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United Arab Emirates
Dubai International Airport
- À la carte dining
- Plenty of natural light, with airport views
- Upstairs area for smokers, if that's you
- No day spa or direct boarding from lounge to aircraft
- Quite a small lounge, providing fewer amenities
- Generally much quieter than the other first class lounges
With three dedicated first class lounges at its Dubai hub, the Emirates first class lounge in Terminal 3's Concourse C is the least-visited of them all, given its location down the far end of the airport.
That tends to make it the quietest place in the terminal to relax and unwind, but while there's still à la carte dining available here, other first class features like day spas, secluded working rooms and dedicated spaces for children to play are all absent, as this lounge is relatively small compared to its cousins in the other concourses.
Australian Business Traveller recently flew from Dubai to Singapore – on board the same aircraft that continues to Melbourne, which tends to depart from right here in Concourse C – so stopped by Emirates' Concourse C first class lounge to bring you this review.
Location & Impressions
This lounge is about a 15-minute walk from the centre of Dubai Airport's Terminal 3, where Emirates' chauffeur service drops you off – follow the signs to the 'C gates' until you spot the lounge on your right:
Inside, the lounge features fresh flowers and high ceilings, and there's no doubt as to the airline you're travelling with...
... but there's a second storey here too, tucked away on the side...
... which is primarily a relaxation and smoking area:
The lounge itself is filled with natural light and offers clear tarmac views – in my case, of the Airbus A380 I'd soon be boarding to Singapore...
... with plenty of locally-inspired artwork throughout the space:
Emirates' first class lounge in Concourse C is open 24/7, but is much smaller than the Concourse A and Concourse B first class lounges, which are also open around the clock.
For instance, a casual stroll all the way around the open-rectangular-shaped Concourse A lounge can take a good 45 minutes, given it spans the entire length of the building – whereas here in Concourse C, you'd be done in 45 seconds.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're departing from a gate down this end of Dubai and just want somewhere to relax before your flight, but if you're flying from one of the other concourses, it'd make more sense to use the first class lounge closest to your departure gate, where you'll find the same amenities.
- 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 that core list, there are several opportunities to pay for access outright or to upgrade one's lounge entitlement from the business class lounges to the first class lounges, as follows:
- Outright access: For passengers without access to any of Emirates' lounges, entry here can be purchased for US$210 (A$292) by travellers with a Skywards frequent flyer account, or US$262.50 (A$365) for non-members. As Skywards is free to join, there's an easy saving to be had.
- Upgraded access for business class flyers: Don't have a shiny Platinum card? You can upgrade your lounge access from the regular business class lounges to the Emirates first class lounge of your choice for US$136.50 (~A$189), reduced to US$105 (A$145) for Skywards member at any tier.
- 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$145) 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$189). 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.
However you get through the door, keep in mind that you don't have to use the lounge closest to your boarding gate – you're free to visit any of Emirates' seven lounges around Dubai Airport, subject to the normal entry rules – but we imagine most travellers coming to Concourse C's first class lounge would be flying from the gates nearby.
Being a dedicated first class facility, Emirates offers full à la carte dining here with table service, as you'd expect.
I stopped by at 8am local time, but was in the middle of a 28-hour journey from São Paulo in Brazil to Singapore via Dubai, so had no hesitation in ordering up a glass of Champagne – and some chilled water, to stay hydrated:
From the menu, breakfast choices were as follows:
- Granola yoghurt
- Sliced fruits
- Full breakfast (eggs, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, veal rashers, chicken sausages, hash browns)
- Eggs your way
- Eggs Florentine
- Eggs Benedict
- Fol medames
- 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
If I were beginning my day in Dubai, those choices would have been ample for brekky, but I'd already eaten my morning meal several hours prior on the inbound flight, so I was pleased to find a further range of dishes available from the 'all day dining' menu for an early lunch:
- 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
I went for the tenderloin with mashed potato and mushroom sauce, and although it took about half an hour to arrive from the kitchen, it was certainly worth the wait:
That said, the dining room was practically empty with only one other guest – who already had their food – so that delay was a bit longer than expected.
Wait times aside, you can also seat yourself at this long bench to enjoy the airport views with your meal:
Beyond the à la carte menu, there's also a full buffet if you're pressed for time or want a little more variety, with a selection of juices, fruits, yoghurts, olives, crudités...
... joined by yoghurts, muesli, cheeses, meats...
... other bites more suited to a pre-lunch or pre-dinner snack such as stuffed olives, artichokes, skewers of watermelon and feta or eggplant and buffalo mozzarella...
... and the expected range of hot foods for breakfast such as hash browns, eggs, tomatoes, sausages and so on:
You'll find a selection of pastries and cereals nearby, along with extra condiments...
... plus fresh fruit, non-alcoholic drinks and a push-button espresso machine: although when sitting in the dining area, the wait staff will happily take your drink order.
Like the lounge, the bar is open 24/7 with a range of beers, wines and spirits...
... and as in Emirates' business class lounges, the staple Champagne is always Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial NV:
Ironically, you'll actually find better Champagne in the airline's business class lounge over in Concourse B, where the Moët & Chandon Champagne bar also pours Moët Grand Vintage 2008 cuvée, Moët Nectar Impérial and Moët Rosé Impérial, alongside the standard Brut Impérial NV, with canapés to match.
Back in Concourse C, the first class lounge does feature a dessert counter with an array of sweet bites...
... and if smoking is your thing, there are dining tables upstairs with ash trays – not an amenity seen in many airport lounges these days, although up here the food is buffet-only.
Given the limited footprint of this lounge, most of the seats here are really geared towards dining or relaxing, rather than laptop work.
Having said that, it's not every day you can create an office with a view across one of the world's busiest international airports, so I set up my laptop over by the windows, but later moved elsewhere, given the lack of power points here.
There's a small business area with computer facilities, although they were in use during my visit, while the WiFi here provided average download speeds of 9Mbps and average uploads of 13Mbps – more than acceptable for general browsing or even video streaming, but the connection in the Concourse B first class lounge was roughly 10 times faster on the same day.
While they're not so much designed for laptop work, I relocated to these seats to make use of the available power points...
... and my strategy of looking for lamps to uncover power outlets remains true here, as works in many lounges around the world:
You'll uncover a selection of reading material back near the entrance, along with a shoe shine station (although charges apply), while upstairs beyond the smokers' dining area, there's a secluded nap room if you're on a longer layover: no photo of this, as passengers were using it.
Unlike Emirates' other first class lounges in Dubai, there's no day spa here: so as first class travellers and Platinum frequent flyers are entitled to one complimentary pre-flight treatment, you'll need to venture over to another concourse to take advantage of this.
All things considered, Emirates' first class lounge in Concourse C does feel a little more like a business class lounge with an à la carte dining room slotted in, and doesn't have the grandeur of the airline's Concourse A and B first class lounges.
What it does often have, however, is peace and quiet – so for passengers who travel regularly and aren't interested in spa treatments, or who are simply departing from Concourse C and just want to enjoy a pre-flight meal, the lounge here can be less busy and more convenient than the alternatives in other parts of the airport.
But don't forget, you don't have to use the lounge closest to your departure gate, and you can visit more than one lounge on the same day if your schedule permits.
Case in point: I had several hours to spare between my connecting flights, so initially went to the Concourse B first class lounge for a coffee, a massage and to stretch my legs, before moving over here to the Concourse C first class lounge closer to boarding.
As my flight to Singapore was literally departing from the gate next door, that allowed me to remain settled until the flight was on final call, before leaving the lounge and stepping straight on board just before departure.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.