Three Days in Rio de Janeiro – Introduction


Oh, United.

“International First Class Lounge” my a$$.

Ok, look, United may be a “good-enough” domestic airline, but when they come to international premium standards, just like with any other U.S. carrier, they’re way behind. United’s Global First Lounges are accessible to all Star Alliance First Class passengers and Global Services and HON Circle members on select itineraries. Other Global First Lounges include Chicago, San Francisco, etc.

The United Global First Lounge Washington is located in United’s Concourse C, next to gate C4, and is open daily from 06:30 until 22:00. To summarise, this “First Class” lounge is one of the worst I’ve been to (if not the worst). I can’t really think of an International First Class lounge that ranks lower than this one. Even the other United Global First Lounges are significantly better than this one.

United Global First Lounge Washington

United Global First Lounge Washington

United Global First Lounge Washington

United Global First Lounge Washington

The lounge features comfortable seating areas, complimentary food, drinks, and premium alcohol. This specific lounge also features a mini business centre, however no additional amenities such as showers are available. The lounge basically features a large seating area with plenty of space to relax, then there is a small food section, and then the business centre next to the bathrooms.

United Global First Lounge Washington

United Global First Lounge Washington

United GF Lounge IAD Business Centre

United GF Lounge IAD Business Centre

United GF Lounge IAD Business Centre

United GF Lounge IAD Business Centre

For an International First Class lounge, not surprisingly, the food choices suck. I mean even Lufthansa’s Senator Lounge has better options than this “First Class” lounge. The food spread consists of crackers (how United), fruit, chips, vegetables, cookies, sandwiches, salads, cheese, meat, seafood, and soup. Most of food is bite-sized, which I guess makes it convenient for eating. Now to be fair, I did try some of the snacks and everything was perfectly edible… but still. Drinks consist of tea, coffee, soda, water, etc. Complimentary alcohol is available and consists of beer, wine, “champagne”, spirits, etc.

United GF Lounge IAD Food

United GF Lounge IAD Food

United GF Lounge IAD Food

United GF Lounge IAD Food

On the plus side, the bathrooms are very clean and feature premium amenities.

United GF Lounge IAD Bathroom

United GF Lounge IAD Bathroom

All in all, United’s “First Class” lounge in Washington-Dulles is a huge disappointment to many travellers. Thankfully, it is located in United’s concourse so most likely only United passengers will use the lounge… I imagine if other premium Star Alliance passengers experienced the lounge, they’d be in shock – I kind of knew what it was like and set my expectations very, very low.

United isn’t investing much in international First Class anymore as they’re actually removing it from much of their fleet and hence there isn’t any investment in First Class ground services/products either. It still blows my mind that American carriers can get away with such low standards and then they claim themselves to be “the best in the world” – they do have great route networks, but the experience they provide to passengers, both on the ground and in the air, is just disappointing.