After a memorable few days at the W Dubai The Palm and the Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai, my Middle East trip was about to end in the most spectacular fashion: a combined 27 hours and 20 minutes of Emirates First Class that would ultimately bring us back to Toronto.
Our planned routing, all in First Class, was as follows:
Emirates Flight 83, Dubai to Geneva, departing on June 1 at 2:55pm and arriving on June 1 at 7:45pm
Emirates Flight 84, Geneva to Dubai, departing on June 1 at 9:40pm and arriving on June 2 at 6:10am
Emirates Flight 241, Dubai to Toronto, departing on June 3 at 3:30am and arriving on June 3 at 9:30am
The first two flights would be in the cutting-edge Emirates 777 New First Class, while the third flight would be in Emirates A380 First Class with the onboard bar and shower. For more information on how I managed to book this convoluted journey encompassing both of Emirates’s world-famous First Class cabins using 150,000 Alaska miles per person, make sure to go back and read my “An Emirates First Class Extravaganza!” post from back in the day.
Anyway, in order to do this luxurious three-day journey the full justice that it deserves, I’ll be covering it in four separate installments:
In this post, I’ll cover the Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport’s Concourse B, where we spent many hours in advance of our first flight to Geneva
I decided to use Flight EK83 to make a YouTube video for the Emirates 777 New First Class experience, so I didn’t take many pictures from that flight; instead, I focused on taking pictures during Flight EK84 from Geneva to Dubai, so that’ll be the next installment of the series
I’ll then cover the sprawling Emirates First Class Lounge in Concourse A of the airport, which specifically serves Emirates’s A380 flights and allows passengers to board the plane straight from the lounge
Finally, I’ll cover the 14-hour Emirates A380 First Class flight from Dubai to Toronto
I hope you enjoy following along the series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (Concourse B) – Access
We’ll begin at Dubai International Airport at 9am on the morning of June 1. Even though our flight to Geneva wasn’t leaving until 2:55pm in the afternoon, we wanted to sample the full Emirates First Class Lounge experience, and so naturally arrived about six hours early.
The First Class check-in counters are housed in a separate wing from the main departures hall, welcoming the airline’s most valued guests with literal red-carpet treatment. No one else was patronizing the First Class check-in counters when we arrived, so we were helped immediately.
The staff member had a brief look of confusion on her face when our boarding passes were printed out: Dubai–Geneva followed by Geneva–Dubai.
Then she looked at the camera in my hand and asked, “Are you guys just doing this to fly the First Class?”, and we laughed in agreement.
We had decided to leave all our belongings in our room at the Holiday Inn Express Dubai Airport that we had booked for these two nights, so we were travelling extremely light – I only had a backpack with me, and Jessy only had her purse. Security and immigration were therefore a breeze to get through, after which we found ourselves in the airy departures hall of Dubai International Airport’s Concourse B.
We took a few flights of stairs up to find the Emirates First Class Lounge, and after a quick inspection of our boarding passes, our entry to the lounge was granted. (Passengers travelling in Emirates First Class, as well as Emirates Skywards Platinum members, receive complimentary access.)
The Emirates First Class Lounge is an extremely spacious facility, and the sheer size of the lounge can be quite daunting at first (well, until you get to visit the lounge in Concourse A, but that’ll have to wait until a few installments later).
Jessy and I decided to take a walk around the whole place before deciding on somewhere to sit, so I’ll bring you along for the tour of the lounge as well.
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (Concourse B) – Interior & Seating
Upon entering the lounge, you first find yourself in a multi-storey atrium that’s open-air to the rest of the airport concourse, featuring a few water displays and some scattered cushions for taking a quick seat.
A newspaper rack and a phone charging station are among the amenities available by the entrance to welcome guests to the lounge.
Then there are a few more clusters of seating as we proceed further into the lounge.
After that, we arrive at what amounts to the lounge’s central “hallways”, which extend all the way until the far end of the building, then wraps around and comes all the way back on the other side. A few catwalks overlooking the airport concourse connect the two hallways at intermediate points.
Looking down the hallway, I realized I had never quite been in an airport lounge as gigantic as this one before, and while the lounge’s sheer size was definitely impressive, I couldn’t help but wonder if it ran contrary to the ideals of intimacy and exclusivity that one might expect from the First Class Lounge of one of the world’s leading airlines.
Before continuing all the way down the hallway, let’s turn to our right-hand side, quickly, which brings us to the lounge’s vast seating and dining sections. These spaces run parallel to the central hallways alongside the exterior glass walls of the airport concourse, and so benefit from lots of natural lighting from outside.
The main seating area is essentially shaped like one long rectangle, so we’ll begin at the end closest to the lounge’s entrance. Here, you’ll find a few rows of chairs facing a television screen (which seemed very small given the size of the audience), as well as a small self-serve buffet with various finger foods.
Many similar food and drink “stations” were scattered throughout the rest of the lounge, and all of them featured coffee machines, tea presentations, some light snack spreads, and – one of my favourite features from the Emirates First Class ground experience – limitless quantities of those perfectly cylinder-shaped bottles of Voss Water, both still and sparkling.
Turning around and continuing into the rest of the lounge, we find more and more seating clusters along both walls. The only noteworthy thing about the seating options in Emirates First Class Lounge is that there were lots and lots of places to sit – besides that, the lounge didn’t feature too much in the way of creative seat designs or anything like that.
Then we arrive at the Timeless Spa, which incidentally is the spa provider at Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai as well. As a complimentary perk of flying in Emirates First Class, every passenger is entitled to a 15-minute spa treatment, and Jessy and I took a few minutes to book our Soothing Hand Massage for later in the day.
Adjacent to the spa is the Children’s Play Room, where those of you lucky enough to be sharing the Emirates First Class experience with your kids can leave them to occupy themselves for a few hours.
Continuing on, we find ourselves in the casual dining area, where guests can choose from small buffet spreads as well as order snack-sized items from various counters serving specialized cuisine, like the Japanese, Mediterranean, and Desserts counters.
The Japanese counter here caught our attention, and we ordered a few plates of fresh sushi to prepare our appetite for the many feasts that lay ahead on this Emirates First Class journey.
You might not expect to sample sushi from an airport lounge in Dubai, and while it wasn’t necessarily what you’d find in a sushi-ya outside Tsukiji Market, it more than did the trick for a casual portion.
Proceeding further into the lounge, we arrive at the formal sit-down dining section, which serves an à la carte menu of Middle Eastern and global delicacies for anyone wishing to take a meal in the lounge. This area mostly featured two-person dining tables with a few four-person seats, and Jessy and I would later return here for a late lunch shortly before boarding our flight.
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean and Dessert & Cheese food stations were positioned on the opposite end of the sit-down dining space, each featuring their own mini-buffet spreads and à la carte orders. I wish we could’ve sampled a little bit of everything, though in truth we had to exercise great restraint to save our stomach space for the upcoming flights.
The same principle applied to alcohol: normally I’m not one to shy away from day-drinking in the airport lounge, but the Moët served in the lounge seemed rather pedestrian compared to the free-flowing Dom Perignon coming up in a few hours’ time, so neither Jessy nor I felt inclined to waste our buzz on it 😉
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (Concourse B) – Other Facilities
Anyway, that brings us to the end of the lounge’s main seating and dining area, so let’s wrap up our tour of the lounge by looking at the facilities available in the central hallways.
In addition to a few more seating clusters, the hallways also play host to the Mother & Child Care Room…
…the in-lounge liquor shop, where you can make your duty-free purchases without having to leave the lounge and mingle with the rabble outside…
…and the bathrooms and shower rooms. I took a peek inside, and was quite disappointed to see that the shower facilities are rather cramped and basic. I’ve been in many business class lounges around the world with much more well-appointed shower rooms, so I’d certainly have expected better from the Emirates First Class Lounge.
Then there’s also the Business Centre, where guests can catch up on work at one of the dedicated computer terminals or workstations.
I also found a separate side-entrance to the lounge along with another check-in desk, which I imagine might get used if the lounge were to fill up to its capacity (although I can’t imagine that happening too often, given that I only saw enough guests to fill up about 10% of the lounge’s total seats over the course of my stay).
Finally, the Emirates First Class Lounge at Concourse B has no dedicated resting or napping zones, but instead only a few lounge chairs in one of the corners of the atrium near the entrance.
Again, I felt this was slightly lacking for a First Class facility; however, it’s worth noting that these shortcomings could be explained by the fact that most of Emirates’s long-haul and ultra-long-haul services would likely be departing from Concourse A, and the First Class Lounge over there is even more humongous and jam-packed with additional features.
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (Concourse B) – Spa
When we arrived at 10am, there were very few people in the First Class Lounge by the time, and it felt like the lounge staff were only just getting the operations started for the day. After sitting down with and relaxing with a plate of sushi for a few hours, Jessy and I proceeded to our complimentary spa treatment at the Timeless Spa at about 12:15pm.
We were treated to our Soothing Hand Massages in the same room by two enthusiastic masseuses, which relaxed us nicely and prepared us well for the many airborne adventures to come.
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai (Concourse B) – Dining
After the treatment, we had about an hour to eat a quick lunch in the dining room before heading to the gate to board our flight. (I wanted to board the Emirates Boeing 777 as early as possible, if only to spend as much time as I could in the confines of its luxurious floor-to-ceiling First Class suites!)
A host greeted us and showed us to our table. As you can imagine, the service at the sit-down dining section is fast and efficient, since guests might need to get up and go catch their flight at a moment’s notice.
The à la carte menu read as follows:
We kept our order light so as not to intrude on the stomach space we had reserved for our upcoming flights. I ordered a chicken noodle soup and the poke bowl, while Jessy opted for a superfood salad with chicken.
To drink, I had a glass of mango juice, which was excellent.
The chicken noodle soup was presented exquisitely, with our server personally pouring the broth into the bowl of pre-arranged ingredients.
I was also very impressed by the poke bowl, which ranks up there with the best pokes I’ve ever had. You might not expect it from the outset, but the chefs at the Emirates First Class Lounge do indeed know their way around fresh fish!
Jessy also enjoyed the taste of her superfood salad, although it seemed less memorable than the dishes I had ordered.
Shortly after polishing off our light lunch, Jessy and I thanked our waiter, grabbed the few belongings we had, and made our way briskly over to the departure gate to conquer what had been my #1 bucket list item ever since it was first introduced: Emirates 777 New First Class!
Emirates is known as one of the world’s leading airlines, and its First Class Lounge in Dubai’s Concourse B provides guests with ample seating, a wide variety of compelling food and drink options, and a complimentary soothing spa treatment at the Timeless Spa. However, I’d point out that the lounge doesn’t quite meet the very high standards set by some of the best First Class Lounges I’ve visited, such as the Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt or The Pier by Cathay Pacific.
In mapping out the First Class Lounge, Emirates seems to have prioritized endless square footage over thoughtful design principles; as a result, I found the lounge to be somewhat lacking in character, and many important features like the shower rooms and nap zones seemed to have been glossed over. I still enjoyed spending six hours in the lounge, but it didn’t quite blow me away, and I’m not sure I’d allocate that much time to the First Class Lounge in Concourse B in the future.
For now, you can watch this video to catch up on my Dubai–Geneva flight in Emirates 777 New First Class…
…and we’ll pick up in Geneva, where Jessy and I were scheduled for an immediate turnaround to Dubai, for the next installment of this series.