United Arab Emirates
Dubai International Airport
- Good variety of buffet dishes, with Champagne
- Very busy, especially in the mornings
- Lots of space given over to smokers, which often sits vacant while the lounge is bustling
- Close to some of the departure gates used for Australian flights, including A380 services to Melbourne
Emirates' business class lounge at Dubai Airport's Concourse C is often the airline's busiest – not because it's the best lounge, but because it's where the overhead signage directs you when departing from this section of the airport.
Given it's also smaller than the airline's other lounges, it fills up quickly, as many passengers don't realise there's a second business class lounge hidden further along the same concourse, or that they can use the much larger lounges in Concourses A and B instead.
Nonetheless, here's what Emirates' main business class lounge at Dubai Concourse C has to offer, and why you might consider making the trek further along to that second, almost-secret lounge.
Location & Impressions
As Concourses A, B and C are linked 'airside' at Dubai Airport, you can walk to Concourse C from Emirates' business class check-in zone – found in the middle of the terminal, at Concourse B – or wander here after clearing transit security screening when connecting between flights.
Although the signs won't say "Concourse C" overhead, you can simply follow the arrows to the C gates...
... and as you get closer, you'll spot an angled arrow pointing to "Business Class Lounge", which hints that you should avoid stepping onto the escalator nearby, as the lounge is part way along:
I wandered inside on a bustling weekday morning and found the space rather busy, given that banks of flights to Australia, Europe and South America tend to depart around this time of day.
Even with an upper level – accessed by stairs or a glass lift in the centre of the lounge – I had to choose my seat based on what was available, rather than where I particularly wanted to set up.
The most room was found in the (largely empty) smoking area upstairs, which looks towards the airport tarmac.
While some travellers may appreciate this amenity, when the main lounge area is incredibly full yet the space set aside for smokers goes largely unused even at peak times, making that area much smaller or creating an enclosed smoking room with closing doors – rather than having almost an entire smoking level sitting empty – would seem the better approach, keeping smokers happy but creating more room for everybody else to ease the squeeze.
This lounge is generally open 24/7, but does sometimes close during the day (after 10am) when loud construction works are taking place in the terminal concourse nearby, which is presently under redevelopment.
Alternative lounges during this time include 'The Emirates Lounge' further along the Concourse C pier, which is a shared business class and first class space, or the dedicated business class lounges in Dubai's other concourses.
- First class and business class passengers of Emirates
- Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders flying with Emirates
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members travelling with Emirates on a QF or EK flight number
- Qantas Club members travelling with Emirates on a QF codeshare flight number only
- Paying guests who purchase access at reception for US$136.50 (~A$190), reduced to US$105 (A$147) for all Skywards members and their guests, including entry-level Blue members.
However, first class passengers and Platinum-grade frequent flyers can retreat to one of the airline's many first class lounges in Dubai, including the Concourse C first class lounge found right next to this business class space, or even the flagship Concourse A first class lounge at the opposite end of Dubai Airport.
Also take note that you're not required to use the lounge closest to your onward flight's departure gate, so if you've arrived in plenty of time to spare, you might prefer to spend your time in the larger Concourse A or Concourse B business class lounges, or the quieter lounge tucked away down the end of Concourse C which is separate to this space, known as 'The Emirates Lounge'.
Emirates' business class lounges in Dubai offer buffet dining, and the selections are generally the same across the airport – so even if you haven't ventured to the Concourse C lounge, these choices may appear familiar to you.
Nonetheless, my mid-morning visit found hot food options of plain paratha, aloo bhaji, congee with shiitake mushrooms and delicious fatayers (perhaps best-described as Middle Eastern samosas), featuring tomato and cheese flavours alongside warmed hummus...
... joined by the traditional staples of eggs, hash browns, turkey bacon, juices, yoghurts and smoothies...
... early lunch bites such as bread rolls, sandwiches...
... and sweet desserts, which can be found at multiple counters.
Other choices include olives, dips and spreads, crudités...
... and European bites like sundried tomatoes, artichokes, more olives, grilled peppers, plus Scottish smoked salmon:
On the beverage front, soft drinks, water and beer are found in the main fridges...
... while a separate bar counter offers up a good range of spirits, bar snacks, red wine (not pictured)...
With most seats occupied downstairs, I found an available bench for a quick bite...
... although there was more room in the dining zone upstairs – not a smoking area itself, but adjacent to the smoking spaces, which doesn't provide the best atmosphere for non-smokers.
Missing from the lounge is something made fresh to order, such as a noodle station, espresso coffee bar, or even dim sum on request as Emirates offers at its business class lounge in Singapore.
Power points are available near many of the seats here, but not all of them, which is where this charging station comes in handy, as you can lock your device inside while you enjoy the lounge and collect it when needed or as you depart:
Otherwise, the far-right corner of the lounge serves as a small business nook, with computer terminals and a slightly quieter environment than elsewhere:
WiFi speeds were reasonable with average downloads of 16Mbps and average uploads of 17Mbps – pleasing given how busy the lounge was at the time, but considerably slower than the speeds I measured at The Emirates Lounge on the same day, so if you need the fastest speeds possible during your time at Dubai Airport, continue walking past this lounge until you make it to the very end of Concourse C, where the other business class lounge is located.
While difficult to relax and unwind in a lounge that's nearing capacity, a walk around the space found a few options: one, this padded bench circling the lift...
... another, these comfy chairs tucked over in the corner...
... and upstairs, these day beds – again, not directly inside the smoking area, but relatively close:
Boarding calls aren't made here: if they were, there'd be a constant stream of announcements, so keep an eye on the flight monitors as your departure time approaches.
Shower facilities are available too, but during busy periods, wait times may be less (or avoided entirely) in Emirates' other lounges.
All in all, it's fair to say that the Emirates business class lounge in Dubai Concourse C is the least impressive facility in the airline's seven-strong line-up, mainly because of its limited size combined with its popularity with passengers flying from this part of the terminal, who just want to be close to their departure gate.
On future trips through Dubai where time permits, my preference would be to visit the Concourse A or Concourse B business class lounges instead, which have a little more room to move – and in the Concourse B lounge in particular, a barista coffee station and a separate Champagne bar.
If flying from Concourse C with limited time before boarding, I also think I'd venture further along to 'The Emirates Lounge' as opposed to returning to this Concourse C business class lounge, as I found The Emirates Lounge to be a much nicer space to work in and relax during a visit on the same day, while also being significantly quieter: almost the airport's hidden treasure, if you know where to look.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.