Is The Qantas Lounge LAX Overrated?

Filed Under: Qantas

The Qantas First Class Lounge LAX opened in late 2014. It’s generally regarded as one of the best airline lounges in the US, and for most miles & points enthusiasts, visiting this lounge is a bucket list item.  The Qantas Lounge LAX is generally as good as it gets in the US, and while it doesn’t quite make my list of the best airport lounges, it’s really close.

However, over time my feelings about this lounge have shifted just a little bit as the novelty has worn off, and in this post I wanted to share why.

First let me mention that the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX can be accessed by oneworld Emerald members, as well as oneworld longhaul international first class customers. So this is a great option for any oneworld Emerald traveling on a longhaul international flight the same day. Oneworld Emerald members who earn status through any program other than AAdvantage can even use the lounge when traveling domestically on American same day.

What I love about the Qantas First Lounge LAX

The Qantas Lounge has solid a la carte dining. For example, here’s the menu from a recent visit:

The lounge’s most popular dish is the salt & pepper squid, which is worthy of the hype, in my opinion. I love this dish, and would be thrilled with it at any restaurant. I get this just about every time I visit because it’s the only dish that consistently delights, in my opinion.

The other dishes can be hit or miss. I find the mains are good about half of the time, and not amazing the other half of the time. The last time I ordered the grilled tuna and asked if I could have it without anchovies, and ended up just getting a plain tuna fillet. I was actually happy about that I was getting something pretty healthy to eat, which is tough to do at an airport otherwise.

The desserts tend to be good as well. During my last visit I had the tapioca pudding with mango and pineapple salad, and Ford had the ice cream sundae with chocolate almond fudge, raspberries, almond praline, and meringue. Both were good, though his was definitely better.

So yeah, I find the food to be pretty good here, though not consistently amazing. It’s not quite like a high-end dining experience, but for an airport lounge in the US it’s exceptional.

The lounge also has a great drink selection, including alcoholic drinks (champagne, solid wine, good cocktails, etc.), custom made espresso-based beverages, and more.

What I don’t love about the Qantas First Lounge LAX

These are all fairly minor things, though given the amount of raving that people do about this lounge (including myself, to some degree), I do want to provide some balance about the things that I don’t love, as a frequent visitor.

First of all, I wish the lounge had views and/or natural light. LAX is an airport with some beautiful scenery, and the lounge doesn’t have any exterior-facing windows. This isn’t an issue if you’re traveling at night and it’s dark outside, but during the day I get serious light deprivation in here.

The only windows in the lounge face a small interior corridor of the terminal, so that doesn’t do much to help.

I also find it annoying how the tables don’t have outlets. I know this seems minor, and ultimately it is, but when I visit this lounge I’m always at the dining tables, and a vast majority of the tables don’t have any outlets. For a lounge built just a few years ago, that seems like a big oversight. Usually by the time I get to LAX my electronics are already somewhat drained, and I like to stay charged as much as possible, and that’s tough to do here. In other cases I’m boarding an American transcon without power ports, and I need as much juice as I can get.

Lastly, I find the service in the lounge to not be great. The servers are for the most part quite friendly. They really do mean well. But service just isn’t in any way restaurant quality. Throughout the course of a meal I almost always have to remind them of something, and I typically get served by about four different people.

This isn’t too surprising, since generally working at the airport is undesirable to begin with, the staff aren’t paid that well, and not many people tip, so anyone who wants to make more money as a server will work elsewhere. Qantas claims that the staff in the lounge are trained by Sofitel, which raises a lot of questions.

Bottom line

For a lounge in the US, the Qantas Lounge LAX is solid. It has among the best food and drinks you’ll find at any lounge in the US. When possible, my strategy is to eat in the lounge and then skip eating onboard when flying American domestically, since we know the kind of food they serve. For that, the lounge serves its purpose very well.

However, for anything else I actually prefer the American Flagship Lounge LAX. The lounge has huge floor to ceiling windows overlooking the tarmac and has plenty of power outlets, so for just lounging around I prefer that lounge. It also has much better showers than the Qantas Lounge, if that’s a consideration.

If you’ve visited the Qantas Lounge LAX, what was your experience like? Anything in particular that you love or hate?

  1. I have visited the lounge a number of times (Am QF Platinum) and have found the service to be quite lacklustre in comparison to the QF First lounge in Sydney. I agree also regarding the quality of the meals however am impressed by the champagne selection for a lounge in the US. It virtually mirrors the offerings of the Sydney and Melbourne lounges. Overall it is always a treat to visit after a longhaul across the pacific!

  2. The food and service are good and the seating is incredibly good. All areas where the AA flagship misses the mark. Showers at the AA flagship are better – don’t care for the qantas lounge showers at all – strange shower head ( Italian or not ). Coffee is spot on perfect at the qantas lounge

  3. Ben,

    I haven’t visited the lounge in a couple of years, but the answer to your question is relative to how “rated” it is. As you’ve mentioned, it’s probably the best airline lounge in the USA, although I would say the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK might come close.

    I rate lounges first based on F&B. If the offerings are solid (and not sold as an up charge) the rest of it is just gravy.

    Considering that the QF F lounge at LAX is still one of the best airline lounges in the USA, it’s hard to say it’s overrated.

  4. I mirror a lot of your thoughts on this lounge. The food doesn’t even compare to something like Cathay First lounges.

    Still, it’s solid by LAX standards.

  5. There are large windows looking out to the TBIT security lanes and international check-in area at the end of the bar, opposite the kitchen. Great view and people watching.

    The alcohol selection is superior to the Flagship Lounge. Period.

    The Flagship Lounge has fantastic tarmac views, but during June-September, the air-conditioning is incapable of keeping the space property cool. Check it out right now.

    Service has been outstanding every visit I’ve made (about a dozen times) this calendar year. It can get crazy between 7pm and 9:30pm, until the Qantas flights leave.

    Lack of outlets? There’s this miraculous invention: a battery pack. Get one on Amazon.

    Best of all: The Qantas lounge attracts an eclectic variety of passengers from all over the world, and people in the lounge seem genuine and friendly. So different than the “fashionistas” and “hollywood wannabes” parading through Terminal 4.

  6. I’ve found the food and service at the Qantas first-class lounge to be great. The quality of food is certainly better than the buffet at the Flagship Lounge. I agree that the showers are a disappointment. The Qantas business-class lounge next door has better decor but also suffers from a lack on natural light. The fireplace there can be very cozy and calming.

  7. How about an updated version of what you consider to be the best U.S. lounges (I think you posted one about 3 years ago in 2015)

  8. Agree entirely, Ben. The F&B offering in the QF F lounge is generally good, but it is a half-decent J lounge in every other respect. The lack of outlets is annoying (and I don’t feel I should have to travel with a battery pack to compensate for this), and the seating is really quite uncomfortable, especially if one has arrived on a delayed flight from Australia and has consequently missed one’s connection, which can result in a number of hours to kill. The AA Flagship lounge is very impressive (cue the daybeds down the corridor), and I find myself gravitating there unless I have a particular yearning for an a la care meal (and I don’t have access to Flagship First dining).

    It goes without saying that the Flagship lounge is preferable to the zoo that is the QF J TBIT lounge.

  9. Great Post! I visit this lounge about 7x a year, this will be my last year vising since I’m losing my EP Status with AA.

    Next year I will hit Plat Pro, so still able to access AA Flagship on International flight, and so far this year, although AA lounge at lax is Buffett style, I enjoyed their food much more than QF. Like you, I do enjoy the S&P quid though.

    QF showers are ok, but should be better for an F lounge. I always like to take a shower prior to my LH.

    I do enjoy the seats that face the window that have the ottoman, that usually were I have my meal and relax.

    Maybe I’ve visited the lounge too much? But quite bored of it, I’m sure I’ll miss it when I no longer have status, but with the OW Biz lounge and AA Term 4 lounge, i think I’ll be ok.

    You are spot on about not having views, on us the Stat Alliance lounge has a terrace..

  10. I have been using this lounge as many as 10 times a year since it opened, and generally agree with your observations, to which I would add two points, one good and one bad:

    1. May be my timing, but I always find it relatively peaceful and quiet, while the Flagship Lounge is often a zoo. Although a noisy group of Ozzie passengers can easily change that, as the acoustics are not very good.

    2. With the exception of the comfy womb chairs along the internal windows – who suffer from not just lack of power ports, but also a limited number of side tables – all the other seats are quite uncomfortable.

  11. Their famed salt and pepper squid was great the first time, then limp and greasy the next. That second time the lounge was packed, probably why the squid was so disappointing. It was almost late evening and the place was crowded , not because there were actually that many people but rather that the place isn’t very spacious to begin with and whenever it’s busy it’s like rush hour. Doesn’t make for a relaxing experience whatever the quality of food you end up with.

  12. thank you! I’ve been there a few times and never understood why everyone falls all over themselves to visit this lounge! I find the food in the Star and OW lounges so much better…even if I have to serve myself…oh the horror…

  13. @Ben. Whilst I concur with you about the food, I disagree about power outlets in the dining area. The dining area is just that, for dining, not for plugging in a laptop and doing some work.

    There are different areas for work and relaxing and each area has facilities that match. Sometimes, I think the purpose is to “give feedback for problems which are not really problems”. So here’s some feedback for you. Use a space for which it’s designed!

  14. Am I the only one who finds it truly sad that an airport lounge, in any country, would be considered a bucket list item? Visiting a country, experiencing the sites and sounds, the food, the music, etc. are all bucket list items. All these reviews and hype about these lounges are pure horseshit, in my opinion.

  15. @Jay That’s a remarkably strong way to say that you’re not interested in something other people are interested in. I love all of the things you suggest, but I also love airplanes and airlines and airports.

    So why so many feelings that others have a hobby/interest that you don’t share?

  16. I’m a QF Platinum who lives in LA so I use this lounge very frequently (2-3x month) as I can also use it on domestic AA flights. There is no doubt that it is the best lounge in the US, however the food and service can be very inconsistent. Sometimes the food comes out fantastic and the service is attentive, other times the food is poorly executed and staff is sitting around chatting with each other since they are not busy. I generally use it during non-peak periods which coincide with the AA Flagship lounge being packed.

    RE: Tipping. This is a lounge run by an Australian carrier that caters to Australian customers. Australia does not have a tipping culture like the US. Their employees are compensated properly so that tips do not need to supplement their income. Additionally, minimum wages in Los Angeles are in the process of being increased to $15/hr by 2020. There have been some instances of tip hustling in this lounge in the past which were quickly shut down by management.

  17. @jay maybe, possibly, you are not a business traveler but a) if originating in LAX, given the lack of a fast and traffic-less method of transportation to the airport, most people that travel for work tend to get to the airport in time to cope with possible delays on the way and TSA at the airport. If you don’t incur in any, then you have some time to spend at the airport and a great lounge may help you relax and maybe get some rest on the plane since you can eat in the lounge and sleep/work later. So visiting yes, it’s very important and a pleasure (in most places) but if you are on a business trip, not a top priority.
    B) if you are connecting then visiting LA is not an option unless you have an obscene amount of time or have flexible plans/tickets

  18. What you are forgetting here Lucky that Qantas LAX first class lounge is an outstation lounge and the QF first lounges in Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) so in Melbourne when I have gone to it. It was very good and probably better than LAX. Also the servers in Melbourne and Sydney are probably directly employed through Qantas unlike the LAX lounge. Also Qantas is an airline that is very consistent with lounges across the world as their Hong Kong and Singapore lounges are really good (and they are business class lounges).

  19. “I also find it annoying how the tables don’t have outlets. I know this seems minor, and ultimately it is, but when I visit this lounge I’m always at the dining tables, and a vast majority of the tables don’t have any outlets. For a lounge built just a few years ago, that seems like a big oversight.”

    It is intentional. They don’t want people hogging the table, which is meant for dining. I can appreciate that.

    Can you imagine how annoying it is having a douche bag hogging the table with their laptop, not eating, and there you are standing around looking for a table.

    If you could somehow compel people to be considerate, I’d imagine having power points at dining tables wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately some people, especially those using First Class lounges tend to feel privileged and entitled.

  20. Completely overrated. The menu is boring ( I guess they have to keep the salt’n’pepper squid as it’s now their ‘signature ‘dish).
    The issue with power outlets is a major design flaw; not only are there no outlets at the tables ( understandable), there aren’t any built around the lounge seating. It’s necessary to plug devices into wall outlets, propping them on the floor. Weird.
    The Sydney lounge is extremely busy during peaks, with consequent slow service, and then deserted for the rest of the day ( and with limited menu choices during the late morning/ late afternoon transition to lunch/dinner).
    The lounges are *OK* but nothing to write home about.

  21. I find it “OK” nothing special and often prefer the vibe of the One World lounge. Seating is just fine not great. It all seems just overly pretentious to me.

  22. The servers are not trained by Sofitel, that’s a complete lie. I got close to one of the servers there once when I had a long CX layover in LAX. I asked him if he had to go do any luxury training or worked at a luxury place before having to work there in the lounge. He started laughing and scoffed at my comment and said “No. They just hired me.”

    The employees in the MEL and SYD lounges might be Sofitel trained. At LAX definitely not.

  23. Your analysis is spot on. The servers are not trained by Sofitel, that is a complete lie. Maybe at MEL and SYD. Definitely not LAX.

    I had a long layover once and asked one of them if they had to do any training or work in any luxury establishment and he practically laughed at the thought. He said they just hired him and he had worked in the service industry. Might I add the staff was all nice, but definitely not polished and they often forget things just like you said.

  24. So hey , no on demand dining but when I was in the delta lounge at SFO the place was amazing, great decor, views, natural light, food and drinks. From the pictures the qantas lounge looks like a large cafeteria…….

  25. What can I say – I just flew Delta One to Australia and used their LAX lounge. They had nice paper plates and plastic cutlery.

    I am glad Qantas invested in LAX as I am going back to Qantas on my next flight next week. Sometimes one has to try out the competition to realise just how good Qantas passengers have it.

  26. Given how poor the previous generation of lounges were at LAX TBIT, I still find it to be a great lounge. The main drawback as that there’s just not much to do in this lounge and it tends to get overcrowded.

    In contrast the T4 Flagship lounge has been very overcrowded when I’ve tried to visit it. As much as we complain about the Qantas F lounge and crowds during peak hours, I find the Flagship lounge to be far too small given the demand.

  27. I found it a very good lounge, but failed to see how it matched the hype I see throughout the blogosphere. I visited during the middle of a weekday, so it felt spacious, quiet, and peaceful. The wines and coffees were outstanding. As others have noted, I’m not as bothered by the lack of outlets in the dining area, since that seems like a good way to stop people from hogging tables during peak hours. But I found the food mostly mediocre (overcooked steak, runny mac and cheese), and the service was painfully slow and inattentive as you also noted. I had to constantly flag down a server to order something.

    So I guess the answer to your question is, yes, it is overrated, though I can also understand why the lounge generates so much hype. At least until the AA Flagship and UA Polaris lounges started opening, this was by far the best of a rather sad lot of US-based lounges. Now that those have started closing the gap, perhaps it’s time to reassess whether it really is still the best domestic US lounge or not.

  28. Yes – it’s hugely over-rated. Both the Flagship and the OneWorld Business Class lounge are better than this one.

    The GF lounge is a bascically a free restaurant with average quality food one can order from a very limited menu.

    – signed: A AA EXP.

  29. I agree. When I first visited the Qantas lounge a few years back (while flying Cathay Pacific first class), I really liked it. I was there last month as an Air France La Premiere traveler, I was not as pleased. Service and food were just ok, nothing great. Its luster has worn off.

    While being escorted by an Air France La Premiere member to the lounge, I was told that first class passengers flying on Qantas, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Air France can use the lounge.

  30. @Abe +1

    Nothing says First Class like hiring employees with no prior food & beverage experience.

  31. “Confused….

    the Qantas First Class Lounge LAX can be accessed by oneworld Emerald members, as well as oneworld longhaul international first class customers. So this is a great option for any oneworld Emerald traveling on a longhaul international flight the same day”

    The first sentence seems to say there are 2 ways to gain admittance (if not flying QF). 1) Be oneworld Emerald. 2) Be a one world longhaul Int 1st passenger.

    Then the second sentence seems to imply you have to be both. We are merely AA Gold, flying AA 1st LAX-LHR next month. It sounds like we qualify, right?

    Secondly, most of the discussion here seems to be comparing Flagship J (ie. buffet) vs QF J a la carte. But what about LAX Flagship 1st dining? For AA 1st Int passengers, is the Flagship 1st dining food better than the QF J food, or is it a YMMV thing depending on the time/day?

  32. @WilliamC: I travel with something called an actual computer. Most business travelers do so. Explain to me how I am supposed to charge my laptop with a battery pack. Not going to happen.

    I am surprised no one else has mentioned my biggest gripe with the lounge: where are the computer desks (with outlets). They have a printer. They have outlets. They don’t have any workstation like almost every other lounge in the world has.

    If you don’t want me to use the dining table, make part of the lounge a business area with workstations.

  33. Surely you’re not serious suggesting the AA LAX lounge would be preferred to the QF LAX 1st lounge. The AA lounge is awful and I’m talking about the Flagship lounge. It’s overcrowded, tough to get seating, food is passable at best, service is poor and I couldn’t wait to leave.

  34. As soon as I read the headline I immediately thought, Yes!” Some of the food is exceptional and I love the champers selection, but I’m not of fan of the rest of the lounge. As mentioned, no natural light, no place comfortable to really relax if you need to catch some z’s, and the bathrooms feel decidedly Economy. It was a fantastic option before the AA FL, but now that the FL is open I find that I’ll spend just long enough for the S&P squid and some fancy bubbles, then head to the FL.

  35. My surprising experience when I visited the lounge this past March was being told in the shower area that they have towels but no washcloths. Be sure to take a throwaway washcloth in your carry-on if planning a shower there. I also found the dining staff pleasant but inattentive even though the dining area only had 3-4 people in it.

  36. If you use miles and do not have money in the bank the lounge is great. Otherwise anyone with cash would not eat there.

  37. I hate the carpet in the QF lounge. Gives me dreadful visual interference to the extent I get vertigo.
    I’d echo the same about the servers.
    Everything else was just great, including the shower service.

  38. Amen. I’ve been saying the same thing since Flagship opened. The FL showers destroy QF. I’ll sometimes go over to QF for the meal, but that’s it…and I rarely do that anymore. American has done such a great job with Flagship that I just don’t find QF worth the bother.

  39. Surprised no one commented re: the ridiculous crowding issues for the target audience: QF F passengers and AA F passenger flying to Australia (with ~5 flights all leaving at the same time). The lounge is insanely busy/crowded from 8:30-10:30pm every night. Even worse is part of this could be avoided if OW didn’t have this crazy policy where their top tiers get F lounge access, a benefit not offered by Sky or *A. So in addition to F passengers from 5 flights there are tons of OW Emeralds (from various airlines) using the lounge as well. I understand this makes OW stand out, but it’s to the detriment at times of the operating airline’s F passenger or their own elites.

  40. I visit this lounge 6-7 times/year, its one of the better lounges for sure (the Centurion Lounges are generally on par, IMO).

    Agree with your comments, the lack of outlets is a real downer, especially given this is a newer lounge and certainly wasn’t a case of lack of demand when it was originally built.

    Also, while the a la carte menu is nice, there are times when I like to help myself to some simple snacks or other food items. While they don’t mind if you eat at your chair as opposed to the cafe, I don’t want to have to stand there and order from a menu.

    It’s also not as big as it needed to be…granted space may have been limited but in the evening, when all the OW airlines have flights to Asia/Oceania…it can get pretty crowded. Certainly nothing like the old OW LAX lounge but…

    The lack of light, etc is less important to me than the lack of power… but to each their own.

  41. How sad that this is supposed to be one of the best lounges in the USA. I’ll admit that the space inside is pretty—nicely decorated and spacious looking but the service and attitude there is absolutely the worst I have ever experienced especially considering that this is the lounge used for International First Class travelers.

    When I visited in the morning, just after they opened the staff was busy preparing the bar and dining room area. Then suddenly at about 7 am, they all (including the bartenders) left the room and went into the back. Don’t know if it was a pot/smoke break but several of us who had flights boarding in an hour were looking to get some food and drinks. When someone finally told the host at the front, a few employees trickled out but let’s just say that neither the service nor the food was worth staying. It gives a bad impression for both the lounge and Quantas even if they aren’t the ones running the place. Sad to say, but I wanted to go to the Business Class lounge down the hall since at least you could serve yourself drinks and food.

  42. Hi guys, looking for an advice from locals. Can i use this Lounge when flying on AA domestic from (i suppouse) dfferent terminal then TB ?

  43. You lost all credibility with me when you said…. “LAX is an airport with some beautiful scenery” . where did you grow up Lubbock, TX? There is no pleasant scenery is this part of the LA Basin…. Also the food offerings in all of the Admirals Club Flagship Lounges is more cafeteria style, close to what they serve at the LA county jail.

  44. @ Joseph — Chill. When I said “beautiful scenery” I was referring to great plane views, given that I’m an aviation geek.

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