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Adventures in Washington Dulles Airport Lounge Hopping

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Washington Dulles Airport Lounge
Areas beyond Dulles concourses, like this train station, look better than the gate areas.

Washington Dulles Airport Lounge Hopping

I loathe Washington Dulles Airport (IAD).  Despite its status as my closest major hub by distance – slightly edging out CLT – I’ve purposely avoided it for years.  The airport mixes an unpleasing cocktail of inefficient layout, low ceilings in the domestic concourses, slim walkways, dated seating, ancient “mobile lounges,”  and much more.  The grandiose, sweeping main terminal hides a mess behind.  So why on earth did I bother returning?  With an itinerary requiring a connection somewhere, the new Capital One Lounge, and a plethora of Priority Pass options, I decided it was time for a reunion.  Plus, as a points and travel degenerate, I thought it may be “fun.”  Today, I’m recapping my Washington Dulles Airport lounge hopping success.  Here we go!

Arriving at IAD

I arrived in Concourse D at about 11:15 am.  My first stop was in Concourse C just down the hallway.  (Why Dulles can’t just stick to one letter for one long hallway is beyond me.)  Next, I planned to train to Concourses A and B for four lounge stops, followed by another ride to the main terminal for my final visit.  My flight was scheduled to board at 5:15 pm.  Six lounges in six hours – challenge accepted!

#1.  Chef Geoff’s

Not a “lounge” per se, this was my first-ever visit to an airport restaurant affiliated with Priority Pass.  Like most other restaurants in Dulles, it falls prey to the thin, congested concourse walkways.  Eating a meal at a gate (pretty much) isn’t on my bucket list.  Fortunately, I received a table deeper into the restaurant away from the hall.  The efficient, attentive waitress ran my Priority Pass card immediately after taking my order.  I opted for the Impossible burger with mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette and iced tea.  The sandwich was okay, but the accompanying salad was excellent.  I opted not to finish the burger, as I knew to leave a bit more space for future stops.

Chef Geoff’s has a small but varied menu.  The overall experience was satisfactory.  It’s worth a visit for passing-through Priority Pass members with restaurant eligibility but probably not anyone else.

#2.  Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

After taking the train to Concourse A, I first visited the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.  The lounge offers plenty of natural light and airside views.  The second floor was roped off, but someone was up there – perhaps a probably-disappointed VIP.  Read on.

I grabbed a chair facing the windows and scanned the QR code which encouraged visitors to order items to the table.  The sole food option was hummus and chips.  I toggled to the drink menu, which prominently stated I should go to the bar to order a drink.  It gets worse.

I asked what beers they offered.  The nice worker mentioned two beers – the first I didn’t understand and the second was Dos Equis.  I asked if the Dos Equis was the lager or amber version.  Confused, she turned to her colleague, who stated, “lager.”  I accepted, and the worker promptly poured an amber.  But I did get my lime.

Food offerings alongside the bar are minimal – a few salty snacks, fruit, a mystery pasta, and Caesar salad (I think).  I passed.  Instead, I enjoyed my brown beer while looking out the big windows – away from the lounge.  Then I got out of there.

#3.  Air France KLM Lounge

A few gates down, I then checked into the Air France KLM Lounge, also an option for eligible Korean Air travelers.  The club is a bit bigger than Virgin’s and offers more substantial seating and dining options.  The expansive food offerings included a variety of baguettes, pastries, cold vegetables, treats, and plenty of drink options, including the nearby bar.  Continuing to watch my stomach real estate, I did not partake here, either.  This lounge also boasts the best-smelling men’s room I’ve encountered in recent memory – seriously.  If I’m through IAD in the future and don’t have time for the Capital One Lounge again, I’d happily visit here once more.

#4.  Turkish Airlines Lounge

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the list, I found my quick time at the Turkish lounge delightful.  Upon arriving, the line to access it was out the door.  I attributed this to the very small foyer and the quite thorough check-in agent.  The lounge offers a hot selection of traditional Turkish dishes but also options for pickier eaters.  The lounge only offers two individual bathrooms, so plan on a wait.  And don’t miss the expansive bar and additional seating area past the bathrooms!

#5.  Lufthansa Business Lounge

While checking in, and gazed into the bright Senators lounge.  But, of course, the front desk agent directed me downstairs the Business Lounge/dungeon.  Travelers were squished into rows of chairs amidst poor lighting, eerily similar to certain Lufthansa lounges I’ve visited in Europe.  The bar looked like something from a ballpark, as if it had been wheeled in for the day.  A few visitors sat eating why-bother food at ridiculously small cafe tables.  I finished my Port City beer and moved to the main event.

Washington Dulles Airport Lounge

#6.  Capital One Lounge

Another train ride took me to the main terminal where I entered the spanking-new Capital One Lounge.  My full review is elsewhere, but I’ll say here that the lounge met my tempered expectations.  It’s far from a home run, but it’s adequate for most travelers and steps above IAD’s Priority Pass lounge options.  Many should be able to focus on the positives enough to forgive the negatives.  The Capital One Lounge DFW is hard to measure up to, but the Dulles version gives it a try.  The disappointing location may mean I don’t make it back here any time soon.

Washington Dulles Airport Lounge Hopping – Conclusion

Hopping around the plethora of Washington Dulles airport lounge options didn’t disappoint.  Sure, I self-selected into an unnecessarily hectic schedule.  But I can’t imagine I’ll access five different Priority Pass lounge experiences at one airport again any time soon.   If I’m back at Dulles in the future, my priorities will be another Priority Pass meal at Chef Geoff’s then relaxing in the Air France KLM lounge until my next flight.  I probably won’t bother with the Capital One Lounge again, as doing so would probably mean my layover at Dulles is way longer than it should be.  One ridiculously long layover was enough for me.  What’s your favorite lounge at Washington Dulles, Priority Pass-affiliated or otherwise?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Love AF lounge staff, food, and beverages. Crowded with extended middle-eastern extended families and their accessories taking up the laptop work counter. I had to hurriedly but politely ask some to move their strollers, walkers etc. so I could get some work done on the laptop counter with the electrical outlets.

  2. Yep. the Air France lounge is way too small and crowded. Food has been mediocre and room temperature (ie unsafe) the couple of times I have been there for an evening flight.

  3. Chef Geoff’s is a good value if you have unlimited restaurants from Priority Pass. They have a take-out area where you can order from the menu or grab-and-go.

  4. This is fun – I’ve done a very similar tour. Chef Geoff’s has allowed me to use the PP credit at the take-away window a few times for passable salads and surprisingly-bad wraps.

    The Turkish Airlines lounge is great, with tasty food and oddly-precise wine pours.

  5. “relaxing in the Air France KLM lounge” this confirms you have successfully avoided Dulles for years. Well done! That lounge is a zoo in the afternoons and evenings. Not a bad lounge, if it were a lot bigger. (Or if you can sit in the La Premier section behind the bar, of course)

    A captive to IAD via proximity


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