Review: Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX

Filed Under: Lufthansa

My Lufthansa flight from Los Angeles to Munich was departing at 5:15PM, and I got to LAX at around 2PM, plenty early. Lufthansa departs from Tom Bradley International Terminal, and the shared Lufthansa and Swiss check-in desk is in the “C” area, at the far right of the terminal.

Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

There was a dedicated first class check-in area, though Star Alliance Gold members also have access to it, so it’s not quite as exclusive as you may expect based on that.

Lufthansa check-in counters LAX

I just had to wait for about two minutes, and then was helped by a friendly agent.

Lufthansa check-in counters LAX

She printed my boarding passes all the way to Lisbon, and asked if I wanted an escort to the lounge. I figured this agent might have line cutting powers, so I said yes, since security at Tom Bradley International Terminal can take forever. I was told just to wait for a few minutes while they found an escort for me, but that ended up taking 10 minutes, which seems like a long time to wait for someone who is supposed to save you time.

The escort took me down to the “secret” security checkpoint. This is located on the arrivals level, at the very left of the terminal, and is intended primarily for passengers arriving at Tom Bradley International Terminal and connecting. It’s a well kept secret, and when it’s open, lines here are consistently shorter than upstairs.

“Secret” TSA security lane at LAX

The catch is that this checkpoint lets you out near Terminal 4, so then you still have to walk through the connector to Tom Bradley International Terminal. At my own pace that might take three minutes, though the lovely Lufthansa representative escorting me was wearing heels, so that about tripled the amount of time it took.

Being escorted to Star Alliance first class lounge LAX

Once in the beautiful Tom Bradley International Terminal we took the elevator up to the fifth floor, where the Star Alliance Lounge is located.

Tom Bradley International Terminal LAX

The Star Alliance Lounge is at the end of the hall, with the business class lounge being to the left, and the first class lounge being to the right. I wrote detailed reviews of both of these lounges a few years back, though I wanted to provide an update on the first class lounge, given how long it has been.

Approaching Star Alliance first class lounge LAX

Star Alliance business class lounge LAX exterior

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX exterior

The first class lounge is intimate, with maybe a couple of dozen seats. Inside the entrance is one of those cool Herman Miller chairs, as well as a desk where one of the lounge agents is usually hanging out.

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles entrance

You might not notice it if just walking by, but to the right is a private room, which acts as a VVIP hangout for celebrities or others who may require privacy (though nowadays LAX also has The Private Suite, which is the go-to place for those seeking privacy).

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles private room

This lounge is small, with maybe a total of two dozen chairs. Perhaps this is an unpopular view, but I don’t love this lounge. It’s so quiet, and if there are even a few other people in the lounge it feels almost uncomfortable. Conversely the business class lounge is massive, has outdoor seating, and is just more comfortable, without feeling like a library.

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles

The lounge has a pretty traditional setup, mostly consisting of chairs facing one another, along with a single couch.

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles seating

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles seating

In the very back of the lounge are four dining tables. The setup is beautiful, as they each have white tabelecloths, which seems like a lot of effort given that most people just have a light snack in the lounge.

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles dining area

Behind the dining area are two private bathrooms. If you want to shower, you can do so in the business class lounge.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX bathrooms

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX bathrooms

Next to the bathrooms is the door that leads to the business class section of the lounge.

Door to Star Alliance business class lounge

What I also don’t love about the lounge is the lack of views. It faces the back interior of the terminal (it basically looks at other lounges), rather than facing the beautiful side of the terminal, or the apron.

Star Alliance first class lounge Los Angeles view

The lounge has a selection of reading materials (including newspapers in Japanese and Korean, I believe, which makes sense given where ANA, Asiana, and Singapore fly to).

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX magazines & newspapers

Along the interior wall of the lounge is the buffet, which is in two parts.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet

To the left is the food, and to the right are the drinks.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet

Let’s start with the drinks. There’s a selection of self serve wine and liquor. Most of the wine is nothing special, though the Beau Joie champagne is excellent.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX wine selection

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX liquor selection

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX liquor selection

There’s also a selection of water and soft drinks, as well as instant noodles.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX instant noodles & liquor

Then the lounge has a self serve coffee machine. If they wanted to differentiate the first class lounge a bit they should have proper barista made drinks, in my opinion.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX coffee selection

The food selection was fairly limited, but that’s because there’s also a menu you can order off of. Food choices included cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits, sandwiches, macarons, chips, and snack mix.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet spread

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet spread

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX dessert

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX snacks

The two hot options included stir-fried yakisoba and shrimp dim sum.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet spread

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet spread

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX buffet spread

Then there was the menu you could order off of, which read as follows:

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I ordered something. First I had a glass of champagne.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX champagne & boarding pass

Then I ordered the avocado toast, which was awful. I’m sorry, but this is LA, where avocado toast is a staple food. Spreading packaged guacamole and gorgonzola on a piece of Wonder Bread does not avocado toast make.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX — avocado toast

I also ordered the steak salad with gorgonzola, which was excellent, by comparison.

Star Alliance first class lounge LAX — steak salad with gorgonzola

When I first arrived in the lounge it was quite full, as there were eight passengers from Lufthansa’s earlier Los Angeles to Frankfurt flight, as well as a few passengers on Singapore Airlines’ flight to Tokyo. However, the lounge eventually emptied out, and then my fellow passengers for the Munich flight showed up.

Boarding was scheduled from gate 150 at 4:45PM. I left at around 4:30PM. While I was offered an escort to the gate earlier on, I always like to be the first onboard to get pictures, so I decided to make the journey myself. After being on the ground floor I turned left, and then gate 150 was a few gates over.

LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

While the Germans are usually all about punctuality, the inbound flight was late, so boarding only ended up starting at around 5PM.

Lufthansa departure gate LAX

There is something I love about the A340-600!

Lufthansa A340 LAX

Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX bottom line

Overall I really like the Star Alliance Lounge LAX. The business class lounge is massive, has an excellent buffet, has an outdoor terrace, and a new interior balcony. By comparison I find the first class section of the lounge to be underwhelming — it’s small, quiet, has a limited buffet selection, and has no views.

But I guess that’s also the beauty of the lounge. You can the first class section of the lounge for what it offers (excellent champagne and a la carte dining of varying quality), and then head over to the business class section to relax, where you’ll be much more comfortable, and not feel like you’re in a library.  All in all, I’d confidently say this is one of the best airport lounges in the US.

If you’ve visited the Star Alliance Lounge LAX, what was your experience like?

  1. I was just there about a week and a half ago, also for LAX-MUC! And I also had the steak salad with gorgonzola, I thought the steak was cooked just right. The macarons were also really good, especially the almond ones.

    Did you have the new face recognition gates at boarding? I think my flight was the first time they were using them. You just look at the camera, it recognizes you, and you board. No scanning BPs or anything, pretty neat!

  2. I’ve been fortunate to see both the first and business class lounges. I agree that the view is better in the business lounge. I like the quietness of the first lounge and the ability to order from a menu, with a wider range of options than are available at the business buffet. I agree that the first lounge buffet is weak, but I found the food at the business buffet to be underwhelming.

    Love your reviews, keep ’em coming.

  3. Thank you for the time and effort spent to document this lounge with flattering pics. I just wished the lounge staff was trained with the same exacting standards used on board the F cabin.

  4. Without a doubt the TBIT is the best terminal in the US and will only get better once the midfield concourse opens
    The only problem is the landside check in. They should expand it over to where the garages are to the east. I believe that was in the original plan. Then it could be linked to terminals 3/4.
    I’ll try the security on the lower level next time should there be long lines onto the mezzanine

  5. @zymm BA was testing the biometric facial recognition. I’m not sure whether other airlines are. I guess once it’s tried and tested more will do

  6. Strongly prefer first class lounge; business class can be super hectic at times. The made to order food was good when I was last in the F lounge. Not sure why small us a problem, it’s much bigger than LH F’s cabin.

  7. Such a nice review, Lucky!

    I am torn when traveling. On one hand, I like to enjoy the finer things, like the lounge. On the other hand, a true rich person may think they don’t need to take advantage of the benefits and arrive at the last possible moment. They board just as the doors close.

  8. I really don’t think that First Class passengers should have to get anything for themselves. I mean what’s First Class about a self-serve buffet? DIY noodles — really? I’m not being a snob, but if First Class means anything, it should mean the height of service and pampering.

  9. @ Lucky

    “…and not feel like you’re in a library.”

    Some of us actually like libraries.

  10. @ The nice Paul — I do as well, when the time is right. But that time usually isn’t prior to a longhaul flight, while having a glass of champagne, while eating a meal, and potentially while having to make a phone call or two.

  11. Just before a long haul flight is *exactly* the time I want a calm, quiet space, away from hassles and noise and, preferably, away from other people.

    Different folks, etc.

  12. @ The nice Paul — But I’m about to board a longhaul flight where I have exactly that — a quiet, calm space away from hassles and other people!

  13. @John, they scan your boarding pass at the door and we were not allowed to enter the lounge when we arrived a few weeks ago from an Air New Zealand business class flight RAR-LAX(without an onward business class domestic ticket.) We are also arriving from NRT to LAX in ANA F in a couple of months and I was assuming that we won’t have access based on our last experience.

  14. @Jane- the lounge only allow international departure. I once arrived from Asiana Airlines business class and had an onward United Airlines first class domestic flight. They did not let me in and said it is only for international departure.

  15. @Sean this is a phrase taken from Aristotle’s quote “one swallow does not a summer make”
    It was translated into old English when syntax was different from ours today, but the translator probably was trying to be clever or make the rest of the quote more poetic. Possibly artistic license, but it has been adapted as a saying to pretty much everything “one xxx does not a yyy make”

    And that’s the most disgusting avocado toast I’ve ever seen… the whole point is that it’s supposed to look good.

  16. The best thing of the Business class lounge is the outdoor seating area! The best place to spend the time until boarding.

  17. Agree about the Avocado Toast. I ordered it a couple weeks ago and it was like it’s description on the menu. It was slices of avocado on grainy baguette cut diagonally. It was delicious. They must have run out if both on Lucky’s day and some “chef” made a substitution.

    The Poke is very good and so is the French Dip. The charcuterie is variable. Probably availability issues like the Avocado Toast.

  18. I have never seen a more dull/uninviting FC lounge.
    There is a marvelous invention called: fresh flowers

  19. I thought so exactly as well with the reading materials. Yet, I immediately realized that there weren’t any Chinese reading materials. What about ZH; CA, or BR? They are definitely part of Star Alliance. The list and reasons can go on, but this is just my own personal thought. Err….not given sense to at least CA and BR since they do fly to LAX, too.

  20. That’s twice now I have seen the toilet seat up in your photos. Did you find it that way or did you leave it that way? As someone who makes a living behind a camera I can’t imagine taking a photograph like that, let alone putting it on display in my blog. You can do better and you should.

  21. I was there for the first time last week and agree with your take on the place. The only thing inspiring was sitting across from Pam Anderson.

  22. OK, agree about the avocado toast travesty, but really, they need to find a high school graduate to proofread the menu.

    The huevos rancheros apparently have something called “crème fresh” with them (how about crème fraîche?). And French Dip *with* Au Jus? Really? Why not potatoes with au gratin or pie with à la mode? Soup of the du jour, anyone? Not sure if I really want it mixed with the Dashi Miso Soup, anyway.

    Then there’s the Ahi Poke, which is apparently “Topped with Avocado an (sic) Fried Wonton.”

    Someone call the police! There’s language mass murder going on in that lounge!

  23. I was there 8 days ago for my ANA flight to Narita. Omelette was just ok. Btw, at check-in I asked for someone to escort me through the “secret” security. The lady checked me in said they were understaffed and I would need to make such request in advance. Luckily my carry-on was not chosen to be searched.

  24. The First Class lounge is small, quiet l, and intimate. It does not impress compared to First Class Lounges at a Heathrow or Frankfurt. For Tom Bradley it is above average. We have been there twice recently and the staff and service were very good.

    Would I try and get there hours in advance of my flight? NO! That being said, it was fine, just not outstanding as the BA First Class lounge is or the Lufthansa First Class lounge or Terminsl is.

  25. A quick FYI regarding your nice photograph of the ‘Herman Miller’ chair:

    The Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman are furnishings made of molded plywood and leather, designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company. They are officially titled Eames Lounge and Ottoman and were released in 1956 after years of development by designers.

  26. Sorry, I don’t want to sound ungrateful..but this lounge looks and conveys mediocrity as a F lounge..they should definitely let LH or LX help them manage one and show how they do it in FRA or ZRH in their respective F lounges…

  27. As a seasoned first class traveller (cash travel not points), this is one of my least favourite first class lounges.

  28. I visited this lounge last time I flew Singapore Suites and largely agree. I came to the first class lounge to order a nice meal off the menu, then spent the rest of my time enjoying the business class lounge, which is quite good and very relaxing. The outdoor area overlooking the terminal is excellent. I’m not sure what they were thinking, wedging first class patrons into a side closet when there’s such a great, open space right next door. Interesting choices! (Though if we’re being honest, I also tend to eat dinner in Singapore’s “private room” then wade out into the business class lounge for a more open feel as well).

  29. That “secret” TSA checkpoint is used all the time for celebrities, so many paparazzi videos on youtube show them following the person to the door basically. I wonder if I can just show up and use it.

  30. I am a One World traveler and always wondered if I was missing something with Star Alliance. Seeing this, I would say no. OW First lounge is much bigger and has a really great buzz. Food is hit and miss, but better than Star menu. I really look forward to OW first lounge at start of trip. Thanks for the review.

  31. The main thing about the F lounge for me is someone will serve you while in the J lounge you basically fend for yourself.

  32. “I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I ordered something. First I had a glass of champagne.”

    You crack me up, Lucky.

  33. Does I need a FirstClass Tix to get access in the FirstClass Lounge or can I get access as a Star Alliance Gold Member?

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