Emirates, in search of revenue in the challenging Gulf economic environment with low energy prices, has started offering paid access to their business and first class lounges in Dubai. (HT: Australian Business Traveller)
Here’s how it works for passengers flying Emirates (or Emirates codeshares on Qantas):
- Base level members of the Emirates Skywards program can buy into business lounges for four hours for $100
- Base level members can buy into first class lounges for four hours for $200
- If you overstay your four hour limit Emirates may want to charge you a second time.
- Emirates Silvers and Golds get business class lounge access through their status, but can pay $100 to buy up to first class lounge access.
You do need to be a member of the Emirates program in order to pay for lounge access, which of course is free to join online.
The B lounge is older but still nice, with a spa and sit down as well as buffet dining. I’m not sure it’s worth $200 per person, but it’s fabulous by US and even most European standards (though not up to par with the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt or Air France La Premiere Lounge in Paris).
You can certainly eat your way through the cost, though, if you really try.
The A terminal first class lounge is huge, and exclusive, but I find it really cold (in aesthetic, not temperature). It’s an entire level of the terminal, just as business class is an entire level of the terminal (and a separate level for economy passengers). There must be seating for 1000 people and I’ve been there with fewer than six.
Surprisingly there are no private sleeping rooms, there’s a communal sleeping room with cubicle-style walls for privacy in some parts.
Still, it is impressive enough that it’s worth seeing once. There are full duty free shops, fully staffed, in case a first class passenger should decide to buy something. Staff are mostly bored, plugging away at their phones.
And again you really can eat your way through the cost if you’re looking to and you don’t want to have to eat on a long haul flight in economy.
You also board from gates inside the first class lounge, then take an elevator down to the aircraft.