As the beginning of our babymoon to Singapore and Bali, we were booked on Korean Air A380 First Class LAX-ICN, flight 012, which leaves at 11:30PM. We got the airport with plenty of time as we wanted to check out the new Tom Bradley International Terminal as well as the Korean Air First Class Lounge. I was excited about meal service on Korean Air so I didn’t want to fill up too much on food at the airport, but as our flight didn’t leave until nearly midnight, the plan was to have a light dinner at the lounge first. It turns out that even though this is a First Class lounge, the food was so weak that we ended up leaving to buy food in the terminal!
After coming through security at the newly remodeled international terminal, there is a set of lounges immediately to your left, and there’s a set to the right. Korean Air operates both a first class and business class lounge, both located on the fifth floor. It’s also worth noting that the Korean Air lounges act as the Skyteam + Priority Pass lounges, so you may bump into Air France passengers while in there. And if you’re not flying in a premium cabin, but you have Priority Pass, this is going to be your go-to lounge at the international terminal.
We checked in at the desk, and the attendant there checked our boarding pass. First Class passengers enter through the sliding glass doors on the right. Business Class / Priority Pass passengers head left. The attendant walked us into the lounge, and she gave us a quick tour of the rather small lounge. There’s an entry way with a flight status monitor and two sitting rooms. One sitting room is inside and has a television. The other sitting room is “outside,” meaning that it’s a balcony open to the international terminal.
This open balcony is actually the best feature of the lounge, in my opinion. You can stretch out and relax with your laptop while watching the hustle and bustle of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The terminal is quite gorgeous; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy people watching from there. We got a great panoramic view of the terminal below:
We settled in. Time to eat! I had this vision in my head that because it’s an Asian carrier, perhaps they would have some dumplings or similar items to satisfy my hunger until boarding. To say I was disappointed would be a bit of an understatement… Their first class lounge, being rather small, has a small food room.
Hmm… At this point, my disappointment started to set in. This was a first class lounge, right? I wasn’t expecting the Emirates treatment, but I was expecting a food offering superior to a United Club. On the left, we had a selection of waters, soft drinks, and mediocre beers.
On the right, we had the selection of cold foods. Interested in some little finger sandwiches? How about some chips and pace picante salsa? If those don’t pique your interest, perhaps you’d like some fruit? What’s that? You’re interested in hot food? Ah well just walk to the end of the room, where you’ll find Korean Air’s finest lounge food.
Of course, by finest lounge food, what I’m really referring to is a scattering of chicken wings and a meagerly filled pan of pasta. My payment for this trip was a deposit of points, but if I had actually paid real dollars to get this crap, I woud have gone “nut rage style” and started wreaking havoc! In any case, if that hot food doesn’t look good, maybe you’re interested in a danish? They place them right in between the chicken and pasta – duh. To the right of the hot food was the hard alcohol and wine. To the left of the hot food was a small dish of individually wrapped oreos. I took three and put the in my bag. I showed them who was boss by taking some lounge food with me to go!
In all seriousness, I was confused. Was I missing something? I decided to go over to the business class side of the lounge. I figured that they probably had some better food options. I won’t go into too much detail about the Business Class Lounge (Rocky and James do a great job of describing it here and here, respectively), but it looked pretty similar to the First Class Lounge, just much bigger. Their food selection was a larger spread of the same items in the First Class lounge, minus the hot food, plus pretzels. Ouch.
Okay… My wife and I were hungry. Despite the fact that we were flying international first class, we felt forced to leave the lounge in order to get something suitable. Luckily, the LAX international terminal has an Umami Burger. We left the lounge and ordered an Umami Burger. Side note: what the heck do they put in these things? Crack? Holy crap their burgers are delicious…
Before heading back to the lounge, I took a picture of it, as seen from the second floor of the food court. You can see that balcony pretty nicely.
We returned back to the lounge, and I was determined to get some value out of the place! I decided to grab a beer and a carefully selected chicken wing.
First class food, baby!
I know I’m being dramatic and exaggerating a bit, but the bottom line is that this “First Class Lounge” isn’t worthy of such a title. There is a shower there, if you have a layover, but if you’re starting your journey at LAX, there’s no need to get to the airport early to enjoy the lounge. There isn’t much to enjoy… Think of it is a classy holding cell before your flight. If you do that, your expectations will be properly managed.