Earlier this week Etihad Airways opened its long-awaited first class lounge in Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi. Details are still emerging about the lounge but let not your heart be troubled — you can find everything you need below. I spent several hours in the lounge yesterday and can answer any questions you have about the new facility. Enjoy the photo tour below.
Located just around the corner from the T3 security checkpoint, the lounge is open 24-7 and very easy to reach. After checking in with an agent just past the entrance, you can take an elevator or stairs up one level to the lounge itself.
Note that access is only for customers traveling in first class from Abu Dhabi or holding Etihad Guest Platinum status (or the equivalent status with an Etihad Airways Partner). Let’s say you bought a first class ticket and your leg to Abu Dhabi was in first class but your connecting flight has business class only — you will NOT have access to the lounge.
Friendly agents will be waiting upstairs to greet you and find you a seat, offering a tour of the lounge if desired. A concierge desk is also present for any ticketing issues.
As you enter the lounge you can either go right toward the spa, salon, fitness center, children’s room, and restrooms or left into the dining, bar, and seating area. A separate, private facility is present for customers of The Residence, Etihad’s ultra-premium product available only onboard A380s.
The dining area features an open kitchen and a dedicated bar (serving both alcohol and coffee) separate from the main bar. Seating is abundant and even during the peak departure banks you will have no problem finding seating. Staff are eager to wait on you and each member I interacted with was highly trained and offered not just courteous, polished service but extensive knowledge of the menu items.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Cigar Room
Nestled in the rear of the dining area is a cigar lounge, which features several very high-class cigars, including special Cohibas made especially for Etihad. All cigars are complimentary.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Bar
Continue around the corner and you will find a swanky bar that offers over 75 premium spirits, champagne and aperitifs. Champagne on tap is Bollinger and a number of superb white and red wines are available as well as spirits like Hennesy Paradis, which run $600/bottle.
Below the bar are USB plugs in case you wish to charge your device while you are drinking.
Here’s a look at the bar menu (click to enlarge):
Across from the bar area is a seating area.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Relaxation Room
Just past the bar is more seating and a relaxation room with a half dozen chairs that recline back about 150º. There are no sleeping rooms, but bedding like blankets and pillows are available.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Smoking Room
Past the relaxation room is a smoking room, meant for cigarette smoking. There are no complimentary cigarettes available.
Outside, there is also more seating available:
and a television room:
A small buffet is present offering light food and drink and another, smaller dining area.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Dining
The ability to order food from a menu is a prominent distinguishing point between the new first class and the business lounges. The menu is large and offers cuisine from around the world.
I had dinner in the middle of the night and Pradeep, who took wonderful care of me, suggested a tasting course when he saw I had difficulty deciding. He told me not to worry, that he would take care of everything and pair each course with an appropriate glass of wine.
All I can say is what a meal!
The first course was scallops which were sensational — succulent, flavorful, and indeed the best course of the meal. This item was ordered off the Emirates Palace menu (one of the great hotels in Abu Dhabi) and served with Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc.
pan fried scallops, mughrabia infused with saffron and finished with herbs
Next came a pasta course (I am a sucker for good ravioli with black truffle) which was perfect — creamy and delicious with just enough to leave me longing for more. The French white wine was exceptional.
Fontina Cheese Potato Ravioli
black truffle, sage, and porcini mushroom sauce
Next came another course from Emirates Palace, a local lamb dish that Pradeep said had been marinating for 24 hours. It was delicious.
marinated roasted local lamb, saffron rice, and tomato chickpea stew
I could have stopped at this point, but there were still two courses left! After sorbet to cleanse the palate, next was a venison course, which cooked perfectly (medium rare) and had a very gamey but satisfying flavor.
Marinated Grilled Venison Strip Loin
celery root, baby carrot, young beets and bone marrow sauce
The Bordeaux from Chateau du TerTre was simply perfect, one of the best red wines I have ever tasted.
Finally, a dessert course, again from the Emirates Palace menu. I chose a local dish called batheatha and ordered a cappuccino with it.
layers of special dough made of dates, saffron, and cardamom, filled with fresh cream
No complaints — a great way to end a meal!
It looks like a lot of food, but the portion sizes were small and this was paced over 90 minutes so it was a very enjoyable dinner.
I really liked that the lounge had current newspapers printed from many of the cities that Etihad serves, including Los Angeles. Usually if I am fortunate enough to find an LA Times in a lounge, it is at least two days old, but this was same-day. Very impressive!
In case you are wondering, here is the complete food menu (there is a separate bar menu and a la carte menu):
Continuing the tour, let’s move on to the other wing of the lounge.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Style & Shave Salon
A salon offers hair trimming for men and women, shaves for men, and manicures and pedicures. An “express cut” (shears only, no scissors) or shave is available on a complimentary basis to first class customers. If you want a full haircut (which was previously free in the business lounge), the cost is about 25 USD.
First class passengers are given the choice of a free hair or nail treatment or a free 15-minute spa treatment, but not both.
Here is the menu:
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Spa
Down the hall is the spa, which offers a menu of services for those wanting more than the complimentary 15-minutes. Showers are also available here.
Note that the salon and spa are closed between 2am and 5:30am. Here is the spa menu:
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Gym
Between the spa and salon is a gym and it is not a bad one either…there are bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills plus two dedicated showers.
Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi – Children’s Room
Across from the gym is a children’s room with games and other play things geared toward children.
A small locker area for stored baggage:
Finally, restrooms are available at the end of the hall.
A few other notes:
- There are no boarding announcements or escorts to your flight, but the staff all seemed to know what flight I was traveling on.
- One commented on how well-traveled I was, so I wonder if they google their guests?
- Out of respect, the only room I did not photograph was the prayer room.
CONCLUSION: Etihad does many things well in this new lounge. The staff is well-trained and a highlight, providing caring and personal service. The food and drink menu is a tremendous improvement from the previous lounge and is reason alone to schedule extra time before your first class flight to visit this lounge. I think 15-minute spa treatments are a bit stingy and would like to see longer complimentary treatments (a tad ironic that pricey cigars and liquor are free but full body massages are not), I would also like to see a sleeping area with real beds and for agents to escort passengers to their aircraft.
But in pointing out a couple areas for potential improvement I do not want to downplay how great this lounge is. I really enjoyed it and look forward to returning.
Stay tuned for a comparison of the first class lounges of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways.