Emirates Is Now Offering Free Lounge Access To Select Economy Passengers

Filed Under: Emirates

With the Gulf carriers under cost pressure, we’re seeing them increasingly cut services and find creative ways to generate more revenue. For example, in January I wrote about how Emirates is now letting economy passengers buy access to business class and first class lounges at Dubai International Airport at a cost of $100-200. The details are as follows:

  • If you’re a non-status Skywards Blue member you can pay $100 to access the business class lounge or $200 to access the first class lounge when flying economy
  • If you’re a Silver or Gold member, you can invite guests to join you in the business class lounge for $100, or if you have access to the business class lounge anyway, you can pay an additional $100 to access the first class lounge

Ultimately I don’t think this will lead to much lounge crowding, given that there aren’t that many people who are willing to pay $100-200 for lounge access. That being said, for a special occasion, some people may find this to be worthwhile. If in business class I could even see myself paying $100 to upgrade to the first class lounge, given that the food is significantly better.


Well, Emirates is getting creative with lounge access again, but in a different way — Emirates is now offering complimentary lounge access to select economy passengers. Specifically, passengers traveling from Bangkok to destinations beyond Dubai on two select flights now receive access to lounges at Dubai Airport, as long as they book by March 26 and travel between May 1 and November 30, 2017. Here are the details:

Fly Emirates from Bangkok to Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East and get a complimentary 4-hour access to the Marhaba Lounge while waiting for your connecting flight in Dubai. Enjoy an open buffet offering a variety of hot and cold cuisine and unlimited beverages, freshen up with the shower facilities or stay up to speed at the fully equipped business centre with complimentary Wi-Fi access. This offer is valid for bookings on EK351 or EK377 for the Bangkok-Dubai sector.

Emirates has seven daily flights between Bangkok and Dubai, so I suspect they’re offering lounge access on the flights that are typically least full.

Now, the catch is that the Marhaba Lounge is not the Emirates business class lounge, but rather it’s a contract lounge used by other airlines in Dubai. So it’s not as good as Emirates’ first class & business class lounges, though it’s certainly a very nice offering for economy passengers.

I’m conflicted about how to feel about this offering by Emirates:

  • While it’s a very nice perk for economy passengers, I wonder how much this will actually impact consumer behavior, given that this isn’t a widely advertised promotion
  • At the same time, if everyone actually knew about this and booked during the promo period, it would cause massive lounge crowding, as you suddenly have 300+ economy passengers using the lounge at once (on a full A380 that’s how many passengers would be connecting, given that 80%+ of passengers traveling Emirates aren’t terminating their travels in Dubai); of course the number won’t be that high in practice


Bottom line

Given Emirates’ trend of cost cutting and adding fees lately, I commend them for adding services for select passengers in economy. While I’m not sure how much of an impact it’ll have on their bookings, this is a generous and creative offer on the part of Emirates.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. Marhaba Lounge is already a Priority Pass lounge so this wont be adding a significant load in there. It does get crowded around peak times but not uncomfortably so, and definitely not at the time this promo is running for.

  2. @TheAirlineKid – Have you actually been to A or B concourse Marhaba lounge during the morning or evening peaks? You will be stuck on the waiting list for an hour at least if you show up too late. And even then, you will probably have to sit on the floor.

  3. For a hundred/two hundred dollars, I think you can eat quite well in an airport restaurant, Why bother?

  4. @Louis Depends on how long your layover is. For a 2-3 hour layover, eat in a restaurant, shop a little, board. For a 4-7 hour layover, which can totally happen in on some Emirates routings, $100-$200 is a small price to pay to have not only food and drink, but a space to be that’s not in the main terminal. Of course, get an even longer layover (not unheard of) and you’re better off exploring Dubai or getting a hotel room.

  5. @Sean.M yes, I have. Dubai is my home airport so I have visited many times. I do agree that it gets crowded but I have never personally faced a wait, even during the morning rush between 6am-8am. Ofcourse, because of the crowds I try to visit the “Lounge at B” over Marhaba if I am departing via B.

    Most of the time though, its straight to the gate.

    As of this offer, the inbounds arrive at non-peak hours so it shouldn’t matter a lot

  6. @mallthus Totally agree, $200 if have a 5hr layover is a reasonable deal. I’ll have to try that.

  7. For another one hundred US Dollars, they will knight you as a honored amabassador of the kingdom, so forth and so on.

  8. I would’ve paid the $100 for business if I was departing from BOS back to SIN when I go to the US this summer, as from BOS there was a 7h layover, but IAD had a more convenient 1h20m layover.

  9. I am on EK377 from Bangkok to Dubai and onto Barcelona in business class thankfully on the 9th May 2017 and it is operated by one of their 2 class A380’s which has a massive 557 economy class seats on it. Now usually with economy class bookings they tend to book well ahead so a lot of seats will already have been booked and won’t qualify for this promotion which I think is a nice perk for economy class travellers. But given Emirates is on a cost cutting or revenue increasing promotion you would think they would use their own lounge which wouldn’t cost them anything as a set fee assuming they pay the contract lounge a certain fee per entry just an increase in the amount of food and beverage consumed in their own lounge. Also their own lounge which is huge would be much more able to deal with the increase in numbers. Maybe they should bump business class on those flights to the first class lounge to reduce the number in the business class lounge which I personally would have no problem with.

  10. @JOHN BUCCI – Marhaba is a brand of DNATA which is part of the Emirates Group. It’s not like they are paying a third party for anything! 🙂

  11. I have used the fantastic First lounge in Dubai’s Terminal A many times. And most of these occurrences, the lounge has been pretty empty of passengers. After a 14 hour flight, nothing better than a meal, a nightcap and head off into the quiet area for some sleep. Keep your alarm on so that you have time for a shower before the connecting flight and everything is great.
    Not sure if the experience will be the same, if there are Y and or J people wandering about the place, after spending their $100/$200. I understand Emirates trying to raise revenue, but sort of cheapens the lounge. The J lounges are very crowded and noisy compared to the F lounges. I suppose this is due each A380 carrying many J pax, compared to F.

    Maybe in future, we may travel J and from the F ticket savings, buy F lounge passes.

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