Review: Etihad Airways Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport AUH

Introduction
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Even though I’ve transited Abu Dhabi Airport a handful of times, I’ve always flown out of Terminal 3. While it’s not quite as blingy as some other terminals in the Middle East, it is a solid terminal… well, except for the US pre-clearance facility.

My flight to Cairo, however, was departing out of Terminal 1. That was a new experience for me. I followed the signage towards Terminal 1, which led me down to a seemingly never-ending series of corridors.

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

After about 15 minutes of walking I found myself in Terminal 1, which felt much older than Terminal 3.

I followed the signage towards the Etihad Lounge, which was located one level up from the concourse.

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Etihad Business Lounge Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

At the entrance I presented my boarding pass for Cairo and was promptly admitted, with an explanation that boarding announcements wouldn’t be made in the lounge. The lounge entrance did say “First and Business Class Lounge,” so I asked the agent whether there was actually a separate first class lounge. Nope, apparently it’s a combined facility.

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Etihad Business Lounge Terminal 1 entrance Abu Dhabi Airport

I was curious to see how this lounge compared to the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Terminal 3. I’ve never been terribly impressed by that lounge — it’s private enough and has a decent dining setup, though there’s nothing that really sets it apart. The wifi in that lounge is horrible as well, in my experience, which is the most basic lounge amenity there is nowadays.

Anyway, I was sort of pleasantly surprised by this lounge. The decor was quite similar to the first class lounge, in that it seemed to be a hybrid between a library and cigar bar.

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Etihad Lounge seating Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

The lounge wasn’t huge, though did feature plenty of partitioned off seating areas, which at least made the lounge feel a bit more private.

There were plenty of comfortable well padded lounge chairs.

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Etihad Lounge seating Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

Then there were a ton of dining tables in the main part of the lounge.

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Etihad Lounge seating Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge seating Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

There were also bar stools with table top seating.

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Etihad Lounge seating Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

There was also a business center with iMacs, which is where I initially settled down.

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Etihad Lounge business center Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

And then in the very back of the lounge were more dining tables.

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Etihad Lounge dining area Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

In the center of the lounge was the buffet, which was actually fairly impressive.

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

Most importantly it had a cappuccino machine, which was almost identical to the one Alaska Airlines has in their Seattle Board Room. I was pretty exhausted at this point in my travels, so had about a dozen shots of espresso to stay awake.

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Etihad Lounge coffee machine Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

The food selection was also quite good. To my surprise (since this isn’t their “flagship” lounge and is primarily for regional flights) everything looked quite edible, and the presentation wasn’t half bad either. I wasn’t hungry in the slightest, though couldn’t resist trying a couple of the mini-desserts.

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

The salads looked especially appealing — all the veggies looked perfectly ripe.

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

There were also six hot dishes, which looked tasty as well.

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Etihad Lounge buffet Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

Near the entrance to the lounge is a Six Senses Spa, where you can get a complimentary 15 minute treatment. They had availability at 8:30PM, so I booked a 15 minute neck and shoulder massage. It was fantastic, and after my treatment was done I was asked if I’d like to also use one of the massage chairs. I couldn’t turn that down!

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Etihad Lounge hallway Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge massage chair Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

I spent roughly the next hour having a Hamlet-style dialogue with myself. I really wanted to shower, but the only available shower room wasn’t actually a shower room, per se. Instead, it was a shower inside the men s room. There are two problems with that:

  • OMFG I’M A SELECTIVE GERMAPHOBE and a non-private shower inside a bathroom just seems wrong on so many levels (I struggle with totally private showers in airports, which are gross enough)
  • There was a full time bathroom attendant, and that just creeped me the hell out

So I went to see the people at the Six Senses Spa to ask if there were any other shower options, and they informed me that they actually had a shower room in the spa as well. It was small, but at least it was private. It was about two feet from the spa reception desk, so I got to listen to their conversation the entire time I was showering. Fun times!

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Etihad Lounge shower room Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge shower room Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Lounge shower room Terminal 1 Abu Dhabi Airport

Anyway, I spent the next several hours getting caught up on work. Unlike in the Terminal 3 First Class Lounge, the wifi was actually usable, which was good.

The lounge wasn’t very busy when I first arrived, but by midnight it was packed.

The most amusing part of my layover had to be the lady in the burqa seated across from me, who spent a good five minutes trying to take a selfie. I only know this because she had one of those apps that makes animals noises (or something) every time it snaps pictures. Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m no selfie expert, but how do you take a bad selfie when you’re wearing a burqa?! Isn’t the reason people usually retake selfies because of facial expressions and angles? And I kinda fail to see how that would be an issue when wearing a burqa.

But what do I know?

My flight to Cairo was scheduled to board at 12:25AM, so at around 12:10AM I left the lounge, knowing I’d still have to go through security.

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Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

The walk to the gate took about 10 minutes, and took me through the central part of Terminal 1, which was packed and felt very Vegasy.

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Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

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Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

Gate 10 was towards the center of the terminal. The security checkpoint was shared with one other gate, and there was no priority queue.

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Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

The wait wasn’t very long and I didn’t mind waiting, though I was amazed by how many a$$holes there were that were incapable of waiting in a line. At least a dozen people tried to stroll to the front of the line and cut everyone.

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Gate 10 Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

At around 12:30AM boarding began. There wasn’t actually an announcement of any sort, but rather people just started rushing the gate. So yeah, no priority boarding or anything.

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Gate 10 Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1

That was actually the most civilized part of the night when it came to following directions, as I’d soon learn…

Etihad Airways Lounge Abu Dhabi bottom line

This is by no means one of the top business class lounges in the world, though I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think there was a huge difference between the Terminal 3 First Class Lounge and this one. Both had Six Senses Spas and a decent food spread. This lounge had usable wifi, while the first class lounge had a better a la carte menu.

I wouldn’t plan a long layover just to visit this lounge, but it was also perfectly usable. I just wish the shower situation would have been better.

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Comments

  1. As someone who notorously shower at the “Lufthansa Spa” in Frankfurt and padd my schedule with extra time to do so when in transit I find great entertainment in reading about you shower issues.. ­čÖé

  2. If you could hear the receptionists talk from the shower room it stands to reason they could also hear you showering. ­čśë

  3. The F Lounge in T3 supposed to Open in December of this year when the A380 starts service to LHR. Where did you hear April 2015? There is no way they will go without an F lounge for 6+ months.

  4. I love the architecture of the gate area. You have to admit that’s pretty unique in the world of airport design. I remember when I first saw that as a kid, cool that it is still around after all these years.

  5. I visited that lounge last april and I found it pretty decent. I also had a shower in the shower in the spa area, I seem to remember there was more then one there?

  6. cmon ben after self-professing to be a gossip queen, you cant just tell us you overheard (the potentially cute) females at the spa desk and NOT spill the beans any further.

    I kid, I kid. but no seriously you cant just leave us hanging like that lol. unless the “fun times” comment was just sarcasm and whatever they were talking about wasnt all that interesting, in which case you get a pass.

  7. She wasn’t wearing a burqa, she was wearing a Niqab and your comment is both stupid and offensive. Why shouldn’t she take a selfie? Why is it a subject of ridicule?

    For someone that travels the World you have a very narrow view of Arab culture and custom. One would think you have developed a wider perspective on life, but it appears not.

    For a ‘travel blogger’ you don’t seem to know all of the relevant information before you travel. T1 is a combined J and F lounge after they close the separate F Lounge. T3 has two lounges, but the F lounge is currently under renovation. Pax can use lounges in either terminal.

  8. MD how is the comment offensive and stupid? I guess if you were born lacking a sense of humor, or just a plain old a–hole.

    No wonder your people keep blowing things up and needlessly killing people, and make your women wear such ridiculous clothing. I find that a lot more stupid and offensive.

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