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Serving an estimated 80 million passengers in 2023, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in Texas ranks as the second busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic, behind only Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). The sprawling airport accommodates a total of 174 gates (at press time), located within five semicircle-shaped terminals, lettered from A to E, and connected by the automated DFW Skylink light-rail train.
Thanks to its functional design and the Skylink connection, all terminals are accessible airside. This means that once you pass security in your designated terminal, you can access all the others without going through TSA checkpoints twice. This also means that it’s possible to reach any of the airport’s 19 lounges, including proprietary credit card lounges by Capital One and American Express, as well as airline-branded lounges by American Airlines, Delta, and United, and Priority Pass–backed lounges and lounge alternatives.
The lay of the land at DFW
DFW airport may look massive, but the Skylink people-mover plus underground walkways (for the step-counting set) make it easy to navigate. Lounges are available in all five terminals, with the largest concentration in Terminal D. Here’s a map of the airport, plus a list of all 19 DFW airport lounges by terminal to help get the lay of the land.
Over the past year, I’ve had multiple Dallas layovers—including an intentionally long one in late January 2024 for this article. Here’s my honest and comprehensive guide to DFW’s airport lounges, including how to access the best ones that merit an early airport arrival or long layover, plus those you may want to skip.
Capital One Lounge
Opened in November 2021, in Terminal D near gate D22, the Capital One Lounge at DFW is hands down the airport’s top option. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
While most of the airport’s lounges range between meh and disappointing, this superstar compensates for its lackluster competitors. To start, it flaunts a true vibe (fun background music and convivial atmosphere included), affable welcome staff, and a gourmet grab ’n’ go deli near the entrance with plenty of sandwiches, wraps, snacks, sodas, and iced coffee options (on tap) for those on the run. People with time to linger will want to get cozy in one of the many seating areas and indulge in delicious food and drinks, including craft cocktails on tap (hello: butter pecan Old-Fashioned) and seven wine selections, from Studio by Miraval rosé to a local red blend representing lesser-known Texas wine country. All lunch and dinner items, including the Korean brisket bibimbap, mac-and-cheese, and roasted red pepper hummus and crudités, are presented on individual small plates, avoiding the mess common among buffet spreads. There’s also a small fitness center and a dedicated room with relaxation pods.
How to access the Capital One Lounge
All travelers (yes, even non–Capital One cardholders) with a boarding pass for a departing or connecting same-day flight, regardless of class or airline, can enter the Capital One Lounge at DFW, up to three hours before their departure time for $65 per person. Those with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One Venture X Business (plus authorized users) enter free of charge, with two free guests ($45 for each additional guest). Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Spark Miles for Business cardholders receive two complimentary visits to Capital One Lounges in 2024 with additional visits at a discounted rate of $45 per person. The lounge is also contracted by Air France, Finnair, Korean Air, and Lufthansa to welcome its business- and first-class passengers free of charge.
The Centurion Lounge
In 2018, American Express moved its wildly popular Centurion Lounge at DFW in Terminal D from a 9,000-square-foot outpost to its current 13,000-square-foot home within the same terminal. Now, it’s above the gate D15 security checkpoint (across from gate D12). It’s open from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Centurion’s latest entries, including an upcoming Atlanta lounge in 2024 and an expanded Seattle lounge in 2023, are still testament to Centurion’s game-changing reputation. However, some of its more established lounges, like the one at DFW, fall a bit flat compared to its newer ones.
The narrow interior space at the Centurion Lounge at DFW overlooks the ticketing lobby of Terminal D and can feel cluttered at its core, where the buffet and bar are both located. There’s often a line for the Southwestern cuisine by Dean Fearing (the chef at Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas) with staff scrambling to clean up messy buffet spills. With 12 varietals on offer, the wine program by wine authority Anthony Giglio remains strong as does the cocktail menu by noted mixologist Jim Meehan. (Try the Tex Mex: a heady mix of Tito’s vodka, Cabeza Blanco tequila, corn, honey, lime, and jalapeño.) An Exhale spa provides 12-minute complimentary treatments (be sure to sign up at the lounge entrance) and the less-frequented seating areas at both far ends of the lounge have the most relaxing areas of the space. The Centurion Lounge at DFW is still a solid option—just not the one you’d want to choose if you also have a Capital One card.
How to access the Centurion Lounge
The Centurion Lounge at DFW is free to enter on the day of travel, regardless of airline or class flown, for those with The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Each guest will cost $50 per person (or $30 for children age 2 through 17, $0 for those under 2, with proof of age) when entering with an eligible cardholder. Those with a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or a Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card can visit Centurion lounges for free when flying on a same-day Delta-marketed or Delta-operated flight. They can bring up to two guests maximum for $50 each.
American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounge
With DFW as its largest global hub, American Airlines has a Flagship Lounge in Terminal D between gates D21 and D22 (open 5 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.), plus an Admirals Club in every terminal.
Admirals Club locations and hours:
- Terminal A across from gate A24 (5 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.)
- Terminal B between gates B3 and B4 (5:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.)
- Terminal C between gates C19 and C20 (4 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.)
- Terminal D near gate D24 (5 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.)
- Terminal E (Satellite Terminal) on the mezzanine level (5:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m.)
If you are on a specific American Airlines route that offers Flagship First or Flagship Business Plus (and you are ticketed as Flagship), use the opportunity to enjoy the American Airlines Flagship Lounge, a high-end experience of chef-driven, sit-down dining, premium drinks, and personalized service.
In terms of Admirals Clubs, American Airlines is reimagining them to be more retreat-like and contemporary, with this new model already in play at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C. and coming soon to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), and Denver International Airport (DEN). Unfortunately, DFW is coming later to the renovation lineup. Until then, the Admirals Clubs at DFW feature uninspiring art, dimly lit spaces, and bland, lukewarm food.
For the most part, DFW’s Admirals Clubs skew disappointing. (Terminals A, B, and C are a pass, but things get a bit better in Terminal D and go another step up in Terminal E, which was completed in 2020.) To be fair, DFW’s two other domestic airline–branded lounges, one by United, the other by Delta, are similarly lackluster. So, if you happen to have tickets that get you into an airline lounge but also have credit cards that get you into the Centurion or Capital One lounges, go for the latter.
How to access the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge
Those with Citi®/AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® can enter Admirals Clubs when flying the same day on an eligible American Airlines or oneworld Alliance airline, with two guests free of charge. Travelers in first or business on a qualifying departing or arriving international, transcontinental, or other domestic flight marketed and operated by American or a oneworld airline (including British Airways and Qatar) can also enter Admirals Clubs, as can elite members with Platinum status or above on select international flights. Finally, AAdvantage members on qualifying same-day AA or oneworld flights can enter Admirals Clubs for $79 or 7,900 AAdvantage miles.
As for the Flagship Lounge, travelers must be on a specific route that offers Flagship First or Flagship Business Plus and be ticketed as Flagship. Alternatively, AAdvantage members on qualifying same-day AA oneworld flights can enter the Flagship lounge for $150 or 15,000 AAdvantage miles.
Priority Pass lounges
Those with membership in Priority Pass—the world’s largest independent airport lounge program—can choose between two traditional airport lounges: the Club at DFW in Terminal D (open 4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily near gate D27), and the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal E (open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily near gate E31).
Between these two, our choice is the Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal E. It’s worth the detour thanks to nicer interiors and superior food; however, it’s small so there’s a risk of refusal due to overcrowding.
How to access Priority Pass Lounges
Priority Pass members through credit cards like The Platinum Card from American Express, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve® can enter the Club at DFW or the Plaza Premium Lounge at DFW, with up to two guests free of charge.
Those flying Qantas in business class can expect to receive a lounge pass to the Club at DFW, while those flying business or first class with Emirates will gain passes to the Plaza Premium Lounge.
Priority Pass lounge alternatives
Priority Pass also has seven nonlounge options at DFW, but some come at a cost.
There are Priority Pass lounge alternatives in every terminal at DFW except Terminal C. They include access to the following:
- Minute Suites: One-hour stay in a private resting room (Terminals A and D)
- Gameway: One complimentary hour at a game station plus a bottle of soda or water and one free snack (Terminals B and coming soon to Terminal E)
- Be Relax Spa: One complimentary treatment from a choice of four, including a 30-minute lounger massage (Terminals B and D)
- Drew Pearson’s Sports 88: $56 off the bill for the cardholder plus a guest (Terminal E)
How to access Priority Pass lounge alternatives
For Priority Pass members through credit cards like The Platinum Card from American Express, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the $56 bill credit at Drew Pearson’s Sport 88 is reserved for those memberships affiliated with Chase Sapphire Reserve. Similarly, the Be Relax Spa treatments are not available to those who have Priority Pass through their Amex. Minute Suites and Gameway access should be complimentary for those with Priority Pass through all three of the aforementioned premium travel credit cards. However, as is the case with all Priority Pass lounge alternatives, be sure to ask if your card is valid for complimentary services to avoid receiving a charge on your credit card.
For those wondering about prioritizing options, I’ll tell you this: If you have Priority Pass through the Chase Sapphire Reserve and ample time, head to Terminal E for bites and beers at Drew Pearson’s Sports 88 and then hit up the Plaza Premium Lounge. If you have Priority Pass through Capital One or American Express, skip the Priority Pass offerings and go directly to the credit cards’ proprietary lounges.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.