First look: Etihad quietly reopens revamped Dulles lounge, collaborating with Chase

There’s a newly reopened upscale lounge option for passengers flying out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, D.C. It’s now available, free of charge, for travelers who carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card.

Last week, Etihad Airways’ Dulles lounge quietly reopened following a major face-lift — one that appears to bring it into Chase’s growing portfolio of Sapphire Lounges. Officially, the club remains known as an Etihad Lounge. The airline’s logo remains on prominent display as you enter the space along Dulles’ A concourse.

But Etihad’s website notes the space is a collaboration with JPMorgan Chase and airport lounge operator Airport Dimensions. Throughout the two-level facility, you’ll find plenty of similarities to other clubs in Chase’s Sapphire Lounge portfolio, from impressive food and drink offerings to a family room and reflection space.

In fact, the front desk itself is adorned with a logo that says “Sapphire Lounge by The Club.” This is the official name of some other Chase lounges, such as the ones at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

In an unusual twist, though, this lounge opened with little fanfare and no formal announcement from Chase, Etihad or Priority Pass. So, last weekend, I shuffled my travel plans and booked a flight through Dulles to check out the space for myself.

Here’s what I found.

Chase Sapphire Lounge Dulles location

The new Etihad-Chase collaboration lounge is in Dulles’ Terminal A — specifically, near Gate A14. After you clear security and take the AeroTrain to the terminal, the lounge is just to the left as you enter the concourse. The lounge’s location puts it in close proximity to many international carriers’ gates at Dulles. You should also be able to reach the lounge within minutes if you’re departing from a B gate on another U.S. carrier like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines or JetBlue.

Notably, the lounge is quite far from a majority of the gates used by United Airlines, which operates a hub at Dulles. You can technically move between all Dulles gates airside, but it’ll be more of a hike to get to the lounge from terminals C and D, where a majority of United’s gates are. The lounge is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Chase Sapphire Lounge Dulles access

As with the other Sapphire Lounge locations, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders receive unlimited complimentary access for themselves and up to two guests per visit. Just make sure you’ve activated your Priority Pass membership through this card, as that’s what they’ll check to admit you to the lounge. You’ll also get access if you’re flying in business or first class on an Etihad flight or if you have Gold or Platinum elite status with Etihad Guest. Additionally, travelers who earn Priority Pass through a different card will receive one complimentary visit to any Sapphire Lounge per year. This is an especially great option for Capital One Venture X cardholders who are turned away from the Dulles Capital One Lounge when it’s full. Additional guest visits and any visit above the one allowed will cost $75 each.

Chase Sapphire Lounge Dulles layout

Despite the lack of fanfare for this lounge’s reopening, it’s a beautiful space. It’s a far cry from the massive 21,000-square-foot location at LaGuardia, but this didn’t come as a huge surprise. We expected this space to be similar in size to the Sapphire Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), which is also a revamped Etihad Lounge. However, it’s a mere 5,200 square feet, according to the Washington Business Journal, meaning it’s actually much smaller than the 7,600-square-foot space in JFK.

Immediately upon entering, it feels like you’re in a Sapphire Lounge — in no small part because of the sign that says so at the welcome desk. The color motif and seating areas are precisely what we’ve come to expect from a Sapphire-branded space. From the reception area, you’ll notice the bar immediately to your right. Along the windows straight ahead, you can choose a cozy chair to settle in for some work or to do some planespotting. It was rainy and dark when I was there, but the floor-to-ceiling windows along the back wall mean you can enjoy some great plane views from multiple areas in the lounge. To your right, you’ll see a stairwell that leads to the second floor and two entrances into the small dining area. Don’t forget to turn all the way to your left to see the space’s most eye-catching, library-themed area. The shower, meditation room and bathrooms are all on the far side of the dining room. Upstairs, you’ll find various seating options, including a large center banquette with built-in outlets to charge your devices while you work. It also has its own small snack area. In such a small space, overcrowding could become a concern. However, the distinct spaces and ample seating throughout the lounge will likely help mitigate the issue significantly.

Chase Sapphire Lounge Dulles amenities

There are fewer amenity offerings here than what you’ll find in the Sapphire Lounge at LaGuardia. Don’t expect to make a facial appointment during your layover here. Still, the space offers several amenities to make your stay more comfortable. Just through the dining room, you’ll find three gender-neutral restrooms, a backlit vanity with two stools, a reflection room and a shower. The separate vanity is especially nice for those who need to refresh their hair or makeup, allowing you to do so without taking up one of the limited restrooms. If you want to use the shower or reflection room, you’ll need to make a reservation at the reception desk or by scanning the QR code on any of the tables. Additionally, there is a family area just off the bar. It is somewhat small but includes some games and an area for children to run around in a contained space.

Chase Sapphire Lounge Dulles food and drinks

As with its other lounge locations, Chase offers an impressive selection of food and beverages in this lounge. You can order a drink at the bar or by scanning the QR code on any of the tables on the first level. There are several signature cocktails, including the locally inspired “In Bloom,” which is a cherry blossom take on a mimosa. As you enter the dining area, you’ll find a grab-and-go section to your left with canned seltzers and soft drinks, espresso machines, locally roasted coffee and a few snacks. Farther back is the hot bar, which offers a variety of individually plated selections. I was there during breakfast, and the options included a cheese plate, overnight oats, yogurt parfait, shakshuka, brioche French toast and curry potatoes. I highly recommend the shakshuka, which has pomegranate seeds that add an unexpected bright pop to the savory dish. Additionally, you can scan the QR code on any of the tables on the first floor to order a dish from the made-to-order menu. At breakfast, the choices include breakfast bao, salmon Benedict, gluten-free bagel and gluten-free muffin. This is especially good news for those who just want to walk in and settle in the bar or a corner seating area without venturing into the dining room. On the second level, you’ll find a smaller snack bar with water, coffee and a few small bites. However, you don’t have the option to order food from the second level. You may want to get some more substantive snacks and a drink to bring up with you if you plan to settle up there. The staff was extremely friendly and attentive without being overbearing. If you’re like me and can’t decide what to order or want a recommendation on the best spot to get some work done, don’t hesitate to ask.

Bottom line

This lounge opened quietly in early March. But whatever the reason why Chase and Priority Pass did not give it more lip service, the lounge will be a welcome addition to flyers traveling out of Dulles’ A gates. If you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder or Priority Pass member, don’t skip it the next time you find yourself passing through.

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