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Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.
Hundreds of travellers jet to London each day on Qantas' flagship QF1 and QF9 flights from Sydney and Melbourne, with a stopover at the sprawling Dubai airport – and hundreds more shuttle back to Australia on the QF2 and QF10 return trips.
The stopover at Dubai is relatively short, at least on the Sydney QF1/2 service: around 90 minutes from landing to wheels up, which means little more than an hour in the lounge (for Melbourne's QF9/10 flights you get two hours on the ground, making for a slightly more leisurely transit experience).
If you're a Platinum-grade Qantas Frequent Flyer, or bunked down in Qantas first class, this hands-on guide shows you how to make the most of your limited Dubai transit time at Emirates' first class lounge.
Transit: follow the red signs
When you step off your flight, watch for and follow the red 'Connections' signs.
These will take you to a security checkpoint which is often also a choke-point, given the hordes of passengers changing flights at Emirates' A380 'Concourse A' mega-terminal, at what now rates as the world's busiest airport.
There's usually an express lane for premium passengers and top-tier frequent flyers which brings you closer to front of the queue – but either way, be prepared to spend at least five minutes of your transit time in this line.
Once you're through security, head upstairs and onto the main departure floor.
Watch for signage directing you to the Emirates lounges: the first class lounge is on level 4, directly above the departures floor, with the business class lounge up on level 5.
Stretch your legs by climbing that flight of stairs to level 4, or catch the elevator.
Book a free session at the spa
One floor up, Emirates' flagship first class lounge awaits...
... but before you enter the lounge proper, consider making a sharp left turn to visit the Timeless Spa.
This offers a range of free 15 minute treatments to first class travellers and Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members – the sessions include massages for your back, hands and head, while the leg & foot 'reflex therapy' and 'Thai body stretch' are very welcome after the long flight from Sydney.
Those complementary treatments are quickly snapped up, especially once QF1 lands – so if you want to book a session, make the Timeless Spa your very first port of call and then plan the rest of your lounge visit around that.
Now, back to the lounge itself...
... and it's a massive lounge, occupying almost the entire floor.
The Emirates first class lounge is divided into two halves which are effectively mirror images with identical facilities. Once you're past the reception desk, you can turn left (for gates A1 though to A12) or right (towards gates A13 to A24).
Turn left or turn right
Choose to head towards the gate from which your Qantas flight will be departing – that'll be announced when your plane arrives into Dubai.
(For those who've never visited the Dubai lounge: yes, there are boarding gates in the lounge itself, so you don't need to tromp back down to the departures floor. This is a welcome time-saver for these short stopovers.)
There's always the temptation to do a little duty-free shopping so the lounge has its own premium outlets for jewellery, watches, alcohol and more.
But time is tight, so don't dawdle!
Most passengers will head straight for the dining areas: especially if they're coming from the QF2 flight, having slept from London to Dubai, as a bit of breakfast is in order.
Booking a shower
If you want to freshen up with a shower after the 14 hour trek of QF1 or QF9, this should be booked first: there are shower areas in each half of the lounge (adjacent to gates A11 and A14), with six shower suites for men and three for women.
But given the short stopover of QF1, you might prefer to allocate your limited lounge time to a short spa treatment and then linger over a decent meal.
And the dining options at Emirates' first class lounge are, well, first class.
Note that each half of the lounge has two quite different dining areas.
Fine dining and light bites
Most travellers make a beeline for the 'fine dining' areas located between gates A10/A11 and A14/A15...
... where you'll find formally dressed dining tables, an extensive buffet of hot and cold dishes, salads and fresh-baked croissants that are hard to resist when they come straight from the oven.
But don't overlook the delights of the smaller dining areas at gates A1/A2 and A23/A24.
The seating is more casual but there are top selections of sushi and sashimi (including rich Balik salmon)...
... as well as cheeses.
Note that both of these dining areas offer the same extensive a la cart menu: you can choose any dish from the breakfast, lunch and dinner selection on a 24 hour basis. Just be mindful that it can take around 15 minutes for the meals to be delivered, so factor this against the boarding time for your flight.
There's also a bar service with a wide selection of wines, spirits and champagnes, plus healthy fruit smoothies and of course Arabic coffee.
A popular strategy for QF1, which arrives into Dubai at 12.30am, is to have your 'supper' in the lounge to maximise sleeping time over the remaining seven hours from Dubai to London.
Among the other Emirates first class lounge options for travellers in transit there's also a cigar bar/smoking room (behind this slab of fancy mosaic glasswork)...
... a business centre where you can plough through some urgent work without interruption...
... and, for longer stop-overs, these daybeds in the relaxation rooms.
Back on board
When it's time to rejoin your Qantas flight to London, Sydney or Melbourne, head to the lounge's boarding gate.
After checking your passport and boarding pass, make your way to the bank of elevators which will whisk you straight to the A380's upper deck or main lower deck, depending on where you're sitting.
As you can see, there's plenty to fit into your short stopover time, so consider your strategy in advance.
On QF1/QF2, for example, there's just enough time for a spa treatment or a shower, and a leisurely meal, but trying to squeeze in all three is just going to add stress when you should be winding down between flights.