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Bits: Is the Dubai Priority Pass / Virgin lounge better than BA?, double PPB points on Austrian

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News in brief:

Is the Dubai Priority Pass lounge better than the BA one?

I reviewed the new British Airways lounge in Dubai’s new Concourse D recently and was not hugely impressed.

Reader Alastair was in Dubai a week later and decided to visit the Marhaba lounge instead.  This is on the same level as the BA lounge and, as well as being the default Priority Pass and Lounge Club lounge in Concourse D, is also used by Virgin Atlantic.

As you can see, it is far bigger than the British Airways lounge:

Marhaba lounge Dubai 1

More importantly, it has a wide range of hot food.  The BA lounge has none for most of the day, including at lunch:

Marhaba lounge Dubai 2

The only downsides, says Alastair, are a poorer selection of alcohol and a slight leakage of smoke from the closed-off smokers room.

Marhaba lounge Dubai 3

All in all, though, it doesn’t look too bad as you would expect from a brand new facility.

Remember that the free (for the first year) American Express Gold charge card (full review here) comes with two free Lounge Club passes which would get a couple into this lounge if leaving Dubai on BA or Virgin.

Marhaba lounge Dubai 4

Double Partner Plus Benefit points with Austrian

I explained Partner Plus Benefit, the Star Alliance small business loyalty scheme, in this article.

Until the end of June, PPB is offering double points on all flights with Austrian Airlines to Vienna.  This is valid in either business or economy and from either Heathrow or Manchester.

You need to opt in for this offer via the PPB website.  Remember that PPB points are a lot more flexible than British Airways On Business points and can be redeemed for hotel vouchers, Heathrow Express tickets, airport car rides and even cash.

Comments (34)

  • Idrive says:

    I have been in the Marhaba lounge T3 Concourse B just on Sunday (i was flying with Emirates).
    it is smaller than what i can see in the pictures, long and narrow with a quieter corridor on the back with additional seating.
    The selection of food seems similar, there was a small selection of Alcohol but it perfectly did the job of feeding me and allowing me to relax and browse the internet.
    I got in with Priority Pass.maybe it was just a little cold, AC was too strong i think.

    • flyforfun says:

      I flew into Dubai T3 Concourse A twice last month. Qantas flights use it as well as Emirates.

      On my first visit I used my PP card, but had to pay around £10 to use the shower. Its not a great config, with very little space inside and no where to put your bag. After showering the room got so warm I was sweating while trying to dress.

      The lounge itself I didn’t notice any hot food (I was there around 7am – it may have been the jetlag from the connecting flight!). The cold food was ok but nothing special. The drinks were on the far side of the food bar so sort of inconvenient if you’re a solo travel.

      On my return visit I didn’t bother using my PP card for lounge access and just paid for the shower. There are only 2 mens showers I believe. They had run out of mens kits and I got a female one. No razor which was annoying. But again a cramped shower room. This time the door assistant kept my boarding pass, I assume so I wouldn’t use the lounge – or maybe she was timing me! While waiting to collect it a few people commented how busy the lounge was with no were to sit and didn’t use their PP cards to go in.

      The QF flights only have about a 2 hour transit stop so by the time you have a shower it’s nearly time to board again. If I stop there again the only reason I would use my PP card is to use up my 10 pre paid accesses before they expire.

  • Lux says:

    Except for the tables bring a different shape, and the lift-off lids on the hot food, that Dubai lounge is identical to an Emirates business lounge. Not a bad thing.

  • Nick says:

    Looks very pleasant. OT I used my lounge club at STN last week again nice little lounge filled up as we left but food selection spot on, lots of nibbles, bacon rolls to order, drinks selection not bad, and food always freshly stocked. Not a massive lounge but views are ok and the sheer ambience far beats the zoo you missed….until we boarded the new style Ryanair aircraft. Man has that bloke saved even more money seats are now wafer thin arm rest is the size of a single twix and staff even more of a bunch of arseholes than before. I got told to keep my coat down so others could put a suitcase above…..

    • idrive says:

      Oh, finally Stansted is available again! Can anyone confirm if you are allowed to go through Fast Track Security with Priority Pass?

      So it seems that Ryanair has adopted the Easyjet seating now?

      • Rob says:

        Remember that Ryanair has fewer seats than BA on the same aircraft. Ryanair refuses to pay for the legally required extra cabin crew member which they would require if they matched BA density. That is why Ryanair now has better legroom than BA at the back.

        • Nick says:

          You get what you pay for then

          It was okay for a short hop I’ll just say it got me there in one piece. Ridiculous hot cabin both ways which surprised me he didn’t crank a window to save on money!

          What also made me laugh was half in the new uniform half not. The half that were my god it looks like a primarni special

      • Nick says:

        I had fast track passes free anyway from booking the car park it was an offer. Got there and they were broke so it was chaos then again so was the main que.

  • Buns says:

    Virgin Upper Class passengers have a seperate section within the new Lounge with table service.

    A vast improvement on what was on offer before.

  • rams1981 says:

    Does the Gold Rewards AMEX have 2 free passes per year?

    • rams1981 says:

      yes is the answer – what’s not clearer is if not used, can these roll over?

    • Rob says:

      Yes

      • rams1981 says:

        cool, thanks.

        • Rob says:

          … although of course Gold itself is not free after the first year. It is 2 passes per CARD year and not calendar year. Helps justify paying the fee for Year 2 though – or pay the fee and cancel for a partial refund as soon as you’ve used the Lounge Club cards.

  • ambient says:

    Slightly related, I have two Lounge Club lounge passes to use as part of my Amex Gold membership. Myself and my partner are flying Emirates, Gatwick to Dubai return in a couple of weeks time. This trip probably represents the best opportunity to use this years lounge passes. Can anyone recommend please the best qualifying lounge to use them on at either Gatwick or Dubai? Thanks!

    • Rob says:

      The new No 1 Lounge in Gatwick South is meant to be impressive, assuming it is included. Not sure what they have in the Emirates terminal in Dubai but it would be pretty new.

  • Rik says:

    O/T, but related to lounges – I’ll soon be flying Business ex DUB on AA to USA (with an internal First flight due to stopover.) Having only ever flown economy and not having airline status, can anyone give me a quick guide to what lounge access I’m permitted – do I get it on all legs of my journey? And am I restricted to AA lounges (Admiral club?) or can I get into any One World lounge?

    • Rik says:

      Having found a bit on the AA website for the airports in question, looks like I don’t get lounge access on the outbound stopover, but should be OK for the other legs.

      “First and Business Class customers
      Lounge access is not available if you’re traveling on American Airlines solely within the United States …Your access is determined by showing your boarding pass departing on an international flight marketed and operated by a oneworld carrier that is five hours or longer, or connecting to one on the same day or before 6 a.m. the following day”

      • Matt says:

        I always thought you got it based on ticket type. If you originate at an international destination I thought that they allowed Admirals Club access on the other internal segment through to your final destination. I may be wrong but that was how I interpreted their rules although I’ve only ever flown on American direct.

      • Adrian says:

        You will get access on the same day as the international travel, if you are completing your journey that day then you will have access. If you are having an overnight stop-over (e.g. LAX going on to Hawaii) then they may not be accommodating the following day.
        You are not solely travelling in the USA, e.g. Miami to Orlando for example, there is an international component to the trip.

        • Rik says:

          An old post on Business Traveller forum seems to confirm that the internal leg is treated separately and so no lounge access.

          “flying into the US on business/first I was unable to use the lounge on a stop over. I did not choose to have that stop over, it was the only routing AA could provide. The lounge desk told me as a result I had no rights to use the lounge, internationally yes and if I was leaving on an international flight yes, but not on the stop over”

  • James67 says:

    OT bit: Hi Rob, the more interesting news this morning is the post on shopperpoints.co.uk. Do you think these possible clubcard changes and imminent demise of doubleup might be an early warning for changes to boost, more critically BA, FC and avios?

    • Rob says:

      No, the Tesco page for the Boost changes says that they will be improving their partner deals, which could include Avios, after in-store Boost promos end. I doubt there would be major changes.

      • James67 says:

        Thanks Rob, will hold off then in hope of anothef conversion bonus

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