Building on the success of Emirates’ business class Moët & Chandon Champagne Lounge in Dubai, the airline is planning a separate, upgraded Champagne Lounge for first class passengers and Platinum frequent flyers of Skywards and Qantas.
Earmarked as part of an upcoming expansion of the Emirates first class lounge at Dubai Airport’s Concourse B, the new facility would be a step above what’s currently available in the business class lounge, to match the loftier heights of first class.
Speaking with Executive Traveller in Dubai, Don Surendra, Emirates’ Manager Product Development (Airport Services), affirms that “the first class Champagne offering is going to be much more bespoke.”
“It's going to be vintage. It’s also going to be much more personalised, because we have only 1,200 people a day (come through the first class lounge), whereas business class has almost 12,000, so we can really create something.”
Of course, the current Moët & Chandon business class Champagne Lounge routinely features one vintage drop and three non-vintages, but there’s room to expand that with a full vintage line-up in the first class space: and which won’t necessarily be Moët, either.
“At this time, our partnership is with Moët, but having said that, none of our contracts are exclusive,” Surendra continues.
When asked if the lounge might instead focus on brands like Veuve Clicquot or Dom Pérignon, Surendra adds, “if we feel that’s would what we would do, that's a bridge that we'll cross at that time – but currently the partnership is with Moët, and they're absolutely committed to what we do.”
In any case, it’ll be a move welcomed by Emirates’ first class passengers and both Platinum and above-Platinum members of Emirates Skywards and Qantas Frequent Flyer, who have access to the airline’s first class lounges in Dubai, but who must currently ‘downgrade’ themselves to the business class lounge to take advantage of the existing Champagne bar.
“The work is still ongoing – still a little way off – but it was always on the cards that once we do the business class Champagne Lounge, trial it, and know for a fact that people love it – which is the case – we’ll do the same for first class as well,” Surendra elaborates.
Drawing inspiration from the current business class Champagne Lounge
Although tucked away in the far corner of Emirates’ Concourse B business class lounge, today’s Champagne bar serves as a starting point for many travellers, who enjoy a glass of bubbly upon arrival – especially when that’s different to the ‘normal’ lounge Champagne, with canapés to match.
As such, the area isn’t designed for passengers to stay for long periods, and positioning it away from the lounge’s main dining zones helps to keep more seats available for other guests to come in and try the Champagne: a concept Emirates is also expected to apply when designing the first class Champagne Lounge.
“The current understanding is that customers would come there, have a glass of Champagne, try something that they haven't, look at the food pairing, and say, “wow, I didn't realise, this completely changed my palate”, and then go into the restaurant to have a meal,” Surendra continues.
However, there’s still room to improve the existing business class Champagne Lounge, particularly to make it more visible, noticeable and convenient, given passengers currently have to wander the length of the lounge to find it – and when departing, walk all the way back to the front to exit, even if their gate is right near the Champagne bar.
“Right now, there’s a location towards the end of Moët which is currently a cafe run by another retailer, and they're not fully utilising it, so that space has been committed to us. We'll create an additional pathway through, because it means you could exit and go straight into the Concourse.”
“Even so, I don't think any other airline has this. Moët were after us for a long time to build it, but we took our time to think it through,” Surendra sums up.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.