Best Oneworld Emerald Lounges?

Filed Under: Advice, British Airways

Reader Robert asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

I spend quite a bit of time traveling long-haul Business Class on OneWorld with Emerald status. I have found that on a lot of airlines, traveling out of their home airport in business with Emerald status, can leave the lounge experience feeling like a cattle call (DFW on AA, LHR on BA etc). With that in mind, I would like to pose a “corner case” question. What, in your opinion, is the best long-haul RT you can take in business as a OneWorld Emerald?

I would propose MEL-HKG-MEL on Cathay is your best option. Cathay consistently has an excellent business class hard and soft product; and this trip would let you use the Qantas First Class Lounge in Melbourne then the new Cathay “The Pier” or “The Wing” or even the new Qantas lounge in Hong Kong.

This is a fun question! So if I’m understanding correctly, Robert is asking about the best combination of a great business class onboard experience and great oneworld Emerald ground experience for a given roundtrip.

For those of you not familiar with oneworld Emerald status, it’s top tier status within oneworld. And what makes it so great is that you receive access to international first class lounges regardless of which cabin you’re traveling in. In other words, if you’re traveling Cathay Pacific economy from Hong Kong to Taipei, you’d receive access to The Pier First Class Lounge or The Wing First Class Lounge, which are otherwise for first class passengers.


So what are the best “premium” oneworld lounges out there?

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney & Qantas First Class Lounge Melbourne

Qantas really knows how to do first class lounges. From the gorgeous design, to a spa with complimentary treatments, to a great alcohol selection, to an amazing a la carte menu, I’d argue it’s among the top five first class lounges in the world. The food is especially noteworthy, and perhaps my favorite lounge food after the Air France First Class Lounge Paris.





The only point I’d make is that I do slightly prefer the Sydney Lounge to the Melbourne Lounge.

Unrelated, but it’s also worth noting that Qantas has a great lounge in Los Angeles, which I’d argue is probably the best lounge in the US.


Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge & Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge

Cathay Pacific’s renovated The Wing First Class Lounge opened again last year, and it’s definitely a solid lounge. Between the amazing shower cabanas and the Peninsula-serviced restaurant, it’s one of my favorites.




While I haven’t been there yet, the newly opened The Pier Lounge looks like the real show stopper. While I prefer the Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney to the Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge Hong Kong, I think The Pier might just give Qantas a run for their money.



Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge Doha

The new Hamad International Airport in Doha finally opened last year, and it’s pretty grand… down to the seven million dollar, 23 foot teddy bear seated in the middle of the terminal.


While Qatar Airways’ first class lounge in Doha still isn’t open (we’ll see if/when it ever opens), the Al Mourjan Lounge is shared between first & business class passengers, and is pretty great.

Architecturally it’s stunning, they have multiple dining venues, though perhaps most exciting is that they serve Krug!




The catch is that they no longer let oneworld Emerald members into the lounge, which is sort of ridiculous. Instead they have “dedicated” lounges for those accessing based on their elite status. That being said, a business class passenger would still get access to this lounge.

British Airways Concorde Room London

While it’s not personally one of my favorite lounges, I think one of the other top oneworld lounges is the British Airways Concorde Room at London Heathrow T5. That being said, this lounge isn’t open to oneworld Emerald members. Instead it can be accessed exclusively by those flying British Airways first class.

It’s certainly an iconic lounge with great champagne, though other than that I find it to have very mediocre food and be in need of a refresh.



Best city pair to fly?

Now to actually answer Robert’s question… what do I think is the best city pair to fly as a oneworld Emerald member in business class?

I’d narrow it down to one of two options, based on onboard product and the lounges:

Cathay Pacific has a spectacular reverse herringbone business class product — my favorite hard product in the world. Service is efficient and food is perfectly edible, though in terms of the soft product I don’t think there’s much of a “wow” factor, personally. Still, you can’t beat having access to the Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney and Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong on one trip (throw in The Wing and the Qantas Lounge Hong Kong if you’re willing to lounge hop).


If you’re looking to be more “wowed” by the onboard experience, Qatar Airways has one of the best business class soft products in the world, in my opinion.


The “catch” is that they mostly fly A330s to Hong Kong, which feature angled business class seats — that’s a far cry from the excellent hard product on their A350s, A380s, and 787s.


The good news is that they’re slowly reconfiguring some of their A330s with reverse herringbone seats in business class, and some of them are on the schedule for flights between Doha and Hong Kong.

So if you can get their reverse herringbone seat plus their excellent soft product, I’d say that’s a winning combination.

I’m curious to hear from you guys — what are your favorite oneworld Emerald lounges, and what do you think is the best city pair you can fly in business class as a oneworld Emerald member?


  1. I’ve heard very good things about the new Finnair lounge at HEL. I mean, SAUNA!!!

    How could you go wrong with a sauna?

  2. This is a good article Benny S, but how about an article with a breakdown of the best First and Business Class experiences (not just One World) – because as an example Etihad F Apartments are considered the best seat on a plane (Residence aside), but their lounge situation isn’t top notch yet (if/when their F opens up) – how about an article that details the best end to end experience from ground to flight to ground?

  3. I can personally vouch for the Finnair lounge in Helsinki. It’s really nice, and the Shower and Sauna facilities are a nice touch. The food is really good, and if you’re talking alcohol the standard drinks are top notch (Hendrick’s gin, for example).

  4. Hey Lucky, I have a trip in Feb REP-HKG-NRT-ORD. I will be in the highest cabin in each plane, economy, then CX business and finally JAL First for the transpacific segment. I know I will be able to access the First class lounge in NRT but will I also be able to access the First class lounges in HKG since my longest segment is First?

  5. Hi Ben, just as a note for your comment regarding the Al Mourjan Business Lounge. I travelled on economy class last month (JFK – DOH – CGK) and they let me in to the lounge based on my OneWorld status alone (OneWorld Sapphire, which is not even the highest tier). Do you think they allow this only for passengers that fly from // to the U.S.?

  6. Have to agree with the OP/questioner. MEL-HKG with a visit to the QF F lounge is very hard to top. Very good food to order and excellent service!
    Question for Lucky or others.We(2 OW Emeralds) have a trip LAX-PPT booked in J on TN. Will we get access to the new QF F lounge even though TN is not a member of OW?

  7. “What, in your opinion, is the best long-haul RT you can take in business as a OneWorld Emerald?”

    Doesn’t that the exclude the Concorde Room, if we’re going by that criteria?

  8. @pssteve
    I wouldn’t count on being able to access the QF F lounge with TN not being OW; even QF Platinums have to be travelling OW to access the F lounge.

  9. “Al Mourjan” lounge, only for QR and other oneworld airlines’ passengers with a business class boarding pass.

  10. @M Um… Are you sure? I flew Qatar Airways with economy class last month and they let me in.

  11. Qantas knows how to run a lounge, both good and bad.
    SYD and MEL has one of the world’s best lounge, but BNE, the third largest city in Australia, has one of the worst lounge. It’s so small that you can barely find a seat in morning busy hour. The work station has only 2 iMacs that are constantly hogged by kids playing video games. Shower room constantly run out of towel. The buffet table? It’s a war zone. When pan cake comes out everyone would rush in like vultures. Honestly, many other 3rd party contracted lounge is much better than Qantas’ lounge in third busiest airport of their home base. Sometimes it makes me wonder if Qantas still remember what their Q stands for.

  12. As a Qantas FF I am a bit biased and to the Sydney Qantas lounge. Having said that the Emirates lounge at Terminal 3 is first rate and a great place to freshen up. The BA lounge at T3 LHR leaves me cold. Great views of the runway but needs a refresh.

  13. JAL First Class Lounges in NRT is some of the best experience.

    Their FOOD (Japanese option) on both First, Business/Executive class is awesome.

  14. The first class lounge at Doha is rubbish. It is far below the for the services I expect for the emerald status.

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