sit, basic snacks, and a selection of complimentary drinks. With a capacity of just 42 guests, the regional Admirals Club offers personalized service and easy access to travel assistance. Incidentally, it also happens to be typically far quieter than the main club in Terminal 4.

Find out more about the American Airlines Admirals Club – Terminal 4 Remote LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: oneworld
  • Showers: No
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Food for sale
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor, Premium drinks for sale
Passengers eligible for lounge access may use the main Admirals Club in Terminal 4 or the oneworld Los Angeles Lounge located in the TBIT. American Airlines First Class passengers may use the AA Flagship Lounge in Terminal 4 or the excellent Qantas First Class Lounge in the TBIT.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 3/5
  • Food and beverages: 2/5
  • Amenities: 2/5
  • Service: 4/5

#9 – Virgin America Loft – Terminal 3

Virgin America Loft - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Virgin America Loft – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

There are executive lounges, and then at the opposite end of the spectrum there is the Virgin America Loft. More akin to a night club, the Loft features red and purple lights, funky designer furniture, and soft electronic music in the background. It’s all about play and no work, with a TV lounge, complimentary cocktails, and not a single table suitable for a laptop. Some will like it, some will hate it, but avgeeks will surely enjoy the awesome tarmac views.

The only lounge in Terminal 3, the Virgin America Loft is open to Priority Pass members as well as to anyone willing to pay the entrance fee, making it a potential option for an impromptu party on an unexpected extended layover. Just don’t come in for fancy food and drinks – catering has been severely cut back, and it’s all about snacks and well drinks.

Read the full review of the Virgin America Loft LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: None
  • Showers: No
  • Biz center: No
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Select Virgin America First Class long-haul passengers
  • Priority Pass members
See detailed access rules.
Priority Pass members may also use the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge in Terminal 2, the Alaska Airlines Board Room in Terminal 6, or the KAL Lounge in TBIT.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 3/5
  • Food and beverages: 2/5
  • Amenities: 2/5
  • Service: 4/5

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

#8 – Alaska Lounge – Terminal 6

Alaska Airlines Board Room - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Alaska Airlines Board Room – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

A member of Alaska’s small lounge network, this simple, a tad old fashioned, yet warm and cozy lounge offers a solid set of amenities for domestic travel. Children will love the kids’ room, business travelers will enjoy the business center with work cubicles, aircraft lovers will drool at the expansive view of the tarmac, and everybody will delight in Alaska Airlines’ signature amenity: the automated pancake machine, which, at breakfast time, bakes two fresh pancakes at the touch of a button. Soups and salads are on offer throughout the day, and more substantial food can be ordered for a nominal fee. A wide array of complimentary alcoholic beverages is available from the bar.

Relaxing and well appointed, the Alaska Lounge (formerly known as the Board Room) is one of the nicer lounges for domestic travel, yet a fresher design would be more appealing to the modern eye.

Read the full review of the Alaska Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: None
  • Showers: No
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: Yes
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary soups, Food for sale
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor, Premium drinks for sale
  • Board Room members
  • Alaska Airlines First Class passengers
  • Delta Sky Club members flying Delta
  • Priority Pass members
See detailed access rules.
Priority Pass members may also use the Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge in Terminal 2, the Virgin America Loft in Terminal 3, and the KAL Lounge in TBIT. Board Room members may also use the Delta Sky Club in terminal 5.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 3/5
  • Food and beverages: 3/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Service: 4/5

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

#7 – United Club – Terminal 7

United Club - Los Angeles, CA (LAX) | © United

United Club – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) | © United

United has made a come back at LAX. Late 2016, the Star Alliance carrier shuttered its two sad legacy lounges—which ranked at the bottom of our chart for years—and unveiled a fresh, new, humongous 29,000 s.f. United Club with an open-air terrace.

The new lounge features the airline’s latest design, with white marble, designer light fixtures, and USB and power outlets at every seat. Colorful partitions and vintage pictures of United aircraft dot the club, breaking the monotony of an otherwise sleek but somewhat minimalistic ensemble.

Several private rooms which double as an ad-hoc meeting spaces are also available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The outside deck boasts views of the tarmac, the Hollywood hills, and the Los Angles skyline in the distance.

The United Club features a full bar (though only house wines and well drinks are complimentary), as well as a spread of finger food and hot entrees prepared with on-site with local ingredients. Unfortunately, despite the ample real estate, showers are still not available.

A United Polaris Lounge, exclusively for international business class passengers, is slated to open sometime in 2017, and will offer pre-flight dining services, private relaxation areas and shower suites.

Read the full United Club LAX review, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Showers: No
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary soups
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor, Premium drinks for sale
  • United Club members
  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
  • United and Star Alliance Business Class and First Class passengers
  • Star Alliance Gold members on international itineraries.
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for United Club access may use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Terminal 2 or the stunning Star Alliance Business Class lounge located in the TBIT. Global First passengers may use the Star Alliance First Class lounge.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 3/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Service: 3/5

#6 – Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Terminal 2

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

The bright and airy Maple Leaf Lounge offers comfortable seating, soups, breads, salads, fruit and desserts, along with substantial amenities for a transborder lounge, including showers and a business center. Recently renovated, the Maple Leaf Lounge is spacious, boasts great views of the tarmac, and even welcomes Priority Pass members.

Find out more about the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Showers: No
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary soups
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
  • Air Canada and Star Alliance Business Class passengers
  • Air Canada Altitude Super Elite 100K, Elite 75K, Elite 50K and Elite 35K members
  • Star Alliance Gold members
  • Priority Pass members
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for Maple Leaf Lounge access may use the stunning Star Alliance Business Class lounge located in the TBIT. Global First passengers may use the Star Alliance First Class lounge.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 3/5
  • Food and beverages: 3/5
  • Amenities: 2/5
  • Service: 3/5

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

#5 – American Airlines Admirals Club – Terminal 4

American Airlines Admirals Club - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

American Airlines Admirals Club – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

The best lounge for domestic travel in our benchmark (also serving international flights), the expansive Admirals Club features tall ceilings, an open architecture, light filled spaces, and outstanding views of the tarmac. With many seating areas, there is something for everyone – from a spot in one of the TV lounges to a seat in the quiet room or a front-row view of the jets. Amenities include several spacious shower suites as well as a kids’ room with videogames. There’s even a relaxation zone with noise-reducing headsets plugged into various music channels, although the system could use a refurbishment.

It’s unfortunate – and distressing for international premium passengers – that only basic snacks are available, although international and transcontinental First Class passengers and AAdvantage Executive Platinum customers on international itineraries have access to the adjacent International First Class Lounge which offers full meals. Everybody else may order a variety of cold and hot dishes for a fee.

Read the full review of the Admirals Club LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: oneworld
  • Showers: Yes
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: Yes
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Food for sale
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor, Premium drinks for sale
  • American Airlines Admirals Club members
  • American Airlines and oneworld Business Class or First Class passengers
  • oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for lounge access may use the Admirals Club in the remote/regional Terminal 4 or the oneworld Los Angeles Lounge located in the TBIT. American Airlines First Class passengers may use the AA Flagship Lounge in Terminal 4 or the excellent Qantas First Class Lounge in the TBIT.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 2/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5

#4 – Delta SkyClub – Terminal 5

Delta Sky Club - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Delta Sky Club – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Renovated in 2010, the well-appointed Sky Club features the latest signature Delta design elements and amenities. The space is modern and open, albeit often busy. A large window wall lets natural light in and offers great views on the tarmac. The lounge offers a wide range of amenities, from shower suites to a no-cell-phone quiet room and a separate business center. Continental breakfast is available in the morning, followed by soups, salads, bar treats and cookies throughout the day. This Sky Club features the “Luxury bar” concept – a rather glowing term highlighting that the bar is tended and that premium drinks are available at a cost. House wine and cocktails are complimentary.

Overall, the Sky Club is one of the better domestic lounges at LAX – any lounge with showers wins major bonus points in our opinion. As an international lounge, while it is superior to the United Club and Admirals Club, the crowds and lack of “real” food are disappointing.

Read the full review of the Delta Sky Club LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Showers: Yes
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary soups
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor, Premium drinks for sale
  • Delta Sky Club members
  • Delta First Class and BusinessElite passengers on transcontinental and international flights
  • American Express Platinum and Centurion Card® members
See detailed access rules.
International BusinessElite passengers may use the KAL Lounge in TBIT.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 3/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Service: 4/5

#3 – Korean Airlines KAL Business Class Lounge – TBIT

Korean Airlines KAL Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Korean Airlines KAL Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

At a first sight, the Korean Airlines lounge is stunning – this brand new facility emanates a touch of luxury, with high-end finishes, a soothing environment, and understated elegance. Then there’s the terrace overlooking the atrium and offering front row seats to watch the stunning video displays. And the sheer size of the facility, at over 14,200 sqf. or 1,320 sqm. Three well-appointed shower suites are available. This lounge is a rare instance of an international premium lounge available to Priority Pass members.

So what’s the catch? Simply put, for an international lounge operated by a foreign airline, food and drinks are way below our expectations. Champagne is nowhere to be seen, and food is limited to fruit, instant noodles and finger sandwiches – a step above most lounges operated by domestic carriers, but not quite what we’d hope to see.

Read the full review of the KAL Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Showers: Yes
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary finger food
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary house wine and beer, Complimentary liquor
  • First and Prestige Class KAL passengers
  • Million Miler Club and Morning Calm Premium Club members
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members on an international itinerary.
  • Priority Pass members.
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for lounge access may use the Delta Sky Club in Terminal 5. Priority Pass members may also use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Terminal 2, the Virgin America Loft in Terminal 3, and the Alaska Airlines Board Room in Terminal 6.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 3/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Service: 3/5

10% off a Priority Pass membership!

#2 – oneworld Los Angeles Lounge – TBIT

oneworld Los Angeles Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

oneworld Los Angeles Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Now we’re talking! There’s quite a bit of a gap between our #3 rated lounge, the KAL Business Class Lounge, and the oneworld Los Angeles Lounge. This is a premium international facility in every regard, that was obviously designed with high standards and a genuine attention to details. This large facility (which is still being expanded) offers different zones with different characters – a communal dining area, relaxation spots, conversation nooks… but the centerpiece is undeniably the circular fireplace, which soothing glow fosters a feeling of well-being and relaxation.

Catering is a highlight, with the best salad bar we’ve ever experienced in a lounge, a full (complimentary) bar, a barista, and even quirky food carts where cooks serve freshly made street-food inspired creations. Nine well-appointed shower suites are also available. While currently the oneworld Los Angeles Lounge does get painfully busy at peak times, relief is on the way, since the expansion process will soon be complete. Either way, this lounge doesn’t disappoint.

Read the full review of the oneworld Los Angeles Lounge, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: oneworld
  • Showers: Yes
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary hot buffet
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Premium class oneworld passengers
  • oneworld Emerald and Sapphire members
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for lounge access may use the American Airlines Admiral Clubs in Terminal 4, though we don’t see much of a point in doing so.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Food and beverages: 5/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Service: 3/5

#1 Star Alliance Business Class Lounge – TBIT

Star Alliance Business Class Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Star Alliance Business Class Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

If there is one lounge that might justify arriving a bit early at the airport, this is it. Star Alliance has raised the bar and hit a home run. This stunning, huge facility – 1,675 sqm or 18,000 sqf — declines a series of well-appointed spaces, all elegantly designed: a quiet room, a TV lounge, private enclosed rooms, open living-room like seating areas, a bar area. Like the KAL lounge, it features a terrace overlooking the atrium, but Star Alliance has done a much better job furnishing and decorating the space. And the killer feature? An open-air, sunbaked rooftop terrace, complete with fire pits, water features, a bar, and views over the Hollywood hills. Where else can you wander around outside, sipping your favorite cocktail, looking alternatively at jumbo jets and at the megalopolis at your feet, and rubbing elbows with celebrities? A wide selection of hot and cold dishes is available as well as a noodle bar, in a striking space with a wine bottle wall as a backdrop. Throughout the lounge, artwork, photos and quotes evoke Los Angeles. And when it’s time to cool down, eight shower suites are available. Operated by Air New Zealand, this lounge offers a refined, elegant and vibrant experience; a treat for Star Alliance passengers.

Read the full review of the Star Alliance Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Showers: Yes
  • Biz center: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary hot buffet
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Premium class Star Alliance international passengers
  • Star Alliance Gold members
  • United Club members
  • Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
See detailed access rules.
Why consider any? It doesn’t get any better.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Food and beverages: 5/5
  • Amenities: 5/5
  • Service: 4/5

First Class lounges

With few airlines offering international first class, the first class scene is much more limited, and mostly centered around the TBIT. Also, while through the magic of alliances, partnerships and lounge memberships, Economy and Business Class passengers often have several lounge options, when it comes to First Class, things are much more restricted. Don’t expect to lounge hop much, but we hope that our handy little guide will help you choose the airline that offers the best experience for your needs. Here’s our ranking of the four First Class lounges at LAX as well as brief reviews.

#4 – Korean Air KAL First Class Lounge – TBIT

Korean Airlines KAL First Class Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Korean Airlines KAL First Class Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

The Korean Airlines First Class lounge serves all SkyTeam members, and we can’t help but think that the alliance has missed an opportunity. Physically, the space is superb with the same high-end furniture and finishes that characterize the adjacent Business Class lounge, and a terrace overlooking the atrium and the fancy video screens. As a private, soothing and quiet retreat, this lounge certainly does the job – the tight access rules ensure that patrons are guaranteed a pretty exclusive experience, even though the lounge itself is pretty small. Nicely appointed shower suites are available, and passengers are free to roam around the adjacent Business class lounge should they need more space to stretch out.

So what’s wrong? Simply put, catering disappoints. The paltry buffet offers merely snacks, fruit, and (unlike the Business Class lounge) two hot entrees, while the alcohol selection is virtually inexistent and champagne is nowhere to be found. Surprising, from a world class Asian airline… #FirstClassProblems for sure, but that’s the point, right?

Find out more about the KAL First Class Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: SkyTeam
  • Bathroom: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: No
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary finger food
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Korean Air and SkyTeam First Class passengers.
See detailed access rules.
While passengers may use the Delta SkyClub in Terminal 5, there is no reason to do so.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 2/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Service: 4/5

#3 – American Airlines International First Class Lounge – Terminal 4

American Airlines Flagship Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

American Airlines Flagship Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

The least exclusive First Class lounge at LAX, the American Airlines International First Class Lounge (formerly known as Flagship Lounge) welcomes American and oneworld transcontinental and international First Class passengers, plus oneworld Emerald members. Conveniently accessible through the Admirals Club, it features the same spacious and bright architecture. Seating is slightly more private than in the Admirals Club, but the main difference lies in the food and beverage options – the Flagship Lounge serves full meals all day long, with hot and cold entrees, a variety of desserts, and a generous selection of self-serve soft and alcoholic drinks. That’s a far cry from the Admirals Club, but don’t expect fine cuisine. Large bathrooms with plenty of room to change are available, as well as three shower suites with Dermalogica amenities.

Overall, this lounge is a treat for eligible transcontinental passengers. For international First Class passengers, it certainly does the job, but it’s hardly luxurious and it can definitely get busy at peak times due to the somewhat generous access rules. The KAL First Class lounge “feels” more first class, but we’re giving the American Airlines International First Class Lounge the edge given the superior catering, the natural light, and the better views.

Read the full review of the American Airlines International First Class Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: oneworld
  • Bathroom: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary hot buffet
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • American Airlines First Class passengers departing on an international or three-class transcontinental flight.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum customers departing on or connecting to an international flight..
  • oneworld First Class and Emerald passengers departing on or connecting to an international flight.
See detailed access rules.
Passengers eligible for United Club access may use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Terminal 2 or the stunning Star Alliance Business Class lounge located in the TBIT. Global First passengers may use the Star Alliance First Class lounge.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 3/5
  • Food and beverages: 4/5
  • Amenities: 3/5
  • Service: 4/5

#2 – Star Alliance First Class Lounge – TBIT

Star Alliance First Class Lounge - Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Star Alliance First Class Lounge – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)

Understated luxury is the key word at the Star Alliance First Class lounge LAX. The lounge is pretty small and you won’t find water features, bling and servers bowing at you. Privacy is paramount, though, with restrictive access rules (no access to top-tier frequent flyers unlike at the American Airlines Flagship Lounge or Qantas First Class lounge) and two well-appointed VIP rooms. The sun-filled room is quiet and elegant, with comfortable furniture, and a small dining area with linen and restaurant-style service. The buffet offers a small selection of amuse-bouches to complement the table service, as well as upscale wines and champagnes.

The strength of the Star Alliance First Class lounge is that it combines the expansive amenities of the adjacent Business Class lounge (accessible through a door in the back, with a code to re-enter the First Class section) with the privacy and the serenity of the First Class section. So, go ahead and indulge – help yourself to a glass of fine champagne, head out to the outdoor terrace for a killer view of the LA area, enjoy a sit-down meal at the First Class lounge, and finish off with a cocktail at the bar overlooking the terminal atrium, before a refreshing shower. Time will fly.

Read the full review of the Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Bathroom: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary hot buffet, Complimentary full service restaurant
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • Star Alliance First Class passengers.
See detailed access rules.
There is no reason to look for alternatives.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 4/5
  • Food and beverages: 5/5
  • Amenities: 5/5
  • Service: 4/5

#1 – Qantas First Class Lounge – TBIT

This brand new lounge opened in December 2014. The superb, albeit dark lounge area is furnished with Californian Knoll furniture. The 74-seat restaurant is a major highlight, with an open-style kitchen, table service and an a la carte menu designed by Neil Perry Rockpool. The seven shower suites feature Aurora Spa ASPAR products. This is truly an elegant lounge, where service is paramount – the staff was trained by Sofitel. The Qantas First Class Lounge LAX tops our chart for its outstanding food selection, spaciousness, and gracious service. That being said, it’s a close call with the Star Alliance First Class Lounge – while Star Alliance restricts access to First Class flyers, creating an exclusive experience, oneworld invites their top frequent flyer members, making luxury perhaps more attainable. It comes down to a matter of personal preference. Either way, the Qantas lounge is a treat – enjoy your stay!

Find out more about the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX, and share your comments!

AmenitiesFood & DrinksWho's inAlternatives
  • Alliance: oneworld
  • Bathroom: Yes
  • Showers: Yes
  • Free Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Family room: No
  • Food: Complimentary breakfast buffet, Complimentary snacks, Complimentary cold buffet, Complimentary hot buffet, Complimentary full service restaurant
  • Drinks: Complimentary soft drinks, Complimentary full bar
  • oneworld First class passengers, including Qantas and British Airways First Class passengers
  • Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers
  • British Airways Gold Executive Club members
  • oneworld Emerald members
See detailed access rules.
Our ratings
  • Comfort: 5/5
  • Food and beverages: 5/5
  • Amenities: 4/5
  • Service: 5/5

Airside connections and how to lounge hop

First, the bad news – LAX is large and inconvenient, with 9 poorly connected terminals linked by a slow and rustic bus service. Lounge hopping takes time, may require multiple trips through security, and isn’t always worth it unless you have an extended layover.

Now, the good news – at LAX, a boarding pass grants you access to all terminals, so you may go wherever you’d like. Plus, several terminals feature TSA Pre Check, which significantly diminishes the pain of going through security for eligible travelers. And finally and perhaps best of all – a number of terminals are connected airside (inside security) by walkways and tunnels, so as long as you’re willing to walk 10-20 minutes you may not have to deal with security and the shuttle buses after all.

Terminal layout

  • Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are not connected to any other terminals airside. You have to exit and then re-clear security in order to reach those terminals.
  • Terminals 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and TBIT are connected airside, through an underground walkway (between terminals 4, 5, 6) and walking corridors (6, 7, 8.) This means you can walk between the two United Clubs (T7), the Alaska Airlines Board Room (T6), the Delta Sky Club (T5), the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounge (T4) and numerous lounges at TBIT including the Star Alliance Lounge, Star Alliance First Class Lounge, oneworld Lounge, and Qantas First Class Lounge. Allow at least 20 minutes to walk from Terminals 4 to Terminal 8, and another 10 minutes between Terminal 4 and TBIT. (The airside connector between Terminal 4 and the TBIT is new and opened in February 2016.)
LAX terminal diagram, from Wikipedia

LAX terminal diagram, from Wikipedia

For a detailed terminal diagram, see the airport’s web site. Need directions? The Miles To Memories blog offers a handy guide with pictures of every sign and tunnel!

Connections and Pre Check

If you need to reach a terminal that is not connected by a walkway, you have two options:

  • Exit security and the terminal, and then use complimentary shuttle bus route A. Wait by a blue “LAX Shuttle and Airline Connections” sign on the arrivals level. The shuttle runs every 12-15 minutes in a one-way loop and stops at every terminal.
  • Or, exit security and the terminal, and then walk to your destination. Between Terminal 3 and TBIT it may just be easier and quicker than using the shuttle. Follow the signs outside.
TSA Pre Check is available at Terminals 1 (US Airways), 2 (Air Canada, Sun Country), 3 (Jet Blue, Virgin America), 4 (American Airlines), 5 (Delta), 6 (Alaska), 7, and 8 (United). Pre Check is not available at the TBIT. In order to use Pre Check, you must be flying on an airline that participates in Pre Check, and be eligible and have been selected for the program.

More to come

We hope you’ve enjoyed our Definitive Guide to the LAX Airport Lounge scene guide! Over time we will be covering the world’s major airports, providing an exclusive overview of all lounges. Check out our other Definitive Guides!

Credits: LAX logo sign by Flobrio at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons; Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge picture by partner blog The Filipino Traveler.

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