Emirates' business class, first class lounge at Sydney Airport

Review: Emirates' business class, first class lounge at Sydney Airport

Country:
Australia
City:
Sydney
Airport:
Sydney
Cabin Class:
Business & First
Alliance:
None
Airline:
EK (Emirates)

location:

dining:

work:

overall:

What's Hot

  • Good variety of hot and cold food at the buffet
  • Tarmac views, natural light
  • Relaxing vibe, but still with space to work

What's Not

  • No separate area for first class flyers
  • Slow WiFi, air conditioning not great on hot days

X-Factor

  • Most travellers overlook the space to the far left: head there for some peace and quiet

Introduction

Emirates' combined business class and first class lounge at Sydney Airport doesn't just host travellers bound for Dubai: it also welcomes passengers jetting off to Bangkok and Christchurch on the airline's other Airbus A380 routes.

While there's no separate area or 'secret Champagne' for first class flyers, the lounge is reasonably spacious with plenty of seating tailored to different moods and reasons for travel – and there's still Champagne, just of the business class variety.

Australian Business Traveller stopped by before a recent flight to Dubai to bring you this review.

Location & Impressions

You'll find Emirates' Sydney Airport lounge near gate 58. It's tucked away one level below the main terminal concourse which you can access by travelator or lift, and for those familiar with the airport's satellite pier, this is two floors below the Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines lounges.

Passengers arriving into Sydney on Emirates' Christchurch-Sydney flights and continuing the journey to Dubai will also find the lounge entrance straight ahead after clearing transit security screening.

Inside, the lounge is divided into a variety of spaces. There are groups of two seats for couples or duos, and of four seats for families and small groups...

... with some seats accommodating much larger groups, or a collection of socially-minded travellers:

Seeking the quietest spot in the lounge? Then turn left and follow the path along...

... because the seats in this area are particularly spaced out, and even though there's a beverage counter here, the main dining room is at the opposite end of the lounge – so most travellers wander in that direction instead.

However, tarmac views of the airport can be enjoyed regardless of which end you visit.

We stopped by at around 6pm on a weekday ahead of the Emirates' 9:45pm non-stop flight to Dubai, and even though the airline has multiple evening flights – another being to Bangkok which continues to Dubai – we had no problems finding a seat.

Despite plenty of other travellers being in the lounge, the space was audibly quiet: so much so that from across the room, we could hear the water quietly trickling down the lounge's central rock feature...

... and almost felt bad pushing our carry-on baggage along the tiled pathway on which the wheels producing a click-clacking sound – but after reminding ourselves that this was still an airport after all, we felt a little better!

Access

  • Emirates first class and business class passengers
  • Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairmans Lounge members travelling with Emirates or Qantas
  • Emirates Skywards Gold, Platinum and iO cardholders flying with Emirates or Qantas
  • Australian Emirates Citi World Mastercard holders using one of their two yearly complimentary lounge passes
  • Qantas first class and business class guests are also welcome, although Qantas does operate its own business class and first class lounges at Sydney Airport

However, as the Qantas+Emirates partnership doesn't cover flights to North or South America, or to South Africa, access to The Emirates Lounge is not available to these guests when travelling with Qantas to those destinations.

Not covered by the list above? Access can also be purchased for US$100 (A$130) when travelling with Emirates, or on an Emirates codeshare flight operated by Qantas.

Qantas Club members have no access to this lounge (unless flying business or first class), but these members can visit the Qantas international business class lounge at Sydney Airport if travelling on a Qantas QF flight number, including before flights operated by Emirates.

Dining

You'll find two self-serve beverage zones here – one in the 'quiet end' at the far left, and the other in the main dining area nearby the food.

Each offers a reasonable range of spirits and liqueurs, plus juice and soft drinks from the fridges below.

Red and white wines are also available, along with Moët Impérial (NV) Champagne. Some travellers may consider this a step below the Veuve Clicquot that appeared in the lounge for many years, but as Champagne is more commonly a first class lounge amenity as opposed to business class, it's still ahead of many other lounges.

You won't find barista-made coffee here, but you can still enjoy an espresso drop via one of the push-button machines instead:

Dining is all self-service from the buffet, although many of the items are individually-plated to create more of an à la carte feel.

We found the chicken Caesar salad to our liking, and appreciated that the dressing was on the side: perfect not just for calorie-conscious flyers, but which also helps to keep the salad fresh.

More substantial bites can be found at the buffet's hot counter, proving more than ample for those inclined to eat on the ground and sleep in the air, regardless of dietary requirements.

From left to right, the options were:

  • Basmati rice
  • Indian vegetable curry
  • Chicken madras curry
  • Spinach, parmesan and ricotta cannelloni
  • French beans and baby carrots
  • Potato croquettes
  • Marinated chicken brochettes with fresh tomato sauce and green herb couscous
  • Grilled lamb cutlets with lemongrass and ginger on pumpkin mash
  • Barramundi fillets

We also like that the serving dishes here are smaller than at many other lounge buffets, which finds the staff replenishing them more often (keeping the food fresher), as opposed to simply cooking one big batch of food and leaving it out.

There's ample seating nearby in a dedicated dining area...

... so pull up a perch, and you won't have to walk far for seconds!

Work

Stuck getting some work done before your flight? You could set up your laptop at one of the many benches...

... but as these are near the busy buffet zone and don't feature power points, you might prefer to work from the dedicated Business Centre instead, either on your own device or one of the computers there:

For more casual work, many of the other seats throughout the lounge offer easy access to power – with outlets in the walls, around the ferns...

... and near the lamps. If you still can't find a plug, look for the silver poles with blue lights, at which you can also plug in and recharge.

Complimentary WiFi is available, and you'll find the password on signs throughout the lounge. We measured download speeds between 2.0Mbps and 3.8Mbps during our visit, upload speeds of 3.4-3.7Mbps and ping speeds of 52ms through to 159ms.

That's fine for basic tasks like web browsing or a quick check-in on social media, but isn't great for more data-intensive activities like sending and receiving large email attachments (such as PowerPoint presentations), or for most video streaming.

Relax

We found the mood here to be quite relaxing on our Friday night visit, with plenty of chairs offering leg rests for kicking back, and others providing ample shelf space for a glass of Champagne while chatting with fellow travellers or watching videos on a tablet (with headphones, please!).

If we had to capture the essence of the lounge in one photograph, it'd be this:

The space isn't as modern as Emirates' newer facilities in Melbourne, Perth and Los Angeles, but it's still a comfortable place to await your flight, with multiple TVs if a programme takes your fancy (and you turn them off their default setting of 'mute'):

Shower suites with the required amenities are also available and can be found at each end of the lounge, so if you find them all occupied at one end, venture to the other instead to try your luck.

However, there's no formal queueing system here, and the suites themselves aren't always 'refreshed' after each guest, which isn't great.

During peak times, we'd prefer to see a buzzer system implemented as is common around the world, allowing travellers to relax and enjoy the lounge until their shower room is ready, rather than having to hang out near the bathroom and pounce when there's an opening.

We also found the lounge to be rather hot during the early stage of our visit, although the space did progressively cool down as our flight drew closer to boarding.

Either the AC needs to be switched on earlier (or cranked up higher), or blinds could be installed to avoid the hot sun beaming in throughout the day when the lounge is empty, making the lounge cooler for guests arriving late afternoon.

Overall though, Emirates' Sydney Airport lounge is a pleasant place to await your flight, and certainly helped us relax and unwind at the end of a busy week, before stepping on board and catching some solid shut-eye.

Chris Chamberlin was travelling as a guest of Emirates.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

21 comments

  • 346

    346

    8 Dec, 2017 12:50 pm

    Definitely in need of an update to bring it in line with Singapore & Melbourne etc
    No member give thanks

  • andrew84

    andrew84

    8 Dec, 2017 01:25 pm

    looks pretty drab, particularly compared to the priority pass in the 'general' area or AMEX lounge option.

    have a flight out on the 6am next year and contemplating a first in the door to QF F, won't be getting up early to visit here though.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    8 Dec, 2017 04:00 pm

    It's an oldie but a goodie. This is still very good, but showing some signs of wear. A comfortable relaxation haven where you simply don't go without whilst waiting for your flight. The girls on the desk always are very helpful.
    No member give thanks

  • stoffel

    stoffel

    8 Dec, 2017 04:02 pm

    The article states that those travelling in Business with Qantas have access. However, the majority of times I've tried accessing Emirates lounges in Australia with a QF Business boarding pass I've been denied. "You need to be on a QF flight that code shares with Emirates" is the standard excuse. Are you able to clear this up for me?
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    8 Dec, 2017 04:21 pm

    There's nothing in the lounge rules requiring passengers to be booked on a codeshare flight (in the way you're describing), although passengers travelling to destinations not covered by the Qantas/Emirates agreement can't enter (such as before flights to LAX). We do receive reports from time to time of lounge staff getting it wrong, and it appears they got it wrong in your case.

    For example, I've personally visited this lounge when flying Qantas from Sydney to Shanghai in business class, booked on a QF flight number. Shanghai is obviously in Asia, a region covered by the QF+EK partnership, but Emirates doesn't codeshare on Qantas' Sydney-Shanghai flights. Had no issues at all getting in, but do remember having to leave the lounge a little earlier than usual before my flight, because the lounge itself was closing given Emirates' own flight times.
    No member give thanks

  • stoffel

    stoffel

    8 Dec, 2017 08:04 pm

    Tried entering the Melbourne lounge twice when flying to Narita and was denied both times. Got admitted into the Brisbane lounge on the way to Auckland (codeshare flight) but denied a few weeks later on the way to Narita. Have had no trouble entering other EK lounges outside Australia.

    Sent a complaint e-mail to Emirates and was completely ignored while QF fobbed me off with incorrect info (referred me to a link on the EK website about paid access to their lounges).
    No member give thanks

  • NLF

    NLF

    10 Dec, 2017 08:49 am

    Narita is not part of the partnership whereas Auckland is.
    No member give thanks

  • NLF

    NLF

    10 Dec, 2017 08:35 am

    The only Asian destinations covered by the EK/QF partnership are Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

    All other destinations within that region are considered non-partnership which explains why access to the EK lounge will be denied to QF pax.
    No member give thanks

  • stoffel

    stoffel

    10 Dec, 2017 12:57 pm

    If that is the case why am I able to access the lounge in Narita? Also ChrisCh stated above that he accessed the lounge on his way to Shanghai. Instead of conjecture I would love to be able to read an OFFICIAL set of rules for EK lounge access, but it seems there is none.
    No member give thanks

  • sgb

    sgb

    8 Dec, 2017 04:08 pm

    BTW, that Rock Feature is very ugly and takes up so much space.
    No member give thanks

  • Fonga

    Fonga

    8 Dec, 2017 04:48 pm

    Interesting to compare this review with the new Qantas lounge at Heathrow. Both received four stars. Just looking at the photos though I would say the sophistication and luxe feel of the London lounge is next level in contrast to the Emirates offering. A dribbling rock fountain feature? Looks like they got it at Bunnings. And the furniture reminds me of some of the dated lounges in regional South America. Mind you I haven't visited the Emirates lounge myself and I'm sure the quality is top notch but it looks like a lazy catalogue design. Not my taste I guess, so each to their own.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    8 Dec, 2017 04:55 pm

    I didn't write the London lounge review, so can't speak to the rating given by that author, only of my own personal experience with this lounge, which I'd peg at four-star (but certainly not five-star).
    No member give thanks

  • Twonson

    Twonson

    8 Dec, 2017 05:00 pm

    You would think that the majority of platinum and F class flyers would tend to visit the Qantas first lounge...
    No member give thanks

  • Sula

    Sula

    9 Dec, 2017 01:02 am

    The design is so drab and uninspired. Not that I’ve seen better from them elsewhere and it’s just staggering how incompetent EK’s design team is. The only rules appear to be beige/sand colours, old fashioned looking wood panelling, lots of metal bling accents and more sand colours.
    No member give thanks

  • Steve987

    Steve987

    9 Dec, 2017 11:08 am

    So if choosing and all other things are equal, QF Business Lounge or this one?

    PS I know all things are regularly unequal - I used to go the the Emirates Lounge in SG over QF because there would be two other passengers and 6 staff who couldn’t do enough for you.
    No member give thanks

  • eminere

    eminere

    9 Dec, 2017 11:08 pm

    Of course EK over QF J.
    No member give thanks

  • motef

    motef

    10 Dec, 2017 08:41 am

    So if I am a QF Gold travelling to Bali on QF metal on a QF Flight number in Y could I access this lounge. And what are the rules on partners?
    No member give thanks

  • John Goss

    Travelwell

    20 Dec, 2017 10:44 pm

    "Bunnings Rock feature", "Drab Interior" "Sand Colours"
    aah ha haaa. First world problems!
    No member give thanks

  • Madison

    Madison177204

    24 Jan, 2018 09:49 pm

    I am travelling Business on EK415 on a Saturday shortly and don't think there will be time to go to the Qantas Lounge if it only opens att 5am for my 6am departure but I gather Emirates Lounge opens earlier, is that correct? And is boarding direct from Emirates Lounge as in some other airports? Thanks in advance for your advice/help.
    No member give thanks

  • NLF

    NLF

    29 Jan, 2018 10:30 am

    EK lounge is definitely open to accommodate pax travelling on 415. Unsure as to exact opening times but I've been in there at around 4.30am. Unfortunately, there is no direct boarding from lounge to aircraft at Sydney International.
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    10 Apr, 2018 10:06 am

    Opening hours have changed.
    Now 6.00-7.20
    And 12.20 onwards
    No member give thanks

Guest

12 Dec, 2018 11:44 pm

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