On 13 April, I found myself on the unfortunate end of an 11-hour delay at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), ahead of a 15-hour flight back to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific.
Now to be fair, LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal is not a bad airport, but it’s a far cry from some luxurious airports in Asia, like Singapore Changi, which now has an entire mixed-use development called Jewel that it opened earlier this week.
Fortunately, I had access to the Oneworld lounge in LAX, which was developed and is currently managed by Qantas on behalf of the other Oneworld airlines with which it shares the facility, notably Cathay Pacific, British Airways, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Iberia and LATAM. This lounge first opened in 2007, and we first reviewed it in 2013.
Where is it?
Tom Bradley International Terminal, Level 5. After security, head up an escalator that leads to a PF Chang’s restaurant, then turn right and the lounge will be directly in front of you.
Who can access?
Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire members, as well as passengers flying business class or first class on a Oneworld airline.
What's it like?
Large, family friendly, with a wide variety of seating choices, ranging from individual armchairs…
…to swivel chairs and long tables…
…and high-top tables and chairs…
While the range of seating is generally good, this lounge would benefit from more bed-like seating. When I arrived at the lounge during the late afternoon, all of the lie-flat seating was already occupied. Frustratingly, some of it was occupied by people who were not actually using it to sleep but for working or watching videos on their laptops.
It made me realise just how good the sleeping area is in Cathay Pacific’s The Pier Business Class Lounge in Hong Kong.
I actually saw one guest who had pushed together two armchairs and removed the table in between them to form a bed-of-sorts for herself. I copied her and managed to get about an hour’s light sleep in my makeshift cocoon.
This lounge’s food and beverage offering is decent, though not as extensive as some other business class lounges.
Some of the things I tried during my stay in the lounge were this attractive platter of crudités, including broccoli, carrots, radishes, peppers, cucumber and celery with a tasty hummus dip in the middle…
…this cheese, which was accompanied by small slices of bread, as well as crystallised pineapple and what I think was papaya…
…this nice selection of fruit, which included apples both red and green, oranges and bananas. It would have been nice to have of exotic fruits also, though perhaps I’m just too used to being able to get them in Hong Kong…
…and this selection of salad. On the right is Caesar salad with Ranch dressing; the middle one is mango, tomato, lime salsa mixed leaf salad; and the one on the left is roasted tomatillo salsa…
…and these desserts (for some reason, corn chips were placed alongside the desserts). Although it’s not pictured here, I also had a delicious pecan pie…
One exciting feature was that during dinnertime a taco truck sprung up in the middle of the lounge. Los Angeles is famous for its tacos and I’d sure had my fill of them during my trip, though one more for the road wouldn’t hurt. However, I wasn’t hungry when the truck first showed up, and by the time I had worked up an appetite the truck had already ceased operation, so I didn’t actually get to try the tacos.
For those wishing to have an alcoholic beverage, there is a good selection of wines. Some highlights were the 2016 McPherson ‘MWC’ Shiraz from Mourvedre, Victoria, Australia. I also liked the look of the Handpicked Regional Selections, 2016 Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley.
Unfortunately I can’t comment on how they taste. Since I was planning on doing a fair bit of work once I got on the flight, I’d resolved to hold off on indulging in any pre-flight tipples and instead enjoy the on-board selection once I’d finished working.
However, if you’re travelling in a more premium class – or have a better tolerance for drinking and flying than I – then I’m sure you’ll find it hard to resist indulging in several glasses from the selection.
Hot drinks and soft drinks are self-serve. There is tea and coffee, as well as a selection of sodas, including Fanta, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Coca Cola and Diet Coke. It’s worth noting that these sodas are dispensed from a machine, rather than being provided in refrigerated cans.
In a previous life I have experience with these machines, and know that the quality can be lower than that of canned beverages. I guess the lounge views the machine as a more cost-efficient option to cans, given the sheer volume of guests coming through this lounge.
The selection of teas looked attractive, with at least half a dozen different varieties available.
In terms of reading material, the newspaper selection was initially quite surprising for a US airport. I expected to find the Los Angeles Times. However, besides the Financial Times, the selection was of British and Australian local papers.
Given that (as mentioned above) the lounge is run by Qantas on behalf of the Oneworld airlines with which it shares the facility, the abundance of Australian papers is probably less surprising.
Close to the newspapers, there are some work desks and computers. When I visited the lounge, most of them were available. If you’ve forgotten to bring your own laptop or other device and need to get some urgent work done, this could be a lifesaver.
If you do have your own device with you, there are certainly plenty of areas where you can charge it up. I sat at one of the high tables and was able to charge my phone directly next to me (note: the green adaptor pictured is my own and not supplied by the lounge). There are also other sockets strategically placed around the lounge, and I didn’t see anyone struggling to find power.
The toilets were clean and well-maintained. There are also good-sized shower rooms. I took a shower before my flight, which was a really nice way to feel more relaxed before boarding. If I hadn’t had this opportunity to shower, I would have had to have gone over 30 hours without showering.
A very pleasant lounge for a layover in LAX. Having access to this lounge certainly took the edge off my 11-hour delay.
It should be noted that the lounge does gets quite busy during peak hours. You can expect crowds during dinnertime, but at other times of the day it should be relatively quiet. If you’re a solo traveller looking for some peace and quiet, you should note that there is a good chance of there being children in the lounge; however, for younger children, there is a play area which is well separated from the rest of the lounge, meaning they are unlikely to disturb you.
F&B-wise, the pop-up taco truck was a welcome and thoughtful feature. While the food offering isn’t quite as impressive as in some other business class lounges I’ve visited, it will be perfectly suited for anyone spending a normal amount of time in this lounge. If, like me, you find yourself stuck with a long delay, you may find the food choice somewhat lacking. The decent wine selection may be able to compensate for that, though. You can also exit and re-enter this lounge at will, meaning if you do want to scout out the rest of the airport for some different (albeit paid for) food, you do have that liberty.
I would describe this lounge more as a lounge for eating and drinking, getting some work done, or (quietly!) chatting with a companion. It’s not so much kitted out for those wishing to sleep. More lie-flat seating, situated in less brightly lit areas, would be appreciated for those like me who are stuck with long waits, though the lounge management has probably made a strategic decision that most travellers coming through will only be there for a few hours at the very most, and therefore decided to eschew a section with full lie-flat beds.
- Opening hours: 06:30 to 23:30 every day
- Location: Level 5, Tom Bradley International Terminal, Los Angeles International Airport