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This post is part of our Australia/New Zealand Series. You can find the rest of the series here.
The time has finally arrived for our big trip to Australia and New Zealand! Our outbound flights are MCI-LAX-SYD-CNS, with approximately 30 total hours of travel time. We initially booked these tickets when American Airlines released business class seats, pre-devAAulation. This is our first time flying in an international business cabin, and it definitely lived up to the hype.
How We Got There – American Airlines First/Business – 62,500 American Airlines miles + $41.20 each
Over the past couple years, my wife and I have been able to rack up almost one million American Airlines miles. We earned most of these miles via the Citi AA Platinum Loophole, which is mostly closed. We also got a couple Citigold checking accounts and the AA Executive Card. Business class seats to Australia can be difficult to nail down, so we jumped on these when they opened up.
Overall, we were impressed with the flights and the “hard products” from American Airlines. Our seats on the flight from LAX to SYD were fantastic! Most of the flight attendants were also quite nice. During our layover at LAX we took advantage of the business class and Priority Pass lounge access.
Flight #1: First Class: MCI – LAX
We packed up and headed to the Kansas City Airport to catch our 2pm flight to LAX on a small American Airlines regional jet. This seemed like a small plane for the flight, but fortunately, we were in first class. We sipped cocktails and wine, and we really enjoyed the extra leg room. The flight attendants served lunch on the flight – Asian Chicken Salad or Turkey Pesto Sandwich. Both meal options were quite good.
Lounging Around LAX
After landing at LAX, we decided to explore some of the lounges that we could access with our business class tickets or Priority Pass (via the Chase Sapphire Reserve). We had a 6-hour layover to explore four different lounges: two AA Admirals Club lounges, the Korean Airlines Lounge, and the OneWorld Business Lounge.
Lounge #1: AA Admirals Club #1 – Arrival Terminal Gate 61
This lounge was directly across from our arrival gate. We popped in to take a look and use the restroom. Restrooms are a huge benefit of lounges, because they are usually very clean and much less crowded than the normal airport restrooms. We only took a brief look around this lounge, because it was very small. The bartender told us about the much larger Admiral’s Club in Terminal 4, so we headed over that way.
Lounge #2: AA Admirals Club #2 – Terminal 4 Gate 41
This is American’s Flagship lounge at LAX. During our visit, quite a bit of it was under renovation. The door agents checked our boarding passes and gave us a couple premium drink vouchers each. We headed upstairs, under some scaffolding, and into the bar area.
This lounged offered the most impressive premium liquor options of the four we visited. I picked out a pour of Angel’s Envy Bourbon (Port Barrel aged) and my wife had some sparkling prosecco. The price tag on these two drinks would have been $27 without the drink vouchers. I can’t imagine paying for lounge access and then paying those prices for the drinks! Tip: If you run out of drink vouchers, leave and come back in. They gave us a second round of vouchers when we re-entered the lounge later. This lounge also offers a selection of food for purchase, ranging from wagyu beef burgers to sushi.
The lounge is quite large, with cushioned leather chairs and floor-to-ceiling windows to watch the sun set. Most seats have charging stations, but the three plugs I tried were too loose to hold a standard plug. The USB plugs also didn’t work, which was a bit disappointing. Other lounge amenities include complementary coffee/snacks, a kids play area, and a shower facility to freshen up after a long flight.
Lounge #3: Korean Airlines Lounge – Tom Bradley International Terminal
We briefly stopped in at the KAL lounge, using the Priority Pass membership from my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card. A quick swipe of her Priority Pass card, and we were in for free. This lounge is spacious, with complementary finger foods like sushi rolls, small sandwiches, and fruit. You can also pour yourself a glass of wine, beer, or make a cocktail at the self-service bar.
This lounge also offers three shower rooms. My favorite feature here was the balcony overlooking the main section of the international terminal. You can sit out and sip a cocktail while watching travelers move through the airport. The seats in the main section of the lounge seemed pretty dated and a bit uncomfortable.
Lounge #4: OneWorld Business Lounge – Tom Bradley International Terminal
This lounge was sweet! The inside was very swanky and very large. It featured a main bar area, a few seating areas, and a café with a buffet. All food and drinks in the lounge were complementary as well!
We grabbed some plates at the buffet, with pasta, herb potatoes, tandoori chicken, sweet potato soup, and salad. There was even a juicer with fruits/veggies to make a fresh glass of juice. The bartenders were also great. They whipped up a cocktail using Drambuie, Vodka, coffee, lemon juice, and bitters… and it was DELICIOUS! We even met the manager of the lounge. He was very welcoming and made sure that we had a great time in the lounge.
Of the four lounges we visited, the OneWorld Business Lounge was easily our favorite. Unlimited free food and drink, friendly staff, spacious seating areas, working outlets, and free wi-fi really made this a great place to spend a layover. Like the other lounges, this one also offers showers if you need one. If you’re flying in business class on a OneWorld alliance airline, this is the lounge you should visit at LAX.
Flight #2: Business Class: LAX – SYD
This is what we had really been looking forward to – Business class seats on the American Airlines 777-300ER flagship aircraft! Immediately after booking our tickets, we checked SeatGuru to research the ideal seats for this 15.5-hour flight. This plane features a 1:2:1 “reverse herringbone” seat layout in the business class cabin, giving every seat aisle access. We selected the two middle seats, 7D and 7G. These seats are angled toward each other, with a small partition between, making them ideal for couples traveling together.
Each business class seat can lay completely flat and includes a sleeping pad, blanket, pillow, and even pajamas/socks/slippers! The cabin was very quiet and great for sleeping. We each got a solid eight hours of sleep! A large fold-out screen holds a massive media library of TV shows and movies to watch with a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. The inflight amenity kit included toothpaste, lip balm, lotion, an eye mask, and a pen.
The inflight dining options were excellent. Dinner was the first meal, served at the approximate dinner time in Australia. This helps reset our internal clocks to the local time. Dinner was filet mignon and lobster mac & cheese! Something about eating a filet (even if it was a bit overcooked – 1st world problem) at 36,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, just feels special. Snacks were available throughout the flight, including Ghirardelli dark chocolate, potato chips, fruit, or wagyu beef sliders. I tried a couple of the sliders, and they were a bit… meh. They were clearly microwaved, and still pretty cold on the bottom. Breakfast included scrambled eggs, Canadian bacon, fruit, Greek yogurt, a croissant, and coffee.
Our flight attendants did a great job making sure we were happy. They were courteous and quick to grab any item we requested. They even offered helpful tips to clear immigration efficiently.
The actual travel portion of trips is not usually something we enjoy. Cramming ourselves into an economy airline seat for long-haul flights can make for a rough day. This was a completely different experience. We actually looked forward to the flights, and we were very pleased with the whole experience! Instead of sitting around a crowded airport gate and buying expensive airport food, we got to chill in some swanky lounges and drink top shelf booze. Instead of praying for a couple hours of half-decent sleep inflight, we were able to get a full 8 hours. While we don’t necessarily mind flying in economy class, it may be difficult to go back after today!