I don’t travel through Dulles often, mostly since I live so close to O’Hare. Since I was connecting to my Lufthansa flight and had a few hours, (and for the benefit of the blog), I figured I would visit the United Global First Lounge. It was a new lounge to me, and it was relatively close to the arrival gate for my flight from Chicago. This post is part of my trip report describing a recent trip that I’m referring to as “The Journey the Destination“. Here is a link to my review of the Global First Lounge at O’Hare.
Washington Dulles International Airport main terminal via Flickr
I was a little bit conflicted with this particular flight, I could have taken a later flight that was a 3-class 767, but I couldn’t get confirmed in advance on either First or Business, and the connection would have been a little tight to get to my Lufthansa flight. I just decided to stick with the United A320 to get me to Dulles with plenty of time to spare.
The Global First Lounge at Dulles is located near gate C5. When I arrived at a nearly empty lounge, the agents there didn’t seem to want to let me in. I presented my Lufthansa First Class boarding pass, and she said I should go to the Lufthansa lounge. I told her I was going to, but first I wanted to get some work done here. She asked the other agent who reminded her of the access policy, then let me in. First Class service? Not so much.
As a reminder, Global First Lounges are accessible for passengers departing that day on a Star Alliance international flight in First class (not BusinessFirst).
Once in the Dulles lounge, it was nearly empty when I first arrived. Clearly the gate keepers remained strict, although in the early afternoon, there aren’t a lot of departing international flights. A few more folks entered during my stay, and when I left, the small room was relatively full.
mobile phone photo of the main room of the lounge
Food selections were similar to what was available in the O’Hare lounge, fruits, vegetables, shrimp, cheeses, some cold sandwiches and rather tired looking sushi. I have now visited these United First Class lounges at Dulles, O’Hare, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and all are similar, with dated furnishings, but a nice selection of food and drinks, much more exclusive than the United Clubs which get quite crowded at times. Its a nice lounge to visit if you meet the entry requirements, but not really worth a special trip.
Although this was the first time I’ve visited this lounge, and it was nicer than the typical domestic lounges I’m used to, it had one feature that made it seem like seemingly every other United lounge:
Of course, the bagged/inoperable urinals! A United lounge trademark.
After getting some emails done, and some lunch, I decided to head over to Terminal B, where Lufthansa departures are located. I’ve visited the Lufthansa Senator Lounge there before, but I still think its the best lounge accessible on a US domestic itinerary (for those with Star Alliance Gold status, of course).
Seeing the renovated Terminal B is quite a change after leaving United’s dingy, dark and dated facility in Terminals C and D:
Welcome to the 2010s, vs the 1970s feel of terminals C/D
Entrance to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at Dulles. Photos thanks to Flickr
I entered the lounge, and we welcomed to the Senator side on the terminal level. The agent told me the Frankfurt flight would board directly from the lounge if I so desired. I found a seat, in the relatively busy lounge. After eating in the United Lounge and expecting a full meal on board, I didn’t take advantage of the myriad options available in the Senator Lounge. There is a nice selection of finger sandwiches, a daily soup selection, and various soft drinks. Pretzels are a classic Lufthansa lounge option as well. Matthew’s review of this lounge shows a sampling of some typical food options. There is also cocktails, wine and draft beer available, but this requires the assistance of staff. Strange that this Virginia law was not enforced in the United lounge.
I settled on a light snack:
There is also a Lufthansa Business lounge on the lower level. That is for Lufthansa elites and those traveling in Lufthansa Business Class.
Also on that level are showers available for the use of lounge visitors. There are only two shower rooms, so there may be a wait at busy times. I didn’t use them on this trip, but I have been there in past visits to the lounge. The one time I used the shower room, the lounge was very slow, and it took some time to find someone to unlock the room so I could use it. This was nice, and has longer hours than the United Arrivals suite.
Lufthansa Senator/Business Lounge shower room
This is a great lounge, and highly recommended for anyone with Star Alliance Gold status who are at Dulles and have an onward Star Alliance flight, even domestic. Keep in mind that if flying United, you’ll have to change terminals, and take either the train or a moon buggy to your gate, so plan accordingly.
I did notice one rather large flaw with part of the Senator lounge:
Senator lounge toilet out of service
Clearly United does not have an exclusive deal on broken toilet facilities in their lounges.
Eventually boarding time approached, and actually passed. I started to get nervous, but the agents made a quick announcement for boarding our flight to Frankfurt. Lounge guests boarded directly from the lounge entry room, into a corridor which connected to the jetway, and avoided the main terminal boarding scrum. Finally the fun part of my trip was about to begin, with a flight on the weeks-old Boeing 747-8i. Stay tuned!