NOW OPEN! Inside Capital One’s First Airport Lounge: Dallas – Fort Worth

I had the opportunity to visit the very first Capital One lounge DFW Airport on Wednesday, a couple of weeks before opening. This is a great space, really thoughtfully designed with a lot of details built-in. They’ve invested a lot, and what impressed me most was the food which wasn’t just ‘good for an airport lounge’ but genuinely good. I’m hoping it scales and is sustainable, because you’re going to want to check it out.

The lounge is located at gate D22, next to the American Airlines Flagship lounge, in the space that used to be occupied by several foreign airline lounges. You walk through a small reception space and take an elevator that’s shared with AA Flagship up a level.

Inside The Capital One Lounge DFW Airport

The lounge is just to the right of gate D22. You’ll enter a room where there’s an elevator up to both the Capital One lounge DFW airport and American Airlines Flagship business class lounge. The Capital One lounge is to the left, and Flagship to the right, once you’re upstairs.


Elevator Lobby

Right near the entryway is a grab ‘n go market with interesting sandwiches, salads and juices. Also near the entryway are the restrooms, which are all individual private rooms – great for taking a few minutes to freshen up and have privacy.

The lounge is set up wonderfully for a quick drop in between flights – exactly how I often want to use a lounge – while also being a nice place to spend a few hours on a longer layover, with an outstanding buffet, bar, shower, and workout and relaxation rooms as well as a private room for nursing and a multifaith prayer room.

Indeed, for longer stays I thought it was impressive that they have a day-long music playlist so they aren’t regularly repeating songs. And the lounge scent was nice and not overpowering.

The lounge has fantastic apron views, and brings the light from the somewhat modest wall of glass overlooking the tarmac into the rest of the space nicely. Lighting here is very well done with great attention to detail, such as the backlighting behind seating areas and plenty of soft lighting from the ceiling. The place is very well-designed.

capital one lounge dfw airport views
Lounge views

There are several different seating areas spread throughout the lounge, from more open to more intimate, with plenty of power outlets available (sometimes hidden at floor level of furnishings) and plenty of touches like hooks on tables for hand bags.

capital one lounge dfw airport seating
Seating

capital one lounge dfw airport
Seating

capital one lounge dfw airport
Seating


Seating

Shower

The lounge has a single shower room, and I worry that’s not enough. It’s actually a great experience, directly across from the Peletons. (They also have personal shower wipes for use in the restrooms if you’re in a pinch, but nothing beats a full shower.)

capital one lounge dfw airport shower room
Shower room

The first thing I went looking for was the bath amenities. I totally get the environmental impulse to avoid single use toiletry bottles, but I abhor wall-mounted shared bath amenities. Capital One is doing exactly what I wish major hotel chains would do: offering single-use environmentally friendly packaging.

Shampoo, conditioner and bath gel is in a water soluble package. Get it wet in the shower and the encasing dissolves in your hand. It’s somewhat novel, and makes me want to try out a shower in this lounge. You can reserve a time slot for the shower at the lounge check-in desk.

What was missing on my visit – but I’m told is being added – is a cabinetry upon which guests can place their luggage, as well as hangers to hang clothes while showering.

Recreation

Some of the best views in the space are in the relaxation and exercise rooms. There’s a room directly across from the showers with two Peleton bikes:

capital one lounge dfw airport peloton room
Exercise room


Relaxation room

Lounge Food And Drink

I was genuinely shocked by the quality of the food and beverage program in the lounge. Sure, this is their first lounge and if you’re going to break into the space you need to wow guests otherwise what would be the point? But even accounting for needing to do an impressive job I was still surprised by how good the food here is.

First of all, everything is individually portioned as small plates rather than a large buffet. The trays you take are even an interesting design with heft; nothing disposable about the experience.

But most of all the quality of the ingredients was shockingly high. The mac and cheese was delicious because they were using good cheese, and because the bacon sprinkled on top was a very high quality bacon, that was carefully smoked. I have a pet peeve about cheap thin and dry bacon that you’ll find even at nice restaurants and hotels, because what’s the point in making the choice for bacon and getting disappointing bacon? I’d be thrilled to bring the bacon they’re using home from the market.

And bibimbap might make logical sense to serve because it’s an inexpensive dish… at least in South Korea. But they’re using nice beef in theirs. I haven’t seen beef in a Centurion lounge in years.


Bibimbap


Bibimbap and Mac & Cheese

The pot pie is good, there’s a separate bar of cold items, and a dessert selection as well. Food will change quarterly, although dishes may be updated subtly for instance there might be more root vegetables in the pot pie seasonally rather than replacing the dish entirely if it proves popular.

Cold dishes were good as well, and would you believe they have the biggest baklava I’ve seen in my entire life?


Cold items


Bresaola and Cheddar

Need I mention they have dessert as well?

Breakfast, which I didn’t try, will include breakfast tacos (a nod to the Texas location), fruits and grains, and yogurt parfait.

The bar is similarly thoughtful with some nice cocktails, good spirits (not the cheap stuff though not super premium) and interesting craft cocktails. I tried the frozen Irish coffee and all I can say is that it’s dessert and it’s dangerous. They offer upgraded wine for pay in half bottles as well, though they aren’t set up to take Capital One miles to cover the expense (a missed opportunity in my opinion).


Bar


Bar


Beers

For soft drinks they’ve got something better than a soda machine, they’ve got soda on tap – and not just cola, either. Here you can also choose from root beer, orange soda, ginger ale, lemonade, iced tea, sweet tea and water.

Here’s the cocktail list:
capital one lounge dfw airport cocktail list

Here’s the wine list:
capital one lounge dfw airport wine list

And let’s zoom in on the half bottles and spirits at upcharge:
capital one lounge dfw airport premium wine and spirits

Grab ‘N Go Food And Beverage

Capital One has done some interesting things with its design. One is that the restrooms are near the entry to the lounge. Another is that there’s a Grab ‘n Go space that looks like a small grocery market where you can pick up sandwiches and salads along with juices and the like to take with you on your flight.

capital one lounge dfw airport grab and go

capital one lounge dfw airport to go items

That’s a huge plus when most lounges, even that offer self-serve drinks, make sure there are no small bottles you can take with you. I don’t usually get the airport earlier than necessary and would love access to a cleaner restroom and the ability to grab a snack easily, and Capital One has put both of these things right near the front for easy in-and-out. This isn’t just a lounge for long-stay travelers, although it’s that too.

The fear is that some of you are going to ruin it, like the British Airways first class lounge guests caught on video tossing over 20 beers into a bag to take with them.

Perhaps stationing grab ‘n go near the front of the lounge will make it tougher to abuse the perk through sheer shame (since it’s tough not to be seen). I’m just going to put it out there now: don’t be the reason we can’t have nice things, because I really love this concept.

Capital One Lounge DFW Airport Access

This lounge is now open. Capital One Venture X cardmembers get unlimited access to Capital One airport lounges, including access for 2 accompanying guests. So do no annual fee additional cardmembers on Venture X accounts.

Capital One Venture and Spark Miles cardholders will receive two complimentary visits to Capital One airport lounges annually and a discounted $45 rate per visit after that, while anyone (Capital One cardholder or not) can access these lounges for $65 per visit.

A same day boarding pass will be required, which I presume is a way of limiting crowding, otherwise it would be a no-brainer for airline and airport employees. Non-revs are going to need to be confirmed onto a flight before using this lounge.

Capital One has made big investments in travel, from the introduction of miles transfer to a new booking portal in conjunction with Hopper. So I’d expect the lounge to be tied in with their travel products (Venture and Spark Miles portfolios). There have also been rumors for a couple of years about Capital One entering the premium card space. Regardless we won’t have long to speculate since the first lounge will open soon, so as that approaches we’ll learn more.

I don’t know how well this is going to scale over time or how well they’re going to be able to maintain the level of quality being offered. That’s a challenge, but partnering with Plaza Premium Group to run the lounges they’ve got an experienced partner in doing just that. What I know is that there’s no better time to experience a lounge than when it’s new, before it gets too well known and too busy.

When guests leave the lounge they get a cakepop. Thanks for ‘popping in’.

Now I’m looking forward to the opening of their Denver and Washington Dulles lounges.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Inside Capital One’s New Airport Lounge at DFW: Capital One is about to open its first airport lounge in the D terminal at DFW airport with more to follow. Initial reports look good, although I wonder if the everyday experience in the lounge can compare with this press preview? Also, Capital One has not announced the entry requirements yet. I’m not counting on Capital One cardholders getting in for free. See this post on View From the Wing. […]

Comments

  1. 1) Lounge has a Florida or tropical vibe to it, in my opinion. Maybe just the colors.

    2) What’s with the prosecco? Seriously. Why not offer a cremant from France or an American sparkling wine from the champagne method? Prosecco is sooooooooo cheap. I really question their F&B program if they think a free prosecco and $45 half-bottle of champagne are their only sparkling wine options.

    3) I love the fitness component. I wish more lounges had this option, though it’s probably not practical with only one shower and only a few bathroom stalls for changing. I wish there were more treadmill options at airports. Again, not practical in execution because someone is probably going to hog the bike for 30-45 minutes whereas a treadmill might only be used for 10-15 minutes.

    4) Love the carry-out food. Wish more lounges had this.

  2. The American Express Centurion lounge might have “1 up,” on Capital One’s lounge. It looks like some credit card companies are allegedly using airports as their “side hustle,” to diversify their passive income stream potentials. Am I right?

  3. Great looking lounge.

    I don’t understand the exercise equipment. That’s the last thing I’d want to do while traveling (yes I work out regularly). And combine it with only one shower option and it’s a hard no. Imagine working out, having to wait too long for a shower then not having time to take it before you had to leave for your flight. No thank you.

    And we really would need access information. I’d have to assume based on what they said that there will be no free entry?

  4. Why didn’t you press them on access or future plans? If they say “we don’t know about access yet” then ask they why did they spend 10’s of millions of dollars on lounges? Come on Gary, put the heat on ’em just like you did United in 2000 with the 5x(2x+3x stacked) redeemable miles per mile flown until they relented.

  5. @Gary: You saw the media day food and “nice touches”. It’ll drop down to the usual Host sloppiness and rude staff by January.

  6. I’d guess the Peleton bike is a product placement/demo arrangement. While I’m actually a fan of some brisk walking before a long haul flight in the name of good vein and circulatory health, I’m also not a far of getting too sweaty while in transit and would take a pass on a spin

  7. I went to the AA lounges at DFW and MIA last week. First visit to an AA lounge for years. I was shocked to find that they charge for wine! Currently, they are bombarding me with solicitations to upgrade my AA credit card to the $450 AA credit card that essentially just adds AA lounge access. They must be crazy. Who would pay $450 for the right to then pay for only average wine?

    Note: The two ‘free’ wines on offer are too expensive. ‘Undrinkable Red’ and ‘Undrinkable White’.

    There is just a total lack of quality throughout their club offering.

  8. @Gary – what can C1 do to prevent themselves from becoming the next overcrowded Centurion Lounge? Especially since Amex is resorting to limiting guests and other restrictions.

    I would think there are more C1 cardholders than Amex Plat cardholders. If Amex has had all this time to evaluate capacity controls, isn’t it inevitable that C1 will also become crowded?

  9. @gary
    Dear god Gary, aren’t you seasoned enough to know when you’re being sold an experience for a good review that won’t actually carry on. I can’t help but wonder if the credit card links have influenced this review. Frankly for someone as syndical as you are in your reviews (which I usually appreciate) I find this one to be dripping in ewwy monetary influence gush.
    For example: how on earth do you actually see this as a positive to their one shower situation:
    “(They also have personal shower wipes for use in the restrooms if you’re in a pinch, but nothing beats a full shower.)”.
    You go and and use those shower wipes but then let us know how you were “right again” years later that they wouldn’t satisfy the market for just having one shower and required shower wipes for customers. Your current option for the record is that one shower may be enough as long as shower wipes for displaced guests are provided.
    Sorry to take you down so hard on this one, but this review really stinks of multiple issues.
    Respectfully, but honestly,
    Scott

  10. Capital One does not have a card with a high enough annual fee to permit access for free, I wouldn’t think. I bet there will be a co-pay depending on card. That seems to be a good way to control the overcrowding problem. You can tweak the fee as needed. Maybe you start out with something like giving venture card holders two free visits and then charge $x per visit thereafter. If it is too crowded you move the number up and vice versa until you find the sweet spot.

  11. The wall-mounted, shared bath amenities at many airline lounges don’t work very well for people with some kinds of disabilities or even temporary injuries, so it’s thoughtful that this lounge has decided to go in a direction that is accommodating of people who can’t as well (if at all) use a wall-mounted toiletries pump.

    It’s interesting that they either didn’t provide you with information about entry conditions/costs or have provided the information under a timed embargo.

  12. I agree with L3/Larry. This isn’t going to be free to any specific card member even with a abase annual fee. Either they will charge an entry fee to limit capacity or they will only provide entry as a reward redemption for a certain number of miles/spend.

  13. @Scott – I highlight in the piece that ther’s just one shower and I flag the question of whether they’re able to deliver this experience at scale, the concerns you have are *literally in the review* as problems to watch for, so I’m not sure what your complaint it.

  14. @VX_Flier – Capital One hasn’t released access rules yet but I can’t believe every Venture cardmember gets unlimited visits. So we’ll see how many people have access how often and at what cost. But I note in the piece that now is the time to figure out how to go, because a new lounge that fewer people know about is going to be far less crowded.

  15. In today’s world where every other person is always on their phone, I don’t understand the need for music or musak in the background in stores, lounges, airports, etc. It’s so annoying.

  16. @L3 I would be surprised about that if that were to happen. Rude employees and route management are in every corporation not just in America, but throughout the world.

  17. I agree with @L3. Delta is doing this now. The “free” wine is becoming undrinkable. Of course, that’s their intent because most Sky Club lounges now have a premium bar. If you want something drinkable you have to pay. I like my wine, but I’m not going to drink a $4-$6 chardonnay made from the leftover grapes and flavored with wood chips because it’s “free.”

  18. I’m as big of a VFTW fan as anyone, and Gary (1) was clear that this was a pre-opening visit and (2) didn’t use the word “review” in the review (only used in response to a comment). But this visit report of a press visit felt extremely lame.

    No details re: access and fees for something that’s expected to open in a couple of weeks?!?! And some nice pics of food & beverage service that most of us will assume are aspirational, just as Gary hopes it scales and is sustainable.

    Looking forward to his actual review, in real time, during a typical arrival-departure bank.

  19. @DaninMCI – what’s annoying are all those people on their cell phones talking so loud that the entire room can hear them. Now THAT’S annoying!! NOBODY and I repeat NOBODY gives one flying *&^%$ about someone’s phone conversation – so why is everyone so loud on their cell phones?? Completely unnecessary. I would much rather hear musak.

  20. I appreciate that VFTW has provided this preview into a lounge that is yet to open. Not sure what more to expect under such circumstances.

    I am curious about the details for entrance applicable to it as soon as it opens.

  21. @Gary
    You’re Jewish and you’re eating bacon? I’m not Jewish and I will not eat Bacon because of all the grease and fat and high cholesterol. I hope you’re not overweight. Bacon is heart attack heaven.

  22. Currently considering Citi Premier vs Capital One Venture Rewards for the next card and as DFW will be the airport for upcoming flights gotta say this is ATTRACTIVE and CATNIP if it’s free for Venture cardholders.

  23. @Steven M: I have both and live in Dallas. I think you will need both as there are large things that are ‘never’ bonus spend like charity contributions or professional memberships. For that the C1 card is ‘sine qua non’. The Citi card is 3x on restaurants, supermarkets, air travel, gas, hotels, Lyft, and Uber so it gets a lot of use.

    One thing, I disagree that C1 will make the club free. Likely they will issue a ‘Venture One Flatulence Card’ (or similar) at $450 and put the freeby on that. In my opinion they should rather/also offer scaled benefits based on spend. They have not been very inventive in the past so we shall see.

  24. Why are American financial institutions so slow to implement this? Asian banks already do this for their high-rolling customers.

  25. Gary, what’s with the blurry edges of your pictures? I don’t know if you were trying to get fancy with portrait mode or something, but I found the blurred edges to be distracting. Otherwise, definitely appreciated the advance peek into what Capital One is up to, so thanks for this review.

  26. #Gary — looks like it was just the ones with close-ups of food, buffet, and grab-and-go case. Strange!

  27. @Gary – I just finished Steve Belkin’s book and it’s a pretty good read. One fascinating thing that he brought up is how when he and a group of others went to visit the Aeroplan people, absolutely no one in the group would take a free ticket or hotel stay so they could preserve their independence. I admire that. What’s your policy on such things? When you’re invited to a private event do you avoid a conflict of interest by flying and staying on your own dime?

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