Review: Houston Intercontinental Airport Executive Club

Previous Installment:

I visited three of the four lounges in Houston’s terminal D. There’s the airport’s own Executive Lounge which I will cover in this post and is used by Emirates and also Lufthansa among others. There’s also a KLM lounge and an Air France lounge separately (odd, since they’re jointly owned and mere gates apart). And there’s a British Airways lounge that I didn’t have access to on this trip.

In a few months the terminal will be getting an American Express Centurion lounge. And the terminal itself is slated for replacement so lounge options will change entirely in a few years. Of course the terminal is connected airside to the other terminals in Houston, so for instance you can visit United Clubs as well.

I arrived at Houston’s terminal D and went inside to find the Emirates check-in counter. I had gotten to the airport 3.5 hours prior to departure, since I specifically wanted to check out a variety of lounges. I knew none of them were going to be placed I’d want to spend a ton of time, but I hadn’t ever been over in terminal D so it seemed worth scoping out.

Emirates is at the far end of the terminal. There are some couches beside the check-in queues. While the desks were open, there really wasn’t anyone in line yet and I walked straight up to first class check-in. Pro-tip: there was a basket of hard plastic permanent ‘Emirates First Class’ bag tags so I grabbed a few.

Boarding pass and lounge invitation in hand, I went up the escalators to security. Since I was flying Emirates there was no PreCheck (and there isn’t one in the terminal since it doesn’t house precheck-participating airlines which are currently only specific US and Canadian carriers). Nonetheless, no lines to speak of and I was through quickly. Past security it was up further into the terminal where I headed to the Executive Club.

The terminal itself is reasonably small, though the Executive Club is on the other side from the Emirates gates. That was fine, I wasn’t even going to stay in this lounge for long I just wanted to check it out before roaming the rest of the terminal.

I walked inside and they marked us down. Then I went for a walk to survey the space.

The lounge was brightly lit, but with no windows. There was plenty of furniture, rooms, and discrete spaces. There’s nothing actually ‘nice’ about it, merely functional, and it was at least at three quarters capacity while I was there.

Nonetheless, you had a business center and a tv viewing room as well as a bar and also a conference room.

And there was substantive hot food as well as sandwiches, not just packaged snacks or soups and vegetables (though they had those too).

The Executive Club certainly got crowded in the afternoon. There are no windows and no restrooms. It was loud and anything but relaxing. However it had the best food of the three lounges I visited, which is to say it had substantive options and not just snacks. But don’t plan ahead in order to spend time here.

Ultimately I preferred spending time in the KLM and Air France lounges, and especially the KLM lounge, both of which I’ll cover in my next post.

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, 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. When was this trip?

    A couple weeks ago spent 20 minutes looking for the Air France lounge. KLM definitely there.

    What did I miss? I don’t see it listed on the Air France site anymore. Are you sure it still exists?

  2. that lounge has a lot more than i would have imagined. certainly better than UA lounges. since you didn’t mention, i assume no showers? AA is much better on the shower front than UA. flying is kinda yucky. since i mostly fly intl, i just feel gross and take advantage of showers on every layover. i feel fresh and it makes the whole experience better.

  3. No bathrooms for an airport lounge seems silly in my opinion. I know the small lounges often don’t have them but this looks like a big lounge.

  4. 1st, great tip on the Emirates lougage tags, great for small gifts

    We’re now in Barcelona after transiting LHR from IAD (1st on 380). Same no pre-check but no lines.

    Enjoyed BA Lounge @ IAD.horseshoe Bar w/ great Tarmac views – watched the LH 747-8i roll in. Concorde room dining w/high Windows due to High walled booths, as is BA’s custom. Small 1st seating area with nice top shelf bar, both right off the entrance. However these spaces should be reversed with the seating area getting the full Tarmac view & the dining booths away from the Windows.

    At LHR Had to transit T5-T3. Not bad but after fun flight & little sleep, the Champagne Bar @Galleries T3 1st lounge only looked fabulous. I stuck with water & Tea.

    We’ll have more time to enjoy BA lounges going home from Paris on Saturday.

    Great work on the Hat Trick! (Go Caps)

  5. When I was there the aroma of spices hit you when you walk in, for me it wasn’t a bad thing, a lot different then what you would smell in RC or AA club.

  6. @ Gary — a minor correction: the security in Terminal D is done on the same level as the check-in, i.e. BEFORE the escalators.

    Pro-tip: even though there’s no TSA Pre line which would expedite security, if you are running late airline staff can/will escort you through security & push you to the front of the line.

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