Earlier in the month the new Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa opened in Abu Dhabi (full photo tour here). In a separate post, I wrote about the lounge access policy, telling the story of an Australian couple who put up a huge stink when they were turned away from the lounge because even though they had traveled in first class to Abu Dhabi their connecting flight had only a business class cabin. Etihad has wisely clarified its policy, now allowing passengers into the lounge who arrived in first class but are connecting in business class to use the lounge.
Imagine the frustration — you search for a first class ticket on Eithad and find that your connecting flight from Abu Dhabi only has a business class cabin. Fine, you book it anyway because that is the best option available. But as a consequence, you are turned away from the first class lounge. Somehow you are not a real “first class passenger”. The result was irate passengers and a confusing policy that earned the airline no goodwill.
Thankfully, Etihad has realized that allowing connecting passengers to use the lounge will not destroy its exclusiveness but will instead invite more passengers to pay more for first class. The lounge is large and I see no need for worry that the lounge will suddenly become crowded. Kudos to Etihad for making this change.
(tip of the hat to One Mile at a Time)