TRIP REPORT INDEX: AROUND THE WORLD IN FIRST ON THE A380
After a wonderful flight from San Francisco I had a little wait in Dubai. I had landed a little after 7 PM and had a glorious departure to Seoul at 2 AM. Yeah was I psyched!! Really I was not, this was a crummy time to have to hang around the airport or the city. I could have left the airport for 4 hours or so, but I’m not sure what I could have done after say 10 PM. I’m sure there’s stuff open, but I really didn’t do much research, and wasn’t in the mood to just wander around. Now if it was earlier in the day I would have for sure done that but with that late of a departure, I knew I would be tired soon and didn’t want to “find something to do”. The alternative was get a hotel either in the airport or outside, but again for the short duration, I was not keen on spending upwards of $150 USD for a bed.
This dilemma left me one choice, and one choice alone. Hang out in the Emirates First Class Lounge in Terminal Three. I had read a few reports about it, and was pretty psyched to try it out. There were many reasons for this, the main one I think was just the simple fact that it spans the entire length of terminal three, and the sheer size of it had me intrigued.
I know that Lufthansa has its First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, and Qatar has theirs too, but I have never had a chance to experience them, and so this was my opportunity to try something like a Lounge that’s a terminal that’s a lounge.
Once I exited my plane I made my way to the middle of the terminal, I had landed in T-3 so all I had to do was walk about five minutes to the center of the terminal and access the lounge, sorry no buggy service here. What do you think I am a Sheik? As far as I know Emirates doesn’t offer First Class guest connecting ground service in Dubai. They do offer chauffer drive (which is complimentary chauffer service to/from hotel to the airport. But this is only one purchased first/business class tickets. The lounge is located on the fourth floor of T-3 with the business class lounge on the third. So after a quick elevator trip up a few floors I was on the fourth level. Straight ahead was the sliding doors to the lounge and to the left was the spa. Yup they have a spa too!!
After a quick scanning of my boarding pass I was in. The greeter directed to either go left or right once in the lounge and that’s about it. I had to inquire on how to book a spa service or how to access my gate. At the time of my arrival I was informed that my flight was departing from another terminal and that I would have to make my way there on my own, and that they didn’t make any announcements in the lounge unless there was a delay or gate change. Frankly I was a little disappointed in the lack of service or just basic information about what was where. The lounge has a very large quiet room, free Wi-Fi, mini-buffets throughout, a dining room with table service, showers and even duty free, as well as gate boarding access to all T-3 flights. None of which I was told about. For a world class airline this was kind of a surprise. Lufthansa and Singapore in their flagship lounges walk you to your seats, take drink orders and help you get settled. Emirates get with the program.
As I mentioned above the lounge was pretty set up. Besides the amenities I just mentioned, they had a cigar lounge, Skywards Concierge and wait staff throughout the terminal. The crazy part to the left and right of the main entrance the lounge was a mirror image of itself. The break was at gate A11 I believe. So whether you went left or right, you had a complete lounge on both side with all the same features. So freaking crazy!!!
Once I got in the lounge I immediately walked around to check out all the nooks and crannies. As well as skype the wife and kid. I was enjoying my solo trip around the world, but was missing the family. After wandering and chatting, I made my way to the quite room. Which was quite large and probably had 20 or so loungers. None were 100% private, but some were more secluded then others and at this hour I had no problem finding an open spot, in fact I was the only one in the place, and had my pick any of the private ones I could find. I promptly set an alarm got comfortable and slept for a few hours. It was really great. They didn’t have blankets but had bolsters and pillows, plus universal power plugs, which was great since I smartly choose to not bring my universal adaptor. The best part about the lounge was knowing that in this huge dessert, I would not die of thirst. Again my wife kept asking mw to pilfer some waters.
After a nice slept it was time for another shower, this was only my second one of the trip, but the first one on the ground J. The shower rooms were nice, they were not huge but were big enough for one person. Although I’d almost say that the ones on the a380 were probably about the same size, except these had larger showers. Funny huh. Sorry for not providing a picture of the shower digs.
After a very much needed shower it was time for a spa treatment. At some point prior, I had gone by the spa and booked a treatment. Every first class passenger is allowed one option free of charge. Choices range from various massages, to a pedicure and even a haircut or for the ladies a blow dry. I chose the 15 minute back and shoulder massage and could have added time for a price, but I want to say 45 minutes more was about $100 USD and I was not keen to pay that. In any event the spa was a much needed amenity, that I’m glad I took advantage of. Its open 24 hours, so you have a shot of using it at any time, I’m guessing it’s best to schedule as soon as you arrive to get the best option. Again here I think Emirates could really go all out and offer 45-60 minutes, you’re flying first and are probably paying tens of thousands to have the honor to be here, you’d think they’d take a page out of Thai Airways book and give you more free time. If you’re going to pamper people in the air with a shower, an enclosed suite and pretty darn good service, you’d expect a little more special ground service.
After a great shower and an even better massage, it was time for dinner at midnight. You’d think I was in Paris or Madrid, and just getting my day started. You might be asking why eat on the ground, when I will get a full meal in the air. Well the simple answer is this, I was hungry and who said I wouldn’t eat on the plane too ;).
I made my way to the dining room. Though they have min-buffets every few gates, and the food there looked great, I wanted to try out the dining room, since they had a menu too. In either case the min-buffets or here you had a large self-service are plus full bar with many choices. I was currently on an all Voss water diet so that’s all I consumed. The waiter was slightly shocked when I said I’d pass on wine.
I chose to eat light and had THE BEST meal I’ve ever had in a lounge. I’m going to attribute that to quite possibly my best ever desert. Ever, even in a real restaurant. That’s probably why I was so happy with this meal. I mean look at it, the re-imagined Rocky Road was freaking amazing to look at and eat. Thank you Emirates for this.
Service on the whole was really good too. But that desert, 3 weeks later I still think about it.
After dinner it was time to head out to the gate, sometime during the night the gate changed, and I was lucky enough to leave from T-3. No announcement was made, I just happened to notice, but that’s ok at least I didn’t have to head to T-1. The best part departing from the lounge. WTF. Yup that’s right, all I had to do was head to my gate on this floor, have the agent scan my pass and head out to an elevator.
The second floor is for first and business and the first floor for coach, so all I did once scanned in is take the common elevator two levels down. This elevator is only for the lounge and all the gate have walkways to the planes, all you had to do was go to your gate and you were directed to where to jet off too.
This was really slick, no need to mix with the unwashed masses, and all you had on this level were first class guests, which I saw all of two more. So freaking cool!! Now onto Seoul.
Overall I really liked the lounge, did I need to spend 6 hours here? No. Would I again if I had a long layover? Only if it was a redeye like this. Otherwise I’d go to town. Dubai is so easy to navigate, the metro goes right to the airport, and it’s cheap and easy to use too. Plus the city is beautiful, and there’s a lot to see and do. This lounge is great, and definitely worth a visit for 2-4 hours for sure.
It was a great respite for me, and allowed me to sleep, eat and get clean. This local who was in the lounge chose to tell me he always stays the night at the airport when he has a morning flight, because of the free stuff I mentioned. Crazy or genius you decide.
My main gripe is the little things. They have a nice lounge with lots of services and features, and plenty of staff, but they don’t help you per se. I mean I expected a quick rundown of services and such, and isn’t get one. It just wasn’t polished except for the dining room (food and service). The rest was good but not great. I would never ever say, “no I’m not going here again.” But if I had to choose between Lufthansa Frankfurt and here, I’d pick Lufthansa, hands down. If you’ve been to both you’d understand for sure.