Dulles Airport Updates: Train Construction, New Food Options, And The Invisible United Club Renovation

I had a quick day trip yesterday that yielded some updates on my home airport of Washington-Dulles for those that find their way to the nation’s capital airport (or, the one 20 miles West of the nation’s capital).

After many years of speculation, there appears to be actual dirt moving for the extension of the Metro Silver line that’s supposed to end up at Dulles Airport in 2018.

Club Renovation

Club Renovation

For those that know Dulles Airport, this is over in the cargo area at the intersection of Air Freight Lane and Package Court (no pun intended, actual road names).  I was dropping off a Fedex on the way to the airport and saw this construction for the first time.  There’s still a very long way to go.  If you’re interested, there are project updates here.

Anyone that’s been in Dulles airports illustrious C and D terminals know that they’re way (WAY) past their usable lifepsan.  These were originally a bunch of trailers cobbled together to make a terminal that was only supposed to be temporary, and still is.  But, they’ve mostly wrapped up restroom renovations and have started updating food options.  That meant things were constrained for a bit as many options were closed for construction.  While some are just renovations of existing brands, one of the first new options in the concourse opened recently, Au Bon Pain.  It was open about 3 weeks ago when our family headed to Italy, and has a wide selection of pre-made sandwiches, soups, fruit and a made-to-order menu.  It’s one of the nicest Au Bon Pains I can recall seeing in an airport.  While not ground-breaking, it’s certainly a ray of sunshine in the C/D concourse, located as soon as you come up out of the escalators from the train at the C concourse.

Club Renovation

The extra capacity is absolutely needed, especially when you consider this was the line at Dunkin Donuts at around 7:30am yesterday.  That’s the line on the right, snaking around to the counter about 20 or 30 folks deep.  Starbucks wasn’t quite as swamped, but still pretty busy.  Dulles runs on Dunkin?

Club Renovation

Lastly, the United Club at C17 has reopened and the staff swears it was renovated.  Except, I was in the club before it closed back in June.  At that point, pretty much all the new furniture had been installed and it appeared to have been painted.  It’s possible that maybe all the furniture wasn’t there or the carpet wasn’t installed, and maybe they had some electrical work to do.  But the club has been closed for just about a month and while it’s newer than it was 3 months ago, I can’t quite figure out exactly what they did in the past month versus before closure.  It surely wasn’t painting the bathrooms or getting rid of the mold on the sinks.

Club Renovation

Club Renovation

Seriously, though.  United noted in their recent conference call that they have lots of high-value customers at Dulles(HT: davef139 on Milepoint).  The doors are closed for a month and you couldn’t paint all the walls because that would have been too expensive?  Seems like a pretty clear message that they’ll do just enough to get by but certainly aren’t looking to provide a world-class product as their CEO, Jeff Smisek likes to tout.  Anyway, there are more plugs in the club now.  We should be happy with that, right?

Club Renovation

3 Comments

  1. IAD is also my home airport and United is my airline of choice. However, Terminal C/D is terribly embarrassing. I call it the triple wide trailer. Glad to see work on phase II of the silver line. That is going to be a long ride.

  2. United is in a tough spot with IAD, I think. As davef139 reported on Milepoint, Smisek said on the earnings call that IAD is home to a lot of GS/1K. It’s an important hub, in other words. But the facilities are just awful. And United has virtually no leverage over MWAA (the govt bureaucrats who run IAD). I think the best they can do is cosmetic upgrades. And that’s not a win for the staff there. Heck, the HVAC system is a mess in the back of the house!

    But you want to talk about bad? Bad is the United Clubs at IAD. UC @D8 is dark, dingy, the bathrooms are worse than the main concourse facilities, and the food is a joke. The facilities at the Global First lounge at C4 are better, and they do the beverage service right, but again, the food is just silly bad.

    1. And, that’s the point, David. They have complete control over making the lounges a pleasant experience for their high-value customers. And choose not to do so.

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