Emirates extends four of its Dubai-Australia flights through to New Zealand, so on a recent business class trek from Sydney to Christchurch I headed down to the Emirates lounge just after 8am (before my 1015 flight) to see what was on offer.
Emirates' lounge is right next to the Malaysia Airlines lounge, one floor below the main departures level and two floors below the Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand lounges. Access is via the same lift that you'd use to get to the SQ/NZ lounges.
On entering, the cheerful lounge attendant checked my boarding card, offered a tour of the lounge, and let me know that she'd come and find me when it was time to board.
The lounge itself is an impressive size -- larger than the SQ lounge and only just smaller than the Air NZ lounge nearby. It's difficult to compare it to the Qantas Business Lounge, since that lounge is an odd long shape.
Decor, though, is growing tired: beige with beige, blue and glossy brown wood could really use a refresh. Take my advice and sit facing towards the windows to avoid an overload of taupe.
There's a good range of seating, with the square armchairs well-proportioned for laptop use (power points are in the trapdoors anywhere you see a lamp, plus a few more points spread around).
The dining area is also a reasonable height for using a laptop, and the longer tables are useful to spread out papers if necessary.
The food on offer in Emirates' lounge is top-notch indeed -- one of the best lounge breakfasts I've had.
Numerous hot options included delicious baked eggs en cocotte, fantastic chicken sausages, scrambled eggs, mushroom frittata, and hash browns.
No magic pancake machine here, though -- your choice of omelettes and amazing-looking strawberries & cream waffles (I didn't partake, but a fellow passenger did, and I wished I had) are made to order and available on request.
If you prefer something lighter, the lounge has you covered, with European-style deli plates, smoothies, pastries, cheese & crackers, bagels with salmon and cream cheese, and more.
Plentiful toast and cereal, rolls, spreads, chocolate and the signature Emirates dates are also available.
Drinks range from the usual tea and coffee (machine made rather than via barista: the only downside to the lounge) to breakfast smoothies and a range of soft drinks appropriate for a Middle Eastern airline ensuring that it caters to its tee-total passengers.
But if a morning tipple is your thing, the wine and spirits list is equally excellent. Veuve Clicquot champagne (one of my personal favourites in its price bracket, and one that I judge superior to the Moët served on board in business class) heads the list, plus five other top-notch drops (two white, three red) with a sensible upmarket Australian focus.
I managed to choke down a glass of Veuve in the interests of this review, and can report that you're better off pulling one straight from the fridge in the mornings: for some baffling reason the bottles in the ice buckets don't get emptied as quickly before 8am day flights to NZ as they do for evening flights to Dubai, so the fizz is a little warmer than it should be.
A range of spirits (plus a personal favourite tawny Port) sits next to the wine -- again, perhaps underutilised in the morning, but ideal for a post-work snifter before hopping on the evening Dubai flight.
The wifi was strong and easy to use, with a password card available from Reception. Don't do as I did and keep it in your pocket until you're on the plane, although the flight attendant's knowing smile suggested that I was not the first to do this.
It was a very reasonable speed too, with 8Mbps down and 4Mbps up -- though of course the lounge was nearly empty, so your mileage may vary during the evening rush.
A small business centre is also available if for some reason you're not travelling with at least one Internet-capable device.
At this time of the morning, you'd probably have showered before heading to the airport unless in transit from Dubai to New Zealand, but showers were available and being used by the few transit passengers.
Two remarkably decent massage chairs sit in the far corner (and, in fact, this is my favourite corner of the lounge, with the large laptop-friendly armchairs, power points and expansive windows with a view of planes taxiing past).
Apart from the rather dated decor, it's hard to fault the Emirates Lounge as a first class facility -- let alone a business class offering. In my opinion it's the best business class lounge in Australia.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.