Review: Emirates Colombo Airport Lounge and First Class, Colombo – Dubai

Now it was really time to head home from my Maldives trip, having had my fill of Sri Lankan food for the day. We checked out of the Hilton and made what was nearly an hour’s drive in traffic to the Colombo airport.

Once there, though, things moved quickly. I had boarding passes from the day before, picked up in Male for both Colombo – Dubai and Dubai – Dallas. And there was pretty much no wait at all for immigration formalities or security.

Previous installments:

  1. Introduction, overview, and costs
  2. Star Alliance first class and business class lounges, LAX
  3. Etihad First Class, Los Angles – Abu Dhabi.. the 3rd Longest Flight in the World!
  4. Premier Inn, Abu Dhabi International Airport
  5. Etihad’s new business class lounge, Abu Dhabi
  6. Etihad Business Class, Abu Dhabi – Male
  7. Male Domestic Lounge and Maldivian, Male – Kooddoo, plus boat transfer to the Park Hyatt
  8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
  9. Park Hyatt Maldives Menus and Pricing
  10. Boat Transfer and Maldivian Domestic Flight from the Park Hyatt Maldives to Male
  11. Male Airport Lounge and (Alone In) Emirates First Class, Male – Colombo
  12. Hilton Colombo
  13. Food Tour of Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Emirates check-in desks were a mess, a sea of people, and the entire sea of check-in desks were buzzing with people. But once airside things were much calmer.

The Colombo airport is a mix of modern and throwback, with plenty of international air service and several lounges while still retaining a vestige of antiquity and chaos.

Here there’s an old-style departures board, and not in the quaint ‘we remember when’ way that they preserve one in the Qantas first class lounge in Sydney (which you can see an artistic rendition of in the header of this blog).

If you don’t wish to sit in a lounge, you might head to the pay-in spa. It’s a strange concept, that business class passengers who could presumably pay more actually pay less, but their demand is likely lower too since they have lounge options competing with the spa while most economy passengers do not.

Emirates has their own lounge facility in Colombo, which makes sense since they have 4 Boeing 777s departing there each day (three bound for Dubai and one for Male).

On arrival I asked the woman at the check-in desk to verify that my checked bags made it onto the aircraft. I had checked the bags in Male — all the way through the Colombo overnight, onto the Dubai flight and then the Dallas flight, and tagged for American’s Dallas – Austin flight on a separate ticket as well (which would require picking up the bags and carrying them through US customs before dropping them back off, of course). It took some time because they had to call the check-in desk to do it, and they weren’t answering as the they were quite busy. But prior to boarding they confirmed that my bags indeed survived the overnight and were loaded.

This is one lounge combined for business and first class, and it gets quite busy. There’s a dining room with a buffet and a seating area. There’s a shower.

The internet worked quite poorly.

Since I couldn’t get much work done, and I wasn’t especially interested in the food (largely from having my fill during that day’s food tour), nearly two hours passed slowly before they announced boarding.

Everyone flooded out of the lounge at once, and there was a backup waiting for the elevator down to the departures level of the terminal.

Each gate area has its own security screening, so there was a queue for that on arrival.

Once onboard I settled into my seat, once again the old-style Emirates first class that’s six across. And instead of being alone in the cabin, the entire cabin was full.

Here’s the menu from the flight:

Once in the air the crew worked non-stop to offer full service to the entire 12 passenger first class cabin on this short flight. Drinks were served, hot towels distributed and collected, meal service provided. They seemed almost overwhelmed throughout though in perfectly good spirits.

Here’s the meal service that my wife and I enjoyed.

This flight, the distance of Washington Dulles – Las Vegas, was blocked at 4 hours 20 minutes. We departed about half an hour late, and travel took a little bit of extra time as we routed around weather and avoid some severe turbulence. It didn’t much matter though as I had a quite long six hour connection before my flight to Dallas.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Hi Gary;

    It seems like you don’t shy away from all uncooked food in countries where the water isn’t safe. Or are you more cautious than that?

  2. @beachfan one of the benefits of a guide who can warn me off of foods I shouldn’t eat.. plenty of things I won’t touch on the street.

  3. Why fly through Colombo when you could have flown non-stop from Male to Dubai? Trying to understand the rationale. More availability? Cheaper?

  4. Very useful information and as you know whilst it may not look the most apetising of foods from the photo, I can assure the food is very good and the wine selection is always a high grade.

  5. Having flown Dubai-Colombo Emirates business class and thought how down market that was on a 777 in comparison to an A380 it is comforting to see that the over payers in First do little better!

    Especially if, as would appear from the pictures, they only drink water with their food!

Comments are closed.