Reviews

Review: Virgin America's Loft Lounge, Los Angeles

By Chris Neugebauer, April 19 2013
Virgin America's Loft Lounge, Los Angeles
Country

United States

City

Los Angeles (CA)

Airport

Los Angeles (LAX)

Alliance

None

Airline

Virgin America

Cabin-class

Notes
The Good
  • Extensive cocktail bar
  • Cookies!
The Bad
  • Lack of work space
  • Poor dining options
X-Factor
  • No kids allowed
Location
Dining
Work
Overall

Introduction

For as long as Virgin Australia has been flying out of Los Angeles, there's been an abject lack of international-grade lounge access for business class travellers and top-tier members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.

With the opening of Virgin America's Loft lounge at LAX, that's changed for the better – or has it?

Location & Impressions

The Loft is located in LAX Terminal 3, where Alaska Airlines' Boardroom lounge used to be – look for the staircase tucked away next to Starbucks.

Other than a Virgin Australia-branded 'Welcome' sign, there isn't anything else to give away the Loft's location, making it almost as well-hidden as Hogwarts!

Step through the doors and you'll see that Virgin America has gone for the same vibe as their A320 aircraft, with everything lit by deep purple mood lighting.

The layout of the lounge remains unchanged from its previous incarnation, however. There's an area up the back for watching TV, a bar area, and a long narrow section overlooking the tarmac outside.

One unique feature of the Loft is its controversial "no kids allowed" policy, with a ban on children under 12 years, although the rules are relaxed for Virgin Australia travellers.

Access

If you're travelling in business class on Virgin Australia's daily service back to Australia, you'll be handed a Loft lounge pass when you check in at LAX.

Otherwise, your Velocity Gold or Platinum card will open the doors for yourself and one guest.

Failing that, you'll have to stump up US$40 for a single-entry pass to The Loft.

Dining

If you arrive at the Loft hoping to have a quick dinner before your flight back to Australia, you'll be severely disappointed.

The extent of what may be called 'substantial' food options fit entirely within a small fridge next to the bar – a selection of salads, wraps, small platters and sushi-like snacks.

It's disappointing that there isn't a single hot option in the loft – even Alaskan used to have a couple of soups back when they ran the lounge.

My recommendation: Double up on the Chocolate Chunk cookies... they're amazingly good.

Your options look a bit better for breakfast: there's a toaster with a few varieties of bread and bagels, and – miraculously – Vegemite, a welcome sight after I'd been in America for a few weeks!

The situation improves considerably if you're in the mood for a drink.

The bar's quite well stocked, with a bartender standing by to mix cocktails for you.

The Anchor Steam stands out as the best of the four beers on offer, but I went with what turned out to be a middle of the road Margarita.

Work

Looking for somewhere to get some solid work done before your flight? You're pretty much out of luck.

There's not a single proper desk in sight throughout the entire lounge, so you'll need to make do with leaning over the coffee tables or perching your notebook on your lap.

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

If you want an actual power point rather than just a USB socket, head for the two-seater, high-sided sofas – each of the  floor lamps next to them marks a section of wall where you'll find an AC socket.

Thankfully, the lounge WiFi is very fast - just grab a password from the front desk on your way in.

Relax

Want to tune out before your trip? There are a few private seating areas where you can tuck yourself away.

But I'd suggest the pick of the seats would have to be the long narrow section at the back of the lounge.

There's a bunch of lounge chairs and coffee tables, and the bar is close to hand.

The view of the tarmac outside is pretty hard to fault... well, at least it's a lot more interesting than anything else inside the lounge.

Summary

Launched with a lot of hype last year, Virgin America's Loft is their first effort at a bespoke lounge. But despite the funky design, it's closer to your typical American domestic lounge than a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse or the flagship Virgin Australia lounges.

The lack of suitable seating and workspace to attend to some last-minute work before your flight is a serious drawback for a business class lounge.

Add the dire food options and you've got all the ingredients of a missed opportunity for Virgin America, and a letdown for Virgin Australia's growing number of frequent fliers and business travellers.

Chris Neugebauer

Christopher is a semi-professional nerd based in Hobart. When not writing code or in the air, his natural habitat is the specialty coffee house of the city he's in at the time.

Waynec

Waynec

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Aug 2012

Total posts 131

The lounge looks pretty futuristic but I was just wondering if this lounge have any showers?

chrisjrn

chrisjrn

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Hi Wayne,

No showers at the Loft, disappointingly, especially if you've just got off  Virgin Australia flight across the pacific. If you really want a shower in that case, I recommend trying to connect on Delta rather than Virgin America.

--Chris

Waynec

Waynec

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Aug 2012

Total posts 131

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the info mate. This lounge looks very good for a lounge in America but lounges there always seem to lack something. Even the AA Flagship lounges which are supposed to be among the best in America are pretty mediocre by Aussie standards.

Wayne

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

As far as I'm aware you have to look to UK carriers for decent lounges stateside. The BA First lounges (owned and operated - not joint oneworld) or Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses being the only ones that don't blow chunks.

Seems illogical, but that's just how the US is.

chrisjrn

chrisjrn

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Indeed.

An interesting problem here is that Virgin America passengers also have access to the Virgin Atlantic lounges at SFO, JFK and IAD – these rather good lounges are what The Loft has to compete with.

gippsflyer

gippsflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

You have to give credit to Qantas, with their international First lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, they really set a new benchmark (although other carriers deserve some credit too in pushing the luxury level up). 

These days the bar is set high, even though not many get to experience it (and let's be honest, you could get the same things for less than a First ticket outside the terminal), but its nice that its there.

Daniell

Daniell

26 May 2011

Total posts 58

Shows how spoilt we are in Australia really.............

Not_again

Not_again

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Apr 2013

Total posts 1

Just a warning to fellow travelers, was in the Loft on 13th April and the place was packed. They were having to get chairs from storage, it made you realise how tiny the lounge was. As there were so many people the fridge kept running out of food. Everybody in the lounge then boarded the flight back to Sydney. Why don't VA go the whole hog and get their own lounge? In the meantime anybody flying and using the lounge will need to get there early.

Mike_M

Mike_M

02 May 2013

Total posts 6

I went through LAX Loft in March twice. A couple of comments:

Pros:

  • Cocktails were nice and the service fast
  • Food, while not as nice as many other lounges, was acceptable and I found it refreshing: Sushi, mini wraps, cheeses (USA style urgh) and fruits etc. 
  • Went in with a Gold and was recongised without issue.
  • This terminal has very limited food and relaxation options so it's definitely a nicer setting in the lounge to watch the runway with a drink in hand
  • Quiet during the day

Cons:

  • Seating was very limited. Before my VA2 flight back to Australia they had to get extra seating and tables out of storage to accomodate the amount of people
  • Too small
  • While the promo photos of the lounge make it look state of the art, the fittings are already looking very worn and most of the furniture very cheap. The bathroom for instance was very basic, had chipped paint everywhere, a little messy and has no showers. 
  • Coffee is pretty standard, even for the US

There was also quite a few children in there much younger than 12 years old on the night of my flight. I didn't see them have any problem getting in so i don't think Virgin take the policy all to seriously. 
 

cssaus

cssaus

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 156

I was in the lounge last week before catching VA2 to Sydney.

Problem is that the lounge struggles to cope with seating for people waiting for the two VA flights that go out at nite.

It is however vastly improved since I was there last.

logicbox

logicbox

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Jun 2013

Total posts 4

The VX Loft is comparatively terrible as it's usually completely packed in the evening. That is, until you see the terminal ... in which case I think it's awesome.

I prefer to fly Delta in/out of LAX if a lounge is going to be necessary (because of the VA tie-in). Otherwise the Crowne Plaza is only 1.5 miles down the road and if you're with family costs about as much as buying extra lounge passes.

Pjohnson

Pjohnson

16 Nov 2013

Total posts 1

I totally agree this is one of the most disappointing lounges I have visited worldwide. The cold food selection is something I would expect to be served up while flying cattle class on a budget carrier. Flying out on a Friday night meant there was limited seating. The good news is the bar staff were fantastic.

Regards 

Paul


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