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:
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.
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!
When you reach Concourse A on the internal train, you need to take the lift or stairs up to the first floor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …..
…. 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.
This view shows you just how long the lounge is:
…. and here is a view to the main public concourse below.
If you’ve got children, there is a dedicated play area:
There is also a surprisingly large duty free shop. I doubt this makes money, given the lack of passengers.
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.
There is a decent sized business centre if you need to work:
…. and a fine wine shop if you don’t.
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.
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.
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.
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 ….
How to earn Emirates Skywards miles from UK credit cards (August 2022)
Emirates Skywards does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Emirates Skywards miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.
Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Emirates Skywards miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles. This card is FREE for life.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Emirates Skywards miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Emirates Skywards mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.