Virginia Passed Emergency Legislation To Let Chase, Capital One Lounges Serve Alcohol

Fifty years ago the American Airlines Admirals Club at Washington’s National airport allowed guests to store their own liquor in the lounge. That’s because they couldn’t get an alcohol license.

Several years ago a United Club at Newark had to stop serving alcohol when a contractor sent the alcohol license renewal paperwork to the wrong jurisdiction (the airport crosses Essex and Union counties in New Jersey).

Sometimes the easiest route to serving alcohol in an airport club is just to… change the law. That’s what’s happening in Virginia (paywall article). And it’s going to get you served in new Capital One spaces at Washington Dulles and National airports, and at the Chase ‘The Club’ collaboration at Dulles.

Virginia’s legislature has passed an ’emergency’ law (i.e., goes into effect right away rather than waiting until July 1), to extend “mixed-beverage carrier licenses to financial institutions, their subsidiaries or contractors.”

The bill, approved by the House of Delegates on Feb. 1 and the Senate on Feb. 14, authorizes the licensee to sell and serve mixed beverages to ticketed air-carrier passengers in designated areas. Without the legislation, only airlines and train, bus and boat operators could obtain mixed-beverage carrier licenses.

Introduced by Del. Roxann Robinson, R-Midlothian, the measure was approved with an emergency clause, meaning it takes effect immediately upon adoption rather than on July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year. The legislation is only waiting on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s signature.

The Chase lounge at Washington Dulles will be approximately 5200 square feet and on the airport’s A concourse. It will include a 1,000 square foot bar/lounge, over 900 square foot dining room, 1,400 square-foot work area, family room, prayer room and kitchen. It will be two levels, seating 74 on the main level of the terminal and 44 upstairs.

The Capital One lounge at Dulles – which I wrote when originally breaking the news that it was coming three years ago would take quite some time given the new utility lines that would be needed – will be operated by Turkey’s TAV Operations Services and will be 9100 square feet, past TSA, at the base of the historic control tower. Assuming it’s similar to Capital One’s Dallas lounge it will be fantastic.

Meanwhile Washington National Airport will be getting a culinary-focused ‘Capital One Lnading’ with food by José Andrés, located in a former restaurant space in National Hall adjacent to the entry to the D35-45 pier.

There’s something both a little odd and beautiful about the Virginia legislature passing emergency legislation to grant alcohol licenses to whomever a financial services institution contracts with. If that’s what it takes to cut through nonsense that would stand in the way of a cocktail while waiting for a flight I’m here for it.

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. I think Capital One is making up the story about new utility lines being needed. The space used to be a Food Court. Exactly what lines are needed in Cap One Club that don’t already exist in a food court? And suppose it’s true – 3 years to install utility lines?

    I call shenanigans on Cap One.

  2. LOL, that’s why there’s lobbyists and donations…………
    FTR: Lobbyists: I was that soldier, once.

  3. the original laws were too specific if they excluded financial service lounges from serving alcohol while allowing airlines that offer the same type of product/service to do so

  4. Dulles is my home airport, so really looking forward to the Capital One (and Chase) lounges opening up. Considering Capital One’s HQ is located nearby (in McLean, VA), it’s surprising/disappointing their lounge has taken so long to build/open at IAD.

  5. @Rjb “new” can mean “replacing old”. Given that that space hasn’t been in use for – well, I can’t actually find a reference, but I’ve been here around 15 years and I don’t recall it ever being open as anything – a whole lot of corrosion, etc. is likely to have taken place, especially if the space was truly sealed off and not conditioned or ventilated. Also, you may not be aware, but there are things that have happened in this world over the past three years that have led to a lot of construction projects being delayed. Lounge projects *always* take longer than expected.

  6. American politics is such a joke at this point. I love anyone who uses “protecting democracy” as a talking point- like we have a democracy to begin with.

  7. They’re full of it. The old tower space was a TGI Friday’s in the 90s…..they used utilities most of the time too.

  8. The real ludicrousness is government deciding what a business or venue can and can’t serve their customers or guests. It is amazing when people talk about democracy but democracy means needing permission to offer beer, wine, or liquor. That sounds like the opposite of freedom to me.

  9. 100% agree with John Arton. The fact that I need anyone’s permission to drink my ancestral birthright after a long work day is absurd. Luckily there are still places in this world this nonsense hasn’t found.

  10. They are continuing to drag their feet, intentionally and hypocritically, on marijuana retail sales, likely missing the original date of Jan 1st 2024, but they’ll grant an emergency law change for alcohol sales at bank controlled and/or sponsored venues. It’d be so cool if our politicians did what’s right by the people, instead of what gets them the most bribe money, sorry, lobbiests contributions. Screw these corrupt scum bags.

  11. John Arton, liquor laws in Virginia are local laws established by the state legislators. There are no federal laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the credit card lounges. The VA voters have the power to change those laws. That’s democracy.

  12. They are protecting the children, at least, that is what all politicians say when proposing or defending these type of laws. How can a citizen or another politician oppose it.

  13. I remember way back when the Eastern Airlines Ionosphere Club gave their drinks away free in Houston and Pittsburgh locations because it was cheaper than getting a liquor license.

  14. More drunks on planes…we are behaving so well on flights now…
    The old dominion started out so crooked and still is! Backs wells Fargo against it’s own citizens!

  15. Yes, by all means, make this an Emergency..‍♀️ Let’s sit on issues and things that really matter.

  16. @Sal

    Democracy=tyranny. Just because 51% want something does not mean 49% should be enslaved under their wishes.wake up. Either you support freedom or you oppose freedom.

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