Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: the classy Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is our review of the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3.

This article follows on from my review of Etihad’s A380 Business Studio seat, from London to Abu Dhabi, and the celebrations surrounding the restart of A380 flights. I also reviewed the Etihad lounge at London Heathrow here.

After just over 24 hours in the city, it was time to head back on one of Etihad’s late evening / early morning returns to London.

Etihad mission impossible boarding pass

Like other Middle Eastern airlines, Etihad’s peak hours are overnight – largely between 9pm and 3am – with the majority of passengers connecting through Abu Dhabi and on to their final destination.

I arrived and checked into my flight in Terminal 3 around 11:30pm. Etihad has a dedicated check-in zone (really it is a separate room) for business and First Class passengers. I was able to drop my bag off and get a special Mission Impossible boarding pass printed immediately!

Immediately behind the First & business class check in is Fast Track security, which is very convenient. Again, there were no queues whatsoever and I was immediately able to walk through the scanner after popping my bag on the belt.

Whilst I flew back in business class, Etihad had arranged access to the First Class lounge for the media group covering the A380 relaunch. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a proper tour of the Business Class lounge.

The Etihad First Class Lounge

The Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi is open to anyone travelling in First Class or Etihad Guest Platinum members. That is a relatively small group of people given how few aircraft have First Class, and means the lounge is blissfully quiet.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Etihad First Class Lounge access & location

The location of the Etihad First Class lounge could not be more convenient, as it is right in front of you as you exit fast-track security:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

In fact, the Etihad Abu Dhabi airport experience is one of the most convenient I’ve experienced: I can’t have walked more than a hundred metres from where the Uber dropped me off to the lounge itself.

Of course it’s probably slightly less convenient if you’re on a connecting flight as you’ll have to walk there from your gate, although Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 is not huge.

You are checked into the lounge by the staff at terminal level before being escorted upstairs to a hotel-style lobby where you’ll find a staffed bag storage facility:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

The lounge is open 24 hours a day.

Inside the Etihad First Class Lounge

The lounge is one of the bigger First Class facilities I’ve seen, at over 1,700 square metres.

Once you’ve dropped off any luggage you have a number of options, including heading to the lounge gym, the shower suites, children’s room or the main lounge itself.

The main lounge space is to the left, and starts with a travel concierge desk on the right should you need to amend any flight details or need assistance.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

The space opens up to a large dining room with space for more than fifty guests. Given that there were no more than about 15 people in the lounge in total during my visit at peak hours, this is, dare I say it, overkill. It does mean that you are basically guaranteed a table, no matter how busy the airport is.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

At one end of the dining room you’ll find a bar, although as there’s table service throughout the entire lounge you don’t actually need to go there.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

In the centre is the cigar room where you can smoke, which was a novelty. You can purchase Cuban cigars from $7.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

If you turn right from the dining room you’ll see another bar with some casual seating next to it:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Further seating curves around next to the window, whilst there is further casual seating in a smaller section to the right, as well as bar seating:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3


Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Adjacent to this area you’ll also find a TV room which was occupied by a large Emirati family as well as a quiet room with recliners:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

(This photo is much lighter than it was in real life. It is dark, with just enough light to see where you are going.)

Overall, the lounge feels modern and welcoming, with Etihad’s signature geometric pattern appearing throughout the design. Whilst it was dark outside during my visit, there are excellent views of the airport from the floor-to-ceiling windows and I imagine it must be lovely and light during the day.


There are six shower suites in the lounge, three for men and three for women. Each one is clad in stone and feels suitably luxurious:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Children’s area

Also off the central corridor you’ll find a round children’s room. This is not massive, but then I don’t expect there are a huge amount of children passing through this lounge in the first place.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Last year, Etihad partnered with Warner Bros for their children’s services and amenities and the area looks like it has been refurbished since then.


Another amenity in the Etihad First Class lounge is the gym. This is a small facility with a running machine, elliptical and cycling machine – just enough to get the blood pumping.

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

Food and drink in the Etihad First Class lounge

Table service is offered throughout the lounge, regardless of where you are sitting. The staff are very attentive and will stop by every 15-30 minutes to ask if you would like anything else.

There is no buffet in sight – everything is cooked to order from the a la carte menu. The lunch and dinner menu includes:

Starters and soups include:

  • Arabic mezze
  • Chicken liver parfait
  • Roasted tomato and basil soup
  • Lentil soup

For main courses you have a choice of:

  • Chicken masala
  • Grilled salmon
  • Beef & black bean sauce
  • Lamb foga
  • Butternut squash risotto
  • Lotus root kofta kurma
  • Tenderloin
  • Beef sliders

Each comes with its own accompaniments and sides.

For dessert, the choice was:

  • Date pudding
  • Rose milk cake
  • Peach melba
  • Fruit platter
  • Cheese platter

Unfortunately I was still stuffed from dinner. However, I did enjoy a glass of two of the 2009 Devaux & Chapoutier ‘Stenope’ champagne from the Etihad cellar:

Review: the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal 3

A cuvee rose was also available, as were four each of vintage white and red wines.

Premium spirits were aplenty and you could also ask for virtually any cocktail you fancied.


The Etihad First Class lounge is an impressive facility. Part of what makes it so impressive is that it is virtually empty. With just fifteen-odd guests when I was there I can’t imagine it ever gets crowded, which is one of the attractions of a First Class lounge.

The service from staff was universally excellent – it’s clear they’ve gone through significantly more training – and they were very attentive without being incessant.

The food and drinks menu is impressive and exactly what you would expect from a First Class lounge. I have no doubt that the food is excellent based on my experiences in the London lounge and onboard – it’s a shame I didn’t have the appetite to eat.

My only regret is that I wasn’t able to make more use of the lounge. Still, I suppose that just means I’ll need to come back! With First Class now available to and from London on the A380 fleet you’ve got an excuse to visit.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (September 2023)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.

Additional lounge visits are charged at £24.  You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £24 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • meta says:

    This is a review of the lounge at peak times. 3 out of 4 flights to LHR with Etihad are daytime. From my experience, at other times F&B offer is more limited although there is a small buffet at breakfast. Actually this is my least favourite F Lounge.

  • JK says:

    Every time I’ve been in this F lounge it has been heaving. Can usually manage to find somewhere to sit, and the staff try, but service can be slow when it’s that busy. When it’s like that I’d prefer a buffet. The J lounges are even worse.

    • Tom says:

      Airline provides influential blogger with misleadingly positive experience shocker…

      • Rhys says:

        What do you think they did – kick everyone else out just for us?!

    • Chris W says:

      Etihad only have a handful of flights with F class these days. Who is the lounge filled with? Status pax?

    • Toilet Paper Man says:

      @JK , you’re thinking of the business class lounge (that they didn’t want Rhys to review).

      And its obvious why they pushed him to review this first class lounge instead – the business class lounge for Etihad at Abu Dhabi is even busier than BA’s T5 lounges.
      Packed like sardines.

      • Rhys says:

        I did actually go to the other lounge and it was very very busy so I couldn’t get photos.

        That said, I asked for access to the First Lounge and there was no presumption that we would review!

  • Andrew J says:

    Looks like a cruise ship dining room.

  • 01A says:

    I have been to this lounge just before Covid and had a great time both on-board when I flew Etihad First Class Apartments and in this lounge. In fact, my display picture on HfP is from the cigar room of this lounge, although it was free back then. I am surprised they are charging $7 now for the cigars. I would like visit it again sometime in the near future, because I still fondly remember the pampering I received from the staff last time I visited.

  • His Holyness says:

    Why is EY a bit lacklustre vs EK? Is the His Excellency that owns it not as rich as the other His Excellency in the other Emirate? And why are His Excellency’s EY investments so bad?
    They’ve been involved in so-many failed projects, AB, AZ, JU, HM, VA and even tiny F7.
    EK are so successful, we well regarded, such an impressive brand, EY don’t come close.

    • Rob says:

      Tried to chase EK when EK already existed. EK launched with no real competition.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.