Qantas clarifies access rules for LAX first class lounge

By David Flynn, December 7 2016

Staff at Qantas’ Los Angeles First Lounge are in for a refresher course on the rules covering lounge access, following reports that top-tier frequent flyers from American Airlines have been denied entry for spurious reasons.

Those travellers turned away have been Executive Platinum members of American Airlines’ AAdvantage program, arriving into LAX on international flights before moving onto a domestic flight with Oneworld partner American Airlines.

Australian Business Traveller readers and those of US travel blog One Mile At A Time have detailed several instances where the front desk staff at the Qantas first class lounge have told eligible passengers they’re not entitled to use the first class lounge and instead redirected them to the adjacent Oneworld business class lounge. 

Bring out the rule book…

This is at odds with the published lounge access policy of the Oneworld alliance, of which both Qantas and American Airlines are members.

Under those rules, AAdvantage Executive Platinum members – who sit on the same Oneworld Emerald status tier as Qantas Platinums, for example – can use the Qantas first class lounge after an international flight provided they have a domestic AA connection (regardless of travel class) on the same day. 

All that’s needed is to flash the necessary international boarding pass or e-ticket confirmation of an international flight marketed and operated by a Oneworld airline (including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and of course Qantas).

Qantas: no changes to LAX lounge access rules

Australian Business Traveller sought comment from a Qantas spokesperson, who confirmed the airline has not changed its access policies for the Los Angeles first class lounge.

Oneworld Emerald members can use the Qantas First Lounge in Los Angeles...
Oneworld Emerald members can use the Qantas First Lounge in Los Angeles...

“We want all of our customers to have an enjoyable pre-flight experience and wouldn’t want to deny an eligible lounge member the opportunity to sample Neil Perry’s salt and pepper squid before they fly,” the spokesperson quipped.

“There are a number of different lounge access policies across our network and we are working hard to ensure our lounge hosts in LA are trained and understand which frequent flyer members are eligible to access both (first class and business class) lounges.”

It’s become a popular option for American Airlines international travellers to pop into the Qantas LAX lounges ahead of their onwards domestic flight since the airport opened a connecting walkway between American Airlines’ T4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal used by Qantas.

Walking from T4 to TBIT at LAX. John Nguyen,
Walking from T4 to TBIT at LAX
John Nguyen,

Read more: New LAX terminal connector means quicker transits, more lounges

It’s happened before…

This isn’t the first time that Qantas’ Los Angeles lounge staff have misinterpreted lounge access rules to the misfortune of frequent flyers.

Just over a year ago, Australian Business Traveller reported a similar circumstance affecting Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers travelling on domestic flights with Qantas partner and Oneworld member American Airlines were being barred from the lounges.

At the time, Oneworld corporate communications executive Michael Blunt told Australian Business Traveller that the alliance had been “liaising with Qantas and have asked them to remind their colleagues at Los Angeles of the Oneworld lounge access rules – which they tell us has now been done.”

Blunt also confirmed that  “eligible customers… departing on flights from Terminal 4 should be able to access the TBIT lounge(s).”

What to do if you’re denied access?

If you’re connecting from an inbound international Oneworld flight at LAX onto a domestic Oneworld flight – regardless of the terminal – and hold Oneworld Emerald status (such as American Airlines’ Executive Platinum), but find your path to the Qantas First Lounge blocked, here’s what to do.

1. Make sure you’ve got proof of your status and your inbound international flight.

2. Show this article to the lounge concierge and draw their attention to the earlier quotes from Qantas.

3. Click here to call up the relevant set of rules for access to Oneworld lounges and point out the relevant paragraphs to the lounge staffer.

4. Be civil and courteous at all times, but stick to your guns and stand your ground. Don’t accept any off-hand reason for being refused access. Unless there’s a dire situation such as standing-room-only overcrowding, you’re fully entitled to enjoy the first class lounge.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Good on you David! Thanks for this piece.

07 Dec 2016

Total posts 1

Thanks, David! One thing is still not totally clear to me based on the rules. What about passengers booked in First on an AA 3-cabin premium transcon A321T? There is mention of an exception for J and F passengers on these flights in the oneworld rules, but it arguably only applies to Admirals Club access. Some passengers booked in F on these flights have reported success accessing the Qantas First lounge at LAX with no status. Any insight there?

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

The oneworld lounge access rules prevent members of AA AAdvantage from accessing lounges within North America (as AA defines it for their program) except when flying on the 3 class domestic flights (all LAX/SFO-JFK flights and limited others such as 777 operated LAX-MIA) or long haul.
This rule does not prevent members of other oneworld FFPs from accessing those lounges.

Someone without status traveling F on a domestic US 3 class flight would have access to F lounges as per oneworld rules.

18 Apr 2015

Total posts 68

I agree consistency is key and sticking to published rules but how come others can get away with it (Cathay Pacific in San Fran comes to mind).

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

In the case of the CX lounge at San Francisco, Cathay "gets away with it" because of the potential for overcrowding in the lounge. That's a legitimate reason for any airline to restrict access to its lounge.

18 Apr 2015

Total posts 68

That's ok if legitimate but it is widely known they cap the number of QFFs regardless of the capacity situation. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 332

CX claims that there is a finite capacity for QF pax, because of the numbers of their own pax that arrive every night.

04 May 2015

Total posts 243

How many reminders do these staff need before they get it right? Surely they have a big folder with all of the lounge rules in black and white they can refer to if they're unsure?

This nonsense has gone on for long enough. If the lounge staff can't or refuse to understand who has access and who doesn't, it's time to retrain them (you know, again), or hire new lounge staff.

Qantas Platinum

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 48

Good one David. For me to test soon with LAX-STL connection on AA


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 152

Would be great if our FF card and Apps could store our travel history, then the entire lounge access business rule process could be automated, saving lots of grief. Other transit systems having been doing this for years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 364

What I'm curious about is how you get back in there as you have to claim luggage and if you are on AA as a connection you are sent to the AA terminal. Sure you can access that way after security but otherwise in theory you can't unless you are boarding the QF flight to NYC. If you have an AA connection boarding pass security at TBIT won't let you through I believe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Oct 2016

Total posts 1

"...since the airport opened a connecting walkway between American Airlines’ T4 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal used by Qantas."

In any case, you can go airside at LAX from any terminal, irrespective of where your flight departs from. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 332

There is now an airside connector. You would check-in at T4,  and then go through security there and take the walkway back to TBIT.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 364

totally and fully aware of the airside connector, I have used it a number of times but the point I am making is that if you are connecting on an AA flight you need to go out of TBIT after luggage and come back in through the AA terminal. if you try going back through security at TBIT you are likely not to be allowed and be directed to AA and only then can you come back via the connector which is a rigmarole.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

LAX allows any pax to access any terminal, regardless of which terminal they are departing from. There would be nothing preventing me from checking in with QR in T2, walking over to TBIT and going through TSA there for lounge access or shopping. (Except in that case, or when flying out of T1,2 or 3, you would have to clear TSA again as there is no airside access from TBIT to T3-T1.)

With your scenario of arriving in TBIT and connecting to a flight in T4, there is no need to leave TBIT unless you have not been checked through. You can leave bags at the connections bag drop outside CBP, then go through the arrivals level TSA checkpoint in TBIT which sends you into the T4-TBIT connector.

There are 2 TSA checkpoints in TBIT. The main level departures checkpoint and the arrivals level connections checkpoint at the TBIT end of the connector building. You won't be "sent to AA and have to come back".

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 28

"There are a number of different lounge access policies across our network and we are working hard to ensure our lounge hosts in LA are trained and understand which frequent flyer members are eligible to access both (first class and business class) lounges".... says it all really. If Qantas have to work hard to ensure the staff understand the rules then what hope does teh average punter have of understanding the unecessarily complex often conflicting information available on teh varios access policy websites.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 332

Question for David: did QF respond in any way to the reported comments by lounge staff that AA is refusing to pay for AA pax entry if the pax is flying domestically?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2344

Nothing on record which we could thus print in this article.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 952

When I started reading this, I thought "again? They didn't learn from last time?"

I had planned to go to the QF F lounge prior to my last flight from LAX (LAX-DCA), but some 'issues' ate into my time and by the time I got into T4, I wouldn't have had time to enjoy the lounge with the walk through the connector.

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 118

Same thing happens with checkin queues at Latam. Their signage doesn't have ruby one world icons having access to business check in. Fortunately I'm good looking so get away with most things in Brasil.

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 51

For me 16 hours is way too long - even in J or F.  I'm sticking with the Dubai connection to break up the flight time. 

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