Capital One’s first airport lounge opens to the public today — here’s a peek inside
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Editor’s note: TPG got a first look at the Capital One Lounge in late October. The lounge is now open to the public as of Nov. 4, 2021.
Capital One is taking on the likes of American Express and Chase. The next battlefield? Branded luxury airport lounges.
Today, the company has officially opened its first-ever airport lounge, at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) Terminal D. In addition, Capital One has announced access requirements, which includes Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card cardholders.
The McLean, Virginia-based issuer is in the midst of a years-long push further into the travel space.
Its mileage rewards program has transitioned from a mostly cash-back operation to a full-fledged travel rewards currency with airline and hotel transfer partners. The company invested in the travel technology firm Hopper and used it to power the relaunch of the Capital One Travel portal earlier this year, too. Finally, the Venture X card is its first-ever premium rewards card and officially launched on Nov. 9, 2021.
A few weeks ago, we got a sneak peek of the Capital One Lounge ahead of its public opening. Here’s a look inside the just-opened lounge and info on who exactly has access.
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Location and hours
The Capital One Lounge DFW is located airside (after security) in Terminal D, by Gate 22, which puts it right next to American’s Flagship Lounge. Initially, the lounge hours will be fairly limited from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., but Capital One says it will expand the hours in the near future.
With all of DFW’s passenger terminals connected by the Skylink within the secure area, the lounge is conveniently positioned for both departing and connecting passengers.
If you happen to be originating from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you’ll see the Capital One Lounge to the left directly after the D22 security checkpoint. Note that there isn’t a TSA PreCheck line at this particular checkpoint.
This isn’t the first premium airport lounge from a credit card issuer that resides here at Terminal D. In fact, the signature blue doors of the Amex Centurion Lounge are located just a few hundred feet away from Capital One’s outpost, by Gate D12.
The new, $395-per-year Capital One Venture X card will be the primary way most travelers will access a Capital One Lounge. This new product is the first premium card from Capital One and launched on Nov. 9, 2021.
Venture X cardholders will get unlimited access to Capital One Lounges for primary cardholders and their authorized users, along with complimentary entry for up to two guests per visit (children two and under are free). Additional guests are charged at $45 each.
Don’t plan on getting the Venture X card? Don’t worry, you can still get in.
Cardholders with either a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Spark Miles for Business — cards that have just a $95 annual fee — receive two complimentary lounge visits annually and will have access to a special entry rate of $45 per visit after that. Pricing for guests of Venture and Spark Miles cardholders is also $45 per visit.
Finally, the Capital One Lounge will also be open to all travelers at the regular entry rate of $65 per guest.
All Capital One Lounge guests must present a boarding pass for a departing flight and can enter up to three hours before departure. This applies to guests originating at that airport or connecting on to a future same-day flight from that airport. Guests can’t enter with boarding passes for arriving flights with no onward connection.
At approximately 10,000 square feet, the Capital One Lounge has a generous footprint with distinct “zones” for travelers to relax, work, refresh and, yes, even exercise. As a point of comparison, the neighboring Amex Centurion Lounge is slightly larger at about 13,000 square feet.
Guests can take one of two elevators up to the lounge and take a left to check-in. To the right, is the temporarily shuttered American Flagship Lounge.
Just inside is an area for luggage storage and the main reception desk.
Visitors will be able to make reservations with an attendant for a shower suite, workout room, prayer room or the nursing room.
Past the reception desk, and directly ahead, is the “center cube” with food and beverage options galore. Each “face” of the cube has a variety of individually plated or packed items.
The wall closest to the lounge entrance includes an entire open fridge of grab-and-go food and drink selections. Across from it is the coffee station, including draft beverages like cold brew on tap.
Capital One purposely built this grab-and-go space for frequent travelers that may not have time to sit down for a full meal, though the individually wrapped items are also a plus in the pandemic era with its focus on hygienic offerings.
After an analysis of airport lounge design concepts prior to building out its own facilities, Capital One aimed to create a space that made sense for both the road warrior that only had a few minutes while dashing between flights as well as the leisurely lounger who had a few hours to kill.
Surrounding the food and drink area are sectioned-off zones with several long, leather banquettes. A variety of two-top and four-top tables can be used for either dining or working.
Past this area, visitors will come across floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the runways.
Here, more seating options abound including comfortable loungers, each with a piped red accent whose color alludes to the arcing swoosh in Capital One’s brand logo.
With plenty of natural light, this section of the lounge is sure to be popular for guests who want a view of the outside world before boarding their aircraft.
Next, the stunning bar area takes up the back wall of the lounge with a striking, curved hanging art piece that doubles as accent lighting.
Guests can take their drinks to one of the many tables, and a border of potted plants creates a sense of seclusion within the space.
As expected, there are plenty more two-tops and four-tops past the bar area, including another leather banquette.
The next lounge zone is a multi-purpose area that Capital One says is their take on the kids’ room concept.
While there is a sense of relative privacy thanks to slatted wood panels that delineate the space, it’s not quite what you would imagine a kid-friendly area to be. In their research, Capital One explains they found that parents didn’t want to be in a closed-off room. Instead, the multi-purpose room feels like a casual section that remains part of the larger lounge … just with tables and seats that are closer to the ground.
A separate corridor near the lounge entrance houses the four individual restrooms, each fully stocked with hand soap, hand lotion, cloth towels and even bidets.
Last, but certainly, not least the “wellness corridor” houses some of the more unique elements including a workout room, two napping rooms, two prayer rooms, a nursing room and a shower suite.
The workout room and napping rooms have runway views, perfect for aviation geeks like me.
Food and beverage
Food and beverage take front and center in the Capital One Lounge. Literally.
Instead of creating one buffet area, Capital One custom built a rounded cube design with each side of the cube offering different options. This cube is, in fact, the centerpiece of the lounge.
The design creates more of a flow within the space, as guests walk around the cube instead of congregating (and crowding) all in one place.
While there are no set published menus, Capital One says that almost all of its offerings are locally sourced. Those items will rotate based on what’s in season and the ongoing relationships with their regional partners, which were listed on placards near the dishes.
I sampled several of the dishes from the all-day menu. The standout was a beef bibimbap bowl that was the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Speaking of sweet, the cannolis were deliciously crisp on the outside and sweet and decadent on the inside.
Each item was individually plated and beautifully presented.
Capital One wants to emphasize healthy, fresh and delicious grab-and-go options ranging from salads, sandwiches, juices and more. These options are all prepared daily in the in-house kitchen.
Over by the bar, there is a wide selection of drinks curated by Austin-based Unfiltered Hospitality.
That includes a selection of draft cocktails on tap. There’s even a beer that was specifically created for the lounge called the “Yellow Rose Airport Pilsner.”
The small but wide-ranging cocktail and wine list also has an “upgraded” section for those in the mood for something even more premium who are willing to pay à la carte.
While the drinks themselves are delicious (and gorgeously presented), one of my favorite elements is that, in an excellent attention to detail, they’re served on coasters that have the recipe printed on them. Just in case guests want to try their hand at recreating the experience at home.
Capital One went all-in on the design and décor of their first airport lounge.
In creating the lounge, the focus was on eco-friendly materials, unique textures and eye-catching effects like curved surfaces. In fact, you’ll notice that almost everything in the lounge has rounded edges, from the tables to the “center cube.”
This was an intentional design principle that Eslam Khalil, director of design and development for Capital One, said was meant to invoke a sense of calmness and cohesiveness throughout the space.
One of the first details of the lounge that you may notice is the pieces of artwork scattered throughout. The Capital One Lounge features more than 55 pieces of original art by local artists from the region. Curated by The Tappan Collective, the collection includes a variety of compositions from wood to acrylic to silkscreen prints and more.
As for more practical matters, if you’re worried about running out of juice for your devices, worry no more. Every seat in the lounge has access to power, points with both USB and standard three-prong outlets.
As you work your way further into the lounge you’ll find one of the most unique aspects of Capital One’s offering: A cycling and yoga room with mats, resistance bands and two Peloton bikes.
In recent years, Peloton has exploded in popularity with virtual spin classes and other fitness regimens that you can do from the comfort of your own home (or airport lounge). Capital One even recently partnered with celebrity Peloton instructor Cody Rigsby.
There are also two relaxation rooms, which feature state-of-the-art nap pods along with a ceiling that mimics stars in the sky (and recalls the ceiling in Emirates First Class). There are also sumptuously padded eye covers and blankets to help weary travelers recharge away from the crowds.
The lounge also has one shower suite, which is stocked with a full array of amenities including biodegradable shampoo, conditioner and soap. To reduce waste, Capital One partnered with a company called Sunrise Sessions that offers water-soluble toiletry containers that automatically dissolve. It’s a pretty nifty concept.
A private nursing room for parents and two multi-faith rooms for travelers to pray, meditate or reflect round out the “wellness corridor.”
For years, the network of Amex-owned and operated Centurion Lounges dominated the cobranded card airport lounge space. But that’s now changing.
Capital One is serious about its lounge ambitions, with two more spaces set to join this existing DFW location in 2022, located at Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Denver (DEN) airports. For its part, Chase has also announced its ambitions to open cobranded lounges at New York LaGuardia (LGA), Boston Logan (BOS) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
If this Dallas-Ft. Worth Capital One location is any indication of what is in store, Amex (and Chase, for that matter) should be wary of the competition. From premium eats to Peloton bikes, I was impressed by the amenities, ambiance and the attention to the finer details that were all apparent at Capital One’s impressive first foray into the lounge business. It would be exciting to see the issuer accelerate plans to open even more lounges at more airports quickly.
For now, though, at least folks flying from or through Dallas have another excellent premium lounge option to enjoy.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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