United Arab Emirates
Dubai International Airport
- One of the world's biggest business class lounges
- Variety of zones to work, dine, sleep and relax
- Often quieter than Emirates' other business class lounges
- No barista-made coffee
- Slow WiFi
- Direct boarding from lounge to aircraft
Emirates has a colossal number of airport lounges in Dubai, but one often frequented by Australian travellers is Emirates' business class lounge in Dubai Airport's Concourse A: also known as the 'A380 concourse'.
It's long been the default business class lounge for Qantas passengers heading to London or Australia too, but from March 25 2018 when Qantas shifts its London flights through Singapore and Perth, it'll remain open to eligible passengers aboard Emirates' flights, including Qantas Frequent Flyer members.
Here's what awaits inside.
Location & Impressions
You'll find this lounge in Terminal 3's Concourse A, and it's not simply near one gate number: the lounge spans the entire length of the terminal concourse, and is easily one of the world's biggest business class lounges.
Follow the signs in the terminal proper and you'll find the entrance – located in the middle of the lounge – where you'll be scanned inside.
Waiting for a companion to arrive? There are seats provided just beyond reception, which are a good place to meet up given the enormity of the space.
Throughout the complex, directional signage helps you find your way...
... as do maps, which give walking time estimates.
That said, and given the lounge's rectangular shape, it took me literally 45 minutes to do a complete circuit with brief stops in each zone for a stickybeak. Now that's a big lounge!
Continuing to walk around the space, there's an in-lounge duty-free shop...
... plenty of natural light, both through the roof in the centre...
... and also floor-to-ceiling glass windows which provide tarmac views, too:
A variety of different zones cater to travellers' varying needs, including buffet dining...
... and a quiet space to relax and unwind, as boarding calls aren't made here (you'll need to watch the information screens closer to departure).
This business class lounge is positioned directly on top of the first class lounge in the same concourse...
... and offers direct boarding from lounge to aircraft, for flights departing Concourse A:
This currently includes Qantas' flights to Sydney, Melbourne and London: but once those flights detour via Perth and Singapore instead, this lounge – and terminal – will be exclusively for passengers flying with Emirates.
- First class and business class passengers flying with Emirates and Qantas
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers travelling with Emirates or Qantas
- Qantas Club members when their next onward flight is booked on a QF flight number, including codeshare flights operated by Emirates
- Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders flying with Emirates or Qantas
- Emirates Skywards Silver members flying with Emirates or on a Qantas codeshare flight
- Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers when travelling on a Qantas flight with a QF flight number only
If that doesn't get you past reception, you can pay for access too – for Skywards Blue members, the fee is US$105 (A$133.50), while non-frequent flyers can also buy entry for US$136.50 (A$173.50), including VAT.
But before paying those admittedly hefty prices, consider your other options as well. For example, if your passport wallet packs a Priority Pass membership card, you can present it for access to the Marhaba Lounge in the same terminal and concourse, or for access to a 'sleep pod' on longer transits.
Note that first class passengers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers also have access to the Emirates first class lounge in Concourse A, located directly below this business class lounge.
It's also worth remembering that even if your flight is departing from Concourse B or C, you're still welcome to visit this lounge if covered by the list above, before heading to your boarding gate in plenty of time to make your flight.
For a bite to eat, a variety of buffet counters are located throughout the lounge. The offerings are mirrored at each end of the lounge's rectangular shape, so you don't need to do a full lap to find everything you like.
My morning visit (prior to EK434 to Brisbane) saw a selection of pastries and fruits available...
... along with yoghurts, muesli and juices...
... and machine-made espresso coffee – but for a barista-made latte, you'll need to venture to the Emirates business class lounge in Concourse B.
There is, however, Champagne...
... and warm breakfast bites like scrambled eggs, hash browns and baked beans.
Because it's always 5pm somewhere, a selection of self-serve alcohol is available too:
You can choose to enjoy your meal at a number of tables, whether at those more secluded from others...
... at longer communal benches...
... or in a separate dining area, where some tables again offer extra privacy:
Just note that there's no Champagne bar in this lounge, like there is in Concourse B: so if you're keen to sample various bubbles rather than the standard Moet NV, you might like to visit the Concourse B lounge instead.
If your time here calls for productivity, there's a large business area with supplied tech and space to use your own...
... along with other working benches, and world clocks, throughout the lounge.
For more casual browsing or a quick charge for your smartphone, international-style AC outlets are scatted throughout the space and accept Australian pins without an adaptor. Some are easily spotted from your seat...
... others are tucked away behind the chairs...
... some pop-up from the floor (although these accept UK-style plugs only)...
... and others are at the ends of tables:
Failing that, there's a charging station towards the centre of the lounge which is lockable if you don't want to be tied to a power point (just don't forget to collect your device before boarding!):
Wireless Internet is available throughout the space, but even with an almost-empty lounge, speeds left a lot to be desired, with downloads averaging 3.82Mbps, uploads 3.75Mbps and ping speeds 52ms during my visit.
Given the many places where you can relax in this lounge, hopefully you'll have a chance to unwind before your flight – whether that's in the lounge's middle section to soak up some natural light, either on your lonesome or with a companion...
... or in a larger group, with seats in a variety of configurations:
You might instead choose to socialise at one of the longer bench seats...
... in one of the larger seating groups...
... or can simply catch up on the latest news and events near one of the many televisions:
We like that there's a good variety of furniture here and that the lounge is divided into different nooks, which keeps the massive space from feeling too expansive...
... and from feeling too 'copy-paste', as you're not constantly seeing the same things as you wander around:
For smokers, there's a segregated smoking room...
... but regardless of where you sit, a variety of international reading material is also available from near reception:
Stuck in transit for a number of hours? Consider heading to the quieter areas of the lounge...
... where you'll find day beds at the ready...
... and also private sleeping nooks, which were all occupied during my visit:
Emirates does offer two 'Business Class Quiet Lounges' within the lounge proper – one at each end – but these were both inexplicably closed when I stopped by.
It wasn't a big deal, though, as the lounge itself was rather quiet and relatively empty before my Australia-bound flight. To keep noises down, there's also a dedicated room for kids to have fun...
... located far away from those trying to sleep or work – a great idea and design, because it allows everybody to enjoy the lounge to its fullest:
All that's left is to board your flight – and if yours departs from Concourse A (that is, your gate number begins with an 'A'), you'll be able to board straight from the lounge...
... taking a lift to your aircraft's aerobridge and stepping on board to begin the next part of your journey.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.