Washington, DC and McLean, Virginia are “home” to Capital One, and soon, in 2021, Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) will become home to the first ever Capital One branded airport lounge. Amex officially has another entrant into the airport lounge space. The move raises as many questions as it does answers, but there’s an overwhelming sense of excitement behind it all.

Cathay Pacific Lounge at HKG

About That Capital One Dulles Lounge

Capital One promises to do a lot with their 9,100 square foot airport lounge – which by any airport measure is a massive space. How do you appeal to family travelers, executives, wellness obsessed and gourmands at the same time? Capital One’s Washington Dulles lounge promises

  • bespoke dining.
  • premium wine and liquor.
  • a fitness center.
  • a kids/family room.
  • showers and spa.
  • a conference room.
  • a quiet room.

Based on proposed amenities, this sounds like a contender in the upper tiers of lounge quality within the USA. Very few lounges offer a fitness center, which is a growing wish among travelers and even fewer also cater to families specifically, or those in search of a meal worth eating, or booze worth drinking. If they pull it off, this could be quite something.

The lounge will be located directly behind security, making it a first port of call for anyone ready to unwind after stripping through TSA. That will mean a tram to the gates later on, but for departing passengers, it will be very easy access. At a minimal cost of $7.5 million, there’s no question this is an ambitious project – which raises the question – why?

Is Capital One Going Premium?

There’s been incredibly jockeying in the US premium credit card market in recent years. Ambitious credit cards were launched, benefits were culled, and some cards reportedly may never turn a profit. One thing is for certain: people hate losing travel benefits as their annual fee increases, and perhaps Capital One sees a window of opportunity.

Rumors have been abound for years of Capital One researching their own premium credit card, and with the 2019 launch of their mileage transfer program, with over 15 airlines and hotels with which you can transfer your points, that makes more sense than ever.

Additionally, Capital One has tapped into potentially lucrative relationships with OpenTable, Hotels.com and other premium travel and lifestyle brands which could create a set of benefits not seen by other cards.

Capital One found success with offering 2X (2% cash back or 1.5x airline miles) on everything via the Capital One Venture Rewards Card, without a massive annual fee, so it would be neat to see if they can shake up the earning side of credit card rewards, in addition to perks like airport lounge access.

US airport lounges have traditionally lacked far behind the rest of the world in amenities and quality, so if there’s a shake up brewing between two well heeled banks, it’s hard to think that anyone minds. Personally, I can’t wait…

 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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5 Comments

  1. I’d say there’s some level of split-personality with Capital One. The bulk of their profit comes from basic consumer products, branch banking, providing credit cards to people who actually carry a balance, etc. I’ve been a Capital One Bank customer since they took over our local Chevy Chase Bank in the 1990s but I haven’t visited a branch in years and only hold one of their cards. But that’s been their bread-and-butter, and continues to be very profitable.

    Now, suddenly, they’ve upped their credit card offerings with airline mile transfers and invested heavily in “Capital One Bank” cafes, that are half bank branch, half coffee shop, especially here in the DC area. Plus they’re putting them in posh areas (14th Street, Georgetown, etc.) That said, they always look dead every time I walk by. Now we have this bit of news about the lounge is just further evidence of their move into the premium banking space. My only question is: “Why?”

    Considering what we’ve heard recently about the high acquisition costs from the likes of Chase, Amex, and Citi in building premium card portfolios, they don’t seem to be huge money makers for these banks. If anything, Chase and Amex have been bolstering their portfolio of lower-tier cards and opening branches to target more traditional banking consumers. It will certainly be interesting to see how Capital One’s gamble pays off… but I’m skeptical.

  2. Yeah we should not expect any resemblance of luxury here based on the customer base of capital one and their current credit card offerings. This is basically as exciting as if the Omaha National Bank opened an airport lounge or Penfed.

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