The Air New Zealand-developed and -managed Star Alliance Lounge located in Los Angeles International Airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has won the World Airline Awards’ Best Alliance Lounge in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The alliance also runs shared lounges in Buenos Aires, Nagoya, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and São Paulo.
The LAX facility is an incredibly well-designed and -run lounge that delivers a great atmosphere in a setting oozing character and a contemporary 60s LA style—and firmly my favourite international lounge.
Lounge details & location
The lounge is located inside the TBIT central atrium. After exiting security, turn right toward the gates of the Northern Concourse and follow the signs to Mezzanine Level 6, which can be accessed via either a set of escalators or the clock tower elevator.
You may want to have a look at our top tips to avoid long security lines at LAX.
The standard opening hours of the lounge are from first departure to 12:30am, seven days a week but can vary depending on the needs of Star Alliance flights departing from TBIT on the day.
Lounge design & seating
Two well-dressed Air NZ staff members greet you at the entrance to check boarding passes and welcome you inside, where the near 1700 sqm lounge provides a mixture of relaxed seating options for up to 400 guests.
Designed and developed in 2013 by Air NZ and Californian Gensler Architects, the successful partnership responsible for the much-admired Air NZ Auckland and Sydney International Lounges, the LAX lounge follows the same concept of providing multiple themed zones with each one designed to cater to the needs of different types of guests.
Lounge guests can choose to chill out like they are at home on one of the comfy couches located throughout the central area, tuck themselves away in the more secluded library and den, or grab a beverage and settle into a couch and check out what is playing on the large screen in the lounge’s own media room.
Those looking for a little more atmosphere and/or people watching can venture out onto the indoor mezzanine terrace, which overlooks the entire TBIT central atrium.
Complete with its own staffed cocktail bar and live music in the evening on the terrace below, if you are able to nab a spot, the indoor terrace can provide a great place to vacate from the crowds inside when the lounge fills up before a departing Star Alliance flight.
What has to be without a doubt the lounge’s biggest jewel in the crown. The large smoke-free open-air terrace provides an amazing venue for a final spot of relaxing in the Californian sunshine with views across Terminal 3 and the northern runway out to the Hollywood Hills.
Stylised quotes from Hollywood royalty add a sense of Californian nostalgia and can be found adorning the outdoor terraces ceramic tile feature walls.
In the warm Los Angeles evening gas-lit fireplaces and ice buckets full of chilled still and sparkling wine add ambiance to the outdoor setting, where you can enjoy a meal and glass of bubbles with your travelling companion while watching the aircraft lights line up in the distance as they slowly descend into LAX.
Food & drink
Backdropped by an impressive wine feature wall, the lounges dining area provides an adequate buffet selection easily accessible from both sides of a long servery bench.
Along with the selection of hot dishes, there is also various salads and snacks options, along with an Asian noodle station for those looking for something a bit lighter.
A unique addition is a make-your-own-Pho station, with beef and vegetarian broth both available.
A range of dessert and fruit options can also be found for those with a sweet tooth or just looking to nicely finish off their meal.
Seated dining options are also plentiful, from your casual bar stool benchtop to a more standard table and chair dining arrangement.
Those with a thirst on are also well catered for, along with its indoor terrace bar, there is also a staffed cocktail bar inside the actual lounge itself.
If just looking to top up or grab something lighter, two self-service beverage stations can be found conveniently located next to the interior bar and alongside the dining area.
For those wanting to freshen up in transit or before a long evening flight, the lounge provides eight individual showers accessible via a private foyer behind a glass door located on the way out to the open air terrace.
The suites are spacious but the water temperature can vary.
The wifi speed was excellent when I visited, clocking 32 Mbps download/47 Mbps upload. Tablet computers are available for loan on request.
Power outlets and USB charging points can also be freely found integrated throughout the lounges many seating arrangements, and printing, faxing and copying can be arranged on request.
Lounge access options
Below are the options I know of that are relevant to us in New Zealand, but I would be happy to hear of any others you may like to share.
Air New Zealand & Star Alliance Business or First Class ticket holders or Elite Status holders
Access is complimentary to any passenger holding a boarding pass with a same-day Air NZ Business Premier, Star Alliance airline Business or First Class flight departing from LAX.
Air NZ Gold, Gold Elite and Star Alliance Gold members are entitled to access the lounge prior to a same-day flight in any cabin class departing LAX with Air NZ or any Star Alliance airline.
Paid club lounge members
Members of eligible paid Star Alliance airline lounge clubs such as Air NZ Koru Club, United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club are entitled to access the lounge prior to a same-day flight in any cabin class departing LAX with Air NZ or any Star Alliance airline.
There are a number of Air New Zealand credit cards that provide free joining and discounted Koru club membership, including the American Express Airpoints Platinum card.
The following are entitled to have one extra guest accompany them into the lounge, provided they are travelling on the same onward flight as the primary guest:
- Air NZ Gold and Elite status holders
- Star Alliance Gold status holders
- Air NZ Koru Club, United Club and Air Canada Maple Leaf Club members
- Star Alliance First Class passengers
Child allowances – any children over the age of 2 will be counted as part of the normal guest allowance.
This lounge is my favourite international lounge. With the stylish design and the well-thought-out themed zones along with the atmosphere provided by both the indoor and open-air terraces, it is easy to see why it is so well-regarded.
With dual staffed cocktail bars and self-service areas throughout the lounge, available drink options are of a high standard and certainly provide what is needed to relax for a couple of hours prior to your flight.
My only gripe would probably be that given the lounge is managed by Air New Zealand, it is a shame there is little Kiwi wine on offer.
All up, this is definitely one lounge I will be looking forward to visiting again and prefer it to the Qantas/oneworld International Business Lounge Los Angeles.