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At Dubai Airport, there are two companies which offer pay-per-use lounges and meet and assist services, regardless of airlines or class of travel: Marhaba and the Dubai International Hotel. During a previous trip I visited the Ahlan First Class Lounge of the latter operator in Concourse D of Terminal 1. On my last flight with Emirates, I decided to try the Ahlan Meet & Greet Departure service and Cadiz Lounge in Terminal 3.
Ahlan Premium Meet & Greet
After arriving at the airport, I went to the Ahlan desk at the left side side of the terminal. I was immediately greeted by name by the friendly supervisor and a porter offered to carry our luggage. At the bag drop-off, we could use the counter for Skywards Silver members, where there was no wait. At passport control, we passed the regular lanes and used the GCC-passport line. Also at the security check we were led to the front of the queue. My flight to Düsseldorf would depart from the A-gates, but the Cadiz lounge is located in the B-concourse. Using a shortcut, we were guided to the lounge. All in all it only took 15 minutes from entering the terminal until we were in the lounge. The escort asked at what time he should return to accompany us to the gate.
Despite a warning by Emirates about the holiday crowd, it was not really busy, so on this occasion the time savings were limited. During a previous trip, the queues were significantly longer though and the value of the meet & greet service would be clear. You can count on the fact that you can skip the queues everywhere and can plan to arrive at the airport later. Do keep in mind the check-in cut off by the airline though.
The fee for the Deluxe Meet & Greet service on Departure is ~£29 (150 AED ) for the escort and fast track until the gate. Additional persons are charged at ~£16.50 (85 AED each). Families may book the service for 4 persons for ~£61 (315 AED).
If you also want access to the lounge as well, the Premium service will cost ~£57 (295 AED per person).
It will depend on personal circumstances if the fees are worth it – how much would you value the time savings?
Ahlan also offers these services in Terminal 1.
Cadiz Lounge Dubai Terminal 3
The Cadiz Lounge of the Dubai International Hotel is located in Concourse B. In Terminal 3 the only other lounges are operated by Emirates and third-party provider Marhaba.
Cadiz is also actually a tapas bar and the entrance may be a little confusing. Next to the McDonalds there is an elevator which takes you to the lounge entrance, the lounge is on the right while the tapas bar is on the left. You can buy access to the lounge through the Dubai International Hotel for ~£32 (165 AED), buy access through Loungebuddy or use Priority Pass.
The lounge itself is not very large. Besides the bar, there are two seating areas with sofas and seats. During my visit, there were virtually no other passengers in the lounge. Upon asking the staff, I learned that the lounge has its rush hour after midnight.
At the back of the lounge is the buffet. Around lunch time, there was a small selection of bread, along with fresh salads, hummus and desserts. In addition, there were six hot dishes ranging from pan fried salmon in beurre blanc to stir fried beef and biryani rice. The selection itself was not very extensive but the quality was very good. It is also possible to order from the menu of the tapas bar.
For drinks there is an extensive bar selection, but not all alcoholic drinks are included.
In the lounge there are also some massage chairs and toilet. There are no showers, but I assume you can use the facilities of the Dubai International Hotel if you want to freshen up.
The staff in the lounge were very friendly and attentive. The regularly came by to ask if we wanted anything to drink. The staff was also very pro-active as they brought cutlery when they saw we were getting some food at the buffet and handed us a bottle of water when we left.