My review of the Etihad business class lounge in Abu Dhabi

This is a continuation of my review of my recent Middle East trip.  Other articles in this series cover the Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel, the Etihad lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4, the Business Class Studio on the new Etihad A380, the Jumeirah At Etihad Towers hotel in Abu Dhabi and the First Class Suite on the Boeing 777.

This article is my review of the Etihad business class lounge in Abu Dhabi airport, Terminal 3.

Etihad sent me yet another free chauffeur car to take me to the airport.  Booking was painful as they automatically arranged it for 2 hours pre-departure – too late for me to get there and explore properly! – and they refused to answer the phone when I tried to change it. I eventually left it with the Etihad Towers concierge and he sorted it out.

Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi will soon have a brand new First Class lounge directly in front of the security screening.  Until that opens in a couple of months, all passengers are using the Premium Lounge.  This is not – to put it mildly – leading to overcrowding!

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi

Look, no people!  It was not the crack of dawn either.  It would have been around 11am when this picture was taken!

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi seats

No-one eating either, and no-one at the bar!  As you can see, this is a large space – far bigger than either of the Galleries Club lounges in Terminal 5 at Heathrow.  It is nowhere near the size of the new Qatar Airways lounge in Doha, of course, or indeed the new Emirates facility (Concourse C) in Dubai where there are individual floors – whole floors – for economy, business and first class passengers.

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi restaurant

I was impressed by the food concept.  There are two food stations.  One serves the previous meal and one serves the next meal!  Service is never interrupted.  When I was there, one station was doing a late breakfast whilst the other was doing early lunch.

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi buffet

You don’t go hungry …. especially as there is no-one to eat the food …..!

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi buffet 2

And if you like cake, they have cake!

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi buffet 3

No-one at the bar – and I didn’t try it either!

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi bar

It was all a little odd.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the space. There is an area of seating roped off for ticketed First Class passengers which I didn’t use – it seemed a bit unnecessary given that they were not exactly busy!  There is a decent business centre area and also some nifty egg-shaped chairs where teenagers can hide away and play video games or watch TV!

Me?  Well, I decided to get my hair cut. Literally 20 years ago I had a haircut in the Virgin lounge at Heathrow.  This seemed like a great opportunity to try it again.  After all, how many lounges have a hairdresser in them?  The service has a nominal charge for business class passengers but it was free to me as a First Class passenger.

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi review barber

People who know me know that my haircut does not exactly need a three-year degree course to master.  Somehow, though, the guy messed it up.  I didn’t realise it at the time, to be honest, but my wife was not happy!  She felt I looked like an escaped prisoner.

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi kids

If you’ve got kids, you’re in luck.  There is a great childrens play room as you can see above.  Why BA did not build something like this into Terminal 5 I don’t know.

There we have it.  It was a rather underwhelming experience but for no good reason.  Perhaps it was just the atmosphere created by the place being almost empty.  It has the architectural grandure of a flagship lounge but the food and service, whilst certainly good, didn’t quite match.  I can’t criticise it, though, because it does actually tick all the boxes for what you might need (including a haircut!).

If you’re flying First Class – as I was – it is academic anyway as the new F lounge will soon be open.

And with that, I headed off to my Boeing 777 First Class Suite ….

Click here for the next review in this series- the First Class Suite on the Etihad Boeing 777.

More photographs from the lounge can be found on our Instagram feed.

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Comments

  1. RIccati says:

    Raffles, a lot of European Eithad flights depart about the same time. Say 11 pm to 2 am, you will find this lounge very crowded.

    • Phillip says:

      I second this – being the Middle East, crack of dawn is usually synonymous with overcrowding at airports. I was on the A380 flight back to London on 25 January and by midnight there was not a single seat available. And the queues for the restrooms were ridiculous!

      On the chauffeur front – I too find them difficult to make contact with as they outsource the service and you can only speak to Etihad themselves who only take service requests without being able to confirm them. That said, I’ve never had a problem changing my pick up time when they call me to confirm the time, the day before. They are always happy and quick to make the change, as long as I am talking to the car company and not Etihad.

  2. I’m currently in the Malaysia Airline First /Golden lounge in Kuala Lumpur reading this article. This lounge has to be one of the worst for premium passengers. Empty huge space. Rubbish food. Rubbish drinks. Rubbish service. I found Etihad a bit boring maybe because I travel so often with them and am in their lounge seemingly all the time. But no more (major) complains about Etihad’s lounge after seeing this empty, wasted space of a so called premium lounge.

    • I haven’t been in the First class section, but my impression was that the business class section is actually better than First. The food is ok, and a lot better than the BA offerings (sandwiches anyone?), but its scattered all over the lounge and is a bit of a treasure hunt. There are also the chefs who you can order food from. The bar is at the front of the lounge where you enter. Overall it’s an ok lounge, foodwise I much prefer it to BA at Heathrow. However, MAS did seem to waste the opportunity to make the most of the space. If you want real disappointment walk over to the CX lounge in KUL – you will need to boil the kettle to make a cup noodle!

      • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

        Ah, but having lived in Hong Kong and studied in the UK with a student population that was >25% HK Chinese, I know that they like nothing better than cracking out the kettle to make some noodles.

        That is, of course, if they don’t have a rice cooker handy!

        One chap, let’s call him TC, was renowned for having all imaginable gadgets. When our somewhat isolated educational establishment was cut off in a snow storm and the power went out, the usual buzz of electrical activity was still heard from TC’s room. He had managed to put together a generator from various CX trips back home…..he couldn’t imagine an afternoon without his MSG fix.

  3. I was recently in the lounge at midnight and it was packed!
    It also has a spa where you can get a complimentary 15 minute facial

  4. I was a Terminal 1 Lounge and it was busy between 9pm-1am
    I go free SPA treatment back massage for 15 minutes
    also free pick up service form AirBerlin 3 hours drive
    they provide pick up drop of for any destination in UEA

    good service TXL-AUH for one way Avios 50.000 taxes but that i will be 50% more expensive soon

    • Actually 50,000 avios return in business class currently, plus just under £50 in taxes and fees. We’re about to do it in a week and a half.

      From the end of April it will be 75,000 return.

      One thing that is driving me mad is the continuous loss of our seat selections. It seems to be down to their having two different cabin layouts (despite having only recently completed a refurbishment with flat bed seats). Every time the flight is updated with a cabin layout change we get dumped into random seats, normally in the close-together centre seats which although we prefer window seats wouldn’t be quite so bad if they actually put us next to each other in the same row not up close and personal with a complete stranger.

      And then there’s the fact that they don’t alert you to the fact that you’ve moved and a web site which sends you round in circles when you try to select new seats online. Goodness knows how I managed to do it the first time, but I’ve now had to phone them in Germany twice to sort it out.

      Really enough to make me never want to fly Air Berlin again, and I haven’t even set foot in the airport yet….

  5. Hingeless says:

    Great review, any idea when the f lounge opens, we will be travelling through in early June?

  6. OTT slightly but currently sat in Qantas Club at Cairns and they have a Kids zone complete with TV, iMacs and their own fridge stocked with juice and water, a nice touch.