May 7, 2016

Review: Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi

Planning & Booking
Planning & Booking II
Washington Dulles (IAD) Lounge Hopping
United Airlines 777-200 Global First Washington to London
United Arrivals Lounge London
Andaz London Liverpool Street
Etihad Airways First & Business Class Lounge London
Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartment London to Abu Dhabi
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartment Abu Dhabi to New York
American Express Centurion Lounge LGA

As we checked out from the Park Hyatt, our Etihad Airways chauffeur arrived in a black A6.  We received a somewhat threatening text (some odd translation issue it seems) and an email that the car was arriving and the driver came inside the lobby to greet us and assist with our bags.  

I have to hand it to Etihad - the ground service experience with pretty flawless.  

We were soon in the card headed to AUH where we arrived around 11:40PM for our 3:25AM flight.  That was going to leave plenty of time to relax, get a massage, and a shave.

Etihad is in the process of redoing the premium check-in experience (as well as their new first class lounge) so we were shown to the business class check-in facility which was also under construction.

We were met on the curb where our bags where loaded onto a bell cart and we rolled into the terminal.

Rolling into the terminal

This is rush hour at AUH and the premium check-in was super busy.  It looks about 5 minutes to check our bags and issue boarding passes.  We then proceeded through UAE immigration and security.  Prior to boarding, we would go through security again and US immigration as Abu Dhabi has a US pre clearance facility.  More on that later.

After the check in formalities were completed we made our way to the lounge.  The Abu Dhabi airport is nice in the way La Guardia is nice.  It is in desperate need of a significant makeover (which is happening).  It's nowhere near the quality of some of the world's best airports (Changi, Dubai, Incheon, etc...) with too much white light and low ceilings.

We arrived at the lounge around 12:15 so we were going to have 2+ hours to relax.  The shared business and first class lounge was packed!  We were admitted promptly and shown to the roped off first class section.  Both of us loved the look of the lounge - the mint, brown, beige, and white color scheme is pretty awesome.

Etihad AUH Premium Lounge

There are servers roaming the first class section in addition to the many self serve beverage stations as well as a large bar in the center of the lounge.  

Sushi options at Etihad Airways AUH lounge

More food options at Etihad's Premium Lounge
While we were on London time, we still needed to stay up for another 5 or 6 hours so we started with a glass of Champagne and a cappuccino.  

Roped off area (for the Residence) inside a roped off area
Emily went to book a massage and I booked a wet shave.  Today, first class passengers receive a complimentary massage treatment as well as a haircut/shave.  

Massage options

Six senses spa

Style and shave (haircut or wet shave)
Sounds like that is going to change when the new lounge opens but we didn't take advantage anyway.

Getting a wet shave before a long haul flight is pretty awesome.  It only took 15 minutes or so and I felt refreshed and ready to go after.  

Etihad Pre Clearance Lounge
Soon enough it was time to head out to go through security, pre clearance immigration and find the next lounge prior to boarding!

Next up:  crushing Champs at 3AM
Final Thoughts:

While the lounge is a gorgeous space, it is hectic.  There are so many people (both staff and passengers) and for an early morning flight, I would have preferred something a bit quieter.  I wouldn't go out of my way to spend a ton of time in the lounge but it was great to relax, have a drink, and go to the spa prior to a 14 hour flight.  I'l be interested to see how the experience changes once the new lounge opens.

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