The Gulf carriers are certainly under financial pressure from their governments, so we’re increasingly seeing them monetizing their products. Earlier in the year I wrote about how Emirates began selling lounge access.
Essentially, Emirates lets you pay $100 to access the business class lounge or $200 to access the first class lounge. Meanwhile if you’re flying business class, you can pay $100 to access the first class lounge. That’s potentially a pretty decent deal, depending on how long your layover is.
Well, Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways is following the lead of Emirates, and has now started selling access to their first class lounge.
Points From The Pacific reports the following new policy from Etihad:
You can now pay and upgrade to our First Class Lounge & Spa at Abu Dhabi Airport.
Enjoy our most remarkable lounge experience with a variety of spaces to work, rest and play. Enjoy fine-dining prepared in-house by our Chefs. Relax in our spa, be pampered at nail bar, have a blow dry, or take advantage of our wet-shave service. Work out in the Fitness Room or rest in the Relax and Recline Room.
- If you’re flying in Business or Economy Class, you can choose from 2, 4 and 6 hour upgrade packages starting from only USD $200 / AED 735.
- As a First Class guest, you can invite a companion to join you in our First Class Lounge & Spa for only USD $100 / AED 367.
- If you’re an Etihad Guest Gold member travelling in Business Class, you’ll have a preferential upgrade rate of only USD $100 / AED 367.
All Lounge access is subject to availability, so check with our Lounge staff on your day of travel. Our First Class Lounge & Spa is open 24 hours a day.
Payment is by credit card only.
Etihad has a few more restrictions in place than Emirates does. For one, only Gold members traveling in business class can upgrade to the first class lounge for $100 (meanwhile at Emirates, all business class passengers can upgrade for $100).
Those in economy or business class can buy packages starting at $200 to upgrade to the first class lounge. They seem to charge based on how long you stay, with the option of staying for two, four, or six hours, so I imagine it’s more than $200 if you’re staying for over two hours.
I think paying $100 to access the first class lounge as a Gold member in business class could be a good value if you have a long layover. However, paying $200+ for limited access isn’t as good of a deal, in my opinion. It’s also not clear whether spa treatments are included or whether you have to pay extra, as not all passengers in the lounge are eligible for free spa treatments.
Personally I think the best “paid” lounge access value is still with Air France. They charge 300EUR to access their first class lounge in Paris, and you can only take advantage of it if you’re flying business class on a longhaul flight without a first class cabin.
The Air France first class lounge Paris is by far the best in the world, and they’ll pick you up at your arriving flight, drive you to your departing flight, you get a free spa treatment, and the restaurant is the best offered in any airline lounge by a long shot. It’s expensive, but it’s a special experience.
Could you see yourself paying for upgraded lounge access with Etihad?