Lounge Review: Lufthansa Senator Lounge at Washington-Dulles (IAD)
A few days ago I posted about my Club Options at Dulles for my trip on Saturday, here. I determined that I had the ability to access both the Air France/KLM lounge, and the British Airways Lounge via my “free” Priority Pass Lounge membership–included with the annual fee of the Citi Prestige Card. I also had access to the United Clubs and the Lufthansa Senator’s Lounge via my Star Alliance Gold Status.
I arrived at Dulles International at 9:30am, which was later than I wanted for my 1100 takeoff on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 501. The line for economy check-in was at least 30-40 minutes long, but I went to the much shorter line for Star Alliance Gold members and Ethiopian Cloud-Nine (business class) check-in, which had me checked in and to security in about 10 minutes. However, this is where I hit a bit of a snag. Normally I am able to breeze through TSA via their Pre-Check program. A credit for the cost of Pre-Check enrollment also comes standard with my Citi Prestige Card. However, Ethiopian Airlines does not participate in the program, meaning I had to go through the normal security line. Although it moved relatively quickly, it still ate up another 20 minutes of my pre-flight time.
My flight was departing out of Gate A-31, and at Dulles, the A and B concourses are connected. Due to lack of time, I decided my only realistic lounge options were in these two concourses. This limited me to Air France/KLM, British Airways, and Lufthansa. I consulted 2 mobile apps that I highly recommend for frequent travelers: the Loungebuddy App and the Priority Pass App to determine location and operation hours.
The Air France lounge was the closest to my departure gate, but it did not open until 10:30 (I had not noticed the hours when writing about my options before), which would be too late for my on-time 1100 departure so I walked briskly down the concourse, past my gate into the B-Gates area where I found the Senator’s Lounge across from B-49. I knew that I would really only have about 15 minutes in the lounge, so it was going to be a quick visit.
After presenting my boarding pass and Star Alliance Gold card, I was granted access into the Senator Lounge. There were less than 20 people in the lounge, and it appeared that the staff was transitioning the food selections from breakfast to lunch. I did grab a quick snack and a glass of water–even though the selections were minimal, they were certainly better than those of the typical US airline lounge.
I finished my snack, made a quick phone call, filled up my water bottle, and then it was time to head back towards my gate to board the flight. Overall, the lounge experience was average, but I suspect if I had hung out for another 30 minutes or so, lunch items would have replaced the older looking breakfast items. I wish that I had had more time to check out the British Airways lounge, but alas, it was not to be on this trip. Bottom line is that even a quick lounge experience is better than no lounge experience. Lounge access can be an excellent value if you can save some money by not purchasing food and drinks (including alcohol) while at the airport. If you can get access to a non-US carrier lounge, you can often even further improve your value. Remember, it is easy to get lounge access even if you are not an airline frequent flier or elite. For example the Citi Prestige Card offers both American Airlines Admirals Club Access and gives you a Priority Pass Club membership. Another great example is the American Express Platinum Card which gives you access to Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Lounges, and also provides Priority Pass membership. Both cards have hefty annual fees of $450–but both cards also give you credits to various qualified travel/airline expenses and other benefits that may more than outweigh the annual fee. A decision to apply for cards like these really depend on how you value these benefits and your personal travel habits.