In September 2016 I returned from a two week trip in Slovakia departing Salzburg, Austria to Los Angeles on a $492 American Airlines economy class ticket. My open-jaw return flight, Los Angeles to Vienna via London on British Airways took me back to Austria this week.
Qantas Airways First Class lounge at LAX International Terminal is also the primary Oneworld lounge for American and British Airways Oneworld Emerald elite flyers to Europe.
This was my first time in the Qantas First lounge as an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, prior to boarding the A380 flight to London Heathrow. Fog delays and cancellations in London airports Saturday Dec 17 and Sunday morning Dec 18 had cascaded into departure delays around the world. The effect on our flight was an 80 minute delay, giving us 3 hours of First Class lounge time.
Los Angeles LAX Qantas First Lounge
The large lounge only had around a dozen people when we arrived. Plopping ourselves on a couch to stretch out, an attendant came over and asked if we would like to dine. We ordered Stella Artois and calamari appetizer, then decided to move to the dining room tables for a meal. Calamari is one of my favorite seafood dishes, yet it is frequently overcooked to the point of being rubberized. The calamari at the LAX Oneworld First Lounge was the best tasting calamari appetizer I have eaten in 2016. I had a second order for dessert after a steak entree.
I appreciate First Class lounge dining much more when I am flying economy class and simply skip the inflight food. I actually planned this trip to give us three hours of lounge time in LAX and London for our meals between three economy class flights Monterey – LAX – London LHR – Vienna.
To London near the speed of sound
We had bulkhead seats in the rear portion of the A380 aircraft lower deck with an empty seat between us and no babies around in the bassinettes.
An extensive inflight entertainment system is one of the features I love about the British Airways A380, but I was disappointed by the music selection on this aircraft. I ended up watching a couple of movies and sleeping for a few hours. Nothing eventful happened during the flight, which is generally a good thing. It was one of the quietest flights I have had this year with few children onboard.
We arrived in London close to our originally scheduled time. I overheard the flight attendant saying the aircraft speed was around 700 mph for much of the flight due to the extraordinarily strong tailwinds from Winter Storm Decima over North America.
LHR Terminal 5 to Terminal 3 and another First Class lounge
Learning we had to change terminals in LHR from 5 to 3 for the Vienna flight was unpleasant news. The combination of slow deplaning for passengers from the back of the A380 combined with a transit terminal change ate into about an hour of our lounge time. Having flown out of LAX at 9:30pm and arriving at the LHR Terminal 3 British Airways First Lounge around 4:30pm meant we had dinner again before our 6:40pm flight to Vienna.
One aspect I find odd about the British Airways lounges at LHR is there are no bottles of beer. Terminal 3 First Lounge had a champagne bar, a wine gallery, a whiskey table, but only four brands of beer in a can.
Eureka! Just after commenting to Kelley about how the British Airways lounges in London should have real draught beer on tap, I found a Heineken tap sitting on the counter in front of the wall of liquor. I grabbed a large glass off the shelf and pulled the lever. Like an unlucky slot machine in Vegas, I was not a winner on this visit. The tap was dry.
The Pogues Irish Whiskey.
Since I don’t care for hard liquor or wine of beer in a can, I set myself in front of a computer to see what kind of news was happening in the travel world and printed out public transportation directions from Vienna airport to Best Western Amedia Hotel Wien.
From the time we had entered the lounge the departure time for the flight to Vienna had been 40 minutes delayed from 6:40 to 7:20pm. Kelley was stretched out on a couch on the other side of the lounge. She came at 6:10pm to tell me we needed to leave for our flight. The flight was no longer delayed and departing at 6:40pm.
Next stop: Vienna VIE – Wien.