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Monday, June 24, 2013

My 100th JAL Group flights: oneworld Business Class Lounge at Los Angeles Part I

Japan Airlines Business Class Trip Report on JL061: Dining area inside oneworld Business Class lounge at LAX TBIT
Dining area inside oneworld Business Class lounge at LAX TBIT

The oneworld lounge at Los Angeles (LAX) Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) has not changed much since it opened in 2007. The most noticeable change over the years was the re-arrangement of the dining area. Since my last trip report on this lounge (note not since my last visit), they have replaced the individual dining tables with a long table. Wines and champagnes are also now placed on the table instead of the buffet counter.


5th level floor plan of the new TBIT
5th level floor plan of the new TBIT. Image by LAWA.

6th level floor plan of the new TBIT
6th level floor plan of the new TBIT. Image by LAWA

But more changes are definitely coming to the LAX oneworld lounge pretty soon as the TBIT is undergoing its modernization and expansion project right now. According to the plan released by LAWA, oneworld will take over the existing Star Alliance Lounge and part of the new Bradley West building and will have the largest lounge at TBIT. Assuming no further delay, the new lounge will be opened in stages - first with the new Business Class lounge some time this summer, followed by the new First Class lounge in early 2004. So this will probably be my last time visiting the current oneworld Business Class Lounge at LAX.


JAL Business Class Trip Report on JL061 - oneworld business class lounge seating area at LAX TBIT
oneworld business class lounge seating area at LAX TBIT 

Until then, I am stuck with this lounge which isn't bad at all compared to the International Lounge operated by Eva Air, which JAL provides to its Premium Economy and full fare Economy Class passengers, and the Admirals Club at Terminal 4 which JAL passengers don't have access to. Although the oneworld lounge is considerably smaller than the Admirals Club and the Business Class section lacks Eva's view of the apron, at least it has a decent hot food buffet which the other two don't have! Now that Eva Air is part of Star Alliance, it won't have a separate lounge at new TBIT. Not sure if JAL will switch to the Emirates Lounge or simply provide passengers in Premium Economy and Economy Class access to the oneworld lounge instead. My bet is JAL will go with whoever is cheaper LOL


JAL Business Class trip report on JL061 Work area with iMac inside the oneworld business class lounge at LAX TBIT
Work area with iMac inside the oneworld business class lounge at LAX TBIT

JAL Business Class trip report on JL061 - Bar area inside the oneworld business class lounge at LAX TBIT
Bar area inside the oneworld business class lounge at LAX TBIT

Other than the buffet (which I will cover in the next installment of this trip report series), there is an open bar with 5 TV mounted on the wall, all on different channels with sub-titles on (no audio for the obvious reason). Also, iMacs are provided in a internet bar like set up. I haven't really used them as I usually carry my own laptop with me. The wi-fi used to be spotty but it seems to be fine today. It is password protected and you have to get the credential at the reception desk. Note that everyone is using the same password so the password is only for preventing the non-oneworld lounge guests from accessing the network, not really for other security purpose. You should take extra steps, e.g. using a commercial product like Norton Hotspot Privacy or connecting to your own VPN network, to protect your data if it is important.


JAL Business Class trip report on JL061: Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT
Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT

JAL Business Class trip report on JL061: Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT
Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT

Unlike the JAL First Class Lounge and Sakura Lounge at New York JFK, the oneworld Lounge at TBIT have plenty of shower facilities. Although these shower rooms are shared between the First Class and Business Class lounges, I have never had problems getting a room before. Simply show your boarding pass to the attendant to reserve a room. If you need extra amenities such as toothbrush and toothpaste, you can get them from the attendant as well. The individual rooms aren't locked when it's vacant (but they locked the entrance to the facilities though), so you don't need a key.


JAL Business Class trip report on JL061: Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT
Shower facility inside the oneworld lounge at LAX TBIT

The shower room had some very basic amenities such as body soap, shampoo, hand wash, and lotion. All these are from Molton Brown London. There was also hair dryer and towels. One extra item I don't usually see in that many lounges is the disposal box for medical needles which is a nice touch.

Overall it is a decent lounge before your long-haul flights if it is not crowded. Thanks to the Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) flight departing at around the same time as my JAL flight, I could barely find an empty seat. Eventually I just went to the shower room instead LOL (Note that all those empty lounge pictures above were taken after JAL final boarding call)

How did I know they were mostly CX passengers? Because you could see empty seats everywhere after the CX boarding announcements were called. CX isn't as efficient as JAL when it comes to boarding and there's a bigger gap between the two boarding announcements than that between the departure times.

The lounge was so much nicer when it's not full. Usually I would avoid the day when CX operates its afternoon flight to Hong Kong. But it is not possible anymore since CX has increased the frequency to daily once again. I could only imagine how crowded the lounge would be at around midnight when there are multiple CX and Qantas (QF) flights departing at around the same time. Definitely looking forward to the new and more importantly bigger lounge opening later this year.

Another thing I hope oneworld would change is the temperature at the dining area. Probably due to all the hot plates, you will be sweating simply by sitting there! It's fine if you take a shower after the meal, but definitely not ideal if you are running late and shower isn't possible.

Next up will be on the oneworld lounge food offering. It will mostly consists of pictures :)



My 100th JAL Group Flights Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Japan Airlines JL061 Business Class from Los Angeles to Tokyo Narita


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