Trip Report Index

After my stopover in Dubai, I had a 9:05 AM flight to Houston in Emirates A380 First Class.

Wanting to enjoy the Emirates First Class Lounge and having stayed up all night anyway, I arrived at the airport almost exactly four hours before departure.

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I followed signs for First Class check in and had my boarding pass quickly.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.21.42 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.21.52 PM

The people movers to the A gates of Emirates’ Terminal 3 are a slow process, but I got to the lounge by 5:30 AM, meaning I’d have about three hours to enjoy the offerings before boarding.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.22.01 PM

Here’s what’s completely unique about the Emirates First Class lounge in Concourse A of Terminal 3 in Dubai: The lounge takes up an entire level that is directly above the main floor of the concourse. And you board from the lounge via an elevator directly onto your jet bridge. (The Business Class lounge, which I didn’t check out is one floor above the First Class lounge and also boards via elevator.)

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View of the Main Level of Concourse A from the Floor Above (First Class Lounge)

I entered the massive First Class lounge and handed the agent my boarding pass. She scanned it and welcomed me to the lounge. That’s it. She didn’t give me a rundown of the lounge, which I think the agents should, because the lounge is massive and offers a lot that you might not know about if you aren’t told or you don’t take the time to explore.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.22.08 PM

The first thing I wanted to do was get my bearings, so luckily I found a map of the lounge underneath the departures board.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.23.35 PMThere are also signs like this throughout the lounge to direct you where you want to go.

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With my bearings set, I decided to check out the Cigar Bar and Quiet Lounge before enjoying breakfast in the Fine Dining area, followed by a free massage in the Spa.

Just walking through the lounge to follow my checklist, I passed several sitting areas, which are completely empty at 5:30 AM and probably empty all the time because they aren’t near food or drink.
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I also passed really high end shops. These aren’t your standard Duty Free Shops hawking big bags of M&Ms.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.22.23 PM

The shops are mostly selling watches, perfumes, and bottles of alcohol to dekamillionaires. I thought this display of alcohol from $600 to $3,000 per bottle was expensive…

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…until I saw this $13,000 bottle or Martell 300. I won’t even pretend to know what Martell 300 is because I paid $100 in taxes for my First Class ticket.

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I passed through the Business Center, which is stocked with computers, coffee, tea, and dates.
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Next I stopped into the Cigar Bar because I love the Cigar Bar in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and I like to smoke 10 cigars per year. When I saw the selection of famous Cubans on offer, I made a mental note to return after breakfast.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.16 PM

My last stop before breakfast was the Quiet Lounge, which is the one part of the lounge not up to par. With how much space there is in the lounge, and the fact that some First Class lounges offer private rooms for resting, I’m surprised Emirates puts so many day beds into one room.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.25 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.36 PM

Finally I made it to the Fine Dining area. I took a seat on a leather chair near the entrance and was given a menu.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.45 PM

You can either order menu items a la carte or just hit the buffet.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.49 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.24.55 PM

Other than eggs cooked to order, I think everything else on the a la carte menu is on the buffet. I don’t care for eggs, so I just went to the buffet.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.07 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.40 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.25.58 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.03 PM

I loaded up on the Indian curry, hash browns, baked beans, tomatoes, fruit, hummus, pita, veggies, and a cinnamon roll. I ordered a still water, which was brought along with a bread basket. The bread basket is a complete waste, since there is a huge bread section on the buffet, and I had already selected pita and a cinnamon roll.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.21 PM

The vegetarian Indian curry and the fresh fruit were real highlights for me, so I went back for seconds of those.

I took a walk through the Fine Dining area after eating.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.27 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.33 PM

One cool feature is that there is a view into the kitchen.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.40 PM

After I left the Fine Dining area I decided to keep heading the direction I had been going to get to the end of the lounge, passing more empty seating areas along the way.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.46 PM

At the end of the lounge is a huge seating area with a smaller buffet, a bar, and a magazine selection.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.26.56 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.27.03 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.27.09 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.27.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.27.21 PM

There are a few things on this buffet that aren’t in the Fine Dining area like the finger sandwiches, so it is worth checking out both areas before eating.

Now that I had seen one end of the lounge, I decided to go get my 15 minute free massage from the spa that is just outside the entrance of the lounge. On my way, I passed yet another bar and seating area. I hope you’re getting the idea that the lounge is humungous, and you can definitely find a space that suits your needs.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.27.28 PM

I exited the lounge, and a few meters to the right was the entry to the “timeless spa,” which has a big sign out front advertising free treatments.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.29.04 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.29.10 PM

As a First Class passenger, you have five options for a 15 minute massage. I went with the back massage.
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For reference, here are the paid options, which are quite expensive.Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.29.33 PM

I was anticipating lying face down on a table, but instead the back massage is on one of these bad boys.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.29.50 PMI asked the masseuse if I should take off my shirt, and she was rather adamant that I shouldn’t.
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I don’t go out of my way to get massages. This one was fine, which is about as highly as I thought I would ever rate a massage until a few years ago when I got a free hourlong massage at the Bangkok Airport because I was flying Thai First Class. That massage was amazing, and I couldn’t believe how quickly the hour passed. This 15 minute massage was underwhelming by comparison, but if you’re more into massages than I am, it could be a nice treat.

After the massage, I returned to the lounge and went to the Cigar Bar to spend the rest of the time before my flight on my laptop while smoking a cigar.

I selected this lovely couch and started charging my electronics.
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The waiter brought the cigar selection. I had texted my cigar-expert friend asking him which one to choose but hadn’t hear back, so I went with my best proxy for quality: “I’ll take the most expensive one.”Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.30.15 PM

This was a mistake. It turns out that everything in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai is free at all the bars and restaurants except the cigars. Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 11.30.56 PM

I guess it’s my fault for not knowing that the cigars were for purchase. There is a menu at the bar area that shows their prices. But I had no clue. I assumed they were free since everything in the lounge (except things obviously in shop areas) is free, Lufthansa has a free Cigar Bar in its First Class Terminal, no one told me the cigars cost money, and no one brought me the cigar menu when I asked for the cigar selection.

In any case, I was brought a bill for 125 AED ($34) for my cigar. I didn’t mention my surprise and just paid it–no need to ruin a great experience by disputing a bill that is small potatoes in the long run. But be warned: the cigars aren’t free.

I did enjoy my cigar and accompanying drink, and the Cigar Bar was a fine place to write for an hour or two. With about 45 minutes left before my flight’s departure, I left the Cigar Bar to sit closer to my gate (which, remember, is inside the lounge) in order to hear the boarding announcement. Much to my surprise, a last call announcement was made for my flight right as I sat down, so I headed to my gate.

All the other First Class passengers on my flight had hear the announcement and assembled, but there was no gate agent. A few minutes later she showed up and let us know that not only was it not last call, but we couldn’t even board yet. I slipped back into the Fine Dining area because it had the closest couch to my gate and wrote for another 20 minutes before we actually boarded.

When it was boarding time, I had my boarding pass scanned, then I road this elevator down one level to my jetway.

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I didn’t check out the shower rooms or the Le Clos wine shop in the lounge, but be aware those exist if you want to shower before your onboard shower or want to buy expensive wine before your flight.

Bottom Line

The Emirates First Class Lounge in Concourse A of Terminal 3 in Dubai is a marvel. According to Wikipedia, it is the largest First Class lounge in the world. The food is great, the alcohol is expensive, and boarding a plane from an elevator is novel.

The biggest areas for improvement would be individual rooms for napping and having the agent who scans your boarding pass give you an overview of the lounge offerings, spa offerings, and the fact that the cigars aren’t free.

Next time I would spend at least two hours in the lounge and probably more to enjoy the food, massage, and amenities just as fully as I did this time. I would skip the $34 stogie though.

I slightly preferred my trip to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt a year and a half ago. A Porsche to the plane is a little better than an elevator, I liked the buffet a little better, the cigars were free, and the you can take a bubble bath before your flight.

I also slightly preferred my ground experience in Bangkok as a First Class passenger because the hourlong massage was killer, and nothing is better than Thai food.

So I’d rank the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai as my third favorite lounge overall. Where would you rank it?

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