Flying First Class is one of those aspirational dreams of mine. Potentially close, and yet so far away. Well, as long as my head continues to rule the logic over my heart (and possibly my tired and weary body).
By this I mean that I don’t ever think I will find it justifiable to spend such incredibly large amounts of money on an airfare. And, I’m a (very) long haul flyer!
When I start hearing costs upwards of AUD$10,000 for a return flight (and that’s a cheapie), the thought of all the fancy food and french champagne that I can drink just doesn’t stack up. There’s just so much real travel I can do on the ground for that sort of money.
So how did I find myself in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai?
Through years and years…..and years of corporate travelling, that’s how. In Australia, most companies allow their employees to use their private frequent flyer memberships to attract points on corporate airfares. It’s considered quid pro quo for all the time you spend away from your home and family. It’s a thank you for all that time that you spend in hotel rooms.
Years of flying meant that I accrued enough status points to achieve the highest level of frequent flyer status, hence my entry into this prestigious lounge.
It’s a glimpse inside the inner sanctum of the First Class flyers. It’s impressive and just for a split second, I think, “I could get very used to this”
Come with me for a quick tour as I share with you my frequent flyer experience in the Emirates First Class Lounge. It’s one of the most incredible lounges I’ve ever been into.
It’s a simple process accessing the lounge, once you actually get there. Depending on which airlines bring you to Dubai will depend on which Terminal you arrive at and depart from. For us, it means arriving at one terminal and catching the train to the departing terminal, and the lounge. We get processed through two security points in order to get to the lounge.
The staff at the front desk are friendly and helpful and after showing our boarding passes, we are shown inside.
It’s enormous. There is simply no other word. It’s bright and shiny too, with gleaming polished tiles, and everyone dressed beautifully in corporate uniforms. As we pass, they all call out “Good morning/Good evening Ma’am”, and this level of hospitality is only the start.
The Dining Room
If you’ve ever had to grab a quick Maccas, or something equally unimpressive from the airport food court, then this will come as quite the experience.
An incredible dining room (or rather a hall) stretches on seemingly forever. Despite being in a reasonably public space, the layout of the dining room means that your privacy is valued and you can have a quiet conversation without the din of other travellers around you.
I must admit to always feeling as though we were the only people there.
From the moment you are seated, the service is attentive, without being suffocating. Without any hesitation I accept the offer of a drink, thinking French bubbles is as good a way to start as any.
The fine dining, a la carte menu is impressive. As we gaze over the options, a basket of fresh bread and French butter makes its way to the table, along with a refill of our glass.
Whether you are here for a short or long stopover, there is plenty on this menu to tempt you. For those with only a little time, the dining room also offers a fully laden, self-service buffet.
I have been lucky enough to be able to visit this lounge on several occasions over the past few years, and have been able to sample their menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On my last trip I was there for both dinner and breakfast, such was the length of my stopover!!
Here’s some of what we have enjoyed on these visits.
The chefs will change the menu for you if you have dietary issues or special preferences. Nothing is too much trouble.
The Quiet Room
Yes that’s right, the Quiet Room and one of my most favourite things in the travelling world. When you are in the middle of a long haul flight, the Quiet Room is like gold.
In this room day beds are spaced out enough so that you don’t feel like you’re sleeping immediately next to a complete stranger.
Blankets, pillows and eye masks are all provided, as is a never-ending supply of still and sparkling mineral water. I always travel with ear plugs so these are handy here too.
On my last flight back from Europe, we had a 14 hour stopover in Dubai. We arrived in the evening and left mid morning. Being able to sleep properly in this room was an absolute luxury.
TIP: The Emirates First Class Lounge is a quiet lounge, meaning no flight announcements are made. If you are likely to fall into a deep sleep, it is highly recommended to set an alarm on your phone or tablet. I actually set them on everything! Also make sure your time is current. I pass through so many time zones when travelling that I always need to make sure the auto-time function is selected.
TIP: For a little more privacy, head over to the far wall where there is a single row of day beds only. This is where we hung out.
TIP: If you leave your boarding pass so that it is visible, the staff who come and go through this room like fairies, will keep an eye on you to ensure you don’t miss your plane.
For a First Class lounge there’s nothing overly fancy about the bathrooms. No flowing waterfalls or exotic technology! They are however spacious, immaculately clean and there’s plenty of hot water! What more do you need? Toiletries are provided as well.
TIP: In busy times, it’s a good idea to go straight to the desk in front of the bathrooms to book in your shower time.
There are a number of bar areas in this lounge, including right near where you need to board, meaning you can continue to have your favourite tipple right up until boarding time. Light food options are also available here.
If you are travelling for business, there are dedicated areas to work which include full use of computers, printers, phones etc.
The Cigar Room
I just love this room for its fancy coloured glass. But, if you are a smoker, then this is the place you will need to find to indulge in your vice, as the remainder of the lounge, and the airport terminal is non-smoking.
Another feature of this lounge that I love is that once you are here, you never need to leave. Well, not until it’s time to get on your plane. Boarding is done directly from this lounge. This is where the “imposters” like us get flushed out. As you get into the lift, there is a level for boarding the real First Class passengers and another level for boarding economy.
It’s possible that you may be checked by security prior to leaving the lounge. We were checked on our last flight, but prior to that no security existed.
TIP: Make sure you know where your gate is. Even though you board from the lounge, it is enormous, so it can still take 10 minutes to walk to your gate if you are at one end and your gate at the other.
TIP: The bars are replicated at both ends and throughout the concourse. When it is getting closer to your boarding time, head on down to the area closest to your boarding gate. You can still relax, but you won’t have to make a mad dash to board. Dashing isn’t well suited to this uber relaxed zone.
Key features of the lounge
This is indeed a lounge like no other, running the entire length and breadth of the Dubai Airport Concourse A (Terminal 3). This terminal was built specifically to operate the A380s.
- The First Class Lounge is on the upper deck of this concourse, with the Business Class lounge on the level below.
- It’s a Quiet lounge meaning no announcements are made, thus preserving the peacefulness of this area.
- Day spa. Your entry provides 15 mins free for several basic services. Otherwise, it is user pays.
- Duty-free stores
- Free Shoeshine service
- Free wifi throughout the lounge
Who can access the Emirates First Class Lounge?
- First class passengers of Emirates and Qantas
- Emirates Skywards Platinum frequent flyers travelling on an Emirates or Qantas flight
- Qantas Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers when travelling with Qantas (QF) or Emirates (EK) flight
- Other Oneworld Emerald members booked on Qantas flights QF1/2 and QF9/10 only.
*One guest is also permitted for each class above.
I have read reviews on this lounge before and have found them to be mixed. From my perspective, I have been given an entry ticket into something amazing that I would have never been able to experience. Whilst I didn’t “pay” for this, I have “paid” for it through living in aeroplanes and away from my family.
Still, this was an incredible luxury for myself and my husband. It made some of our (very) long flights all the more bearable. To that end, there is no part of me that would find it within myself to complain about anything during my times here. The flip side of not being here is being out in the general population, where I’ve been plenty of times before, and I know which one I’d prefer.
There was one thing I didn’t like, but it didn’t relate to the lounge. It related to the people in it. It was quite disconcerting to see travellers treat the staff like second class citizens. Not saying thank you, barking orders at staff, being rude and arrogant in general.
We went and personally said thanks to the chefs, we chatted to the wait staff, we gave the shoe shine man all our leftover Dirhams, and chatted to him about his family in the Philippines. It’s not hard to be courteous and respectful, and whether you paid for your first class ticket or not, is still no excuse for rudeness.