Emirates has closed its onboard lounge and pre-departure drinks service

Jan 6, 2022

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Emirates Airlines has suspended its iconic onboard lounge and bar on its Airbus A380 to protect staff and passengers from the Omicron variant, it has been reported.

The luxe lounge, famed for its softly-comic TV adverts starring Friends star Jennifer Aniston, was suspended indefinitely on Monday after the United Arab Emirates recorded a surge of 2,515 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Emirates First Class

It comes days after ​​the UAE said it would ban non-vaccinated citizens from travelling abroad from Jan. 10 and that fully vaccinated citizens would also require a booster shot to be eligible to travel.

A number of Emirates passengers revealed their disappointment on social media at the new measures, which also included closing the pre-departure refreshment service in Business Class.

“Really disappointed with my flight yesterday,” wrote one traveller on Monday. “Paid extra for business class only to find out the lounge in Manchester airport was closed as well as the bar on the plane if I’d known this I wouldn’t have paid the extra money.”

The news was initially reported by flight attendant and industry blogger Mateusz Maszczynski on the air-travel gossip website Paddle Your Own Kanoo

When TPG reached out to Emirates Airlines, a spokesperson said: 

 “In light of health and safety considerations, Emirates has temporarily modified some aspects of our onboard service. Our onboard lounge and the social area will not be available to customers at this time. 

“Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused. The safety of our customers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised.”

The horseshoe bar has become synonymous with the airline’s flagship superjumbo since Aniston became its celebrity face in 2015, in a $20 million ad campaign that saw her wander about and make friends in surprise at the airline’s apparent luxury.

In its controversial first Aniston ad, the Gulf Carrier took aim at its competitors, showing the actor in the ‘nightmare’ scenario of being aboard a non-Emirates flight without such amenities as an in-flight shower or bar. That is until she wakes up in her Business Class sleep pod to discover it was all a bad dream. 

This is not the first time COVID-19 has forced Emirates Airlines to close its luxury hospitality services.

It temporarily shuttered the bar and lounge at the start of the pandemic in a bid to stop passengers and staff mingling. But it reopened in October 2020, offering a limited takeaway service, before resuming full function reopened a few months later.

Featured image by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy

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