After arriving into Abu Dhabi from our A380 business studio flight with Etihad, we spent a solid 24h relaxing at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi which is about a 30min drive and right on the beach of Saadiyat Island (you can read my review here – coming soon!)
Our flight didn't leave until 9:35PM, so after a late checkout of 6PM (thank you Virtuoso benefits!) we were enroute to T3 from where our flight was departing.
Etihad has a dedicated section of the airport for premium passengers which is divided between business and first class. On arrival at the airport, a team of Etihad porters is on hand to bring your luggage inside which is great considering the sweltering heat.
After check-in and clearing a premium immigration line we found ourselves right in front of the Etihad First Class Lounge.
While the entrance to the lounge is downstairs, you have to take the elevator or the stairs up to get to the lounge. An agent is on duty downstairs to scan your boarding pass with a second team of agents at the ready in the main foyer upstairs.
Who Can Access Etihad's First Class Lounge?
Passengers travelling in the following classes and have a departure ticket from Abu Dhabi can access the first class lounge:
- The Residence
- Etihad First Class
- Etihad Guest Exclusive
- Etihad Guest Platinum members (plus one guest)
- Etihad Airways Partner (EAP) airline First Class guests, EAP ‘Invitation only’ members (plus two guests) and EAP equivalent Platinum members (plus one guest).
- Partner Airlines are: Alitalia (Mille Miglia – Freccia Alata Plus Club)
- Jet Airways (JetPrivilege – Platinum)
- Air Serbia (fully integrated into Etihad Guest)
- Air Seychelles (fully integrated into Etihad Guest)
- NIKI (Topbonus – Platinum)
Etihad is now also allowing incoming passengers in first class; who hold a business class connecting flight, access to the first class lounge. So if you're flying first class from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and then business class onto Europe or the USA, you can now make use of the excellent first class lounge.
As part of Etihad's attempt to save money, they are now also selling access to the first class lounge to anyone willing to pay for it!
A 2h visit will set you back US$200 for 1 adult and $US100 for a child. Etihad Gold members can get a discounted rate of US$100 and $50 for a child.
Etihad First Class Lounge Layout
The Etihad lounge is pretty spacious but not as big as Emirates's main first class lounge in Dubai.
When entering the main reception area upstairs, the dining, bar and lounge areas are directly on the left while straight ahead is the kids playing room, a gym, the spa and the bath/shower rooms.
Etihad First Class Lounge Gym
I think it's a great idea to have a gym in the lounge; it's nice to be able to get some exercise in especially on a layover.
The Etihad gym is surprisingly well equipped and also has shower rooms inside. There's a range of cardio machines and even some free-weights on offer.
Etihad First Class Spa
First class passengers are entitled to a 15-minute free spa treatment which can be extended if you want to pay. An extra 15 minutes would cost US$26 for the cheapest option. Keep in mind that cash payments are not accepted at the spa!
I decided to go for the complimentary 15 minutes back massage which was fantastic.
Next to the spa is supposed to be a hair/nail salon which I totally missed! However, if you do fancy a quick restyle before your flight… the option is there.
First Class Dining Area & Bars
There are two bars inside the Etihad Abu Dhabi First Class Lounge, one is at the entrance and covers the main dining area while the other one is further down the lounge and seems more inviting to sit at and enjoy a drink.
The drinks menu is extensive with a nice selection of wines and classic cocktails.
The restaurant has an a-la-carte menu with full table service as one would expect in a first class lounge. Both the food quality, presentation and service were outstanding. Definitely no cost cutting here!
Further down the back of the lounge are more separate seating areas mostly stacked in groups of 4. The bar staff are very attentive, and someone is always on had to top up your glass of champagne.
Although the lounge was fairly busy (you wouldn't tell from my photos 😉 ), there was a lot of staff on hand to make sure everyone was well looked after.
At the far end of the lounge is a relaxation area with some solo lounge chairs pointed at a giant TV wall which shows a range of animations, including this flight path.
To the right of this is a tiny self-serve area which probably never gets used considering table service is offered everywhere in the lounge.
Cigar & Cognac Lounge
The Etihad lounge has both a smoking room and cigar lounge where I believe some cigars are still offered complimentary and more premium ones are for purchase.
A range of whiskeys is also on offer. I quickly stuck my head through the door to get a picture as one person was puffing away and I didn't feel like invading their privacy.
Etihad Abu Dhabi First Class Lounge Conclusion
Overall it was one of the best lounge experiences I've enjoyed. Considering this was my first time flying Etihad first class, I didn't have anything to compare too other than reviews and trip reports I've read. I think the most significant difference one would notice is the trimmed down food menu as there used to be a "fine dining" option in collaboration with Emirates Palace hotel along with a more elaborate selection of cocktails (which I might have missed?). Another noticeable difference is the change of champagne from Billecart-Salmon to Charles Heidsieck (which price wise are on par).
Overall the food was enjoyable, my Negroni well executed and the champagne most definitely drinkable. Who am I to complain! Next up Etihad Airways A380 first class apartments to Sydney.