The Qantas transit guide to Emirates' Dubai Airport first class lounge

The Qantas transit guide to Emirates' Dubai Airport first class lounge

Over the Christmas / New Year break, Australian Business Traveller will be revisiting some of our most popular articles of 2017. We’re still around to report on any breaking news during this time, otherwise our regular publishing schedule will resume on Monday January 8, 2018.

Hundreds of travellers jet to London each day on Qantas' flagship QF1 and QF9 flights from Sydney and Melbourne, with a stopover at the sprawling Dubai airport – and hundreds more shuttle back to Australia on the QF2 and QF10 return trips.

The stopover at Dubai is relatively short, at least on the Sydney QF1/2 service: around 90 minutes from landing to wheels up, which means little more than an hour in the lounge (for Melbourne's QF9/10 flights you get two hours on the ground, making for a slightly more leisurely transit experience).

If you're a Platinum-grade Qantas Frequent Flyer, or bunked down in Qantas first class, this hands-on guide shows you how to make the most of your limited Dubai transit time at Emirates' first class lounge.

(A future version of this guide will cover Emirates' business class lounge at Dubai, for business class passengers, Qantas Gold frequent flyers and Qantas Club members.)

Transit: follow the red signs

When you step off your flight, watch for and follow the red 'Connections' signs.

These will take you to a security checkpoint which is often also a choke-point, given the hordes of passengers changing flights at Emirates' A380 'Concourse A' mega-terminal, at what now rates as the world's busiest airport.

There's usually an express lane for premium passengers and top-tier frequent flyers which brings you closer to front of the queue – but either way, be prepared to spend at least five minutes of your transit time in this line.

Once you're through security, head upstairs and onto the main departure floor.

Watch for signage directing you to the Emirates lounges: the first class lounge is on level 4, directly above the departures floor, with the business class lounge up on level 5.

Stretch your legs by climbing that flight of stairs to level 4, or catch the elevator.

Book a free session at the spa

One floor up, Emirates' flagship first class lounge awaits...

... but before you enter the lounge proper, consider making a sharp left turn to visit the Timeless Spa.

This offers a range of free 15 minute treatments to first class travellers and Qantas Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members – the sessions include massages for your back, hands and head, while the leg & foot 'reflex therapy' and 'Thai body stretch' are very welcome after the long flight from Sydney.

Those complementary treatments are quickly snapped up, especially once QF1 lands – so if you want to book a session, make the Timeless Spa your very first port of call and then plan the rest of your lounge visit around that.

Now, back to the lounge itself...

... and it's a massive lounge, occupying almost the entire floor.

The Emirates first class lounge is divided into two halves which are effectively mirror images with identical facilities. Once you're past the reception desk, you can turn left (for gates A1 though to A12) or right (towards gates A13 to A24).

Turn left or turn right

Choose to head towards the gate from which your Qantas flight will be departing – that'll be announced when your plane arrives into Dubai.

(For those who've never visited the Dubai lounge: yes, there are boarding gates in the lounge itself, so you don't need to tromp back down to the departures floor. This is a welcome time-saver for these short stopovers.)

There's always the temptation to do a little duty-free shopping so the lounge has its own premium outlets for jewellery, watches, alcohol and more.

But time is tight, so don't dawdle!

Most passengers will head straight for the dining areas: especially if they're coming from the QF2 flight, having slept from London to Dubai, as a bit of breakfast is in order.

Booking a shower

If you want to freshen up with a shower after the 14 hour trek of QF1 or QF9, this should be booked first: there are shower areas in each half of the lounge (adjacent to gates A11 and A14), with six shower suites for men and three for women. 

But given the short stopover of QF1, you might prefer to allocate your limited lounge time to a short spa treatment and then linger over a decent meal.

And the dining options at Emirates' first class lounge are, well, first class.

Note that each half of the lounge has two quite different dining areas.

Fine dining and light bites

Most travellers make a beeline for the 'fine dining' areas located between gates A10/A11 and A14/A15...

... where you'll find formally dressed dining tables, an extensive buffet of hot and cold dishes, salads and fresh-baked croissants that are hard to resist when they come straight from the oven.

But don't overlook the delights of the smaller dining areas at gates A1/A2 and A23/A24.

The seating is more casual but there are top selections of sushi and sashimi (including rich Balik salmon)...

... as well as cheeses.


Note that both of these dining areas offer the same extensive a la cart menu: you can choose any dish from the breakfast, lunch and dinner selection on a 24 hour basis. Just be mindful that it can take around 15 minutes for the meals to be delivered, so factor this against the boarding time for your flight.

There's also a bar service with a wide selection of wines, spirits and champagnes, plus healthy fruit smoothies and of course Arabic coffee.

A popular strategy for QF1, which arrives into Dubai at 12.30am, is to have your 'supper' in the lounge to maximise sleeping time over the remaining seven hours from Dubai to London.

Other diversions

Among the other Emirates first class lounge options for travellers in transit there's also a cigar bar/smoking room (behind this slab of fancy mosaic glasswork)...

... a business centre where you can plough through some urgent work without interruption...

... and, for longer stop-overs, these daybeds in the relaxation rooms.

Back on board

When it's time to rejoin your Qantas flight to London, Sydney or Melbourne, head to the lounge's boarding gate. 

After checking your passport and boarding pass, make your way to the bank of elevators which will whisk you straight to the A380's upper deck or main lower deck, depending on where you're sitting.

As you can see, there's plenty to fit into your short stopover time, so consider your strategy in advance.

On QF1/QF2, for example, there's just enough time for a spa treatment or a shower, and a leisurely meal, but trying to squeeze in all three is just going to add stress when you should be winding down between flights.


David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • wingspan


    9 Jun, 2016 11:51 am

    Has it been only a recent development that the 15 minute treatments are extended to Qantas Platinum members? I've asked on some previous transits through and the spa staff have always refused. I'll be passing through tomorrow, and would really like to be able to take advantage of a body stretch if possuble.

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  • ciaomucca


    9 Jun, 2016 05:47 pm

    I just can't get past the weird placement of the capital letters for level 2 in the very last photo...

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  • Himeno


    9 Jun, 2016 09:29 pm

    oneworld status holders can also access the concourse A DXB EK lounges, provided they are traveling on QF1/2/9/10.

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  • John Geromoschos


    9 Jun, 2016 10:37 pm

    If you are travelling with young kids there is also a play area which is very useful. They will deliver a la carte meals there. I found this made the journey to London just about bearable with kids

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  • findjohnalways


    9 Jun, 2016 11:41 pm

    Hi David,

    Brilliant article! I'm flying P/C on the QF9 and have always wanted an insight into the lounges at DXB. Can't wait to try it out. Is it true there is a cigar lounge in the First lounge?  Thanks!  

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  • David Flynn


    10 Jun, 2016 12:41 am

    Yes, it's mentioned in the article.

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  • Geoff Bryce


    25 Jun, 2016 05:38 pm

    You have to buy the cigars with several choices. Amazing that the smoke smell does not travel through the lounge, though it is pretty well sealed off from other areas.

    I was in the First lounge a few weeks ago. Never ceases to amaze me of so much space and facilities, and so few pax, with staff everywhere wanting to serve you. We arrived at 8 pm local, left at 2:45 local, until about 12:00, we were the only pax there.

    When I previously used the Emirates Business lounge, it  compares to the Sydney Qantas club on a Friday afternoon...not a very nice experience at all..... 

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  • CQ

    MEL Traveller

    10 Jun, 2016 06:24 am

    Great article! Can platinum QFF get access to this lounge when transferring to other Emirates flights on a QF ticket (after arriving on QF9)?

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  • CQ

    MEL Traveller

    10 Jun, 2016 06:35 am

    Also, what if I'm on a QF ticket on an a Emirates flight to Melbourne or Sydney instead of QF10?

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  • Liz Barlow


    10 Jun, 2016 10:07 pm

    Can use for QF2 to Sydney as well.

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  • Geoff Bryce


    25 Jun, 2016 05:43 pm

    I was on a Qantas points J ticket, BNE-BXB-CDG return with Emirates metal. We are Plat QFF, so no issues with using the First lounge.

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  • Nick  Sydney 348

    Nick Sydney 2

    10 Jun, 2016 05:21 pm

    Showers!  After a 14 hour run to dubai a shower is bliss 

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  • Greg


    24 Jun, 2016 04:20 pm

    My first stop is head for the showers. The queue grows very quickly after the arrival of QF flights. There are a limited number and the wait time can be longer than the stop over.

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  • kcknacks


    24 Jun, 2016 04:49 pm

    Indeed - having only six showers for a lounge this size is ridiculous. Past 3 trips through Dubai and even after making a beeline for the showers they've always been booked up with more than a dozen people on the waiting list. In short - don't count on it when factoring in your travel planning!

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  • petrhsr


    16 Jan, 2017 04:34 pm

    I couldn't agree more... Bugger shopping or sitting-down to eat and drink, on a short layover I want a shower, and I want it hot and strong.
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  • Steve


    29 Dec, 2016 12:06 pm

    What's the business lounge like in Dubai (any advice). Flying F into Dubai with a 4 night stay then onto Rome in J. Also you can check-in like 4 hrs before your flight in J? 
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  • bl812


    20 Aug, 2017 01:02 am

    Avoid at any cost,you have to wait for even the loo at least for 5minutes,zillions of people can hardly find a vacant chair since anyone can buy their way into it,simply disgusting
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  • Davedownunder


    29 Dec, 2016 01:42 pm

    What you didnt mention was the design of both first class and business lounges are affected by noise from the concourse below. 

    The old business class lounge in Terminal B is a far better choice despite the walk.

    I never understood why Emirates new lounges in DXB were not better than say LHR or PER given they had direct control over the design. Apart from the noise issue, the seating both comfort and availability has not been thought through very well. That includes first class. 

    If Emirates are reading this then ask your self the question, do your first class passengers look forward to eating in the restaurant? My feedback is the food on the aircraft beats it hands down. That is not true for Qantas's First class lounge in Sydney or Cathay's in Hong Kong, both have outstanding food. 

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  • AJW


    29 Dec, 2016 06:13 pm

    Whilst Emirates is the main tennant of the building, it doesn't own, nor did it design or build it. Though your point is valid as you would have thought they would have had at least some input.
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  • Hornet


    17 Jan, 2017 10:28 am

    Good morning, I will be transiting thru DXB on an Emirates flight with QF flight number with my wife in J. I am QF Platinum. Can i guest my wife into the First Lounge? Tx
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  • fresh  thoughts


    19 Aug, 2017 02:17 pm

    yes you can

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  • Paul Williams


    19 Aug, 2017 02:57 pm

    Any chance Q would slightly extend the layover time in Dubai? 1hr30min is just a bit tight when having a relaxed dinner in the F lounge....
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  • mviy


    19 Aug, 2017 04:53 pm

    QF would probably need to swap slots to do that.
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  • Steve987


    19 Aug, 2017 05:34 pm

    I suspect this would cause uproar amongst the 80%+ of passengers that are waiting in the terminal!
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  • patrickk


    19 Aug, 2017 06:16 pm

    It strikes me as underwhelming. No table service; which QF offers in Singapore business lounge and it seems what is on offer is the same as EK Paris or Düsseldorf business lounges which admittedly cater for first class passengers. Poor shower offerings with women getting half the number as men. Why not share the nine as most others do. Overall QANTAS seems to offer a better deal for the top level fliers.
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  • CBR boy

    CBR boy

    21 Aug, 2017 02:40 pm

    The article doesn't really make it clear, but the dining areas do have table service. In my experience the food is pretty good, but not as interesting as the Qantas or Cathay first lounges.
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  • bl812


    20 Aug, 2017 12:59 am

    Last year I used first class lounge on my flight from Budapest to Adelaide,it's the less fancy one but still ok,2 days ago used business lounge in Dubai-what a crap -zillions of people,even had to wait in line for 10 minutes to get to the loo-it's a bloody joke-since people can buy their way in it's nothing sort of than a battered hen's cage,never again,last time I flew with this crap airline,not to mention the connecting flight is ut in the Sahara somewhere zillion mile away,chaos at the long corridors,waiting for the bus for 15 minutes like sheeps,this became one of the crappiest airline,food is mediocre the best,staff looks bored out there brain and act that they do a favour for you to serve.Avoid them if u have the money fly Qatar which is light years ahead of this overblown megalomaniac Arab money making scam business model
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  • Yvan J Drake


    21 Aug, 2017 09:42 am


    Tell us how you really feel
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  • nige00160


    23 Aug, 2017 07:39 pm

    It's almost as if Akbar Al Baker wrote that himself ...
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  • Chris Ricks

    The Evil Muppet

    20 Aug, 2017 05:29 am

    Which data is being cited when stating that DXB is the world's busiest airport? 
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  • Yvan J Drake


    21 Aug, 2017 09:44 am

    World's busiest by PAX numbers, Dubai led the world in 2016 with 83 Million and change. Then LHR with just over 71Million.
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  • Chris Ricks

    The Evil Muppet

    21 Aug, 2017 11:07 am

    Both Beijing and Atlanta carried more than 83 million passengers in 2016. Either the statement need qualification (given that the assertion only holds for international passenger traffic) or retraction.
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  • Yvan J Drake


    21 Aug, 2017 11:41 am

    Fair Comment.      
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  • grumpytravel


    21 Aug, 2017 10:52 am

    Considering the size of the First Class lounge,very little (if any) thought was given to the shower facilities.

    I transit Dubai 5-6 times a year and there is ALWAYS a waiting list.

    When you do get in you'll find it's like a sauna inside.

    You leave hotter than you went in!

    There's more than enough room to expand the facilities and improve the air conditioning.

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  • richar4260


    22 Aug, 2017 11:04 am

    I'm turned away always now as a Platinum member flying Premium. It seems you only get access if your next onward flight is Qantas. I travel to Singapore frequently and when the next flight is Emirates, they don't let you in. Even if it is Qantas ticketed. How stupid and frustrating is that? Some partnership.
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  • carl_amc


    30 Oct, 2017 06:00 pm

    Anyone else find this? I'm QF Platinum facing 7+hrs coming on QF1 and connecting onto ACC with QF economy ticket but EK metal and then another 5hrs on the way back down to SEZ (EK econ ticket and EK metal). I had no problems getting into Business lounge with QF Gold 12 months ago on these same tickets and routes and was looking forward to first lounge this time around! That will be dissappointing!
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  • Davedownunder


    30 Oct, 2017 06:45 pm

    Unlike QF's First lounge in Sydney or Cathay's in Hong Kong Emirates First lounge in DXB is exactly like their business lounge except less people. Hardly worth getting excited about if you don't get in as long as you can get into the business lounge at the very least.
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  • BevanMcBevan


    13 Nov, 2017 11:46 am

    Jeez, a few 'tut-tut's' here. I came home last week on EK414 in First, no complaints. Yes, I know the new suites are coming. We can always find a way for a lounge to be improved, for it's age I've still got to say that SYD QF First is hard to beat. I use Champagne as a benchmark

    As to DXB First (in Concourse A or B) my only gripe is the Champers, yes a first world problem. Moet must have done one hell of a deal with EK Lounges. I'd prefer Veuve which, by the way, was being served (and Vintage mind you) in Business on the DXB/YYZ leg. If only for an option...yes the Dom would be nice or better still SQ Krug.
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  • richar4260


    2 Feb, 2018 10:56 pm

    Could someone answer this puzzle. I have been refused entry a couple of time in Dubai and I am not sure why but I have a theory. If it is wrong I'd really like to know how to make sure the guards in the first class lobby let me into the lounge. I'm Qantas Platinum but I fly economy return from London to Singapore on Qantas ticketed flights. My theory is that when I change from QF10 at Dubai the next onwards flight to Singapore is Emirates and they refuse me. On the way back from Singapore my next onwards flight is QF9 and they let me in! Is this right or are the guards wrong to refuse entry to me. I thought as long as they are Qantas ticketed flights I should be let in regardless of carrier???? Thanks for the help in advance.
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22 Jul, 2019 10:39 pm


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