AUH: Abu Dhabi Etihad Business Class Lounge Terminal 1
NEWS: Renovations of the Etihad Terminal 1 lounge at Abu Dhabi are complete.
Read the full story here: Etihad Abu Dhabi T1 lounge open once again
Certainly, as the core premium lounge at the hub, you may be expecting great things of the new Etihad lounge, and certainly it does, or should, offer a lot. A combined First and Business Class lounge, the lounge at Terminal 1 is a vast improvement on the old shoebox. It boasts stylish design elements inspired by the airline's recently-revamped lounge in Terminal 3.
It has the new style seating, bar and restaurant area, a small business centre, complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity, USB power outlets, bathrooms with shower facilities, and a playroom for children.
What the Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1 also has are crowds in abundance. It is packed to the gills, and then some, particularly at the pinch point between 5am and 9am when there are a large number of long haul connection flights. It gets so bad that quite often the receptionist can be heard telling Business and First customers that although they can come in, they wouldn't recommend it, as there is nowhere to sit.
And this is definitely true, although again they seem to spend most of their time fighting off Gold and Priority Pass customers who are trying to get into the lounge too. Beware that the lounge staff take a real dislike to economy passengers without the right kind of Etihad frequent flyer card: you really have to push it if you want to enter with a Velocity Platinum card for example.
However no Etihad Abu Dhabi lounge review would be complete without commenting it shouldn't be that way. This new lounge is more than three times the size of Etihad's previous premium lounge, and has space for up to 130 passengers at a time: yes, it is that small.
There is practically no space available at the airport for a bigger EY lounge though, and at busy times the Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1 is standing-room only. Not exactly an oasis of tranquillity.
Even finding the lounge is a major issue. To get to the lounge, down the corridor linking T1 and T3, and branch left from the main circle. Head past the Al Reem lounge, go right (just by the X ray machines) and the entrance is in front of you. Or rather, the entrance to the lift, which is unbelievably slow. There are stairs, which snake up through the building, but it's not just one flight: it's a whole fire escape of stairs up to the first floor of the airport.
Then, finally, you are in - to a long curved wooden corridor. Which in itself seems odd, as you seem to snake around, weaving between all the passengers that Etihad descends on you.
The new Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1 has the new style seating, bar and restaurant area, a small business centre, complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity, USB power outlets, bathrooms with shower facilities, and a playroom for children.
The upgraded Abu Dhabi Etihad lounge has seats for 134 passengers, and is over one thousand square yards.
When you finally get to the end of the wooden corridor, there is a great polished brass screen, and then the usual white Etihad armchairs on the left, overlooking the terminal, and on the right with library shelves. There is also a quiet room here with four large swivel chairs, but most passengers use this area for somewhere for their children to run around.
Further in, as you walk around a curve, are frosted glass screens, and plenty of single arm chairs, with odd hexagonal black coffee tables. There are good leather sofas from the renowned italian manufacturer Poltrona Frau. There is a small viewing deck with views of the gates.
However, the issue with the lounge is clear: most of the seating areas are arranged with seats for a group of 4. However, most visitors are single passengers with hand luggage, who decorate all the seats with their bags, leaving most unfortunate passengers sitting on the floor.
As you continue to the far corner of the lounge, and turn right, the main dining area is in front of you.
At the far end is the self-serve buffet, and at the far end a small bar, however it is not self-serve: you have to ask the staff to mix up drinks for you.
FoodThe food and beverage offerings are outstanding in the Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1. Generally Arabic in flavour, but with a decent buffet. The selection of refreshments includes hot and cold buffet dishes. The dishes are already made up, with cling film over the top.
In the food area is the self-serve buffet, with six large tourines with hot food on an island counter. The food here is normally chicken or beef, with rice and potatoes.
There is also a fridge with salad and deserts.
First Class Passengers are able to eat prior to their flight in a fine dining area, which offers a la carte and snack menus. All meals are prepared in an "open kitchen", accompanied by a range of new wines and beverages.
BarThere is a small bar in the Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge in Terminal 1, but it is very discrete, and few people in the lounge will be drinking. However it is not self-serve: you have to ask the staff to mix up drinks for you.
It is at the far end of the main lounge, and here there are a couple of types of white and red wine (normally new world wine).
Beer is Heineken.
BathroomsBathrooms and showers are in the lounge, and are pretty good. There are shower facilities offered to all passengers, which is welcome on the long haul flight from Australia to Europe via Abu Dhabi, which involves 15 hours on a plane.
However, it is vital to ask for a shower as soon as you get off the plane. The queues are vast, and the staff don't like to tell you this. Instead they will take your name, and give you a buzzer. Only if you really quiz them will they tell you that there are maybe 40 people in the queue ahead of you, and it could be 2 or 3 hours before you get a shower.
The Six Senses Spa at the lounge has had a refurb with a refreshing complimentary 15-minute spa session for First and Business class passengers.
Business FacilitiesThere is a study themed timber panelled business centre which is equipped with six fairly new computers. There is free internet access and wifi, and thankfully around the lounge fairly good power points for laptops.
There is a telephone in the business centre, and a fax.
AccessThe Terminal 1 Premium Lounge is open to Etihad Airways travellers in First and Business Class, plus Platinum Etihad Guest members and Platinum Virgin Australia passengers.
Other tier loyalty members still have to use the Al Reem lounge in T1.
There is no way to buy a daypass to the Etihad Abu Dhabi lounge, even if you wanted to.
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