My Unpleasant Experience Accessing The Qantas First Lounge In Los Angeles…

by Zac George

I just posted about my flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo and in that post I briefly mentioned that I had quite an unpleasant experience getting access to the lounge, this post will fully explain what happened and what should be done and improved.

I’ve visited the Qantas First Class lounge In Los Angeles 2 or 3 times now and found it to be a beautiful space. It’s quiet, got great wifi, shower rooms, al la carte menus by Neil Perry and it’s overall a very relaxing atmosphere.

Qantas First Class Lounge, Los Angeles

After arriving from my flight from Melbourne I was connecting onto my flight on Japan Airlines in First Class, the check-in agent was quite surprised with my age and asked what I do and why I’m flying etc.

As he finished printing my boarding passes he mentioned I had access to the Qantas First lounge, I asked him ”even though I’m 17” and he replied with ”yes of course, you’re in First”

So off I went through security which was surprisingly very quick and I made my way to the entrance of the lounge, this is where things started to go wrong.

The agent at the desk asked for my boarding pass and scanned it, I was asked for my Passport which I’ve never been asked to provide when going into a lounge before.

The agent handed me back my passport and boarding pass and rudely said ”you’re not 21 you can’t enter” My first thought was am I at a nightclub or an airport?

I could have just left and said ok but I wanted to find out why. When I had previously visited the lounge before the agents knew my age and were more than happy to put me into one of the private rooms as they could see what I was doing and I would be working.

Qantas First Class Lounge, Los Angeles

I told the agent, I just want to have a shower as I’ve just come off a 13-hour flight and wanted to refresh. They could have watched me walk to the shower facilities and that would be that but nope.

The agent kept saying that I could go and illegally drink alcohol if I was allowed in, how is that possible if it’s all behind the bar??

In the end, I was too tired and frustrated to question the absolutely ridiculous policy so I decided to just leave. Before I did though, one of JAL representatives gave me a $10 USD voucher, that’s hardly making up for it.

Now, this post may make me sound like a DKYWIA (Do you know who I am) but I want to know why Qantas make this a rule? I get the drinking age in the U.S. is 21 but there are other airlines like Etihad and Qatar who allow any guest into their lounges if they have access even though in Abu Dhabi and Doha the ages to drink are 21. Keep in mind, only about 40 meters away is the new Etihad lounge which would allow me access if I was flying them.

As a Qantas Platinum (No longer) Oneworld Emerald and Passenger in First on a Oneworld carrier, it’s a pretty pathetic policy and how the situation was handled was more frustrating.

This is isn’t the first time people have had problems with the lounge from AA EXP access to lounge tipping.

What’s your opinion, was the airline right in denying access or it it just a ridiculous policy?

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Ben April 10, 2017 - 9:32 pm


I’m 28 and I still get carded at the bar every time I order a beer at the Admirals Lounge in my home airport, so the policy seems ridiculous. The only thing I could think of would be the unaccompanied minor part, but that seems ridiculous too. To me, it’s “safer” for a minor to be in a lounge than in a terminal, I’d imagine.

Tommy L April 10, 2017 - 9:37 pm

Unfortunately, that’s how it is… as a OW frequent flyer (previously) under 21, I knew that getting in I was lucky. It’s a shame that US laws are like that, but it’s understandable that airlines don’t want to be fined quite a bit of money. Like I said, not great, but it is what it is.

Shaun April 10, 2017 - 9:48 pm

I’m not familiar, but what is the actual policy? If it’s >21, then I understand why they didn’t allow it. I know there have been many reports of the QF LAX lounge not letting in people who SHOULD be let in, so maybe the agents are playing it more by the book now.

I do understand the frustration if you have been allowed in previously, but unfortunately past “exceptions” don’t set a precedent. Look on the brightside…I’m turning 40 next year and would totally trade places with you age-wise 🙂

Great blog by the way! Keep up the good work

JEM April 10, 2017 - 10:26 pm

Sounds like they appropriately denied you entry (this time): from the Quantas site: “Customers under the legal drinking age must be accompanied by an adult in any Qantas operated lounge. Legal drinking age may vary in different jurisdictions and countries.”

Scott April 10, 2017 - 11:04 pm

Yes unfortunately that is the way it is. They do have wine out beside the coffee machines in that lounge so that will be the problem.

I went through a few years of that when I was in college in the states. I occasionally got rejected at BA FIRST lounge at JFK and sometimes they let me in.

DavidB April 10, 2017 - 11:24 pm

California liquor laws are totally bizarre for what’s supposed to be one of the most progressive states in the union (then again US is so f*ck*d up about access to alcohol period!). I’m in my late 60s and still have to show my ID to order a drink at an airport restaurant. As for your lounge issue, UA lost its liquor license at a United Club for serving to an “under age” guest. It’s crazy that in the US you can vote and fight for your country when 18 but can’t have a drink of alcohol until you’re 21!

Luke April 10, 2017 - 11:26 pm

Makes total sense. There is manned bar but there is also liquor -wine/beer all sitting out at several self serve stations in the lounge. SO in a country and state where minors under 21 are not allowed to drink, you can’t enter an establishment that has free access to alcohol be it a bar or a lounge.

Steve Hui April 10, 2017 - 11:27 pm

As a first class passenger, the convenience of lounge access and it’s facilities is part of the ticket benefits.

If access is denied, then the staff should have accommodated with alternative shower access and more appropriate food and beverage voucher – more like usd50.

As a FIRST class ticketed passenger, even on points – this is the airline’s most valuable passenger standing in front of you. It’s not up to the passenger to find their own way in a foreign destination.

Thomas Gordon January 10, 2018 - 2:29 pm
eponymous coward April 11, 2017 - 12:44 am

” Customers under the legal drinking age must be accompanied by an adult in any Qantas operated lounge. Legal drinking age may vary in different jurisdictions and countries.”

Unfortunately, that’s their stated policy.

IAHTRVLR April 11, 2017 - 1:25 am

Very sensible policy. A California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agent could revoke their liquor license. Not worth it for them.

James H. April 11, 2017 - 2:40 am

I’m sure you could have found a willing “adult” to guest in with you? Or no guests allowed for you either?

Yah frustrating..But it’s their game and their rules…

M N Rao April 11, 2017 - 10:57 am

On my purchase of qantas tickets for self n family to Brisbane, I had 3 hours window at Changi for my connecting flight. Qantas had issued SG $ 20 per ticket coupons per ticket which could be spent in one go at certain dutyfree shops at Changi. I had to spend a lot of time in locating such “shops” and finally when found one, I had to spend over a hour in convincing them to agree to my buy but finally they didn’t agree, saying that I must go to another shop of theirs in another place. I had lost all the time in this exercise, got irritated and finally tore the coupons in front of this shop owner.
My advise to fellow travelers: Please don’t waste your time in Changi airport trusting such coupons.

Derek Lundie April 11, 2017 - 12:16 pm

Sounds fair to me..your considered a minor..its the law…first class doesnt mean your above the law.

John R. April 11, 2017 - 2:04 pm

You’re in the USA and subject to their laws. I fail to see how this is even an article. Rules were enforced and you had a sook? Please!

Winslow December 7, 2017 - 10:25 am

I flew Cathay Pacific First Class this past summer when I was 20, exactly 3 months away from 21. I encountered the exact situation as you, but the difference is that CX gave me a voucher of $75 for duty free shopping or terminal restaurants, which makes sense, since I still have Priority Pass and access to the Korean Air Lounge. Apparently, $10 is not even enough for a meal in LAX and JAL should definitely improve their treatments toward younger first class passengers. It’s sad that JAL overlooked the emerging younger generations who fly premium cabin and I think that if a lounge is not available, alternative solutions should be presented by the airline for food, showering, and resting.

Andrew October 10, 2020 - 5:06 am

How times have changed. Whilst living in the Solomon Islands and Australia in the 60’s and 70’s flying back and forth to boarding school in NZ as a minor, I remember asking for a JD and coke (I was 15 yrs old ) and was served it on the flight, both on Air NZ and Qantas without a second glance by the cabin crew.
These days kids aren’t quite mature enough I guess in the eyes of airline exec’s so things are much more strict.
Those were the golden days of air travel

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