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Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport

Mona Farrugia bags herself an invite to visit the gloriousness of the Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport

Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport
Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport
Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport
Emirates First Class Lounge at Dubai International Airport
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Life is full of irony and nowhere is this more visible than in restaurants. Remember the introduction of nouvelle cuisine and 'go large'? They both happened in the 80s with yuppyism and the rise of food for the under-class. The hungry got large portions at little money; those who didn’t want to eat got tiny portions for ridiculous sums of money.  The more you paid, the smaller the portions were.

These days there are few people who cannot ‘afford’ a slap-up meal in a posh place although how you distribute your spend says a lot about you. If you factor in a meal a week at the international colourful clown’s place, in six months time you probably would have spent more than you’d spend on one memorable lunch at the 3-Michelin starred L’Astrance. As with everything else in life, it is about choices.

When it comes to flying, the decision-making is different.    Most business people, especially self-made ones, still behave as if they're working for themselves. I have, in fact, noticed a rise in business women spending more on travel: women tend to reason with more logic: they want to be fresh and comfortable both on the flight and when they arrive. Yet most people simply prefer to travel in economy as they cannot see the point in spending double on Business Class. Or three times as much in First Class. Isn’t it just a seat anyway? Isn’t it the same plane? The same destination? I'll take my own sandwich.

I have met so many people who do not even realise they can use their frequent flier miles for upgrades or simply 'buying' business class tickets. They save for ever for their dream holiday and then they keel over and die, leaving so many thousands of points on their cards. I do it regularly (use the card, rather than die) but most people simply forget until the points expire, which, yes, they do.

There is a point in life when the liquidity becomes comfort-making enough that people can afford to travel 'up front' and they do not consider any of these questions. They (or rather their staff) just buy the tickets which come with a lot of ‘extras’ thrown in. On Emirates the seats go flat (at least they do in the 777s – in the ones we’re getting in Malta they’re still not), you get a huge screen to watch the same comedies and nobody reclines their seat and ends up sleeping on your lap.

For those who can afford it, the point is the level of service, which is personalized and top notch. For those who can’t, and who always turn right, it’s about the food. That’s right: the food. Many people sitting at the back do not crave the silence or the space up front: they want the canapés.

Which is terribly odd because most of those a few metres ahead of them hardly ever eat the food or quaff the champagne. The menus may come wrapped in leather and the wine list be extensive but most just want to sleep. X’hela! True. It is a waste and you cannot 'send food to the back' like some kind of charity. It is not fair either, but then neither are most things in life.

This is the reason why, for the first time in my life, I felt (almost but not quite) guilty when asked to review the First Class Emirates Lounge at Dubai International Airport (DBX). Many a time I have looked in from the outside and wondered what was so fabulous about it, wanted to go in because I’m terribly curious or simply because I wanted to have a kip. Now I had a chance to. I could not say no.

Entrance to the lounge comes with its host of ‘extras’, the kind of stuff that people who can afford it get so ridiculously used to that they cannot be bothered using. Like the amazing Premier Cru wine cellar where you can both taste and buy some pretty exclusive wines from all over the world. I was just off an hour’s boat ride, three hours in another airport, a four and a half hour flight and half an hour of coach to the terminal: all I wanted to do was sleep.

There is a shoe shine with a human being ready to make your shoes gleam. I was wearing matt gold Pretty Ballerinas so I avoided him too.

Nonetheless I was a guest so I felt obliged to try something, at the dizzy hour of 3am: flying saps something out of me. Would you have indulged in the wine? I didn’t: all I wanted was tea.

As you can expect the tea selection is entirely fabulous but then, so is every single thing that comes with it. Fresh berries, all types of yoghurts, cheeses from all over the world, fresh croissants and three hundred kinds of breads. A few hours later, a whole a la carte menu would beckon me.

I could eat them sitting at a table, in a banquette, on an armchair or lying on a full-blown sofa which here come in cream leather and fabrics. You know that you’re in a posh environment where the very idea of how dirty something can become does not even seem to have entered the designers’ minds.

The lounge was empty – I had managed to go in at a time when the airport is at its lowest usage (the flight from Malta lands at its peak) – so I could walk around and instead of eating, take pictures. Then, when I thought I would fall over so tired was I from my travel, I found the ‘Quiet Room’.

Frequent travellers know that this is the most important section in a lounge. Mobile phones and conversations are not allowed. As we say in Maltese, isimha maghha – it does what it says on the tin. There were soft and large blankets, beautifully-cased pillows. There was one other woman lying on the other sofa, playing around with her laptop. Perfect, I thought. I left my stuff there and went to get a cuppa.

By the time I had returned, the lady was asleep. I settled in cozily and thought of how much The Writer would have enjoyed this if he were with me. I sipped my tea and relaxed. Then I heard it.

The lady was snoring. I do not mean a few small breaths or a little wheeze or whistle every now and again: this was a full-on animal grunt, in and out. The only person I know who snores like this was an ex-boyfriend’s dad and his neighbours had ended up calling the police.

The lounge is oddly designed: visually it is beautiful but it suffers from terrible acoustics. The glass  walls do not go up to the ceiling so they do not block the general auditory mayhem available in any airport: security banging bags through the scanners, people having loud conversations and general intrusions. Even more oddly, the Quiet Room is right next to the Children’s Area. The very availability of a children’s area in a first class lounge tells you what kind of customers Emirates have where parents feel it is absolutely normal to buy four seats which cost thousands for two-year olds.

So I went out for another meander to find that there is a full-blown French cast-iron croissant and baguette oven. Truly stunning. The cooks were all busy preparing omelettes and every single permutation of fresh breakfast from Chinese to Italian. The décor – Asian, Arabian and Western – is a sight for travel-weary eyes and so are the top-notch trained staff.

One of them was trying to get my attention. ‘Mrs. Farrugia’ she whispered at me (they actually check your name upon entrance and remember it) ‘You have a manicure’. Oh god yes, the manicure. Every first class passenger gets a ‘free’ treatment at the full-blown spa: you can choose from back massages, foot rubs and getting your post-holiday nails buffed and polished in a world-class spa. My manicurist Eva was top notch, friendly and very sweet; her work equally so. We bonded over a love of OPI and Essie varnish.A sixty-something man walked in for a nail cleanup. Everybody seemed to know the drill.

My flight was about to leave so I went back to pick up my bag from the Quiet Room. Sleeping Lady was still drilling somewhere. I walked dizzily to the plane where all manner of quality food was available on the seven hour flight home.

I settled into my seat, pulled my pashmina up around my neck and went to sleep.

Additional Information


Address Dubai International Airport - Terminal 3
Town Dubai
Country United Arab Emirates


Cuisine Airport Lounge
Opening Hours 24-hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.




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Mona Farrugia
May 08, 2011
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