Review: Executive Club Houston Airport

Introduction
Executive Club Houston Airport
Lufthansa First Class Houston to Frankfurt
Getting paid $150/hour to sit in the First Class Lounge
Sheraton Salzburg
InterContinental Berchtesgaden
The Hotel Brussels
Hilton Frankfurt Airport
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Miami
Dad’s Thoughts


While my dad flew in from Tampa the same day, I had spent the night in Houston. Our flight to Frankfurt was only at 4:10PM, so if I had my way I would’ve shown up at the airport at 3PM. But my dad was landing from Tampa at 12:30PM so I wanted to be sure I was there in time to meet his flight. My dad doesn’t have a cell phone (he claims he’s too old to learn how to use one), so the easiest option was to just meet him at his gate.

I made it to the airport at around 12:30PM, and headed to terminal D, where Lufthansa departs from. Lufthansa’s check-in counters are at the far end of the terminal, over near all the other “exciting” airlines that grace Houston with their presence, including Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore.

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Terminal D check-in

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Check-in signage

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Lufthansa check-in

Check-in was efficient, and the security checkpoint was just a few minutes away. There were only a few people in the queue for security, though they were training someone new on the x-ray machine, so it took a good 15 minutes before I was through. As always, the TSA agents were discussing their favorite athletes/sports teams, with the occasional “man, you whack if you think they gonna win.”

Once through security I managed to find my dad, and together we went to the “Executive Club,” which is the contract lounge that Lufthansa uses in Houston. It’s also used by Air China, Emirates, and Qatar.

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Lounge entrance

At the entrance we were welcomed by a Lufthansa representative, who marked our names off a list.

The lounge was actually surprisingly large, though had no windows and felt a lot like a (nice) hospital waiting room.

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Lounge seating

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Lounge seating

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Lounge seating

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Lounge seating

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Lounge seating

Most of the lounge seating consisted of couches with side tables, though there were also tables with chairs. Then there was a quiet room at the far end of the lounge.

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Quiet room seating

Near the quiet room was a small business center with two PCs and a printer.

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Business center

The food spread was quite good for a contract lounge, definitely much better than what you’d otherwise get in the club of a US airline. There was also a bar with complimentary alcoholic beverages.

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Bar

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Bar

Then there were two buffets — one at each end of the lounge. One buffet had hot options, including soup (chicken noodle and Boston clam chowder) and five hot dishes.

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Soup

One display had a vegetable medley, vegetable spring rolls, and vegetable egg rolls.

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Hot options

Another had fried rice and chicken stir fry.

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Hot options

The other side of the buffet had cold options, including finger sandwiches, cheese, fruit, veggies, and packaged snacks.

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Finger sandwiches and cheese

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Fruit and veggies

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Packaged snacks and cookies

I tried to get some work done while in the lounge. I thought ahead and loaded some stuff on my iPad that I figured my dad would enjoy, so while I got some work done I put on the Comedy Central Roast of Roseanne for him. It was a great option in that he was extremely entertained by it, but a horrible option in that he was so entertained by it that his laughter could be heard throughout the lounge. Oops!

The only other thing worth noting about the lounge is that it doesn’t have bathrooms. Seriously, it’s a trend I’ve noticed with lounges I’ve visited lately, though for the life of me I can’t figure it out. The lounge is huge, so why doesn’t it have bathrooms?!

We got bored in the lounge after a while, so at around 3PM started wandering the terminal and looking at planes. There was a KLM Combi 747 and an Air France 777 parked right near the lounge.

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KLM Combi 747

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Air France 777

As we wandered around we saw our Lufthansa crew trickling into the terminal one by one, with most of them stopping at the duty free shops. I noticed they were mostly quite young, which I find to be pretty normal for Lufthansa’s A380s. Lufthansa crews typically fly mostly Boeing OR Airbus aircraft, and typically the latter are more junior.

At 3:30PM we headed to our gate, D11-12, where there were several lanes for boarding given the multiple jet bridges needed to load an A380.

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Departure gate

At around 3:40PM boarding commenced, starting with first class.

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First class boarding queue

For once I wasn’t the most excited person boarding the flight — my dad was!

Anyway, the Houston ground experience was fine. The Executive Club had good food for a contract lounge, though the lack of windows and bathrooms was a bit disappointing.

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben,
    You should have gone to the KLM lounge. It’s a Priority Club lounge that’s really nice. Furnishings seem nicer, maybe not as much food, self serve bar and yes, they have bathrooms.

  2. Do you think this lounge can be accessed with US Airways business award ticket to SYD (Air China one of the carriers)?

  3. @ Sol — Yes, if you’re flying business class on Air China out of Houston (even if it’s on an award ticket) you’ll have access to this lounge.

  4. No windows or bathrooms (?!) means an utter deal-breaker for me, no matter what the food looks like. I’ll be at IAH next week, and the KLM lounge will be closed during most of our layover, so it looks like it’ll be the UC for me!

  5. im embarassed for houston. i cant believe this passes off – i went in and left immediately. awful. esp compared to the united (ex-con) lounges. no reason to stop here. move on folks. I agree w Joediver – try the klm lounge, perhaps BA has a lounge as well?

  6. @tri Yes, BA has two nice lounges at IAH — but only for BA/oneworld passengers. When we’re flying LH out of IAH we walk to the nearest UA lounge rather than using the shared lounge ben reviews here.

  7. Not having a restroom is weird, interior is meh but don’t mind lack of windows. Too much sun down here in Houston 🙂

  8. I’m surprised by your dad’s lack of cell phone. I understand you may not want to say his exact age, but what bucket does he fall into (50s, 60s, 70s, etc)?

    My grandparents (also in SEA) who are both in their late 70s each have smartphones and regularly text with friends and family (albeit with terrible spelling), use facebook, take pictures, play games and music, etc. Seems to be pretty common amongst their social circle as well

  9. Yes, it does look like a hospital (nice) waiting room. Except for the bar and buffet which I wish our hospital had.

    No bathrooms? Houston, we have a problem. I presume that ruled out a shower (or bath)? 😉

  10. Can you please reveal how you are able to earn so many miles to book Lufthansa 1st class that often? You seem to fly it at least once a month, usually with someone else, that’s a lot of miles used, I would really love to know your secret! Do you ever use United miles from Chase? Or your dad’s amex -> Aeroplan only? What other miles do you use to book Lufthansa 1st class?

  11. Wow that is a very sad lounge, a city like Houston deserves better facilities, and that airport wing is fairly new.

    My mom is in her mid 70s and didn’t want to use a cell phone. They can be complicated and intimidating these days, so I mentioned a Jitterbug but she was against it.

    Then I found her the Jenny T172 Blu on Amazon. It is a trendy phone made for seniors and children. Features large numbers and displays calls in big characters on the screen. It is cheap and comes in many colors, comes unlocked with no contract and it is great for traveling overseas as well.

  12. @Bene — you should try the AF lounge at ORY. It’s … special.

    IIRC I don’t think the BA lounge at BRU has bathrooms either.

  13. It’s surprising that there are loungers out there that don’t offer bathrooms. This is supposed to be a premium service. I wonder what the reasoning is.

  14. @ wwk5d — My guess is that the area was previously office space or something, and it was over their budget to install bathrooms. Yeah, cheap.

  15. @ Andrew — A combination of Aeroplan, Lifemiles, and United miles are best for Lufthansa first class.

  16. I used this lounge before a Lufthansa flight and found it be rather poor. The bartenders weren’t polite or professional. The food was mostly greasy and something deep-fried, then perhaps frozen and reheated. The furnishings were pretty depressing. Yes typical contract lounge. While it may have had more food than U.S. airline domestic lounges, that food was unappealing, and then coupled with poor decor, no windows and no bathrooms, it just wasn’t a nice lounge experienced.

  17. I am shocked by lack of bathroom. I am not sure if that would pass health code here.

    Please tell me with all that self-serve finger food and with people coming and going, touching things (i.e. knobs, handles, couches) there is a sink to wash one’s hands?

  18. @ Lucky – SQ F passengers at IAH use United Club, right? If I have some time at the airport, does it make sense to do so or is my time better spent on more worthwhile pursuits?

    Kind of sucks that even with a premium ticket and Amex Plat (+Priority Pass), there don’t seem to be any good options. Need that Centurion lounge from DFW! 🙂

  19. @ Ivan Y — Correct. I’d definitely say you’re best off arriving at the airport as close to departure as possible since the lounge is nothing special.

  20. @ Lucky – thank you, that’s what I figured based on your trip report (SQ F IAH-DME).

    I was actually conditionally approved for Global Entry (in 2 or 3 hours, much to my amazement) and since City Hall GE office has no appointments (due to gov’t shutdown?), was thinking of doing interview before my departure so I can avoid delay on a way back (flying ZRH-ORD-IAH). I’d read interviews are fairly short but how long does the whole process (with biometrics) take – under an hour?

  21. Why did it take you 15m to get through security? Don’t you have Clear or at least Pre-Check? I never wait at security anymore except at UA’s mid-field terminal at IAD (which is mostly unavoidable on international connections)

    BTW, food is rather unimpressive compared to UA’s F lounges and EK business lounges (both in USA).

  22. FYI, the lounge has been renovated since this review just 8 months ago. Just mainly new comfortable furniture and smartly designed dividers. A much needed improvement from this previously ugly room. The walls have been muted and given some texture. Less hospital, more boutique.

    Still no pre-check here.

  23. I am confused that some others suggest we use other lounges. Is this because of an alliance/partnership? I am flying out in F on Lufthansa. Are there other StarAlliance options besides the UCs?

    That being said … the last reviews are from 2 years ago. A brief mention of a renovation. What is the current status of options for lounges at IAH? Come to this Executive Lounge? Use one of the United Clubs?

  24. @ Kevin — Those would be your two options. Neither is great, but the Executive Club might be more convenient based on your departure gate.

  25. Hi.. thanks for your sharing.
    I will take the EVA air, business class from IAH to TPE next month. The lounge they offer is also Executive club.
    I hope to take shower before boarding but unfortunately, it seems no shower either in the Executive Club.
    It is possible to use other alternative lounge with shower equipment since EVA air also a member of Star Alliance?
    Best Regards,

    Thanks

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