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

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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.


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


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.

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

      • Dartmouth says:

        To be fair, it is usually Western designers and their interpretation of what modern ME taste is.

        • the real harry1 says:

          nope it’s Westerners preparing a choice of mood boards at the design stage and an Emir or CEO pointing at the one he likes

      • Again with the charm.

  5. 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.

    • the real harry1 says:

      well today it’s claustrophobia -so I think he’s perfectly balanced 🙂

  6. 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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