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My review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at Washington Dulles

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This is my review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at Washington Dulles International airport.  It is the first of three articles covering my journey back from the Hilton event I attended at their HQ in Virginia.  The second part will look at the new A330-300 Upper Class product and part three will look at the Revivals lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3.

The key thing to remember with Virgin Atlantic is that you only get the ‘true’ Clubhouse experience in Heathrow Terminal 3 (special website here, review here).  New York JFK, its second most important airport, has a watered down version as we reviewed here.  Provision at other airports varies widely, including the travesty of the Escape Plus lounge at Manchester Terminal 2.

I am pleased to say that the Washington Clubhouse is at the upper end of the scale.  It doesn’t have table tennis tables or any of the Heathrow quirks but it is an attractive, solid lounge with excellent dining and good staff.

(If you are flying out of Dulles in the morning when there are no Virgin Atlantic flights, you can access the Clubhouse with a Priority Pass.  There is a reduced food and drink offering however.  For clarity, you cannot get in with a Priority Pass during the hours that Virgin is operating.)

The lounge is directly opposite the gate that Virgin Atlantic uses.  It was my shortest ever walk from lounge to plane – it took literally two seconds to get from the lounge door to the back of the Priority Boarding queue!

The lounge is, in theory, on two levels.  There is this attractive spiral staircase (just visible on the left):

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

… but when you get to the top you realise that there is actually nothing there and it is just an architectural tweak to make the room look classier:

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

It does allow you to get some decent photographs of the main downstairs area though!

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

and of the dining area:

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

There is a wall of glass which gives views out to the adjacent jet bridges.  As the Virgin Atlantic gate is on the other side, you will be looking at someone elses aircraft!

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

With the Virgin Atlantic flights being overnight, the key benefit of using the lounge is the waiter-service lounge dining.  This allows you to do what I did – have a decent meal on the ground and then refuse everything when you get on the aircraft in order to maximise sleep.  I also skipped breakfast and decided to hit the Revivals Lounge at Heathrow instead.

The dining, I’m pleased to say, was very good.  I kicked off with champagne:

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

There is one Virgin Atlantic gimmick in the lounge.  There is a ‘virtual reality’ cocktail experience.  The drinks menu contains nine signature cocktails from famous bars across the world.  Choose one of these and the staff will give you a VR headset so you can see it being made in the bar where it originated ….

My dodgy eyesight means VR doesn’t work well for me so I headed straight for the food.  I skipped the eight starters and salads and headed to the mains.  The options were:

  • sesame crusted tuna
  • chicken tikka masala
  • Clubhouse burger
  • Portobello mushroom burger
  • Mac and cheese
  • vegetable curry

I went for the chicken tikka masala which was good:

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

Desert options were creme fraiche cheesecake (see below), fruit salad, dark chocolate brownie, mango sorbet or an artisan cheese selection.

Review Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge Washington Dulles Airport

The meal was impressive – probably better than I would have got on the plane.  It is worth noting that pre-flight dining is available to everyone who has access to the lounge, so if you are in Economy or Premium with Virgin status you can still take advantage of it.

And that was that.  The Virgin Atlantic Washington Dulles Clubhouse lounge is a light, bright place with a very good dining area and is a pleasant place to pass an hour or so before an overnight flight.

I ate, took the four paces from the lounge door to the back of the Priority Boarding queue, and waited to see how the refurbished A330-300 Upper Class cabin would turn out.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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Comments

  1. I LIVE FOR AVIOS says:

    Yawn,yawn are we going to be able to transfer the 90,000 Avios from Iberia to BAEC ?
    They drop tonight.

  2. Frenzie says:

    Rob, I don’t understand why would you not at least take the food on the plane, taste it and review it?

    Isn’t this kinda what you do?

    I mean I know you want to maximise sleep, but you can sleep tonight.

    You may say that you have tried the food on tje way out, but this will be catered from the US and may be very different.

    • Virtually no-one eats. Everyone goes to sleep and eats in the lounge first.

      • Genghis says:

        Agreed. As soon as you get on the aircraft, you should be on destination time (i.e. not eating in the middle of the night US->UK)

        • Agreed, and it’s what I do myself, but I take Frenzie’s point that if you’re a or points/miles blogger for a living then perhaps it’s worth doing these things from time to time, if nothing else so people can decide if it’s worth eating on the plane. It was a bit like the review of the virgin flight the other day, where rob didn’t try the bed as it was a day flight. Seemed a bit odd.

      • Yep, eat in lounge, sleep on plane. In the bijou IAD clubhouse I like the burger (good, but sadly no fries), and many glasses of bubbly, the staff there have always been great. As soon as boarding starts, get on the plane, change into sleep suit before take off, just time for a couple more glasses, then sleep to London.

        Aside from the PP access earlier in the day, unless things changed it is also used by at least one other airline, if you get there early it can be a bit busy, but those pax depart well in advance of the VS flight.

  3. OT: Just wanted to report back that u didn’t get 3,000MR for taking out a supplementary on the new Gold Amex. I suppose it’s not worth chatting and trying as they will say I wasn’t targeted. It was good while it lasted though.

  4. Derek says:

    Related to comments re distance from Lounge to gate, an interesting article would be which lounges have a direct Lounge-to-aircraft option. (For example, last time I flew from SFO, you could leave Lounge to directly connect to aircraft jetty, thereby not join main gate crowds).

    I would be interested in which cities/airlines have that option

    • Emirates in Heathrow T3 – is that the only Heathrow lounge to do that? Is it the only UK lounge to do it?

      Technically Emirates in Dubai you board from the lounge but only because the terminal has 3 floors – ground for the public, middle for First and top for Business.

      • Genghis says:

        No idea if it’s “normal” but BHD had this in April – people in the lounge bypassed everyone else at the gate.

      • I remember in bmi days boarding direct from the lounge in GLA – that went years ago though, not sure anywhere else offers it now apart from EK.

    • BA Boston lounge has direct boarding.

  5. Brian says:

    Desert options in Washington? Didn’t realise global warming was that bad… :))

  6. OT sorry but no bits today: Amex Platinum medical cover states that trip must be purchased in full using the Platinum card here: https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/benefits/the-platinum-card/platinum-insurance.html (Click If you become ill or have an accident while travelling) but I can’t find any such condition in the actual T&C (https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/pdf/card-products/platinum-charge-card/UK_Platinum_Charge_Insurance_Documentation_v1_0.pdf). Could someone advise please as the tickets were not purchased with Amex Platinum but I thought we’d be covered for medical expenses, as per the terms, irrespective of how we paid.

    • Read the T&C definitions more closely, it’s any Amex-issued Amex, not just Plat.

      • Genghis says:

        For medical, covered regardless how paid (see 1.1)

        • Haha quite, there were two subtly different posts about cover and I replied to the wrong one!

    • the_real_a says:

      No such clause for Medical coverage. Nor must you pay for medical care on your card… although its a good idea to do so!

  7. OT sorry but no bits: I typed a message but it somehow didn’t post. Do you have to pay for your tickets using Amex Platinum to have the travel coverage specifically medical. I can’t find it in the Terms and Conditions PDF but it does say “In order to receive certain insurance benefits, you need to purchase the trip on your Platinum Card in full” under Platinum benefits on the website. Please advise.

    • No. Medical does not require payment on Plat. Only small stuff requires that.

      And it isn’t Plat, it is any UK personal Amex card.

      • Thank you Rob. I was comparing the cards and only Platinum seemed to hav comprehensive travel insurance. Does the BA Premium Amex and PRG Amex also provide medical cover? Hopefully nothing will happen but will be in the USA for a few weeks with kids so just wanted some kind of back up. Thanks a lot.

        • No, they’re vastly cheaper cards so don’t have the same level of benefits.

        • Mark2 says:

          It is very unwise to go to US without large medical cover especially with children.
          Could be very expensive.

        • Rob MC says:

          Just to confirm medical insurance on the platinum card is sufficient for a trip to the US and it applies to the main cardholder and also the supplementary cardholder? Thanks

          • Yes. It covers pretty much every member of your extended family if you hand out enough supp cards!

        • That’s not what I meant. Once you have Platinum, you can pay on any UK personal Amex you own.

  8. Perfect example of how clunky the comments system is here. Not clear who is reply to what …

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