Los Angeles (CA)
Los Angeles (LAX)
Business & First
- Bollinger Champagne
- Extensive buffet dining for most guests
- Separate dining room for first class flyers
- No barista coffee, bartender service
- Lack of privacy for first class flyers outside the dining room
- Generous guest list provides access for most business travellers
American Airlines' new Flagship Lounge at Los Angeles Airport welcome both business class and first class travellers along with Qantas Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers, being a step-up from your typical Admirals Club.
For example, all food and beverage comes free-of-charge – including Champagne – with high-speed WiFi, ample power points and a business centre for productive road warriors.
There's a separate dining area reserved for American Airlines' first class passengers jetting to New York or on long-haul international flights, although most of the lounge is easily accessible, including to Qantas passengers flying to Australia.
Join Australian Business Traveller as we put AA's newest airport lounge to the test on a recent journey through LAX, from the perspective of an international business class passenger.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security at LAX Terminal 4 (or coming across from TBIT via the airside terminal connector), follow the signs marked 'Admirals Club'.
I found this a tad confusing at first because I was looking for the Flagship Lounge, not the Admirals Club, which American Airlines normally regards as two separate facilities.
I also initially walked straight past the unassuming entrance while hunting for the next blue directional sign, but eventually spotted the small doorway across from Gate 40.
Once inside, present your boarding pass to the agents in the lobby, and if you're entitled to access the Flagship Lounge, you'll receive a black invitation:
Take that invitation upstairs, and rather than venturing right for the Admirals Club, turn left instead towards the Flagship Lounge sign, and surrender the card for access.
The Flagship Lounge offers dedicated service desks just inside, with flight information screens at hand...
... and a variety of zones catering to travellers planning on relaxing, working or dining.
- American Airlines' first class and business class passengers on flights to Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City and South America, plus New York JFK
- First class and business class flyers of other Oneworld airlines, such as Qantas, when flying to the same destinations
- Connecting passengers arriving on long-haul first and business class Oneworld flights continuing onto a short-haul Oneworld flight in any class of travel, including economy
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members prior to any flight with Qantas, American Airlines or any other Oneworld airline to any destination, including USA domestic travel
- Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers, other than those belonging to the American Airlines AAdvantage scheme, prior to any Oneworld flight to any destination
- American Airlines ConciergeKey cardholders departing on or connecting to any Oneworld domestic or international flight
- American Airlines Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum members taking a Oneworld flight to Australia, Asia, Central America, Europe, Mexico City, New Zealand or South America only. No access for USA domestic travellers (including to Alaska, Hawaii and JFK) or on short-haul international trips to Bermuda, the Bahamas, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico (except Mexico City).
Members of the Qantas Club and Admirals Club schemes have no access here unless also covered by one of the categories above, but can visit the neighbouring American Airlines Admirals Club lounge.
American Airlines offers two tiers of service within this lounge, with restaurant-style 'Flagship First Dining' for AA first class passengers jetting to New York JFK, Asia, Europe and South America, and buffet dining for everybody else.
If you're part of that first class set, you'll find your exclusive dining room tucked away on the far right of the lounge:
For everybody else, the main dining area is at the opposite end of the lounge, where you'll spot both long benches and individual dining tables.
To the side of that are the buffet counters – and rather than having only six or so items available plus a few salads, as in the old Flagship Lounge, the new lounge brings some much welcome variety.
A array of lighter bites can be found at one end, with the individually-plated beef tenderloin atop arugula salad with horseradish cream proving particularly tasty...
... continuing with more substantial salads, where the sweet chilli turkey and green papaya dish in particular was nice and fresh...
... and, of course, the hot food, such as chicken wings and steamed fish...
... through to vegetables, stir fry, curry and soups:
At the end of the buffet is a separate station serving up custom-prepared Vietnamese pho: a noodle soup, with your choice of chicken, prawns or tofu, mixed with a selection of fresh ingredients...
... and, for the sweet tooth, a range of dessert options – some being Christmas-themed given my December visit – aside other snacks like potato chips:
Beverage options include machine-made coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks from a counter in the lounge proper...
... with these same drinks available behind the buffet, along with local and imported beers in the fridge nearby...
... and an extensive range of spirits and liqueurs, which are all self-serve. There's another Coca Cola machine nearby, should you require a mixer, and wine within reach too.
But the highlight of this lounge is most certainly the Bollinger... lots of Bollinger.
You'll find it in the middle of the long dining bench, and yes, there are seats close by!
However, AA's Flagship Lounge does lack true restaurant dining and cocktail bartender service for most passengers – which Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers can experience one terminal over at LAX in the Qantas first class lounge – excepting the AA Flagship First Dining facility that most lounge guests can't access.
For light work before your flight such as a quick email or two, perch yourself in one of the many comfy seats throughout the lounge...
... most of which offer cocktail tables for your drinks and snacks, and a reading light for your newspaper or work documents:
Those cocktail tables also house AC and USB power points: you'll just need to dig out your US power adaptor as there are no international plugs here.
You can also recharge by connecting your device to the base of each lamp, which again features USB and AC power, although these AC sockets don't accommodate three-pin plugs, so for larger gadgets like laptops, you'll need to plug these into a regular power point.
Fittingly, the lamps are your signal that extra power points are found nearby...
... and for any serious work, set yourself up at one of the laptop benches lining the windows, which again offer power and have three-pin AC outlets – it's just a shame there's not more of these, which would be handy at peak times:
A separate business zone provides desktop computers and printing facilities, with complimentary WiFi throughout the space.
After getting the day's password from reception, I measured download speeds of a staggering 201.3Mbps, uploads even faster at 266.2Mbps, and ping speeds of 4ms.
That's literally more than twice as fast as Australia's best-performing household NBN fibre plans, so even if multiple lounge guests are using the connection to stream HD video, you're unlikely to notice any difference in usability while browsing.
Pass the time before your flight by taking in views of the airfield from many of the floor-to-ceiling windows, which bring in plenty of natural light throughout the day...
... catch up on the latest news and happenings in sport in the TV viewing area...
... pick up some reading material, which you'll be able to devour in peace and quiet as boarding calls aren't made here, so keep an eye on the flight information screens as your flight draws closer...
... head to the dedicated 'quiet area' for some solitude or a nap on one of the recliners (which were in use during my visit, and therefore not photographed)...
... or, freshen up before your flight in one of the many shower suites, with the keys for these available from the Flagship Lounge reception.
All that remains is to make it to your gate, and for passengers flying with American Airlines (including to Sydney and Auckland), there isn't far to walk, as these flights depart from Terminal 4 where the lounge is located...
... although passengers travelling with Qantas, or with other Oneworld airlines from the Tom Bradley International Terminal, will need to walk across to TBIT via the airside connector, which avoids the need to clear security again.
Don't exit Terminal 4 and walk to TBIT by going outside: make sure you follow the signage to 'Gates 130-159, Terminal B' within the airport's secure area...
... otherwise, you might end up stuck in a queue like this one, as I observed while taking that (queue-free) airside walk between T4 and TBIT:
All in all, American Airlines' Flagship Lounge at LAX is a solid space for business class passengers to spend some time pre-flight, and a great alternative to the Oneworld Business Lounge in TBIT for business class passengers and Oneworld Sapphire frequent flyers in particular.
However, for international first class flyers, the Flagship Lounge itself is a bit underwhelming compared to the neighbouring Qantas First Lounge.
Granted, there's the separate Flagship First Dining space which elevates that part of the experience, but for the remainder of your visit, you're in the same lounge as practically everyone else: and in the home of Hollywood, many first class passengers would preference privacy above all else.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Qantas: a Oneworld alliance partner of American Airlines.