Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB

Filed Under: Qatar

After a couple of nights in Dubai, it was time for Tiffany, Andrew, and me to return to the US the long way, ultimately routing via Doha, London, Los Angeles, New York, and Austin.

Our Qatar Airways flight from Dubai to Doha was scheduled to depart at the glorious hour of 5:30AM, so Tiffany and I drove from the Park Hyatt to the airport at around 3:45AM. We made it to Terminal 1 at around 4AM. This is the terminal which most major airlines other than Emirates depart from.

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Dubai Airport Terminal 1

While Terminal 3 is sort of modern (in a sterile and not completely finished-looking way), Terminal 1 is dated.

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Dubai Airport Terminal 1 check-in hall

We looked at the departures monitor to see which check-in area Qatar Airways used, and were at their desk within minutes.

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Dubai Airport Terminal 1 check-in hall

There were no queues to check-in, so within a minute or so we were issued our boarding passes all the way to Los Angeles. The associate checking us in commented “wow, that’s quite a routing.”

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Qatar Airways check-in Dubai Airport

From there we proceeded to the security checkpoint, where there was only a very short queue. We were in line behind a Royal Brunei crew headed to Bandar Seri Begawan. While I have no interest in traveling to Brunei, their uniforms were gorgeous. I’m still tempted to fly the airline sometime on their service between Dubai and London… if only there was a way to redeem miles for it.

As I cleared security the check-in agent came running up to me. I had accidentally left my US passport at the check-in counter. OOPS!

I have both a US and German passport, and had used my German passport to enter the UAE (since it had more empty pages), but needed to show my US passport to prove I could return to the US. I had accidentally left it behind, though. Thank goodness he brought it to me, because otherwise I would have been in big trouble. It was a bit complicated, since I had already cleared immigration, so they gave him a hard time about returning it to me.

After security it was quite a walk to actually get to the departures area, as it required walking through a long tunnel.

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Walking to gate at Terminal 1 Dubai Airport

From there we headed up an escalator and found ourselves in the terminal.

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Terminal 1 Dubai Airport

The terminal was much more modern than the check-in area, which I guess shouldn’t come as a surprise since airside terminals are basically shopping malls, so they do everything they can to make them look nice and maximize sales.

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Terminal 1 Dubai Airport airside

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Terminal 1 Dubai Airport airside

We headed to the Dubai International First Class Lounge, which is the contract lounge Qatar Airways and many other airlines use in Dubai. That’s a fancy name for a contract lounge, if you ask me. The lounge was located near gate C12.

If you wouldn’t otherwise have lounge access thanks to the airline and cabin you are flying, there are a number of great Priority Pass options in Dubai, which you could access with any premium credit card with lounge access.

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Dubai International First Class Lounge exterior

At the entrance we presented both our boarding passes and lounge invitations, and were promptly admitted and also handed “receipts” with Wi-Fi codes.

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Dubai Lounge internet voucher

For those without laptops, there was a business center with multiple computer stations right as you walked through the hallway into the lounge.

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Dubai International First Class Lounge entryway and business center

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Dubai International First Class Lounge business center

The lounge itself was rather drab, to put it mildly. There was a good amount of seating to the left, though it was designed in a way which minimized privacy. There were no partitions, and seats faced one another.

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Dubai Lounge seating

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Dubai Lounge seating

At the far end of the lounge was a massage chair. It seems a bit odd to put a massage chair (presumably intended for relaxing) immediately under the TV with the volume on, but whatever…

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Dubai Lounge massage chair

To the right were the stairs to the upper level smoking section, as well as more seating, and then the dining area at the far end of the lounge.

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Dubai Lounge seating

The dining area had about five tables, each of which sat two people.

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Dubai Lounge dining area

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Dubai Lounge dining area

Then the buffet itself was along the edge of the lounge. The selection was varied, though I can’t say that it looked especially appetizing. Then again, nothing other than caffeine looks appetizing to me at 4AM.

There were a selection of about five hot dishes.

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Dubai Lounge food selection

Then there were cold cuts, sushi, and some veggies.

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Dubai Lounge food selection

There was also a selection of fresh fruit and cheese.

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Dubai Lounge food selection

There was a case with some sweets, which possibly seemed even less fresh than the other things on display in the lounge.

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Dubai Lounge snack selection

Then there was some lamb kibbeh under a hot lamp.

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Dubai Lounge snack selection

There were several types of toast, croissants, danishes, bread, etc., along the far wall.

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Dubai Lounge food selection

There was also a centerpiece display with some whole fruit, dates, Arabic sweets, and yogurt.

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Dubai Lounge food selection

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Dubai Lounge food selection

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Dubai Lounge food selection

The drink selection was extremely extensive for a contract lounge, though I can’t say that the setup was the classiest I’ve seen. Still, it’s not often you see over two dozen brands of liquor in a contract lounge (even if it wasn’t especially high end stuff).

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Dubai Lounge drink selection

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Dubai Lounge drink selection

The wine selection was equally impressive.

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Dubai Lounge drink selection

Then there were several types of juice, as well as a rather outdated-looking espresso machine.

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Dubai Lounge drink selection

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Dubai Lounge espresso machine

In addition to the food spread, there were waffles and eggs available on demand from 4AM until 11AM.

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Dubai Lounge waffles & eggs on demand

The bathrooms were located on the first level, just across from the entrance. They were in decent shape.

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Dubai Lounge restroom

The first floor of the lounge was rather crowded, though I saw a sign pointing to the “smoking room,” which was apparently upstairs. I figured it was just a small partitioned off area.

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Dubai Lounge signage for smoking section

I was wrong. The smoking room was upstairs, and was actually the entire room. The upstairs area was bigger than the downstairs area, and nicer… and barely anyone was using it! It didn’t even smell like smoke.

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Dubai Lounge smoking section

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Dubai Lounge smoking section

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Dubai Lounge smoking section

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Dubai Lounge smoking section

The smoking floor of the lounge also had a dining area, with a slightly less extensive buffet than downstairs. The selection consisted primarily of cold options.

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Dubai Lounge smoking section dining area

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Dubai Lounge smoking section dining area

Then up another set of stairs from the smoking level were the shower rooms.

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Dubai Lounge smoking section

Unfortunately they were locked, so I wasn’t able to look at them.

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Dubai Lounge shower room

After I had toured the lounge, we settled in downstairs. I tried to log onto the Wi-Fi and get some work done, though unfortunately the Wi-Fi quality was terrible and borderline unusable.

Andrew showed up at the lounge at around 4:40AM, about 10 minutes before the scheduled boarding time. So within minutes we left the lounge and headed to gate C15, where our flight was departing from.

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Dubai Airport Terminal 1 gate area

While an A320 was at our gate, there was also a Qatar Airways 787 at the gate next to us, which was nifty to look at.

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Dubai Airport Terminal 1 gate area

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Qatar Airways 787 Dubai Airport

At 4:50AM boarding began, starting with first class.

Dubai Airport First Class Contract Lounge

Terminal 1 at Dubai Airport in general is pretty underwhelming, and this lounge isn’t really much different. I guess it’s actually a slightly better contract lounge than many of the others I’ve visited in the region (including in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Cairo, etc.). The food and drink selection was quite extensive for a contract lounge, though I can’t say the quality was especially great.

The most disappointing thing for me was that the Wi-Fi didn’t work well, which I consider to be the most basic airline lounge amenity.

But hey, if you’re flying an airline out of Terminal 1 which doesn’t have their own lounge, this is probably your best option.

  1. What is wrong with brunei . No different from some of the other countries you have visited in the world

  2. Lucky

    3 questions please

    1. No sleeping rooms like in emirates first? any room for napping?

    2. Seems like every other business class lounge, did you find anything special that they have? Massage chair was probably nasty. Im sure food wasnt bad or was it?

    3. Are you restricting comments? I left one earlier but its not there, if you are no biggy. THanks

  3. Once concourse D opens later this month, C is due for renovations in stages for Emirates to move in. Check in will still be the same although due to be tarted up, and instead of the long corridor you will board the people mover to D.

    Qatar will have their own premium lounge in D among various others BA, Lufthansa all new lounges etc. Your going to have to have another trip to give D a good review once fully open. Lounge hop through as many as you can. Although who knows if QR lounge will open with the rest of the terminal lol.

  4. Hi, I just started picking up on points and travels. I’m confused as to how you were able to route so many cities in the us on a single itinerary. Do the legs cost extra? Or are they included? Sorry noob here.

  5. Is this the lounge that AA Exex Plats would use flying in economy? Specifically we are flying on Qatar economy from Dubai to Qatar, I assume that counts as international and thus we would get lounge access with our status. If so, which is the lounge we’d get to use? Thanks!

  6. @Russell you could also use the BA lounge as OWE providing that its open, it has restricted opening times.

    Once the switch to D Qatar has built a new branded premium lounge but this I have been told will be restricted to premium cabin passengers and not a OW lounge.

    However, they will provide the new contract lounge for OW status and their own status passenger travelling in Y. Plus you still have the new BA lounge in D as well, again opening times will be restricted.

  7. @Lucky – i’d actually say the business lounge in DXB T1 is actually nicer marginally (exception of the restrooms)
    – i’m QR Gold / OWS – and its whilst not exceptional – adequate to grab a bite/drink at 0400 before the hop to Doha, and as a plus i am often upgraded on this busy route to F.
    – The lack of departure screens in the business lounge annoys me (only one as you walk in) – i dont know what you found in the first?
    – The wifi in the business lounge is actually great – they use the DXB Intl hotel and its quick and unrestricted in duration

  8. “Nothing compared to FC Lounge on EK I jus came through a week ago.”

    I think that is more you bragging than offering anything insightful.

  9. @World traveller

    What is wrong with brunei?

    You mean expect that they are in the process of establishing a sharia law that is probably stricter than Saudi Arabia?

    From the
    “Since then, the first phase of sharia law, which include fines and prison sentences for “crimes” such as pregnancies outside of wedlock, propagating religions other than Islam, and not attending mandatory Friday prayers, has been rolled out. Brunei is currently in the process of implementing the second phase, which will introduce harsh punishments such as floggings and cutting off hands for property offenses.

    The third and final phase, which will be implemented later this year or in 2016, will introduce executions, including stoning, for offenses like adultery, abortion, homosexuality/sodomy, and even blasphemy.”

  10. @No name: The Sharia laws do not apply to the ruling family members in Gulf states and Brunei. Many such laws do not even apply to males, particularly adultery.I have not yet heard or read any stories that reported males were prosecuted and convicted of adultery. The sultan of Brunei owns the Beverly Hill Hotel and we all know who patronize that hotel. He is wealthier and more corrupt than the Saudi monarch, who is not as rich as the Kuwaiti Emir. A few years back, there was a power struggle between the sultan and his half-brother, who attempted to asset strip the sultan but he managed to execute the court order in London to gain back the possession of valuable property, which I think might be the Beverly Hill hotel. There is no news reports that the ruling members of these countries pay the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and got trampled in the stampedes that killed thousands in Mecca.Simply because they are highly hypocrites and filthy rich. I never quite understand and embrace the notion of Friday public executions after praying the Allah. Must all Gods preach and practice forgiveness? Refrain yourself from mouthing off derogatory comments on religion.

  11. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t terminal 1 supposed to be the new terminal? Why is it so damn ugly?

  12. The Dubai International Hotel First Class Lounge in Concourse D is fabulous. One of the great lounges in the world. Buffet and made to order food that is superb.

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