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At its massive home hub of Dubai Airport, Emirates has not two, not four, but seven lounges peppered around Terminal 3 for business class and first class passengers and eligible frequent flyers: but with so much choice, which lounge should you visit before your next flight from Dubai?
First class travellers and Qantas and Skywards Platinum-grade frequent flyers can choose from all seven, while business class passengers and lower-tier travellers still have four options across Concourses A, B and C, where all Emirates flights depart.
Australian Business Traveller has spent time in every Emirates lounge in Dubai – here's what each has to offer, and how one stacks up to the next.
1. Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse A
Where it is: One level above the main departure concourse – after check-in, take the train from Concourse B to Concourse A, then the lift upstairs to the lounge.
When it's open: 24/7
Who gets in:
- 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.
- Passengers who pay to upgrade their access from the business class lounge, or who purchase entry outright. Prices vary depending on itinerary and Skywards membership.
Why you'd visit: This is the newest, nicest and biggest first class lounge at Dubai Airport, which spans the entire length of the Concourse A terminal building and offers direct boarding from the lounge to every Concourse A gate – handy to avoid the crowds outside, as Concourse A is Emirates' purpose-build Airbus A380 terminal.
Inside, there's private duty-free shopping, meeting rooms and working suites, shower facilities, and two dining rooms: one at each end of the lounge, with menus tailored to the time of day plus a selection of heartier dishes available around the clock, for passengers who might feel like lunch or dinner when the locals are eating breakfast in Dubai.
There's no shortage of seating for passengers looking to relax, and the sheer size of the lounge allows you to choose how much sunlight you'd like, and whether you'd prefer to sit somewhere and socialise, or put your feet up in the quiet room for a quick nap.
If you're so inclined, there's a cigar lounge too...
... as well as a day spa and beauty salon, where all lounge guests are permitted one complimentary 15-minute treatment, subject to appointment availability. (Book a time when you first arrive to avoid disappointment.)
AusBT review: Emirates first class lounge, Dubai Concourse A
2. Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse B
Where it is: As the Emirates Chauffeur Drive drop-off point and first class check-in counters are in Concourse B, it's a quick lift ride upstairs for those beginning their journey in Dubai, with the first class lounge upstairs on the 'lounge level'.
When it's open: 24/7
Who gets in: As per the first class lounge in Concourse A. Even if you're departing from another concourse, you're free to visit whichever lounge you like, provided you allow enough time to reach your departure gate.
Why you'd visit: We're told this is the most popular first class lounge among Emirates' top-tier travellers, and given its central location to all Emirates departure gates and proximity to first class check-in, it's easy to understand why.
The experience begins in a Middle Eastern-styled space with high ceilings and a water feature nearby for those nice background sounds...
... and while the rest of the lounge isn't quite as modern as its Concourse A sibling...
... there's still a sizeable dining room, with the same menu as in Concourse A...
... as well as a day spa. Here's a look at the current treatment list – personally, I'd recommend either the de-stress back massage or the hand and arm massage, to relax before a long flight:
AusBT review: Emirates first class lounge, Dubai Concourse B
3. Emirates First Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse C
Where it is: About a 15-minute walk from the check-in area in Concourse B, on your right-hand side when following the signage to the 'C gates'.
When it's open: 24/7
Who gets in: As per the first class lounges in Concourses A & B.
Why you'd visit: Of the three first class lounges in Dubai, this is both the smallest and the hardest to find, so most passengers using this lounge are doing so because it's the closest to their departing flight, including those aboard EK404 from Dubai to Melbourne via Singapore which often departs from the Concourse C gates nearby.
There's also no day spa here, nor does this lounge have the sprawling facilities of the other concourses, and this all contributes to make the lounge much quieter than the others, being a great place to work with lots of natural light, and some of the best views found at the airport if you're keen to watch the world fly by:
There's still a restaurant, however, with the same menus as offered in the other concourses. If your schedule permits, I'd recommend the salted Black Angus tenderloin with mushroom sauce and a side of creamy mashed potato, which can be found on the all-day dining menu, including during breakfast hours:
The lounge has a small upstairs section as well, although much of the space is given over to a smoking area.
AusBT review: Emirates first class lounge, Dubai Concourse C
4. Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse A
Where it is: One level above the first class lounge in Concourse A – again, take the airside train to the A gates after check-in, and the lift upstairs to the lounge.
When it's open: 24/7
Who gets in:
- Business class and first class passengers of Emirates.
- Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders flying with Emirates.
- Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers travelling with Emirates on a QF or EK flight number.
- Qantas Club members travelling with Emirates on a QF flight number only.
- Passengers who purchase one-off entry for US$136.50 (~A$194), or at the reduced rate of US$105 (A$149) for Skywards members.
Why you'd visit: As with the Concourse A first class lounge (which happens to be one floor below), the business class lounge also spans the entire length of the terminal building, so you have plenty of choices when it comes to finding a seat, and the freedom to move somewhere else to enjoy a different atmosphere.
It's so large, in fact, that it can take a good half hour to walk a complete loop of the lounge, but to save you some time, most facilities are duplicated at each end. Some of your options include relaxing and dining in this cosy nook which circles a calming water feature...
... taking a seat out in the open space directly below the central skylight...
... dining solo or with a partner in a more secluded space...
... or on longer layovers, catching up on rest in these private nap nooks:
AusBT review: Emirates business class lounge, Dubai Concourse A
5. Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse B
Where it is: Opposite the Concourse B first class lounge, with a separate entrance and reception area.
When it's open: 24/7
Who gets in: As per the business class lounge in Concourse A (remember, you can choose your lounge).
Why you'd visit: Put simply, this is the lounge with the Moët & Chandon Champagne bar, so the bubbles offered here are better than you'd find not only in Emirates' other business class lounges, but in any of the airline's first class lounges, too.
The wine list includes the usual Moët Impérial NV – the same as poured in all the other Dubai lounges – but which is joined here by Moët Rosé Impérial NV, Moët Nectar Impérial NV, and Moët Grand Vintage 2008 cuvée. All are served with matching canapés, and there's no issue if you'd like to taste them all:
Ironically, I find the space around the Champagne bar to be the best for working, because it's tucked away in the far corner of the lounge and sees much less foot traffic as a result, whereas other parts of the lounge can get very busy, especially this area nearer to the entrance:
This is also the only Emirates lounge in Dubai with barista-made coffee – the others just have automated machines – and there's a 'health hub' too with a fresh selection of fruit, smoothies and salads.
As this lounge is right above the business and first class check-in area, I'll usually come by for a coffee or a glass of Champagne, before moving over to one of the other business class lounges.
AusBT review: Emirates business class lounge, Dubai Concourse B
6. Emirates Business Class Lounge, Dubai Concourse C
Where it is: Directly opposite the Concourse C first class lounge, being an approximate 15-minute walk from check-in along the path marked 'C gates'.
When it's open: Usually 24/7, but as there's currently some construction work taking place in Concourse C, the lounge sometimes closes throughout the day when that work gets too noisy, with staff directing passengers elsewhere.
Who gets in: As per the business class lounges in Concourses A and B.
Why you'd visit: To be fair, this is my least favourite lounge in Dubai: the access list is big but the lounge itself is small, so there's nowhere you can go to escape the crowds without heading elsewhere – so that's what I tend to do.
If you do stop by, you'll find a two-storey space seemingly filled with as much seating as could comfortably be installed...
... with a business centre in the middle of that space as pictured above, and a small 'quiet corner' just beyond the buffet:
The small upper level provides a little more respite, but as with the Concourse C first class lounge, much of that area is a smoking zone, except for the few tables in front of a second buffet.
When departing from Concourse C without first class lounge access, my strategy is to use either the Concourse B business class lounge – wandering down to Concourse C closer to boarding time – or to head further along Concourse C to Emirates' seventh lounge (below), which I find a lot more comfortable.
AusBT review: Emirates business class lounge, Dubai Concourse C
7. 'The Emirates Lounge', Dubai Concourse C
Where it is: Hidden down the far, far end of Concourse C, near gate C11 – about 25 minutes on foot from the business and first class check-in area.
When it's open: Currently 24/7, although the lounge sometimes closes during off-peak times.
Who gets in: As per the business class lounges in Concourses A, B and C. Although this is a shared 'business class and first class' lounge, the business class entry requirements (and paid entry rates) apply.
Why you'd visit: Remember how busy the Concourse C business class lounge can be? This lounge isn't far from there and has the same entry requirements, but is much quieter – no doubt because there's limited signage directing passengers here, which makes it almost a 'secret' retreat for those who know where to find it.
... and when it's time to dine, there's no shortage of places to sit. Given the quieter atmosphere, on my most recent visit, the staff were roaming the lounge to offer guests drinks and snacks, which was a nice touch.
With no upper level, 'The Emirates Lounge' also feels more spacious than its Concourse C siblings, with high ceilings crossing over the terminal concourse itself.
Oh, and there's often a gelato cart parked down the end – enough said!
AusBT review: 'The Emirates Lounge', Dubai Airport Concourse C
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Dubai as a guest of Emirates.