You will find the new lounge by going up the escalators into the main terminal after security, then taking the elevators to your right once you pass the first few shops and the roof soars overhead. Up on the sixth floor, the lounge has the capacity to host 400 Business Class and Star Alliance Gold passengers, with a dedicated area for First Class and two VIP rooms.
With 500 daily flights to 85 destinations in 18 countries and roughly 30% of both daily departures and airplane seats at LAX, the large size of this lounge is not an unnecessary luxury for Star Alliance. Designed by architectural firm Gensler, the lounge's concept is to bring a sense of place, merging indoor and outdoor areas in true southern California fashion, with one large terrace running along the perimeter overlooking the terminal, and one truly outdoors under the sunny LA sky.
Entering the main lounge you will find, quite literally, the red carpet rolled out for you. Two kiosks will scan your boarding pass, hopefully emitting the magic beep that grants you access.
Where possible, furniture and fittings were locally sourced and made from environmentally friendly materials, with the aim to achieve LEED Gold certification. We liked the light and airy feel of the space, the various nooks and crannies for hiding to either relax or get some work done, and the black and white photography of California throughout. You will find both power points and USB chargers at almost every seat, which we applaud.
To the left is a large bar, facing both into the lounge and out onto the terminal terrace. Continuing on, you will find a dining area to your right, with a wall of wine bottles and buffet-style food options. Given the wide variety of nationalities Star Alliance represents, there will be catering for different cultures and tastes, including a noodle bar with its Asian customers in mind.
Making another right is a frosted door to the smaller First Class section, which has a separate external entrance as well. First offers a small dining area with waiter service. Nearby the entrance are two VIP rooms, which no doubt will see their fair share of celebrities; this is LAX after all.
Back in the main lounge there is a media room and, towards the end, a series of shower suites. Just beyond is the exit to our favorite part of the lounge: its outdoor terrace. Plenty of seating, a water wall, fire pits, and space heaters keep the area usable even on Southern California winter nights. We can easily see ourselves happily whiling away a few hours’ delay here with a glass of wine. Free WiFi of course helps.
Out of the 15 Star Alliance members, eight currently operate out of TBIT: ANA, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, Thai, and Turkish Airlines. Owner and operator of the lounge, Air New Zealand, and its passengers, will have to wait until nearly the middle of 2014 to sample the lounge. It will take until then for the airline to move operations from its current Terminal 2 location to TBIT. Seems almost unfair doesn’t it?
How to get inside: Travel on an international Star Alliance flight and either have Star Alliance Gold status or hold a ticket for Business or First class.
A portion of the massive outdoor deck area