PHOTO TOUR: inside Virgin America's swanky new Loft lounge at LAX

By John Walton, December 13 2012

Virgin America has joined its sister airlines in Australia and across the Atlantic in the "who can have the swankiest Virgin lounge" game, and its first move is the chic and stylish space it calls The Loft at Los Angeles LAX.

Even better, you can also use The Loft when heading back home across the Pacific. A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that business class passengers on VA flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — and Velocity Platinum/Gold frequent flyers heading to Australia or around the US — get in for free.

It's mood-lit, it's swish, it's got a modern menu and stylish mixed drinks… and it's a child-free zone: children under 12 are banned from The Loft, and under-18s are only allowed in with an adult. 

Getting into The Loft lounge

The Loft sits upstairs after security in LAX Terminal 3, near the Virgin America gates – the same terminal that Virgin Australia uses for its flights from LA to Australia.

"Virgin Australia's Velocity Gold and Platinum members will have access to the LAX loft free of charge - they can present their card at the Virgin America Loft for access," Virgin America's PR manager Patricia Condon told to Australian Business Traveller today.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed this arrangement and also that the deal is, naturally enough, extended to VA business class passengers.

For everyone else there's a $40 door free when travelling on either airline (or on Virgin Atlantic, although it uses a different terminal).

Booked on a Virgin America domestic First Class leg as part of a Virgin Australia booking? You get in as well, but only if you've booked through Virgin Australia. If you've paid Virgin America for your First Class ticket, you'll have to stump up a further $40 for The Loft.

Virgin America's Elevate Gold and Silver members get an allocation of passes every year.

Inside the lounge, past the white staffer desk and opposite a glass art piece/wall, you'll find the area that Creative Director Jesse McMillin calls "the Recharge Space, a free-form organic arrangement of furniture".

However, we reckon business travellers will be looking for a "plonk yourself down, pull out your laptop, plug yourself in" arrangement of furniture — something that Virgin Australia does so well with its still-chic snaking power-point-and-desk-space bars, and which is missing here.

We're not entirely sure that these doubtlessly designer chairs are the most comfortable option, we can't spot any desks (or power points that aren't low down on the walls), and we're not confident that it's a good idea for two chairs to be sticking out (however organically) into the main pathway.

But they're certainly Virgin-stylish — as is that glass art/wall.

Inside, the lounge is a funky arrangement of red, purple, black and white that feels bang-on-brand, with a central bar (sorry, "Refresh Space") to pick up a drink and find yourself a spot to sit down.

The main seating area in the lounge edges up against floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the lounge with light during the daytime: perfect to reset your body clock or to just relax and watch the giant airport fishbowl go past outside.

And of course there's coloured mood lighting for the evenings, in Virgin's signature red and accent purple.

Many of the side tables have a hidden secret: the bases of the lamps come with a USB socket to keep your handheld gadgets charged. 

Travellers familiar with the excellent Virgin Atlantic JFK Clubhouse will be pleased to see the popular two-seater, high-sided sofas from that lounge making an appearance here, this time in a bright red.

If you want an actual power point rather than just a USB socket, these are probably your best option: each of those vertical standing lamps marks a section of wall with regular AC sockets.

And those are combination stools/side tables from Gehry, in case you were wondering.

Further up and further in you'll find more private seating areas to tuck yourself away. Don't miss your flight if you curl up for a snooze on the long L-shaped sofa.

There's also a dark TV area if the mood lighting gets a bit much.

Drinks in the lounge include a Lofty Libations artisanal cocktail selection, or "drinks menu" if you're not a lounge designer. 

Among the six signature mixed drinks on offer is the "Virgintini" — firmly a Virgin beverage rather than a virgin beverage, with vodka and cranberry juice.

The VeeV à la Virgin (see what they did there?) sounds intriguing, based on the VeeV acai spirit.

If you like beer, Anchor Steam and Gordon Biersch Marzen are on offer, and if you don't like beer there's Bud Light.

For the less alcoholically inclined among us, there's also a welcome range of soft drinks, from cranberry, orange and pineapple juice to Powerade (why don't more airlines have isotonics in their lounges?) and Rockstar Recovery energy drinks.

Putting paid to the idea that people in LA never eat, you'll find a selection of continental-style lighter brekkie bites in the morning — handy if you're connecting from one of Virgin Australia's flights across the Pacific.

We're intrigued by the fresh fruit salad wrap. (No actual salad. Just fruit and yoghurt.)

The all-day side "Light Bites" side of the menu includes an impressive variety of sushi, wraps, salads and noodles that should please all palates.

If you're curious for more (or just love hearing designers talk about their stuff), check out this video clip:

The keenest lounge lizards can download a six minute, 600MB video clip for a closer and longer look.

Overall, The Loft is a happening kind of joint, but as business travellers we can't help but feel a little under-served. There's no real laptop-friendly area or recharging zone for your electronic kit, nor a business space to spread out and really get some work done.

And the designer chairs seem more designer than chair, if we're honest: with the exception of the big red sofas, they don't strike us as immediately laptop-on-knees comfortable.

What do you think — are you put off by the lack of a proper business area with proper power points? Or are you happy with chic chairs and USB sockets? We're keen to hear what the AusBT community thinks: sound off in a comment below.

Don't forget to follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter for the very latest: we're @AusBT!

John Walton
John Walton

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

777

777

Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

12 May 2011

Total posts 32

Hang on ... no kids? Does that mean if i am travelling on VA with my family i can't get in or is that only for the domestic side of things? 

John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

My reading of the Loft access rules says any under-12 sproglets won't be allowed in.

Of course, you can use the ReLax (ReLAX? However it's capitalised…) lounge in the adjoining international terminal, but it's before security and fairly unimpressive.

Hold the Peas

Hold the Peas

13 Sep 2012

Total posts 20

Looks very 'clubby' but I guess that is what they are going for. No champagne?

John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

No champers on the list, my anti-legume friend — just "La Campagna sparkling wine", with which I'm entirely unfamiliar. Hopefully they'll have some cassis or Chambord to chuck in to make a faux Kir royale.

KG

KG

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 736

Nice review, lounge looks great! I'd say they beat what Virgin offers in Australia. Are drinks and food free? Normally when flying in the USA domestic lounge fair are paid for (or partially paid for sometimes you do get a chit to use for a freebee)?

 "...and if you don't like beer there is Bud Light" hahahaha!

John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

I see no price list on the food and drinks — so my understanding is that your $40 entry fee covers it.

(And you'd have to pay me significantly more than $40 to drink Bud Light.)

PS You're a frequent flyer and a regular around here, KG — what do you reckon to the lack of business area?

mickeyg

mickeyg

Virgin Australia - Platinum

26 Jun 2011

Total posts 43

Do Velocity Platinum and Gold members only enjoy free access for VA flights (across the pacific) or do they get free access when flying VX as well?

John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

Both, I'm told.

aero-seat

aero-seat

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2012

Total posts 268

On the Virgin Australia website, it says that both Velocity Gold and Platinum have free access to the lounge. It even says that Virgin Australia Business Class guests have access as well! Can't wait to experience the lounge, I been loft! ;)

dibs

dibs

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Dec 2012

Total posts 20

Couldn't help but laugh at "Virginiti"

AlG

AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Can't get over this being a kid-free lounge, surely in America that won't last for long before some Yank with sprogs in tow complains he is being discriminated against and hires a laywer!

John Walton

John Walton

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 673

Ah, but it's potentially a licenced premises thing. (I'm not saying they won't get sued, because America. I'm just saying they probably have a leg to stand on.)

That said, I am currently going backwards and forwards on this with Virgins Australia and America — trying nail down precisely when Virgin Australia business class passengers and Velocity Gold/Platinum members travelling with families (or who are under-18s themselves) are allowed into the Loft when travelling on VX and VA.

starship

starship

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2012

Total posts 7

I reckon the no kids policy is great. The few times this year I've flown back from the US and used the Qantas business lounge at LAX it's been a creche. Kids running around and laying across the floor. Annoying.

rebekkap

rebekkap

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 34

Are there showers? I'm platiunum on both, but he big thing that's kept me flying Qantas to the US rather than Virgin is being able to shower in the lounge in LAX.

Rkwm

Rkwm

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 87

I think it looks like the showers are the missing link.Very big miss if that is the case especially for VA business passengers given the depature times and if also connecting from elsewhere in the states.

ojm

ojm

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2013

Total posts 3

Currently at the Loft about to head on VA8 to BNE. 

Can say that they are allowing children under 12 into the Loft, there are some young ones running about circa 2 years old.

No shower facilities which is disappointing. Cocktail menu seems low on the alcohol content: the Virgintini may as well have been virgin. 


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