Inside the Emirates First Class Lounge (or ‘floor’) of Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3

This is my review of the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai International Airport, Concourse A, Terminal 3.

Heading back from the Middle East, I had booked myself – using Emirates Skywards miles from an Amex Membership Rewards transfer – into Emirates First Class.  I hadn’t flown it for 8 years and even then it wasn’t planned.  Back in 2009 we were booked on Lufthansa First Club to Dubai, starting in Heathrow, but our connecting flight was cancelled and Lufthansa rerouted us on Emirates First instead!

This gave me an opportunity to try the new Emirates First Class lounge.  ‘Lounge’, of course, isn’t the correct word.

Concourse A at Dubai is on three levels.  The ground floor is your standard departure lounge filled with shops, restaurants etc.  Head up the lift to the First Floor, however, and it is EXCLUSIVELY dedicated to First Class passengers.  Yes, a whole floor of the departure terminal is reserved just for First Class passengers.

Head up to the 2nd Floor and you find the same situation for Business Class passengers.

If you fancy trying this out but you are not flying in First or Business Class on Emirates, you can now buy your way into the Emirates premium lounges as I wrote in this article.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to make of it.  It is like having a whole airport to yourself.  Almost literally to yourself – see how many other people you can count in the pictures below.  It was the first time I have never had to worry about other people appearing in shot …..

Let’s put the First Class lounge in perspective.  It has a map.  Here it is:

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

Let’s be clear.  That is a map of the lounge – not the terminal …..

The day had started normally enough.  My free Emirates chauffeur had arrived promptly at the hotel, which I will review next week.  The car said ‘Emirates First’ on it which I thought was a nice touch and implied that you were getting something better than usual.

It was early on a Friday morning (which is a weekend day in the Middle East) and I have never seen the Dubai roads so empty.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

There is a separate check-in terminal in Dubai for Emirates first and business class passengers.  The problem is that there are so many first and business class passengers flying out of Dubai that it feels like the standard check-in area of a medium sized airport!

It isn’t really a premium experience, except in relation to what you find in the main terminal!

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

When you reach Concourse A on the internal train, you need to take the lift or stairs up to the first floor.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

The size of the reception desk is not matched by the number of passengers using it, at least early in the morning.  The entrance to the spa, which I didn’t visit, is off the main reception area.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

First stop was breakfast.  There are two formal dining areas in the First Class lounge.  In fact, there are two of almost everything as the left hand side of the lounge is, for the most part, a mirror image of the right hand side.

Food

What the First Class lounge lacks is a big buffet.  In the Business Class floor upstairs, the food is primarily buffet service, which I often prefer.  Apart from a few bits and pieces by the bars, you are reliant on table service if you want to eat in the First Class area.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

I had already eaten in the hotel two hours earlier but thought I should give it a try for the purposes of ‘research’.  There were no shortage of continental or hot options available including various egg options, kippers and salmon.  I was taking it easy and went for some waffles.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

Leaving the restaurant and walking down to one end of the terminal, you reach this attractive – and deserted – social area.  There are departure gates to all sides of this area …..

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

…. and a bar.  This was unmanned when I was there, although it was early in the morning.  Moet et Chandon seemed a little cheap given that Dom Perignon is served onboard.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

This view shows you just how long the lounge is:

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

…. and here is a view to the main public concourse below.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

If you’ve got children, there is a dedicated play area:

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

There is also a surprisingly large duty free shop.  I doubt this makes money, given the lack of passengers!

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

… and ….

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

There is no shortage of reading material in the First Class lounge, and there is no risk of having your favourite title stolen by all the other passengers!

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

There is a decent sized business centre if you need to work:

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

…. and a fine wine shop if you don’t.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

And if the noise and general chaos of the lounge is too much for you (!) you can retreat to the ‘quiet area’ (which should probably be called the ‘even quieter area’) for a little rest.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

Video

I made a short video so you can see the full scale of the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai. If you can’t see it, click here to be taken to our YouTube page. You can also subscribe to our channel there.

Conclusion

I am in two minds about the Emirates First Class lounge in Dubai.  The lack of other passengers made it feel weirdly empty and not in a good way.  It is the same way I feel on the odd occasion that I am upgraded to a ludicrously huge hotel suite, which only serves to remind me that I am travelling alone and my loved ones are elsewhere.

If it is peace and quiet you’re looking for, this lounge delivers in spades.  I can’t really comment on the food – a waffle is not a good way of judging a restaurant – but I’m sure you could have a good full meal here if you were travelling later in the day.

If you are travelling in Business, it might be worth paying the $100 to upgrade from the Business Lounge purely for the restaurant but that is a very marginal call.  To be honest, I would have preferred to see a super-high-end buffet in the First Class lounge.

Emirates First Class lounge Dubai Airport review

Because the lounge covers the full width of the terminal, you can board directly.  You head to a security desk, show your passport and then you have access to the lifts which take you down to the jetty.  And off to my A380 I went ….

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Comments

  1. Nothing that makes it feel exclusive for the frequent F traveller, and a dream come true for a couple that needs to save years for a one off treat! The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think emirates is too big now and does not feel exlusive anymore on those hideous A380’s and needs to innovate as what was amazing 10 years ago is now the norm……thx for the report, its a hard life pleasing the crowds isn’t it Rob…….

  2. JamesW says:

    A buffet would be very wasteful if the lounge spends much of its time entertaining only a small numbers of passengers.

    It sounds very much like Qatar’s Al Safwa experience on a larger scale; Almost makes you feel self conscious at how empty it is.

  3. Alastair France says:

    If you have BA Gold status (or other One World equivalent) you get access to this when flying on Qantas operated flights out of Dubai. It was a little busier when I went – but I do agree with the comments in terms of feeling a little strange…

    I assume you wouldn’t get it on a Qantas ticket on a codeshare operated by Emirates but I might be wrong…

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, the first time I used this was flying QF economy as an AA Platinum card holder a few years back – that was the business class bit obviously.

      Flew the same route in QF First back in 2015, there’s a cigar lounge somewhere amongst all those deserted bars etc.! I also remember eating some excellent sushi there. Been through that lounge a few times now, the novelty never wears off, it’s amazing!

    • vindaloo says:

      I can confirm that if you’re on an Emirates flight booked on a QF flight code then your OW status will not get you lounge access, but if you’re on a QF operated flight then it will.

  4. Might be worth noting that BA Gold / OWE cardholders can access this lounge when on a Qantas codeshare (and the business floor for BA Silver /OWS cardholders) – even if the codeshare booking is in economy class.

  5. Gosh – you could spend your holiday in there and not bother with a hotel!

    • Crafty says:

      That sounds like the world’s most depressing holiday.

      • Callum says:

        My thoughts are different to the majority on here, but that perfectly sums up the Dubai experience to me!

    • Or just fly back and forth and not bother with the “holiday”…

    • Michael says:

      There was a German news report a few months ago where the reporter bought a fully flex first class ticket flying from Frankfurt, headed straight to the lounge and spent the whole day there. Then he went to the checkin desks to move his flight to the next day. He did it a few more times then cancelled for a full refund!

      • You forget to mention that LH billed one of the people who did this 55 euros for each visit and succeeded in court.

  6. So not open to BA first class travellers? (unless on a Qantas code share).

    So what do BA first class get access to at Dubai?

    • The BA lounge and “Concorde Bar”

      • Thanks, see Raffles’ review from a year ago, wonder if the service has changed any.

        • Alastair France says:

          BA operates from a different terminal to Qantas – it’s in terminal 1 concourse D. Certainly the BA lounge hasn’t changed much since it opened – and not having access to the Concorde room I can’t comment on that. The difference between the way that Qantas (flying out of the Emirates terminal from Dubai) and Qatar (flying out of Hamad) treat One World Emerald members (but not their own ones) when flying Economy / Premium Economy with them is quite interesting. Qatar you don’t get access to the best lounges – Qantas you do get access to the best Emirates ones.

        • I was also there in October but didn’t write about it again. My wife actually refused to go in the Concorde Bar this time so the 4 of us sat in the main area (and I nipped into the bar for the odd glass of champagne). I was not the only one doing this.

  7. Good set of photos, but it definitely isn’t always that quiet! I was last there a year ago on the way back from Oz (in QF F – using this route gets you in with Avios :P). I had breakfast at almost the same table you did, but nearly every other one of taken and I had to put my name down for a shower whilst having breakfast as they were all in use. I think you just happened to be there at a particularly quiet time! Sadly I never got to try the spa either – was all fully booked up, despite me having a 3h layover.

    • I have to agree that you just happened to be here at a particular quiet time. Emirates has been my airline of choice for Eastbound flights from the UK for the past 15 years (despite the popular view on this site that Etihad & Qatar have a better product, I will always be an Emirates loyalist!). I have seen Dubai Airport change from a cramped first class lounge to now this, which I personally feel to be a heavenly world away from the hustle downstairs in the main public concourse downstairs. A little tip for the future use of the free spa treatments for F class passengers – send them an email a few days before (timelessspa@dih-dca.com) and they will make a reservation at both the A and B concourse first class lounges as it will be too early to know which concourse your flight will be departing from…the Indian head massage is a welcome treat, especially after too much Dom on the first flight! It is a little annoying though that the free treatment menu now excludes haircuts.

  8. For anyone on the bottom half of the plane, we flew out of Dubai yesterday on Emirates economy. Used the Marhaba Lounge on concourse B (with LoungeKey). Very busy, not much to look at but a big buffet which was very fresh and very nice.

    The area looks over onto the VIP lounge which looks somewhat plusher.

  9. OT: Can anyone help me with a 2 step authentication query. I have it set up for Award Wallet for extra security. I bought a new phone yesterday and downloaded all my apps again. Thankfully I kept the secure recovery key to reactivate the 2 step authentication app, however, the one time numbers that the app now generates are not recognised by Award Wallet at login. After umpteen attempts and several lock outs by Award Wallet I ended up trying the code from my old app and phone and that worked. They are generating two different numbers. It has at least allowed me to access AW again using my old phone and I have now gone in and deactivated the 2 step authentication altogether but would really like to have it on there. Any suggestions how I get AW to recognise the one time codes on the new app/phone. Thanks

    • Graham Walsh says:

      You’ve done the right thing in disabling 2FA. Now set it up again on your new phone.

      • That’s what I was thinking but wanted to check before mucking it up and then getting blocked out again. Thanks Graham.

        • The other tip for 2FA is to try and use SMS as then when you change phones (as long as you have the same number) then nothing changes. I use 2FA on everything possible. I also use LastPass to sync all my passwords which is then secured by a YubiKey USB authenticator.

          Thanks for the tip on Authenticator Plus Alan. I’ll check it out.

    • Using the recovery key should have worked to get you into your account, not sure why it didn’t. As long as you can get in though then cancelling it and setting back up again is the way to go.

      If you’re using Android I’d highly recommend Authenticator Plus – it lets you sync the 2FA settings between devices, I find it very handy.

      Also remember that Amazon UK now (finally!) offer 2FA, so make sure to set it up too – esp important if you’ve got big gift card balance!

  10. Which lounge would be best at LAX if flying BA in CW. We have Priority Pass with the Plat card. Pass gives us access to KAL lounge I think in the Tom Bradley International Terminal or the OneWorld Lounge with our ticket – or is there anything else available to us? Thanks.

    • I can only speak of the One World Lounge which is fine. It’s big and there’s a buffet. I prefer the smaller Virgin Lounge in terminal 3, but Tom Bradley is much nicer terminal with some very cool restaurants and shops.

  11. “This gave me an opportunity to try the new Emirates First Class lounge.”

    Have I missed a recent renovation or is this “new” lounge the one that opened over 4 years ago?

  12. Lucky enough to be sitting in the Al Safwa lounge at present and can quietly say I am impressed

  13. Lady London says:

    Anything that would keep me out of crowded awful ground floor of Dubai airport is welcome. This could swing me to book on a Qantas codeshare at least in J next time. Luckily I don’t have to visit Dubai much.

  14. That’s absolutely huge but size isn’t everything. Currently in galleries First at Heathrow- gave the Concorde room a miss as it’s a hit or a miss, it certainly was a “miss” when we left 12 days ago. Galleries F is very nice indeed.

  15. Am I the only one who finds all things Emirates aesthetically challenged?

    • Jon Arnold says:

      Leo, you’re not alone, I’m with you! I love much about Emirates but not their blingy cabin (gold and walnut is a bit 70s) and not their oversized lounges at Dubai (it’s rather soulless rattling round in near empty spaces).

      • Imho the most impressive thing about emirates is the quality of their economy offering on the A380. Food is better than a lot of BA club world meals I’ve had.

    • the real harry1 says:

      you’ll find this constantly in Qatar and the Emirates

      you don’t suddenly go from being ignorant penniless peasants (working the sea) to fabulously rich in about 3 generations and suddenly acquire good taste or even a vague understanding of what might appeal to westerners/ to the Indo-European culture

  16. Richard says:

    “The lack of other passengers made it feel weirdly empty and not in a good way

    This is a common thread in Rob’s reviews. The same was said of the AA T3 lounge (not enough other travellers). There is probably a medical condition that describes this need to be surrounded by others.
    For me the more space and less people the better. If i am the only guest in the lounge then I could not be happier. Nobody walking around talking on the phone, nobody picking up food using their hands, peace and quiet when I like. Sounds perfect.

  17. Not been to the First Class floor, but have been to the business class floor whilst on a 2am transfer. The place felt empty, imagine walking around a shopping mall when it is about to close – that was the scale of the place. Then take the same mall and scatter some lounges off the main corridor, with seating areas and buffets. For me on my first visit the biggest issue was the need to explore the whole place to see what was available in case i missed out on something. In the end it was a wasted walk as it was all much the same. The best thing were the excellent showers, BA really should go have a look.

    Boarding from the gate was fun, then getting into a lift to get off on my ‘floor’ of the A380!

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