Last week I reviewed the Qantas first class lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, which is also available to first class passengers on other oneworld Alliance carriers and to those with oneworld Emerald elite status. After enjoying my lunch and a few cocktails, I met up with Matthew at the oneworld business class lounge next door since I wasn’t permitted a guest in the first class lounge.
The business class lounge is much easier to find at the top of the escalators, next to several full-service restaurants and bars. In fact, the restaurants seemed to be having a difficult time attracting business — everyone would waive off the hostess and continue to the lounge.
Once inside, the look of the business class lounge is completely different from that of Qantas’ first class lounge. Both have a very contemporary design, but the business class lounge is dimly lit with many red and brown towns.
Seating is organized to facilitate social groups, and a large buffet replaces the restaurant. It’s also more crowded (compared to the five people in the first class lounge), but I didn’t think it was too busy during our afternoon visit. I also did a good job excluding other people from my photographs; there were at least 50 people here at all times.
Matthew and I headed off to the circular fireplace pit to the right, behind the large bar. I’m not sure why Los Angeles, of all places, needs an indoor fireplace in the tightly controlled environment of an airport, but it does look cool even when turned off.
I passed on eating any more but did take a few photos of the buffet while Matthew helped himself to an early dinner, just in case that upgrade didn’t clear. It looked like a good selection as far as I could tell, and most of the food looked appetizing.
The bar was my primary destination, and here I was less impressed. Although friendly enough, the bartender was clueless. My usual test for a good bar is if they have absinthe and can make a Sazerac. Few stock absinthe, which is fine, but this bartender didn’t even know what it was. My backup drink was a Negroni, which requires Campari and is much more common. Again no clue. I settled with a Manhattan, which was poorly made.
Service from the other staff wasn’t much better. We were in the lounge for about two hours, and even after finishing our drinks, moving to another area, and then returning to our original seats those empty glasses were still there. Everyone was perfectly friendly, but friendliness only gets you so far.
Ultimately this lounge was satisfactory and a big step up from your typical American Airlines Admirals Club. WiFi was fast, and the seating was mixed and comfortable. Most U.S. airports would be lucky to have a business class lounge this good.
But it shouldn’t be that difficult to clean up empty glasses and hire a bartender with experience. If we’re making comparisons, I was more impressed by the Star Alliance business class lounge upstairs and which I visited on a later trip.