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!
- 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.
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!
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.
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.