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KLM Crown Lounge at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston [Review]

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Jessica Merritt
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Jessica Merritt

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In March 2024, I visited a Priority Pass lounge that had eluded me for years: the KLM Crown Lounge in Houston (IAH). Though it’s usually too full to admit Priority Pass members, the stars aligned on a recent trip, and I got in to check out this lounge with my daughter. Inside, we found a perfectly clean, comfortable, and calm lounge with a small but serviceable buffet and a display of KLM’s cute Delft Blue house collectibles.

See what’s available at the Houston KLM Crown Lounge, how to get in, and what to expect if you visit.

What Are KLM Crown Lounges?

KLM Crown Lounges are airport lounge facilities for passengers of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and those with qualifying access. There are only 4 KLM Crown Lounges in the world: 2 at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS), another at Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), and another at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). The lounge at IAH is the only KLM Crown Lounge in the U.S.

KLM Crown Lounge Location

The IAH KLM Crown Lounge is in Terminal D near gate D16. If you’re riding the Skyway train, as I was, it is the closest and easiest lounge to reach from the train.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH train
My flight departed from Terminal A, but the KLM Crown Lounge was just a train ride away.

It took me a little over 15 minutes via Skyway to get from Terminal A to the check-in desk at the lounge in Terminal D.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH Terminal D entrance from train
Guidance signs as I entered Terminal D. The KLM Crown Lounge was just around the corner to the right.

We’d headed to Terminal D intending to visit the American Express Centurion Lounge using the access I have from The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. However, before we headed that way, I noticed the terminal was fairly empty. I’ve been turned away from a too-full KLM Crown Lounge multiple times before, and I thought it might be a good opportunity to see if we could get in.

I had my daughter with me and knew she’d be a free guest in the KLM Crown Lounge with my Priority Pass Select membership. If I tried to get into the Centurion Lounge, I would have had to pay a $30 fee to get her in with me. I have a hard time passing up free, especially since the free KLM lounge was right there next to us as we entered the terminal.

Just a few steps into Terminal D was the KLM Crown Lounge entrance.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH entrance
I’ve walked in and right back out of this door a few times — it’s usually too full for Priority Pass members!

We’re usually directed to the Air France Lounge if the KLM Crown Lounge isn’t taking Priority Pass members. The Air France Lounge is near D18B, further down the terminal corridor past the KLM Crown Lounge. However, the Air France Lounge is much smaller and lacks a critical amenity: a bathroom within the lounge. Plus, as of April 2024, the Air France Lounge is temporarily closed for refurbishment.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH Terminal D hallway
If you can’t get into the KLM Crown Lounge, keep going to the end of the corridor to the Air France Lounge. Check whether it’s open, and be sure to hit the bathroom first.
Bottom Line:

The Priority Pass outlook at IAH is pretty bleak. With the Air France Lounge closed for refurbishment and no restaurant access for Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Ritz-Carlton™ Credit Card members beginning July 1, 2024, many Priority Pass members will soon have just 1 lounge option in the entire airport: the KLM Crown Lounge, which routinely restricts access. Can I put in a request for a Chase Sapphire Lounge or Capital One Lounge? We’d even take a Gameway!

Gaining Entry

The KLM Crown Lounge is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. At the entry desk, you must show your boarding pass. If you don’t have an eligible ticket on a KLM-operated flight or an international SkyTeam-operated flight, you need your Priority Pass membership card.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH entry
Check in at the front desk and show your eligible ticket or membership card.

Access is granted to these eligible passengers:

  • KLM business class passengers on standard or flex tickets
  • KLM passengers who have purchased access at booking, check-in, or at the door
  • Flying Blue Platinum and Gold members (plus 1 free guest; 25% discount for up to 7 additional guests); Silver members get a 25% discount on lounge access booked in advance
  • Flying Blue Ultimate members (plus up to 8 travel companions)
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members (plus 1 free guest)
  • Priority Pass members

Access may be restricted between 12:30 and 6:45 p.m. daily for space constraints, and guests are limited to 3 hours in the lounge.

Priority Pass members with a membership purchased from Priority Pass may pay a $35 fee depending on membership level. Guest visits cost $35 per person.

Priority Pass Select members — those who have membership through a financial institution — can visit the lounge for free and may bring up to 2 complimentary guests, depending on the credit card granting membership.

When we got to the front desk, I immediately asked if there was room for Priority Pass members and was honestly surprised to find out there was, in fact, room for us.

I showed the front desk agent our boarding passes and my Priority Pass Select membership from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. My visit was free, and I could bring up to 2 complimentary guests, so my daughter got in for free, too.

First Impressions

After I got past the initial surprise of actually making it into the long-elusive KLM Crown Lounge, I was impressed by its charm. While this lounge wasn’t expansive, loaded with amenities, or particularly well-appointed, it did have its finer points.

One of the first things I noticed was KLM’s signature Delft Blue miniature houses, which depict real Dutch buildings. These adorable collector’s items — filled with Dutch gin — have been around since the ’50s and are an amenity given to KLM’s international business class passengers.

I was delighted to see a display case filled with the houses in the hallway adjacent to the buffet and bar. Looking closely, I saw the wallpaper behind it depicted the houses, too. We found additional houses throughout the lounge at the buffet and on other wallpaper.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH Delft Blue houses
It was a delight to peek at these Delft Blue collector’s items.

Another thing that immediately struck me about this lounge was how quiet and calm it was, which clearly had a lot to do with the restricted access. I overheard the front desk turn away guests when, in my opinion, there was still plenty of room for more. There was a night-and-day difference between this lounge and a chaotic Delta Sky Club in Atlanta we visited later that day that truly was at capacity and didn’t turn any guests away until literally every seat was taken.

While it’s annoying that we roll the dice on entry every time we stop by this lounge, I appreciated the policy that gave us a quiet space to recharge before our flight. We even had the luxury of changing seats, first eating near the buffet and then moving to more comfortable seating after we were done — not usually possible in a busy lounge.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH seating area
When I took this photo, I’d just overheard the front desk turn away visitors because the lounge was “too full.”

Seating

There were 3 main seating areas in the KLM Crown Lounge: small dining tables near the bar and buffet, then more comfy chairs in the 2 rooms on either side. The hallway connecting the buffet and one of the seating rooms had a few chairs flanked by Delft Blue house wallpaper and the display case.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH hallway seating with Delft house wallpaper

The quietest section was to the left of the buffet, down the Delft Blue hallway. The left side of the room had a handful of leather chairs.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH wing chairs
Leather chairs in the IAH KLM Crown Lounge.

Opposite those chairs were about a dozen armchairs with tables in between. These chairs featured lamps with outlets. Behind a wooden partition were workstations, too.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH armchair seating
Comfy chairs, tables, and lamps.

In the middle of the lounge, directly across from the buffet and bar, were padded benches with small tables and chairs. Unlike the other seating areas, these seats lacked any outlets. This is where I sat with my daughter while we ate.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet seating with tables
Although the tables were small, these benches had some room to spread out.

Additional buffet seating had more small tables with chairs, some of which could access wall outlets.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet table seating
Some of these buffet-area tables had outlet access.

Between the check-in desk and the bathroom was another seating area with round chairs and small tables opposite another section with larger armchairs and tables with lamps.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH seating comfy chairs
We settled in the chairs closest to the bathroom after we were done eating.

Like many wall-adjacent seats throughout the lounge, these seats had great outlets, featuring 5 regular power outlets and 4 USB-A outlets. The wallpaper featured Dutch houses, too.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH seating outlets
The wall seats featured substantial power outlets.

However, the table outlets were another story. I initially tried those outlets but couldn’t get any power. I’m guessing I needed to plug the table in or flip a switch, but it was easy enough to just use the wall outlet instead of investigating.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH seating table plugs
This table outlet didn’t work for us, but the wall outlet did.

Food and Beverage

The KLM Crown Lounge had a small hot-and-cold buffet and a partially self-serve bar. We didn’t find extensive food choices, but there was something for almost everyone, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Buffet

The cold buffet was the most appealing to me, with 3 salad choices and charcuterie skewers. The salads included a mixed greens salad, quinoa salad with garbanzos and kale, and broccoli salad. The skewers featured salami, mozzarella pearls, and a tomato with a balsamic glaze.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet cold
I was surprised to see a lot of green on the buffet.

On the hot side were beef meatballs and rice, along with cold hummus and pita bread.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet hot
The main hot dish was meatballs.

Another hot option was chicken tortilla soup.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet soup
Chicken tortilla soup on the buffet.

For packaged snacks, we had our choice of a few Lay’s flavors.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH chips
My daughter made 2 of these disappear and took a third to go.

Below the chips were a couple of types of cookies and various teas.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH tea and crackers
Tea and cookies on the buffet.

Apples were another snack, all individually wrapped in plastic.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet fruit
Apples were the only fruit available.

There were taps for hot and cold filtered water.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH buffet water
Hot and cold water on tap.

We could choose from espresso, black coffee, or flavored beverages at the coffee machine.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH coffee machine
Coffee machine on the buffet.

The broccoli salad was perfect, but the quinoa was a little dry, so I added some salad dressing. I liked the charcuterie skewer, too, and the balsamic glaze was pretty thick. After being refrigerated with the rest of the skewer, the tomato didn’t have much flavor.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH food and drinks
I appreciated having a couple of appealing salads, not just plain greens.

My daughter was mainly thrilled by the all-you-can-eat pita bread and chips, but she also enjoyed one of the skewers.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH food
My children weirdly love Canada Dry mixers any time we’re in an airport lounge — fine with me if it keeps them hydrated and entertained.

Bar

The bar, right next to the buffet, was self-serve for nonalcoholic drinks, but alcohol required service from one of the bartenders.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH bar and buffet
The buffet and bar were in the same room.

The bartenders had a few wines available, including 2 sparkling wines, a white, and a red. At the bar were more wines, Saint Arnold Amber Ale, and Heineken. There were also various liquors and mixers.

Nonalcoholic options included unflavored sparkling water, apple and orange juice, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and Sprite.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH bar
The bar at KLM Crown Lounge.

Amenities

While the Amsterdam Non-Schengen Crown Lounge offers showers, lockers, sleep cabins, and an outside terrace, the amenities at the IAH KLM Crown Lounge were limited. Food and a quiet place to relax were the main appeals of this lounge, but the lounge had Wi-Fi (sort of), restrooms, and luggage storage.

Wi-Fi

I had forgotten to download books and shows for my daughter before we left home, so I was looking forward to fast lounge Wi-Fi. I didn’t find it.

When I checked on my tablet and laptop, I didn’t see signs in the lounge for Wi-Fi or a KLM-named network. I asked an attendant, and they instructed me to use Free Airport Wi-Fi, the same Wi-Fi you can get anywhere in IAH.

Not the fast lounge Wi-Fi I’d been hoping for, the airport Wi-Fi took a long time to connect. It was almost nostalgic, as it’d been a couple of decades since I’d slowly watched an internet connection load like it did with the free airport Wi-Fi. Once connected, it kept dropping out, just like the good old days of screeching 56k.

I gave up and turned on my mobile hotspot.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH airport Wi Fi
I should have queued up dial-up modem sounds so my daughter could get the full experience of watching an internet connection slowly load.

Restrooms

Wi-Fi was a failure, but the restrooms were clean and convenient. There were 2 restrooms — 1 for women and another for men. The ladies’ room had a separate sink and changing table area.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH restroom
The sink and changing table within the restroom were separate from the toilet room.

The toilet was in the next room with a locking door.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH toilet
The separate toilet room.

Luggage Storage

Right behind the front desk was luggage storage. We didn’t need it and did not see anyone else use it, either.

KLM Crown Lounge IAH luggage storage
Luggage storage in the lounge.

Staff and Service

Service was unobtrusive and polite. The staff did a fine job getting us in the door, answering questions, and staying on top of refreshments. I never saw anything run empty, and it was a matter of moments before staff cleared plates and trash left behind. The lounge was comfortable and clean, and we could access everything we needed but Wi-Fi.

Final Thoughts

The elusive KLM Crown Lounge wasn’t particularly impressive but easily achieved most of what I value in an airport lounge. It was clean and quiet, offering a calm environment. I was delighted to see many of the Delft Blue houses in person and found the house wallpaper throughout the lounge charming. There wasn’t a bad seat in the lounge, and most had easy access to power outlets. The buffet, while limited, had selections that appealed to me and my daughter, and we left satisfied. The Wi-Fi was the only disappointment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone use the KLM Crown Lounge?

The KLM Crown Lounge has limited access only for eligible passengers:
  • KLM business class passengers on standard or flex tickets
  • KLM passengers who have purchased access at booking, check-in, or at the door
  • Flying Blue Platinum and Gold members (plus 1 free guest; 25% discount for up to 7 additional guests); Silver members get a 25% discount on lounge access booked in advance
  • Flying Blue Ultimate members (plus up to 8 travel companions)
  • SkyTeam Elite Plus members (plus 1 free guest)
  • Priority Pass members
    If you’re visiting as a Priority Pass member, you may not be granted access if the lounge is too full, particularly between 12:30 and 6:45 p.m.

    What terminal is the KLM Crown Lounge in at Houston's airport?

    The Houston KLM Crown Lounge is in Terminal D. If you’re not flying out of Terminal D, you can access the terminal from all other IAH terminals. You can take the Skyway train from any terminal, or you can walk between the B, C, D, and E terminals.

    Is food in the KLM lounge free?

    Yes, food and drinks are complimentary in the KLM Crown Lounge. You can choose from the small hot-and-cold buffet and snacks. There’s a full bar with alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, including canned sodas and an espresso machine.

    Can you sleep in a KLM lounge?

    Although there are KLM Crown Lounge locations with sleep pods, the IAH location is not one of them. That said, there were a few sleeping guests during our visit. They seemed comfortable in the buffet bench seating and quiet armchairs.

    Jessica Merritt's image

    About Jessica Merritt

    A long-time points and miles student, Jessica is the former Personal Finance Managing Editor at U.S. News and World Report and is passionate about helping consumers fund their travels for as little cash as possible.

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