First Class passengers of Star Alliance‘s many member airlines have something special to look forward to in Los Angeles. That’s a dedicated, private lounge separate from Business Class – a space that most elite frequent flyers cannot access by status alone. In fact, there’s only one frequent flyer card that can get you inside – and it’s one of those secret tiers that officially ‘doesn’t exist’.

But you know what? Just for today, you can peek past the frosted glass doors. A virtual peek, anyway…

Location, layout and seating

In Los Angeles, the First Class section of the Star Alliance Lounge is next door to its Business Class counterpart. There’s a separate entrance tucked away for First Class, just beyond the more obvious Business Class doors. But if you’re lost (or the doors are locked), staff nearby can point you in the right direction.

It’s a very tight access list to enter the First Class space, so its footprint is, rather appropriately, quite small. It’s essentially one ‘room’ where the furniture tailors each corner to a different purpose. As you enter, one nook is for TV viewing, while the centre of the lounge caters more to mingling and relaxing. Over on the far side sits a small dining room.

Within the Tom Bradley Terminal of Los Angeles International Airport, the First Class section of the Star Alliance Lounge sits in more of an ‘internal’ location. This means it doesn’t enjoy any airport views – a favourite feature of the outdoor terrace at the Business Class lounge next door. But it still runs alongside an atrium, which sports a glass ceiling. This allows plenty of natural light to find its way through.

Given the very few passengers who can enter this lounge, it doesn’t have specific opening hours each day. Instead, staff know which flights will have a First Class cabin and unlock the doors accordingly.

Food and beverage

Regarding Star Alliance’s lounges in Los Angeles, the First Class zone has one distinct advantage. That’s à la carte dining in addition to a buffet – whereas the Business Class lounge next door is buffet-only.

Compared to some other premium First Class lounges, the menu here is quite relaxed. It’s mainly filled with lighter options, reflecting that passengers will soon be tucking into more substantial meals in the air. I have time before I need to skedaddle, so I’m able to try a couple of things. I settle in with the steak salad, which is well-presented and delicious. Later, I order the Korean street tacos – perfect with a squeeze of lemon.

There’s a well-stocked buffet as well, and the options look appetising. There’s cheese, charcuterie, sandwiches, wraps, chips and dip, and fruit and desserts. In other words, handy for a quick bite or a simple follow-on from the dishes ordered via the menu.

On the beverage front, self-serve options are expansive. In particular, a nice collection of spirits goes beyond the more typical lounge staples. Rather than one of each type, passengers can sample several gins, multiple whiskies(/eys), tango with tequila, and more. It goes without saying there’s also a choice of bubbles – Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Brut and Monopole Rose.

Beyond the self-serve station, the Business Class lounge next door is also home to a cocktail bar. Sure, you could wander out and order a cocktail – but this is First Class. When taking my order for food, the staff offer to fetch drinks for me. It’s hard to turn down an espresso martini with a twist of vanilla. Later, the bartender offers to get creative and off-menu, returning with what I can only describe as a strawberry delight.

Amenities in the Los Angeles First Class Star Alliance Lounge

Keep your eyes peeled for a few extra features in the First Class zone of Star Alliance’s Los Angeles lounge. The first is a simple globe, but it’s something I rarely see at an airport – other than on a digital flight map. A physical, spinning globe. Naturally, I rotate it to Los Angeles.

There’s also a range of reading material available. But the wall where the printed copies used to live is now simply a display. It encourages passengers to download and use the PressReader app over the lounge’s Wi-Fi network to access complimentary materials. It’s not a bad way to stock up on digital content for the flight ahead, for something different beyond downloaded videos.

But back in the lounge itself, there’s something else secretive tucked away. You’ve already made it into one of the world’s most exclusive public lounges, where only a First Class ticket can get you inside. Yet there’s more to this space than first meets the eye. There are not one, but two private VIP rooms hidden away behind unmarked doors.

This is where the invitation-only lounge concept meets the public lounge. Rather than having a third ‘private lounge’, Star Alliance offers these VIP suites for high-profile guests. This is the home of Hollywood, after all.

Today, I’m in luck. It’s a Monday afternoon, and the movie stars aren’t flocking to leave LA – so I can nab a room all to myself. The main lounge area is quiet, but this is even quieter. And you know what? After spending less than 48 hours in the US with a packed schedule, it’s nice just to sit back, click on some Family Guy, and forget I’m even in an airport. It feels a little more like I’m at home.

Accessing the First Class Star Alliance Lounge in Los Angeles

Want to experience Star Alliance’s First Class offering in Los Angeles? It’s not easy. You can’t pay for access at the door, and no public frequent flyer tier qualifies. Even the lofty heights of levels like Miles & More HON Circle don’t make the cut for this particular lounge.

Instead, here’s how you can be part of this very, very small club.

For instance, a Singapore Airlines First Class boarding pass from Los Angeles to Singapore gets you inside. But a United ‘First Class’ boarding pass does not. That’s because United only uses the term ‘First Class’ for the premium cabin on its shorter flights – not its long-haul services. And just in case you’re wondering. No, a ticket in United Polaris doesn’t get around that – Polaris is essentially Business Class.

The alternative, hinted above, is being an ‘EP1’ member with Air NZ. You’d just need to be flying out on a Star Alliance airline to qualify. For those who don’t know, this is Air New Zealand’s equivalent to the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge or Virgin Australia Beyond. Come to think of it, if you have to ask…

The verdict

Star Alliance offers a compelling choice for First Class passengers when flying out of Los Angeles. Travelling in this better-than-Business-Class cabin is so often about privacy and discretion, especially in places like LA. And when you’re in a lounge that’s only open to those with a First Class ticket – or a secretive frequent flyer card befitting of a CEO – it’s quite an exclusive environment.

But it’s also an experience that very few travellers will ever enjoy. It’s fair to say that some Platinum-grade frequent flyers of Star Alliance may envy the approach taken by oneworld. Top-tier oneworld members can often access a better lounge than their mid-tier counterparts. But that rule has existed for so long that lounges are designed around it. On the other hand, Star Alliance’s First Class lounge is built for First Class alone.

And much like The Private Room in Singapore, exclusivity is a big part of what makes this lounge special. For those on the inside, that’s an X-factor in itself.

Also reviewed: Star Alliance Lounge (Business Class), Los Angeles

Photography by Chris Chamberlin, who accessed the lounge courtesy of Star Alliance and Air New Zealand while travelling at Point Hacks’ expense.

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Star Alliance Lounge (First Class), Los Angeles was last modified: November 23rd, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin