I suppose when you have pretty much the best in-air product out there, the only reasonable thing you can do is try to come up with a ground product that matches! I have never experienced the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, but I think the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai may come close!
It’s actually worth starting right there. Lufthansa has an entire terminal dedicated to first class passengers. Emirates does not. That being said, it may as well be. Their first class lounge is massive, practically taking up an entire floor of the terminal. It’s designed in such a way that you don’t ever need to even see the fact that there’s a bustling airport filled with economy passengers. The lounge has its own duty free shopping, its own high end a la carte dining restaurant, its own spa, and more.
Our flight to Bangkok, again on Emirates A380 First Class, had a 9:20AM departure time. We wanted to make sure we scheduled enough time at the lounge so we had our chauffeur service arrive at 6:10AM to pick us up from the JW Marriott Marquis.
Our driver was right on time, and we arrived at the airport around 6:30AM, giving us a few hours to experience the lounge. We knew that the lounge had both a fine dining section as well as a spa, and it was our aim to try both before our flight took off.
It took us a while to get to the main terminal, but we made the trek, and once we there, the signs were clear to the first and business class lounges. It’s the same elevator. They’re just on different floors. The Emirates First Class Lounge has a floor all to itself, and the entrance is in typical Emirates fashion.
Entry into the lounge was rather painless, although the woman working at the desk did spend a bit extra time staring at our boarding passes. She then asked me if I used miles to book the ticket. I said I did, and she smiled and let me in. I wonder why she asked, given that it has no bearing on lounge entry. In any case, as we got in, we gave ourselves a bit of a tour.
The lounge is set up as as if there were a mirror right down the middle, meaning that most everything on the left is duplicated on the right, and vice versa. There may be some slight exceptions to this, but this is how it was explained to us by the agent. As boarding happens directly from the lounge, the gates are concentrated on the far ends of each side. It can be quite a hike to get all the way from one side to the other, which is why there are two of everything. It’s a huge lounge, and because there are so many different sections of it, it feels much more like its own terminal than it does a lounge. As you can see in the picture above, the lounge actually has its own duty free shopping, so you don’t need to mingle with the rest of the passengers at the airport when you do your shopping.
We were pretty famished so our first stop was the fine dining section of the lounge. It’s a miniature restaurant, where a hostess waits to seat you, there is waiter service, etc. If you’re in a rush, you can grab something from the buffet selection, but we elected to order off of the a la carte menu. I haven’t been there for dinner so I’m not sure if the buffet is there for dinner as well, or if it’s just a breakfast thing. We were seated promptly, and the table was fully set with white table cloth, all the silverware, etc. The presentation definitely rivaled a high-end restaurant.
You could have pretty much everything you wanted. If you’re interested in the menu pages, check them out here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. We placed orders for a la carte breakfast. Katy ordered waffles, and I got the eggs benedict. The waiter was happy to customize our order to our liking. For example, another dish had baked beans, and I requested a side of beans with my eggs. There was no issue with my request. I also love that Emirates stocks more than just the standard, basic juices. I ordered carrot juice with my breakfast.
While we waited for our order, I went to go take a few pictures of the buffet. The buffet looked really good, but unless you’re pressed for time, I would recommend doing the a la carte dining experience.
Katy’s waffles looked good, but I think my eggs looked better :-)… and gotta love that carrot juice!
I was impressed not only with the flavor and taste of the food, but also with the presentation. Even though we were just there for breakfast, it was really apparent that the waiter, hostess, and other restaurant attendees went the extra mile to make it a special dining experience for us.
One of the neat features of the Emirates First Class Lounge in Dubai is a full service spa. As part of your entry, every passenger gets a 15 minute massage or similar spa treatment. I did a bit of research on this in advance, and I saw they offered haircuts as well (in lieu of the 15 minute free massage). I’m really not very stylish, and I hate getting my hair cut. I don’t know why. I hate sittting in the chair. I hate making time to go to SuperCuts. I hate making conversation. I hate paying the money. I figured that getting a free snip in the lounge was right up my alley! While I was getting my haircut, complete with shampoo, Katy got a massage.
We had breakfast, we had massages and haircuts, and we decided to explore a bit more.
They had a great game room for kids! They had a PS4 in there… so… I almost went in and played for a while myself. I have to think that this room stays relatively empty. Then again, maybe sheikhs bring their whole family and fill up an A380 first class cabin. We settled down at one of the far ends of the first class lounge, and while the decor is beautiful, this is probably the least exciting area of the lounge. There’s a large, comfortable seating area with some food and drink options near the hall you enter from, and this seating area is also where all the gates are accessed from. They do a great job making it not feel like a gate area.
It’s a bit small, but you can see some gate signs in the background. I went to find our gate, and there wasn’t an agent there until about 15 minutes before our scheduled boarding time. I asked him if this was the right spot and when I should start waiting in line. He informed me that waiting wouldn’t be necessary, that I should just take a seat, and he would come and find me when it was time to board. Ah – that sounded nice. I went to go grab a glass of champagne before relaxing back into the boarding area.
Considering that this area is probably the least exciting of the lounge, I was impressed with the food offerings. Emirates seems to place a fair amount of emphasis on having healthier options like green smoothies, carrot juice, etc, and I really appreciate that. Of course, I was on vacation… so… Champagne, please.
After some time, we were approached to board our flight to Bangkok, taking out of gate A9. Katy and I realized that we were the only two people in the boarding area. Would we be the only two people in the first class cabin??? Emirates has such a neat setup for boarding from the first class lounge. As I have mentioned, you never even feel like you’re in a boarding area. After the agent takes your boarding pass, you take an elevator down to the jet bridge. At this point, we DID encounter some other passengers, as the elevator made a stop on another floor, but this stop appeared to be the business class lounge floor. Our hopes of being the only first class passengers were still alive! The jet bridge we got on was only for first and business class passengers, and upon boarding, we were greeted and shown to our seats.
The whole system Emirates has at the DXB airport for premium cabin passengers is REALLY impressive. We got a private car to the airport. We went straight to a special First Class lounge, which was big enough to be its own terminal. We had a fantastic meal, complimentary spa services, and a private boarding experience. We never even saw an economy passenger the entire time. I don’t think that was an accident of their design.
If you have the chance to book an Emirates award ticket, I really recommend it. I think the DXB airport system for first and business class passengers is very impressive so make sure to book DXB as some kind of stopover. Our destination after DXB was Khao Lak, Thailand.