I got to experience the strangest physical layout for a check-in experience I think I’ve come across — check in at one terminal, departure from a different terminal.
Virgin Australia uses the Star Alliance business class lounge, which features an outdoor deck and fire pits. A lovely way to start off a late night long haul departure…
- Introduction: Virgin Australia and Delta Business Class, the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney
- Concourse Hotel LAX, a Hyatt affiliate
Virgin Australia has a really unique situation at LAX. If you ask to be dropped off with Virgin Australia, you may get taken to the Tom Bradley Terminal. That’s a mistake. Virgin Australia does fly out of the international terminal. But that’s not where the check-in desks are.
You want to get dropped off at the end of terminal 3. If you do get dropped off at the Bradley terminal, that’s ok, it’s just right next door. You can just walk outside along the sidewalk to the next terminal.
Virgin Australia is at the far end of terminal 3, as close as you can get to the Bradley terminal without actually being in that terminal.
There wasn’t much of a wait for business class check-in. I had a bag to check and they weighed that, and issued boarding passes for both my Los Angeles – Brisbane and Brisbane – Cairns flights. Bags were tagged through as well, but for all connecting passengers they were explaining the procedure (similar to in the U.S.) where you have to claim and re-check bags on arrival in Australia.
They also insisted on weighing carry on bags. They allow only 7 kilograms (~ 15.5 pounds). I knew this, or at least figured that as an Australian airline there would be a good chance they’d care about carry on weight. Interestingly they didn’t ask to weigh carry ons later in the journey. And they didn’t check closely that carry ons had been tagged (or hadn’t increased in weight since check in) at boarding. But they did go through the procedure.
I admit I won’t ever understand the weight limit issue, especially at this low amount. Size, sure, there’s a limit to how much space exists in the cabin. But how much the bag weighs doesn’t seem especially relevant or if it matters it’s only at a weight much greater than 15 pounds.
Having planned for this, though, and since I was going to check a bag anyway with multiple climates and a need for multiple suits on the trip it didn’t actually matter.
Once checked in you walk down the street to the Tom Bradley International Terminal and go inside to clear security, visit the lounge, and board the flight.
You head through the departures hall and to the terminal’s security checkpoint. It’s a gigantic area, and lines are long. There’s no precheck but fortunately there’s a premium passenger queue, and that took only about 10 minutes to get through.
Once cleared, the interior of the terminal is gorgeous, at least compared to anything else at the airport or for that matter just about anything at a US airport. It’s such a stark contrast to the truly decrepit conditions of the old LAX international terminal.
The departures level is four. oneworld lounges are on five. And Star Alliance lounges are on six.
We had been given passes for the Star Alliance business class lounge, which I had visited a month earlier for my Etihad departure.
This time I’d have access only to the business class side, and not the first class side. That was fine, it certainly wasn’t crowded and the business class space is both comfortable and gorgeous.
It features an ‘outside’ area inside the terminal, and an outdoor deck as well.
The lounge has shower rooms as well.
The only thing I don’t find appealing: the food choices. I didn’t eat here on my last visit, and skipped food on this one as well. Nothing wrong with the food. It was sustenance.
I spent my time waiting for the flight sitting out on the outside deck. It was a little bit chilly but still perfectly pleasant, and a bit of fresh air before a long haul flight is always welcome.
The Star Alliance lounge here is really nice. The outside area absolutely makes it. I’ve been on the first class side, it has prepared-to-order dining which is nice. But the space itself is better on the business side.