Review: Korean Air Lounge Los Angeles Airport

Filed Under: Korean Air, Travel

At 7PM sharp the Korean Air Lounge opened, which is located past security on the second floor of Tom Bradley International Terminal. This lounge literally opened just two weeks before my visit, so not only looked stunning, but had that new furniture smell.

Corridor to Korean Air Lounge

The associates at the entrance were friendly, and after verifying my documents invited me to use the first class section of the lounge, which is to the right of the reception desk.

Korean Air Lounge entrance

So the first class section is fairly small, but then again Korean Air (and SkyTeam as a whole) doesn’t have many passengers eligible for first class lounge access, between the lack of first class award space and the fact that alliance elite members typically don’t get access to first class lounges (unlike at OneWorld).

There was a large entryway to the first class lounge with a couple of seats, newspapers, and a departures board.

Korean Air First Class Lounge entrance

Korean Air First Class Lounge departures board

Then there was one room with a dozen comfortable chairs. There were coffee tables in the middle, all of which had built in outlets. The lounge was so new that it was tough to insert power adapters into the outlets, since it seemed like they hadn’t been used before.

Korean Air First Class Lounge seating

Korean Air First Class Lounge seating

There was a TV in the lounge, though fortunately it was on mute.

Korean Air First Class Lounge TV

Then there was also a balcony seating area for the first class lounge, which featured 10 seats. I actually kind of liked the “open air” feel, but there were no power outlets outside, which seems poorly thought out. Besides, the music was much better in the terminal than in the lounge, so that’s another thing going for the balcony area (they were playing “Dancing Queen” when I was out there, for what it’s worth). 😉

Korean Air First Class Lounge balcony

Korean Air First Class Lounge balcony

View from Korean Air First Class Lounge balcony

There was a food service area as well, though as I checked it out, one of the people working in the lounge ran over to me to apologize profusely for the fact that the buffet wasn’t completely set up yet.

Korean Air First Class Lounge food spread

Once it actually was set up, the buffet had two hot dishes – some sort of chicken fried rice dish and chicken wings.

Korean Air First Class Lounge hot food spread

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so naturally was a bit puzzled by the serving of chicken fried rice. I mean, the portion was as big as the serving utensil, so I kind of felt like I should’ve just taken the whole plate. But I believe social norms dictate that you don’t take an entire portion of what’s available at a buffet, so I passed.

Korean Air First Class Lounge hot food spread

Then there were a variety of packaged snacks, including chips, Oreos, instant noodles, cereal, etc.

Korean Air First Class Lounge snack selection

Korean Air First Class Lounge snack selection

They also had some light cold snacks, including veggies, cheese, sandwiches, cookies, fruit, etc.

Korean Air First Class Lounge snack selection

The first class bar is self serve and only has one white and one red, along with bottles of Jack Daniels, Remy Martin, and Ballantine’s. However, there’s no champagne in the lounge – not on the first or business class side. I repeat, NO CHAMPAGNE!

Korean Air First Class Lounge alcohol selection

Then there was a fridge with soft drinks, juice, yogurt, etc.

Korean Air First Class Lounge drink spread

After checking out the first class lounge I decided to take a peek at the business class lounge. There are two ways to access it. One is to go around the front side of the reception desk and turn left instead of right, while the other is through a door in the first class lounge.

The first class lounge has a door which reads “Showers/Restrooms,” and they’re pretty sneaky about it, since that same door in the business class lounge from the other side reads “Staff Only.” So if you ever want to sneak into the first class lounge…

Korean Air Business Class Lounge restroom

So I went through that door to check out the business class lounge.

It had somewhat similar decor and was massive, as you’d expect given the number of SkyTeam A380s departing from LAX in the evenings.

It featured a variety of seating options (bar seating, long benches by the wall, communal tables, dining tables, etc.) and almost felt under furnished, which is a welcome change of pace from all the lounges I’ve visited lately that look like furniture warehouses.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

Korean Air Business Class Lounge seating

The lounge was so new that it still has small tables and lamps by the exit which hadn’t yet been set up.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge still being furnished

The business class lounge also had a balcony, which was a bit larger than the first class balcony, and simply separated from it by a partition.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge balcony

Korean Air Business Class Lounge balcony

The business class lounge food spread was decent, and featured basically the same snacks as the first class lounge, minus the hot options. They had a couple of extra things, though, including muffins, pretzels, and chips with salsa. I’m kind of surprised they didn’t have any hot options.

Korean Air Business Class Lounge food spread

Korean Air Business Class Lounge food spread

Korean Air Business Class Lounge food spread

Korean Air Business Class Lounge food spread

Korean Air Business Class Lounge food spread

Korean Air Business Class Lounge drinks

Korean Air Business Class Lounge drinks

Korean Air Business Class Lounge drinks

They also had a self serve bar there, which again featured one red, one white, and then five booze options (Bacardi, Jack Daniels, Crown Royal, Bombay Sapphire, and Absolut Vodka).

Korean Air Business Class Lounge bar

Korean Air Business Class Lounge bar alcohol selection

Korean Air Business Class Lounge bar alcohol selection

I had the first class lounge to myself for almost the entire time I was in the lounge. At 9PM someone else showed up, though boarding was scheduled for 9:30PM. I decided to leave the lounge at around 9:15PM so that I could roam the terminal a bit before boarding.

On the whole the new Korean Air First & Business Class Lounge LAX is gorgeous. That’s partly because it’s brand new, so everything is in immaculate condition and the furniture even still smells new. I also love how spacious the lounge is, meaning it’ll probably never really get crowded. I’d choose this lounge over the OneWorld First Class Lounge LAX I visited in December. While it was bigger, it didn’t have as “open” of a feel, and didn’t have a cool balcony overlooking the terminal.

However, I was kind of disappointed that the Korean Air Lounge didn’t have champagne, and feel like they could have had one or two more hot options in the first class lounge, and some hot options in the business class lounge. But admittedly those are first world problems and not everywhere can be the best airport lounge in the world…

  1. Nice Lounge, Is Air France First Class using the first class portion of this lounge as well? Is this lounge also going to replace the sky team lounge?

  2. Ben,

    I have been wondering, what is your policy on eating at airport lounges in terms of food safety concerns? The reason I ask, is that I used to love to try all the things on offer, until once I got REAL SICK just before a 15 hour flight (was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare), and I think it was from lounge food. Maybe it was eggs or sushi, I don’t really know and of course I can’t be positive it was even from the lounge…

  3. So, this is a minor curiosity, but the photo of the departures board shows the time as 6:34pm, but I thought the lounge didn’t open until 7pm. Is the time on the board wrong or were you actually able to sneak this beforehand somehow?

  4. Lucky,

    Is it normally that Sky team lounges never have a lot of ppl?
    freaking *alliance always are packed. Wow way better food options too.

  5. Does this lounge open at 7pm everyday?? because on the day that has KE61 LAX-GRU which leaves at 7pm-ish, I think they may open the lounge for that flight…

    Does Oneworld open a new lounge too?? I mean newer than the one you visited in December.

  6. Looks sterile and lacking character, maybe because it’s not yet finished? The new Star Alliance Lounge at TBIT looks much more inviting and has both indoor and outdoor balconies.

  7. @concorde02, yes One World will open its new lounge later this year when the expand their current lounge into old Skyteam lounge. Qantas is the operating carrier so expect the design and food offering similar to the Qantas lounge. The business class section will open first and first class section will open later, properly early next year.

  8. Disappointing that the catering hasn’t been improved with the new lounge.

    @Lucky did you notice if there is a business centre (ie computers)?

  9. @ Tim — Yes, the previous SkyTeam Lounge is already closed. Great question about whether Air France uses this lounge now. I would suspect they do, but am not positive. That would explain why they (probably) temporarily used the OneWorld First Class Lounge.

  10. @ blueline7 — Interesting question, not something I ever put much thought into. I try to be “careful” with what I eat at airports and on planes as well, though (knock on wood) I’ve never gotten sick at an airport or on a plane. I generally shy away from eating perishable foods in lounges if it looks like they’ve been sitting around for a long time, but otherwise don’t give it much thought.

  11. @ jonathan — Well the business class section filled up, but in general SkyTeam doesn’t make first class award seats very accessible, so I do find they’re usually not very crowded.

  12. @ concorde02 — Sorry, not sure what time they open lounges other days.

    I don’t believe OneWorld has a newer lounge than the one I visited, though I’m sure they’ll open one eventually.

  13. @ Cameron — Agree the Star Alliance lounge does look a bit nicer. The lounge is sterile, though at the same time I found it spacious, which I don’t often find to be the case.

  14. A great report an wonderful pix, Ben. Thanks. Neither side of that lounge sings to me, both facilities and offerings. I’ve been the BC side in person and find your comments accurate to a ‘t.’ IMO, t he decor and furniture just suck – that’s personal opinion and no more, as I’m sure that it is properly functional. When I was there, the WiFi was down and even the cold food was sparse.
    And yes, the wonderful Korean people just love to apologize – even for breathing! Perhaps they operate a substandard lounge just to enable more apologies! In my experience, old and recent, their on-board service and food are far better than are their lounges. They are a very different airline…

  15. What about the four first class lounge suites? We just arrived and were directed to a private suite with seating for 7 and private TV. Very nice and quiet.

  16. Interesting to note – in First, they have Nong Shim Shin Raymun BLACK ramen… which is the premium line of the regular Shin Raymun ramen they apparently have in business. Another touchpoint for differentiation I suppose…

  17. I read on FlyerTalk that TN also uses this lounge?!?. Ben, do you know if this is correct or not?

  18. Greetings from the lounge. Penne seems to be the hot dish of the day. Champagne is still absent. Also, for what it’s worth, First gets $11 a bottle Chardonnay while Business gets an $8 option. I suppose that’s service differentiation?

    Oh well, it gives me good reason to save my thirst for far superior champers on the flight to GRU. 🙂

  19. Citi Prestige gives you Priority Pass Select membership. So say I were flying British Airways in economy and the only lounge is the KAL at Tom Bradley international at LAX. Do I get access to the first class or business class area? Thanks.

  20. Why are the business class and even first class lounge food so pitiful. It’s embarrassing. Is that a us thing, poor quality, skimpy, cheap snacks for premium prices!?

  21. Hey Lucky – “8 Bottle of Dom” guy here (macabus on Flyertalk) …

    I was in this lounge last month and totally agree with you about the lack of Champagne.

    Actually, I was in the Qantas F lounge before my CX flight to HKG in F. I saw this KA lounge across the way and just had to check it out.

    The balcony is awesome, but the lounge looks pretty beat-up in the past year or so.

    Plus, the food and beverage selection has degraded since you were there.

    I happily scrambled back to the Qantas F lounge and had an incredible dinner with Champagne!

  22. I’m in this lounge right now, 2 YEARS after you wrote this review, I was laughing reading this review when in here. The bowl of salsa, the chips exactly the same place, and all of the other food items are exactly the same and also in the same place, all an exact match.

    Talk about lack of imagination when making any menu changes or updates.

  23. Penne pasta in first class is fairly underwhelming. Sandwiches don’t seem all too fresh, even at 9am. I actually prefer the business class side because they have lockers, and their balcony has power outlets. My big beef is that, while taking a shower, staff kept knocking on the door because they wanted to clean it, while I was trying to get dressed. They knocked 5 times, even after the 3rd time I was starting to get quite rude, yelling through the door that I wasn’t dressed and they just had to wait. Pretty supprising lack of etiquette for Korean air who is usually ultra polite

  24. Typing this from the same lounge, and the funny thing is – this review is as accurate today – as it was over 2 years ago – same food, same wine, same liquor selection.

    I will say this though, for anyone flying on American who does not have Admirals club access, but has a Priority Pass, it is your best option, about 5-10 mins walk from Terminal 4 and complimentary food/drink – the KAL lounge wifi isn’t working – but the Boingo Wifi – which I have thanks to Amex Platinum is excellent.

  25. Dave-the lounge has not changed-it’s pathetic as ever-nothing changed-. Seriously, stale corn chips and salsa– “business” class lounge-cheapo. Air Korea

  26. looks pretty bad–food wise, sterile no privacy chair set ups. Bad design, bad/low quality food for premium classes. Cheap.

  27. looks pretty bad–food wise, sterile no privacy chair set ups. Bad design, bad/low quality food for premium classes. Pretzels–seriously? Cheap.

  28. I was there in October.

    There was one sandwich left on the tray (it was constantly being refreshed, the staff were very good at that ) so I grabbed it. Out of nowhere, I get scolded for not using the tongs to pick up the sandwich.

    Repeat: it was the only one left before the tray gets taken away.

    Apart from that “memorable”moment, I did like the balcony area, the help-yourself wine and spirits. Was only in there a short time. It did look a bit sterile, however is something refreshing compared to others. I have never flown on Korean, from memory of images it might match their cabins?

  29. Very embarrassing lounge for “business” class customers. Seriously, was this a US thing? Poor quality poor, brash “service”, and uncomfortable seating that appears in poor repair/very used/old. It likely b/c it’s a special credit card/debt card service fee gimmick for folks who pay for entry rather than premium class customers.

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