Review: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, Washington Dulles Airport As A Priority Pass Guest

After my brief stop at the Air France lounge I continued my tour of Washington Dulles airport Priority Pass lounges. Next stop: the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Washington Dulles by gate A32.

This is a very small lounge. There’s luggage storage at the entrance and I recall using this lounge before a transatlantic flight when staff insisted that leaving bags there was mandatory given the limited space inside.

I was welcomed in with a swipe of my Priority Pass card and my boarding pass. The Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Washington Dulles is open for Priority Pass access from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then it transitions to being a ‘real’ Virgin lounge for their 10:15 p.m. departure.

There’s a small seating area downstairs, along with buffet and dining room. Stairs lead to an upstairs section. While I was in the lounge there were only three other guests.

Buffet items are very limited.

You can choose to eat in the dining room, though regardless of where you’re seated in the lounge you can order food via QR code. However when the lounge is open to Priority Pass customers food is charged.

The lounge has a small upstairs space with additional seating. Since the stairs were roped off I asked staff whether they minded my having a look.

Think of this as an abandoned pay-in restaurant. But it was quiet. Honestly, if I didn’t care to eat I wouldn’t mind spending time in here. But you can eat in the Turkish or Air France lounges (such as it is) or much better yet in the Capital One or Chase-Etihad lounges if you have access and if those are busy then simply wait here.

The Virgin Clubhouse certainly represented peace and quiet from the terminal, but I do wonder about the impression they’re leaving on guests – an impression of the Virgin brand which is lackluster at best.

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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Comments

  1. I was in this lounge last week and I was not impressed at all. I’ll skip it from now on.

  2. The VA lounges in the US are simply punching the ticket, people expect a lounge. However, if you want to get blown away, visit the VA lounge at Heathrow. The food is far better than any other lounge I have experienced. Also, I cannot believe you think VA’s service is lackluster, especially coming from someone that is an AA apologist (AA is barely above Spirit and Frontier these days). Fly UC in one of their 350 pods across the water and tell me how they compare service-wise against the US carriers.

  3. @Jeff- did you not read the post? The Virgin Clubhouse in Dulles leaves the user with the impression that Virgin’s service is lackluster “at best.” A brand is represented by all of its consumer touch points- someone who has a bad experience with one, will not try the rest.

  4. @Jeff – the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow is one of my two favorite lounges architecturally (along with the Qatar Airways al Safwa lounge in Doha). It’s a beautiful space. Virgin’s business product is ok. But that’s not at all what I’m talking about here.

  5. I assume Priority Pass gets billed for each lounge you visit, so visit 5 lounges and PP gets billed for 5 visits?

  6. On my recent visit, it was extremely crowded, no seats, and they still didn’t have the upper level open. Buffet was ridiculous- chips, and anemic looking ham sandwich halves- and all beverages were paid. I was left wondering what the point was, and left shortly after I arrived. Definitely would avoid VA based on experience. Should not be a Priority Pass option.

  7. Last year we tried to access it with our Priority Pass before our 5pm Virgin flight to London and got denied. We were told that Priority customers can only enter in the morning per new policy or we could enter if we were in business (we were in premium economy which didn’t count). Thank goodness, we brought turkey sandwiches from home that we quietly consumed in the gate area. 🙂

  8. Very envious of your lounge tour! I went to this lounge when they still allowed Venture X in. It was empty but they told me I could only stay an hour because they were expecting more important people (my words not theirs). I stayed an hour and 15 and maybe 5 more people showed up. I enjoyed a pretty good burger! I heard they diluted the menu once opened up to PP but looks like it’s still a pretty good selection.

    The next time I tried to go I was outside the Priority Pass allowed time and they didn’t accept the Venture X. The whole Plaza Premium/Venture X partnership was and still is kind of confusing, but I don’t really think about that much because my priority will always be the Cap1 lounge now.

  9. They seem to change their rules periodically. The last time I was there (about a year ago or so?) food ordered from the QR code was more limited during PP times, but still free. However, the best use of the Virgin lounge is in the morning when you are flying out on one of the United regional flights departing from the lower A gates. It is not only the lounge closest to those, but still nicer than a United lounge in C/D.

  10. The lounge seems rather sparse in decor and seating. It is almost like they tried to emulate a Virgin lounge on a really tight budget. I guess it looks good to have a lounge in various locations. This is not a very good representation of the higher standards that Virgin is known for.

  11. We hit this in 2018 and there was more service – we used points to get Upper Class seats to Heathrow – and no one made us check our carry-ons at the door, so things have changed.

    The lounge was fine and we had late evening departure. So for us, it was a nice quiet place to have a drink and relax before being told our section was seating. I remember thinking the food selection was limited, but since we were then served a nice dinner on the plane, that made sense. But if you wanted to skip dinner and just sleep, there wasn’t much to really snack on.

    Definitely the Heathrow lounge on the way out was far, far superior. I had booked my seats using a phone agent, and she told me “Just get up early and get to the lounge. You will not regret it.” And we did not!

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