This past week American’s new Flagship First Dining opened in Terminal 4 at LAX. Otherwise I consider the best lounge at LAX to be the Qantas First Class Lounge, which I’ve also reviewed before. Several people have asked which of the two lounges is better (given that both are technically international first class lounges belonging to oneworld carriers), so in this post I figured I’d do a comparison across a few different areas:
Ease of access
American’s Flagship First Dining has tight entry requirements. It’s only open to those traveling in American’s 777-300ER longhaul first class, as well as those traveling in American’s A321 transcontinental first class. Elite members and those traveling in first class on oneworld partner airlines don’t have access to this lounge.
Meanwhile Qantas’ First Class Lounge is open to all oneworld international first class passengers, as well as oneworld Emerald members. With the exception of AAdvantage oneworld Emerald members, all other oneworld Emerald members can use the lounge before any oneworld flight, even if it’s a domestic one. In the case of American Executive Platinum members, they can only use it before select international flights.
So a lot more people have access to the Qantas Lounge. The only people who have access to Flagship First Dining but don’t have access to the Qantas Lounge are those traveling in transcon first class.
Ambiance & decor — American
Both lounges are beautifully designed. Flagship First Dining feels incredibly exclusive, and like a high end restaurant. I also like that it has some natural light thanks to the apron views.
While the Qantas First Class Lounge also has a very nice design, it lacks any sort of natural light, which I find a bit depressing. So as beautiful as the furniture is, I think American wins in this category.
Food — American
Both lounges feature an extensive selection of a la carte dining. American’s Flagship First Dining has for the most part very well executed restaurant quality dishes, and I think the presentation of food in this lounge is a step up from what you’ll find in the Qantas Lounge. Furthermore, I feel like there are more healthy options, as so much of the food in the Qantas First Lounge is fried.
The Qantas First Lounge has a menu inspired by celerbrity chef Neil Perry, and there are many dishes I love, like the salt & pepper squid. However, given the volume of passengers this lounge serves, I just don’t find the quality to be quite as good.
Drinks — Qantas
American Flagship First Dining features excellent creative cocktails and Bollinger champagne, but other than that the drink selection isn’t terribly impressive. They don’t have custom made coffee, and the wine list is underwhelming.
This is an area where the Qantas First Lounge shines. They have three types of champagne (including Laurent Perrier), a more impressive and varied wine list, and custom made espresso-based drinks, including delicious flat whites.
Service & crowding — American
Both restaurants feature a la carte dining with service from well trained staff. This is an area where American has the edge, simply due to how few people have access to the lounge. I’m not saying the servers themselves are better, but the lounge is consistently less full, so the whole experience feels calmer and more personalized. Furthermore, there’s something to be said for a lounge that feels like an oasis and that allows you to get away, and that’s something I consistently feel here.
I’ve had mixed service experiences in the Qantas First Lounge, and it’s largely dependent on what time of day you’re there. The lounge gets so crowded in the evenings due to the number of flyers on American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas, so at times it feels like a zoo and there aren’t even tables available in the dining area. They make the best of the situation, but at times it just isn’t a very calm space.
Both American Flagship First Dining and the Qantas First Lounge are fantastic. For years I’ve been saying that the Qantas First Lounge is LAX’s best lounge, though I think American Flagship First Dining now takes the prize in that category. Don’t get me wrong, the Qantas First Lounge is still excellent, and a lot more people have access to it. But for the lucky few who have access to American Flagship First Dining, it really is an oasis from the rest of the airport. After all, it’s a lounge within a lounge within a lounge.