Rumours of a switch were circulating over the weekend. Etihad contacts of mine in Abu Dhabi have now exclusively confirmed that it is going ahead.
The switch is part of Etihad’s attempts to reduce its cost base in the face of recent losses. The Heathrow Terminal 4 lounge has already seen the Six Senses spa removed and ‘pay to enter’ options for Economy Class passengers.
More recently, the Etihad lounge in Manchester Terminal 1 was handed back to the airport. It is now being run as a premium ‘1903’ lounge – we covered that story here.
My understanding is that the Heathrow changes will go like this:
Etihad will continue to be the core user of the lounge, with Business Class, First Class and status passengers guaranteed access
No 1 Lounges will admit additional guests for cash as capacity allows
It is not clear yet if the lounge will be open for Priority Pass or Lounge Club guests, and if so whether it will be included in the list of No 1 Lounges where you can pay £5 to guarantee entry
Priority Pass cardholders (free with American Express Platinum, or buy one here) already have access to the impressive two-level SkyTeam Lounge in Terminal 4. There is little benefit in using the Etihad facility instead unless flying with them, with the lounge is literally 30 seconds from the Etihad gates. We reviewed the SkyTeam lounge in Heathrow Terminal 4 here.
Both Priority Pass and Lounge Club (two free visits with the free American Express Preferred Rewards Gold) cardholders can also access the impressive Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 4. I reviewed the Plaza Premium Heathrow Terminal 4 lounge here. To be honest, it is a nicer space than the Etihad lounge and I don’t see any reason to switch even if you can.
What do I think?
I liked the Etihad Heathrow Terminal 4 lounge – my last review is here – but it was never as good as the Qatar Airways facility. I imagine that the waiter-service dining will go. My biggest concern is how passengers in the First Class Apartments or even The Residence private suite will be treated, since a No 1 Lounge running at full capacity is rarely a premium experience.
I think this move is disappointing and one which Etihad may, in time, regret. It only takes a very small number of premium customers to move from Etihad to Qatar Airways or Emirates because they have a better Heathrow lounge to make the ‘savings’ from this switch disappear.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (June 2021)
Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 20,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for your first year and also comes with two free airport lounge passes.
- The Platinum Card from American Express (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 30,000 Etihad Guest miles
- American Express Rewards credit card (review here, apply here) – sign-up bonus of 5,000 Membership Rewards points converts into 5,000 Etihad Guest miles. This card is FREE for life.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.
Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).