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United Arab Emirates
Dubai International Airport
- À la carte dining, plus a buffet for those with limited time
- Super-fast WiFi
- Variety of seating zones and atmospheres
- The coffee and Champagne are actually better in Emirates' business class lounge
- Limited dedicated working space for business travellers
- A complimentary spa treatment for every lounge guest
Among Emirates' staggering seven lounges at Dubai Airport, the airline's first class lounge in Concourse B is the go-to for many high-end travellers, given its central location in the terminal and close proximity to the airline's first class and business class check-in facilities.
Offering à la carte dining with Champagne, a private wine store, a separate kids' room and a day spa with complimentary treatments, here's how the Emirates first class lounge at Dubai Airport Concourse B stacks up.
Location & Impressions
Emirates' first class lounge in Concourse B is the most conveniently-located for passengers commencing their journey in Dubai, as the dedicated business class and first class check-in area – where you'll be delivered by the airline's Chauffeur Drive service – is below the same concourse.
Once you check-in, go through passport control and clear security, the first class lounge is easy to find, being a level above the terminal's departures level and not too far from the Concourse B business class lounge.
While the entrance to the first class lounge makes it look deceiving tiny...
... inside, there's much more space, and that starts with a high-ceilinged lobby area adorned by water features to kick-start your relaxation...
... through to a variety of other zones and spaces that are divided up, to avoid feeling like you're just in one large room.
Spilt on both sides of a hollow centre – where you can look down to the terminal concourse below – some areas do get more foot traffic than others, so are less popular with travellers wanting to unwind...
... but that said, I found the seating right behind the entrance to be the most enjoyable, with the pleasant sounds of the water features nearby, a heavily Middle Eastern design template, and a TV nearby to catch up on world news...
... so much so that I spent a good two hours just sitting here relaxing, having just stepped off a flight at 4am local time with an onward departure at 9am, so was in no rush to visit the dining room or spa.
The lounge also features a cellar where you can buy a variety of bottles to bring with you, but if your journey detours via another airport before reaching your destination – such as via Singapore en route to Melbourne or Brisbane, via Bangkok to Sydney, via Denpasar (Bali) to Auckland, and so on – do check the transit security requirements to avoid having your newly-bought wine confiscated at the checkpoint.
Like all of Emirates' first class lounges in Dubai, the Concourse B facility welcomes travellers 24/7.
- First class passengers of Emirates
- Emirates Skywards Platinum and iO cardholders flying with Emirates
- Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members travelling with Emirates on a QF or EK flight number
Beyond complimentary access, travellers can also purchase one-off entry or can 'upgrade' their business class lounge entitlement via the paths below:
- Outright access: Skywards members who don't already have access to any of Emirates' lounges here can purchase entry for US$210 (A$296), while non-members are charged US$262.50 (A$370). As Skywards is free to join, doing so is a no-brainer.
- Upgraded access for business class flyers: Rather than using one of Emirates' many business class lounges in Dubai, you could head to a first class lounge instead and pay US$136.50 (A$192) to 'upgrade' your access for that visit, reduced to US$105 (A$148) if you're a Skywards member.
- Upgraded lounge access for Skywards Gold and Silver members: These cardholders can also normally access Emirates' business class lounges by default, so can pay the same upgrade fee of US$105 (A$148) to visit an Emirates first class lounge instead.
- Upgraded lounge access for Qantas Gold and Qantas Club members: Again, these travellers also enjoy access to the Emirates business class lounges at Dubai Airport by default (for Qantas Club members, booking a QF codeshare flight number is required), so can upgrade to the first class lounge at the 'non-Skywards' rate of US$136.50 (~A$192). That said, flashing a Skywards card or providing your Skywards membership number may see the price reduced to the Skywards rate of US$105, at the discretion of lounge staff.
In any case, while the invitation on your boarding pass will direct you to the lounge "nearest to your departure" – or a specific lounge if your departure gate is known at check-in...
... you can in fact visit any of the Emirates lounges at Dubai Airport, subject to the usual entry requirements.
Particularly for passengers departing from Concourse C, where the first class lounge there is much smaller with a reduced range of amenities, visiting the Concourse B lounge right after check-in can be a good way to go, before wandering down to Concourse C closer to boarding time.
AusBT review: Emirates first class lounge, Dubai Airport Concourse C
This lounge offers buffet dining – perfect if you're only making a brief stop before your flight starts boarding – as well as à la carte service, for travellers with a little more time.
Beginning with the buffet, my morning visit found the expected yoghurts, juices, fruits and muesli...
... joined by a variety of ingredients for assembling a fresh salad...
... and at other serveries, a solid selection of cakes, sweet treats...
... cheeses and nibbles:
There's a separate 'Mediterranean' counter right by the entrance...
... where you'll find other quick and easy snacks, and a coffee kiosk not far away.
However, as with all coffee served in this lounge, your beverage is machine-made rather than barista-crafted, despite Emirates' business class lounge in the very same concourse providing a proper barista bar – and logically, if something is available to business class passengers, it's not unreasonable to expect at least the same amenity be found in a higher-tier first class lounge.
The same applies to Champagne, too. Here in the first class lounge, Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial NV is your only option, yet in the Concourse B business class lounge, travellers can also try Moët's Rosé, Nectar and Grand Vintage varieties, at a dedicated Moët & Chandon Champagne bar.
We'd like to see a version of this appear in Emirates' first class lounge also – or at least, those other Champagnes being available at the first class bar for those who ask for them.
That said, when it comes to à la carte dining, you'll only find that in the first class space, where there are plenty of tables to go around...
... and even more further along, which tend to only be used when the restaurant gets very busy:
- Coconut sago with macerated berries and caramelised pecans
- Granola yoghurt
- Sliced fruits
- Full breakfast (eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, veal rashers, chicken sausages, hash browns)
- Eggs your way
- Eggs Florentine
- Eggs Benedict
- Broken eggs
- Fol medames
- Hummus with meat
- Aloo bhaji
- Scottish kipper
- Boiled eggs
- French toast
- Quinoa porridge
- Sides of grilled plum tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, hash browns, baked beans, chicken and beef sausages
I opted for a simple Eggs Benedict (with smoked turkey bacon), with sides of hash browns and mushrooms, a morning bread basket with spreads aside, a latte and chilled still water, which was most refreshing with my early morning start:
I'd allowed plenty of time for breakfast as the dining room was rather busy, but was impressed that the meal was served within 10 minutes of my order being placed, as well as the attention to detail, with a fresh red rose adorning every single table in the dining room: certainly not expected when you're flying through the Arabian Desert!
If you're not in the mood for breakfast, you can also order anything else from the 'all day dining' menu:
- Char-grilled Wagyu burger on a potato brioche bun with steak fries
- The Emirates sandwich: veal rashers, chicken and egg mayonnaise, rocket and fresh tomato with sweet potato fries
- Superfood salad: grapefruit, avocado, kale, feta and quinoa
- Black Angus tenderloin with choice of sides (mashed potato, steak fries, sweet potato fries and/or sautéed vegetables) and choice of sauce (béarnaise, green pepper or mushroom)
- Sea bass meunière with asparagus and cauliflower purée
- Palak paneer: pan-seared paneer with spinach sauce and mushroom pulao
While I didn't indulge during this stay, from a subsequent visit to Emirates' first class lounge in Concourse C – where again, the menu is much the same – I can highly recommend the tenderloin, but allow a good 30 minutes from the time you order, as the dish needs to be prepared and cooked from scratch: especially when most others are eating breakfast.
Beyond a standard business centre with computers and printing facilities, there isn't much in the way of dedicated space for working, as such, as most travellers will either balance their laptop on their lap, or use one of the many tables available.
Power points are available near many of the seats, although the lounge could certainly do with more of these – keep your eyes peeled for either a trap door on the floor, or one of these robot-looking power stations (with the round blue lights), where you can plug in:
Wireless Internet is available throughout the space with solid download speeds of 85Mbps and uploads of 111Mbps measured during this visit.
With time to spare before your onward flight, there are plenty of places to relax beyond the 'water feature' area by reception (my pick), with a variety of chairs scattered throughout the lounge...
Some of them, along walkways – handy if you'll be leaving soon or if you're trying to find a friend or colleague, as they'll likely walk past...
... although most of them are on the 'window' side of the lounge, with good natural light during the day...
... whether you're travelling in a large group, as a couple, or even just by yourself.
Back towards the entrance, a collection of chairs face away from the rest of the space and look towards a TV screen: potentially useful during sporting broadcasts and the like, but in that case, viewers towards the back of this block would no doubt appreciate a larger screen, to avoid missing the action:
Towards the centre of the lounge, you'll also find a dedicated kids' room...
... with various games and activities to keep the young ones occupied, in a rather colourful space:
Finally, as many travellers have come to expect of flagship first class lounges, there's a day spa as well, where your first 15-minute treatment is complimentary:
You're covered whether you're flying in first class, are a Platinum-grade frequent flyer, are a guest of the above or have purchased entry at the door: basically, if you can get into this lounge, you can enjoy a free spa treatment.
On this visit, I opted for the de-stress back massage – a nice way to relax in the middle of what was a 29-hour journey between South America and Asia – but if you're planning to book a spa treatment during your stay, head straight to the spa desk as soon as you arrive for the best chances of securing one.
That's because wait times can sometimes be an hour or more: even visiting bright and early, I was only able to secure an appointment in 90 minutes' time, so travellers with a quick transit may not be able to take advantage – but there's never any harm in asking, of course.
When it's time to depart, there's no direct boarding from lounge to aircraft as is possible in Concourse A, although some departure gates in Concourse B do have an 'upstairs' door on the same level as the lounges, which premium passengers can use once they've exited their lounge:
While it may not be as shinily new as the first class lounge in Concourse A, Emirates' Concourse B first class lounge ticks most of the boxes for high-end travellers, with facilities like complimentary à la carte dining and day spa treatments most welcome, particularly for Platinum-grade frequent flyers without a first class ticket.
Its location near the business class and first class check-in facilities also makes the Concourse B lounge the most popular, but remember, if you can visit this lounge, the first class lounges in Concourse A and Concourse C are also at your disposal, so take your pick!
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.