Qantas First Class Lounge Los Angeles: Review

thumbnail_20181024_211802.jpg

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

Qantas possesses some of the best lounges in the world, namely their first class international lounges in Melbourne and Sydney. Outside of Australia the Qantas first class lounge experience is unfortunately scarce. A couple of years ago Qantas opened up a new first class lounge in LAX. Reviews, particularly from American media were highly favourable. I was recently in Los Angeles and was keen to see if the great ‘Australian lounge experience’ was indeed alive and well in the States but more importantly do they do Neil Perry’s salt and pepper squid the justice it deserves? I checked into the LAX Qantas First Lounge to find out.

Lounge access options

  • Qantas first class passengers, plus first class flyers of Oneworld partners British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines from Los Angeles
  • Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers travelling on a Qantas or Oneworld flight, including Qantas codeshare flights
  • Connecting passengers arriving on long-haul first class Oneworld flights
  • American Airlines’ first class passengers
  • Other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers
  • American Airlines Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members
  • Single-use Qantas first class lounge pass holders
  • Air France first class passengers

Lounge location and opening hours

After clearing security at the Tom Bradley International Terminal, proceed over the indoor ‘bridge’, turn left, and then take the lift up to level five, where you’ll arrive in front of the roo branded lounge entrance.

 

Ambience

thumbnail_20181024_211758.jpg

Initial impressions of the lounge is that it has a relaxed and unpretentious ambience. It doesn’t feel cluttered or people busy as first lounges in Australia. The rectangular shaped lounge space offers two main seating areas each furnished with quite comfortable large armchairs and a self serve wine and coffee area. Towards the back of the lounge is the dining room which is complete with a sit around bar that’s looked after by a bartender.

thumbnail_20181024_214127.jpg

Next door to the dining area are shower and toilet facilities that are equipped with Aspar wash products. I decided to take a shower prior to dining a la carte but found there was a line up for the shower spaces. Unlike the Emirates Dubai lounge I found the turn around of showers was quite speedy which is handy for anyone in a rush.

A big criticism is sadly the lack of natural lighting in the lounge with no tarmac views. As a result the lounge feels a tad dark but nowhere near as oppressive as the Qantas International Melbourne Business Lounge.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

thumbnail_20181024_211240.jpg

One thing that I always love and look forward to at a Qantas First Lounge is the cuisine. The airline’s partnership with Rockpool culinary king Neil Perry is one of the longest chef airline collaborations in aviation history. The dining area is an a la carte space where passengers are treated to restaurant service and quality. Being a late flight out of LAX the service was dinner focused.

thumbnail_20181024_212620.jpg

I started with the lounge’s signature salt and pepper squid dish which has become my go to starter. It was satisfying but not as good as the one I enjoyed in the Sydney first lounge two weeks prior. Moving onto mains I went with the grilled bass with corn puree. It was a lot more enticing than my entree and went down well with my champagne. I rounded out my meal with the sticky date pudding which was surprisingly lighter than I thought but packed a punch in terms of flavour.

thumbnail_20181024_214941.jpg

Unlike the first lounges in Sydney and Melbourne there was a lack of champagne choices which was quite disappointing. Fortunately I quite enjoy a drop of Pommery and managed to savour two glasses before my flight was called.

I do give the lounge big props in terms of turning around dishes after they’ve been ordered. The lounge was busy yet unlike the Australian counterparts, they managed to quickly bring dish to table without taking half an hour. I find that I often have to arrive earlier than I would like to at Australian lounges just so I don’t feel rushed when it comes to dining in the dining area before a flight. The LAX kitchen is like a machine and was a bevy of activity the entire time I was there. Despite the swift service, the staff were still as attentive and courteous as their Australian colleagues.

 

Verdict

The lounge is definitely one of the best in America and sets a new standard hopefully for Americans to follow. Qantas should be proud of its first product. It’s slick, well serviced and flies that Australian flag well in terms of cuisine. Sure there are a few little niggles here and there, particularly the lack of natural light but overall there’s no place I would rather be at Tom Bradley International Terminal to spend a couple of hours whilst waiting for my flight.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas International First Lounge in Los Angeles? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

 

QANTAS LONDON LOUNGE TERM 3 LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 3

Lounge Rating: 4 Stars

qf1.jpg

For years Qantas relied heavily on its Oneworld partners to provide their top tier frequent flyers with lounge access from British Airways to American Airlines. Whilst the business lounges from the respective airlines did the job, they lacked character and were no where near the standard set by Cathay or Emirates. Fast forward to late last year and hello – Qantas opens its first dedicated Qantas lounge.

From the dine-on-demand from set menus to a sexy gin and cocktail bars, the Qantas London lounge has really raised the bar in terms of lounge offering at Heathrow Terminal 3. A few of my friends have already frequented it and all have glowing reviews of it. I was keen to see what all the fuss was about and hopped on in for a look.

 

Lounge access options

qf4.jpg

Lounge access is available for passengers who are:

  • first class and business class passengers on Qantas flights and those of Oneworld airlines departing from London Heathrow Terminal 3 (American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Royal Jordanian, etc)
  • Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold frequent flyers (and one guest) and their Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire equivalents, on Qantas or Oneworld flights
  • Qantas Club members (and one guest) on Qantas flights
  • Holders of a Qantas Club lounge invitation who are on a Qantas flight
  • Emirates Skywards Platinum and Gold cardholders on Qantas flights.

As a Sapphire or Emerald member you are welcome to invite one single guest per each departure flight to join you in the lounge.

 

Lounge location and opening hours

qf7.jpg

The Qantas London lounge is known at Heathrow Terminal 3 as  ‘Lounge B’. Simply follow the signs for Lounges or Gates 1-11, take a left turn shortly after exiting the central core of the terminal’s duty free shops, cafes and seating. It’s open daily from 8am to 8.30pm.

 

Ambience

qf3.jpg

The first thing I notice upon entering the lounge is the striking staircase that ascends up to the gin and cocktails bar. Glimmering so bright it ‘almost’ looked like a staircase to heaven…almost! The lounge is split between two levels with the ground floor housing a dedicated dining area with table service whilst the upstairs space contains the bar and more relaxed seating arrangements alongside a buffet food station.

Both levels offer views of the tarmac but be warned – unless you are near the windows you are unlikely to see much due to the way the lounge is positioned.

On the upper floor there’s six large showers suites with both rain and wand shower heads and Aspar toiletries – the usual Qantas lounge amenities suspects!

Due to the large open layout you’ll find that the noise carries around the lounge and during peak hours can be quite noisy. If you are looking for somewhere more quite to relax or work I would suggest you visit the Cathay or British Airways lounges instead.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

qf5.jpg

Whilst I wasn’t there to enjoy their dedicated table service menu, I did manage to sample some of their buffet options as well as enjoy a sneaky glass of their champagne which is provided to Platinum passengers. The choices on offer had a good focus around British and Australian cuisine. The scones and jam accompanied with my champagne went down a real treat! They were so good that even her Majesty would approve these!

qf6.jpg

There’s also espresso machines at both bars for the coffee aficionados while tea fans will find can brew themselves something lovely from the large selection of Dilmah teas on offer.

Being a hybrid business/ first class lounge, some of the food options were a little underwhelming compared to the offerings found in Qantas first lounges.

 

Verdict

qf2.jpg

The Qantas London Lounge is quite a flashy, shiny new product. The lovely furnishings and wooden tones that meld well with marble really is a sight to behold when one first walks into the lounge.  It has the vibe of a savvy upmarket London bar as opposed to an airport lounge.

Food and drink wise is a bit hit and miss and that is due to the airline catering for both business and first passengers. Qantas has definitely stepped up the food and drink offering for business class passengers but for those who frequent the Qantas first lounge may find the food on offer a tad disappointing.

The gin and cocktail bar is a fantastic touch and the girls and guys behind the bar know their drinks well. It’s almost a spectacle in itself to watch them behind the bar work their bar tending magic to create to fantastic looking (and tasting) gin and cocktail creations.

The lounge in conclusion is solid offering. I would definitely consider returning (should the Cathay Pacific First Lounge be full next door).

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas London Lounge in Terminal 3 at Heathrow? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

 

CATHAY PACIFIC FIRST CLASS LOUNGE TERM 3 LONDON HEATHROW: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: London Heathrow Airport Terminal 3

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

thumbnail_20180911_124911.jpg

The Pier is highly regarded not only as one of Cathay Pacific’s best lounges but also one of the best on the global stage. It really isn’t hard to see why the moment you step into a Pier lounge from the high spec fittings to the quality of the food and beverage. I was recently in London where I had the opportunity before my international flight to spend an hour in the highly regarded ‘Pier mini’ lounge equivalent. Sure it isn’t on the large grand scale of the Hong Kong version but everything in terms of quality is matched. My question was despite its size, was it big on the wow factor?

Lounge access options

  • first class passengers on any Oneworld airline flying out of T3 (including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qantas, American Airlines and JAL)
  • travellers holding Oneworld Emerald status in their respective airline frequent flyer scheme (ie. Diamond and Diamond Plus tiers of Cathay Marco Polo Club)

 

Lounge location and opening hours

Cathay Pacific’s London Heathrow T3 lounges sit on the left corner of the terminal.Keep your eyes peeled after clearing security for a ‘Lounge C’ sign. The lounge which is positioned nearby to the British Airways and Qantas lounges is accessible via an elevator. The lounge operating hours are 5:30am–10:30pm daily.

 

Ambience

 

thumbnail_20180911_133716.jpg

 

The ambience of the lounge is striking, warm and engaging. I almost got sensory overload trying to soak in all the grandeur of this lounge. The pocket rocket packs a lot of sophisticated punch with its à la carte menu dining room and gorgeously appointed shower suites which includes Aesop shampoo and body wash (a win for me as an Aesop fan).

thumbnail_20180911_125050.jpg

The cosy environment is made possible thanks to its Living Room, which wraps around the lounge to face the tarmac in an L-shape layout. The beautiful wooden tones and greenery creates a sense of tranquillity and harmony – a godsend considering the lounge is situated in one of the busiest airports in the world. The lounge is served well with a lot of natural light from its floor to ceiling windows and for this avgeek, some fantastic runway views.

The only downside if anything is hopping in and out of the lounge to access the bathroom area which is also shared with the Cathay Business Lounge. Fortunately for me I was not here during peak hour but can imagine the traffic issue this bathroom would experiencing during peak times.

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

thumbnail_20180911_132516.jpg

 

Like the Qantas First Lounge and BA Concorde lounge, there’s a restaurant dining space for those who prefer to enjoy a sit down meal in the Dining Room. My timing in the lounge saw me quickly obtain a seat but was also sadly at the mercy of the kitchen who were between meal serves (breakfast and transitioning into lunch). I didn’t want breakfast again so worked with what I could order from the menu. Since it was after midday in this part of the world I ordered a glass of Moet and Chandon.

thumbnail_20180911_125820.jpg

I wasn’t feeling too peckish but was inclined to sample some of the menu. I decided on a Shrimp Cocktail starter and a Wonton Noodles in Soup. Both were delicious and took my tastebuds back to my Hong Kong trip last year. Yes they were that pretty darn good; especially when paired with one of the best champagnes from France! It’s a shame I didn’t not get to sample any of their dessert menu due to the transition from breakfast to lunch service but based on what I enjoyed the dining experience was still a solid effort.

thumbnail_20180911_130655.jpg

For those wanting something more express and easily accessible there’s a small buffet section within the Living Room as well a a self pour drinks station. For those seeking a tended bar and greater food buffet selection I’d strongly recommend you visiting the Business Lounge next door instead.

 

Verdict

thumbnail_20180911_125039.jpg

For a ‘scaled down’ Pier lounge equivalent this lounge really wows. Food and drink is limited in the buffet area but then again the First Class lounge experience here is all about the Dining Room.Only negative about this lounge is that the small space it possesses can be a major issue during peak periods with overcrowding and line ups for both the bathrooms and dining space. The Cathay Pacific First Class lounge is the best option (Qantas isn’t far behind) in terms of the best lounge offering for Oneworld Emerald travellers flying from Terminal 3.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at Terminal 3 in London? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

LATAM FINALLY GOES BUSINESS CLASS DIRECT AISLE ACCESS FROM 2018

Who loves direct aisle business class? I do and so does LATAM Airways apparently with the South American airline set to roll out a dramatically improved business class seat across its international fleet from late 2018.

LATAM has chosen the Thompson Aero Seating Vantage XL seat with styling by London-based PriestmanGoode. The changes will be noticed on their Boeing 767 and Boeing 777 fleet as well as their new fleet of Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A350-1000s.

In addition to direct aisle access, the seats will offer passengers to rest easy on a new fully lie-flat bed. The design is very similar to fellow Oneworld partner Qantas who has a similar layout and design on the A330, 787 and soon A380 fleet.

Having flown the current LATAM business class 2-2-2 configuration I can say the new changes will really enhance their product offering. Sure the current seat hasn’t aged and still provides some decent space but there’s a lack of privacy, let alone the not so fun game of hopping over your neighbour should you be seated against the window.

I look forward to seeing their new product rolled out across their network as it’d really give not only Qantas a run for its money on that hop between Australian and Santiago but also offer passengers another decent business class option when travelling abroad.

QANTAS INTERNATIONAL TRANSIT LOUNGE PERTH: REVIEW

Alliance: Oneworld

Location: Perth Domestic/ International Airport

Lounge Rating: 4.5 Stars

thumbnail_20180816_185956.jpg

Qantas has invested heavily into making Perth their new ‘it’ thing for flying long haul international flights. For this coming from the east coast like myself the non stop flight really isn’t non stop when you are saying flying from Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide where you can stopover instead in Dubai or Singapore and still be in London at the same time.

As such with this move Qantas created a new transit lounge and it’s strictly for that – transiting! As part of my flight to London from Perth on QF9 I had access (and a rare opportunity) to visit this lounge and see what all the fuss was about!

 

Lounge access options

Lounge access is for business-class passengers travelling on flights QF9 from Melbourne to London via Perth, or QF10 in the opposite direction. Passengers joining QF9 in Perth but aren’t flying the Melbourne leg can also use the lounge.

Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold elites as well as Qantas Club members travelling to London on QF9 or transiting on QF10 between London and Melbourne can also access the lounge. As part of Qantas’ partnership with Emirates, those with Emirates Platinum and Gold Skywards members and Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire elites on QF9 are also welcome.

 

Lounge location and opening hours

The lounge is located after security opposite Gate 19 in the International Concourse of the T3/T4 terminal. It’s open daily 1:00pm to 2:45pm when the inbound flight from London arrives, and 4:45pm to 6:50pm before the return flight from Perth to London departs. The one thing I found frustrating is the access time to this lounge. As I have learnt from this experience, if you have an earlier flight, you’ll have to stay in the Domestic Business Lounge in the Domestic section until the International Concourse is open.

 

Ambience

thumbnail_20180816_190210.jpg

The lounge is new and as a result quite striking. From it’s lovely wooden fixture entrance with the kangaroo illuminated in a golden light to the outdoor bar with barbecue, this lounge is a nice space to spend a few hours. There’s a stand up bar near the outdoor area as well as plenty of indoor dining space. The real x factor goes to the outdoor barbecue area as well as the yoga space called the ‘Wellness Studio’ – these are two things I’ve not seen done in a lounge before but both looked fantastic.

thumbnail_20180816_190358.jpg

In fact I even gave the Yoga session (there are two run during this time) a go despite being a yoga novice, which made this choice all the more interesting. Partnering with Perth spa group Bodhi J, passengers can stop by for a 15 minute stretch and meditation session. I found most of the positions relatively easily but some did push my body limits. That said I hoped it would better me for the 17 hour and 20 minute flight ahead.

thumbnail_20180816_192854.jpg

Bathrooms also were taken to the next level with Qantas adding a fantastic new addition called the ‘Refresh’ area. This space allows passengers to give themselves a skin treatment to relax and refresh before or between flights by following instructions underneath the respective Aspar products. It’s a simple but very nice touch. In addition there were the usual toilet and shower facilities for those needing a quick freshening up.

thumbnail_20180816_190555.jpg

 

Bread and butter (food and drink)

thumbnail_20180816_190406.jpg

Qantas is priding itself on providing passengers with a menu that promotes wellness by providing passengers with a selection of light, fresh food and drink options.

There’s a small buffet of fresh food with one corner hosting a hydration station called Quench with lemon and pink-grapefruit syrup to mix into water as well as water infused with lemon myrtle, parsley and lemon. Next door is DYI tisanes which offers Rockpool’s signature blend. A hot and cold buffet is also on offer with delicious options including barbecue corn with chipotle butter, chicken and vegetable skewers, seasonal fruits, salads and Aussie dessert favourites including wait for it… lamingtons (and they were rather good)!

thumbnail_20180816_192131.jpg

Despite the offerings there, I found myself spending most of my time in the outdoor area near the barbecue. The wursts with various toppings were too good to ignore and were the x factor in terms of food in the lounge.

I couldn’t provide much feedback in terms of the drinks bar as I was saving my body for the business class drinks menu on QF9 but from what I could tell there was a decent selection of Australian sparkling and wines as well as a barista coffee station.

 

Verdict

I enjoyed this lounge and whilst it didn’t offer the perks of the Melbourne or Sydney First Class lounges it did offer some nice touches like the Refresh amenities area and Wellness Studios still set it apart from most of the other Qantas lounges. If there’s any criticism of the lounge it was their strange, restrictive policy of who could and couldn’t use the lounge and the times it was open. I understand this might work for them currently but if Qantas does expand with more flights in the future as they plan to from Perth, then they seriously need to rethink this area.

 

Comments

Have you experienced the Qantas International Transit Lounge? Love to hear from you about your time in lounge – did it shine or were you expecting something better?

 

 

ETIHAD DOWNGRADES SYD FROM A380 TO B777

msn166_etihad_start2_bl_08.jpg

Ah Etihad Airways you’ve done it again! The Abu Dhabi based airline of late has been putting the knife into his product offerings, slowly killing off its ‘premium’ experience in a bid to fast track its way back to profitability after posting losses the last two years in a row.

What I thought was a cash cow for Etihad, the Sydney – Abu Dhabi leg, is not safe from its cost cutting measures. This month the airline announced it would remove the crowd favourite A380 with a downgrade to a B777 on one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights from October 2018 to late May 2019.

The flight affected is EY451 which departs Sydney 3pm and the returning EY450 leg back. The downgrade will take place 20 October 2018 to 4 December 2018, and then again from 7 February 2019 to 30 May 2019. Between the December-February dates listed above, EY451/EY450 will get a reprieve with the return of the A380.

The airline’s other daily service (EY454/455) will continue to feature the superjumbo, so if you are planning on flying the superjumbo note this before making a booking.

The change particularly isn’t great for passengers across the board with the B777 displaying the last gen seats for all classes. Moreover the B777 lacks the A380s lobby social lounge/bar area.

Etihad Airways announced that the change of aircraft was due to routine maintenance and has said  it’ll notify guests booked on these services of the changes.

Whilst disappointed by the news (I’m an avid A380 fanboy), it sadly isn’t unexpected. My concern is how much further or for that matter low can the airline go in order to cut costs?!

BOEING KEEPS ANTONOV FLYING

An-124-large_tcm76-3494.jpg

Thank you Boeing (that’s all I can say)! The US airline last week has stepped in to rescue Ukrainian plane maker Antonov, who are best known for producing the world’s largest aircraft, the An-225.

Hamstrung after years spent heavily relying on Russian imports, Antonov production collapsed following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Enter Aviall the parts, equipment and services unit arm of Boeing. They plan to build eight Antonov aircraft yearly from the end of 2019.

I’m really pleased to see Boeing come to the rescue here. I feel in love with the world’s largest aircraft when it blasted onto the big screen in the Bond film Die Another Day. Up to that point in time I had never seen an aircraft so monolithic, so imposing. It made even the B747 at the time seem tiny in comparison.  It’s a shame that the plane maker’s fortunes took such a hit but I am hopeful that the Boeing venture will ensure it continues to fly the world’s skies for many years to come.