Trip Report: Learning Experiences with LAX lounges and Southwest Airlines

Last week was a busy week for us at rsts11travel, with a few topics around a two day trip to Los Angeles, California.

This was going to be a “quick take” post, but like the trek to an available lounge, it ended up longer than expected. Here’s why.

For the last 8 years or so, we’ve had a pretty consistent airline plan for various reasons. For flights from the Bay Area to Southern California airports other than LAX, or to Las Vegas, we generally fly Southwest. Otherwise, we fly American.

And when flying American into or through LAX, the lounge choices are pretty obvious; with Admirals Club membership through the Citi AAdvantage Executive MasterCard, we visit one or more of the three Admirals Clubs here: Remote Terminal’s mini-lounge, or Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 full size lounges. They’re pretty good, with predictable offerings and reasonable space. Last year we started using Priority Pass for the restaurant credits at Campanile (which has since left the program).

The terminals that American Airlines flies to are all connected airside by walkways, tunnels, or the Remote Terminal shuttle. So we’ve never had to go through security more than once, even if visiting more than one lounge.

This trip was a bit different, in that we flew into LAX on Southwest, a barely-over-$100 round trip fare from SJC which left some budget space for other things. Arriving at Terminal 1 was a bit of a change.

LAX Lounges we could have used

  • Terminal 1 (Southwest): Rock and Brews, Priority Pass restaurant
  • Terminal 2 (Delta): Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Priority Pass lounge (5:00-10:30am only)
  • Terminal 2: Delta Sky Club (only when flying Delta)
  • Terminal 3: 2 Delta Sky Clubs (only when flying Delta)
  • Terminal 4: Admirals Club (AA Executive)
  • Terminal 5: Admirals Club (AA Executive)
  • Remote Terminal (Gates 52): Admirals Club (AA Executive)
  • Terminal 6: Alaska Airlines Lounge (Priority Pass or AA Executive)
  • International Terminal (TBIT): Korean Air/Skyteam Lounge, Priority Pass lounge (Noon-8pm)
  • International Terminal (TBIT): PF Chang’s, Priority Pass restaurant

“Lounging” in Terminal 1

rock-n-brews lax 2019-01-10 15.24.42

The Rock & Brews restaurant which has joined Priority Pass is right in the middle of Terminal 1 (next to gate 12B, as pictured). We passed it on the way in, and stopped there upon returning to the airport for the homebound flight. Note that the Rock & Brews in Terminal 5 is NOT part of the Priority Pass program (yet?).

2019-01-10 12.43.01Rock & Brews is a typical beer and sandwich joint, with various eras of rock music playing on TV screens. We had the Santa Maria Tri Tip Sandwich at $18.50, with a $2.35 side salad that was sort of a joke. The Tri Tip was a bit chewy, and might have been better on a salad rather than a sandwich. The iced tea was fountain, not brewed, as far as we could tell… but none of the beers enticed us so it was the best choice. They did have a few local brews as well as the typical national craft beers and a Bud Light for the more boring beer drinker.

If we go back, we’d probably have a burger and a “commuter flight” of beers or a mule.

Getting to a Connected Terminal 2

When walking toward where we figured the path to the other terminals was, we found ourselves outside security, and discovered that the path to the other terminals is, in fact, outside. It was too late to turn back so we walked to Terminal 2 (going through security again).

We hoped to visit the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge on Priority Pass. Alas, we misread the lounge hours, and it did in fact close to Priority Pass members at 10:30am, not 10:30pm. Maybe next time we’ll give them a visit.

Luckily, to get to the next closest lounge, we just had to take the airside Delta shuttle bus from Terminal 2 to Terminal “B,” the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). The same shuttle also loops to Terminal 3, all without leaving security.

If you’re laying over in the morning or have a same-day boarding pass on Delta, you’re good for a lounge in one of the Delta terminals. If it’s after 10:30am and/or you’re not on Delta, you’ll want to transfer to the International Terminal and go from there.

Lounging in the International Terminal

The International Terminal features a PF Chang’s restaurant and the KAL/Skyteam Lounge, both in the Priority Pass network. PF Chang’s will give you a $30 credit per guest toward your meal, and Skyteam Lounge (located down the hall from the Qantas/oneworld Los Angeles Business Lounge) allows access for you and a guest.

We were a bit tired from the journey and didn’t take full advantage of the Skyteam Lounge (including not finding the larger bar we’ve seen in other reviews), but they had a nice assortment of food in mid-afternoon, as well as a balcony with a view of the International Terminal. The espresso machine did a respectable job, although the cups were rather small (more cappuccino than americano size).

We probably wouldn’t make the journey from Terminal 1 for this lounge again, but it’s not too bad if you’re in the area at the right time. Reports suggest that, while Priority Pass access ends at 8pm, you won’t be actively chased out at that point.

Options beyond International Terminal

The International Terminal is connected to Terminal 4 airside, so no need to go through security again. There are connectors, either above ground or tunnel, between Terminals 4-8 as well.

Most of our trips through LAX have landed us in Terminals 4-6, so we’ve spent some quality time in the Admirals Club Lounges in T4, T5, and the Remote Terminal.

If you’re looking to explore a bit, the Alaska Airlines lounge in Terminal 6 is an option with Priority Pass or Admirals Club membership. This means that, in addition to Amex Platinum or Priority Pass cards, the Citi AA Executive Mastercard and its Admirals Club membership will get you in (although they may have to call in for confirmation, since Citi AA membership doesn’t come with an Admirals Club membership card per se).

Getting home again to Southwest

We decided to warm up the Fitbit again and head back to Terminal 1. This involved tracking back through the International Terminal to catch the Delta shuttle again to Terminal 2. We then went back outside along the arrivals drive to Terminal 1, back through security a third time, and on to our gate.

One interesting thing to note is that the TSA process was pretty smooth, efficient, and fast all three times we passed through. We had no inconsistencies in screening, and no noteworthy delays. CLEAR in Terminal 1 was pretty smooth as well (we didn’t use it in Terminal 2 since neither CLEAR nor TSA Pre were busy).

We went for the non-lounge experience in Terminal 1 with a blended drink from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf near our gate, and the trip home was uneventful as well.

Wrapping it up

This trip provided a learning experience for lounge access if you’re flying on Southwest. Depending on how long you have before your flight or during your layover, there are a lot of viable lounge options. Just be sure to check your Amex or Priority Pass app

We’re a bit sad to see Campanile in T4 gone from the Priority Pass program. It was a bit dingy for an “upscale” restaurant, but the food and service were reasonable. Maybe the second Rock & Brews will join the program soon.

 

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2 thoughts on “Trip Report: Learning Experiences with LAX lounges and Southwest Airlines

  1. Pingback: Trip Report: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Marina Del Rey, Southern California – rsts11travel

  2. Pingback: Quick take: Priority Pass changes and confusion cleared up for you – rsts11travel

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