Review: Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport

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My flight from Sydney landed at Terminal 3, and from there I had to walk to Terminal 2, which is the international terminal out of which Virgin Australia operates. That was roughly a 10 minute walk, and required exiting the sterile area.


Melbourne Airport international terminal

Fortunately the security checkpoint was painless, and there was even a premium lane. Then I also had to proceed through immigration, which just took a minute. The security checkpoints dumped out into a maze of a duty free shop, which has to be one of the most annoying trends in terminal design.


Melbourne Airport international duty free

Virgin Australia is partly owned by Etihad, so at Melbourne Airport Virgin Australia uses the Etihad Lounge for their international passengers. Etihad’s lounge in Melbourne just opened last year, so it’s fairly new.

I followed the signage towards lounges, and within a few minutes saw the escalators and elevator leading to both the Emirates and Etihad lounges, located one level above the main concourse.


Escalator to lounges at Melbourne Airport

At the top of the escalator I found the entrance to the Emirates Lounge on the left, and the entrance to the Etihad Lounge on the right. It’s sort of funny that the two Gulf carriers have lounges right across from one another.


Emirates Lounge exterior Melbourne Airport

While smaller than Etihad’s New York JFK Lounge, the Melbourne Lounge had the same exterior styling.


Etihad Lounge exterior Melbourne Airport

The Etihad Lounge was large, and featured Etihad’s latest design, as you’d expect for a lounge that opened just last year.

Near the entrance were rows of comfortable leather chairs (in the below picture you’ll see a door at the end of the room, which is the entrance to the Residence Lounge — I guess that won’t be needed anymore soon, since Etihad is pulling the A380 from Melbourne).


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport seating


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport seating


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport seating

Near that was a private play room for kids.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport kids room


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport kids room

Past the rows of seats was a large dining area, with about a dozen tables that each seated two people.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport dining area

Then there was a long bench with small coffee tables and pillows to separate the dining area from the seating area by the entrance.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport dining area


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport

By the window was the signature Etihad bar, which looked stunning.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport bar

There was more seating by the windows, as well as some communal tables towards the back of the lounge.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport

Then back near the entrance was a more private seating area, with a couple of TVs.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport seating

The entire lounge boasted gorgeous views of planes at nearby gates. However, unfortunately they use some kind of weird green film on their windows, which makes it tough to take good pictures (and might also explain the strange lighting in the lounge).


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport view

The Emirates A380 was parked immediately below the Etihad Lounge, which made me chuckle. What a view!


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport view


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport view

The bathrooms were back near the center of the lounge, and featured several private stalls, as well as a few urinals.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport bathroom


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport bathroom

There was also a private shower room located inside the bathroom.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport shower room


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport shower room

Etihad always does a spectacular job with keeping their bathrooms clean. At all their lounges worldwide they seem to have a dedicated bathroom attendant, who always makes sure that the towels by the sinks are in a perfect “triangle.”

The buffet was towards the back of the lounge, and was decent.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport buffet

It featured smoked salmon, cold cuts, smoothies, yogurt, fresh fruit, croissants, banana bread, cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausage.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport breakfast spread


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport breakfast spread


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport breakfast spread


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport breakfast spread


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport breakfast spread

There was also an espresso machine, as well as fresh juice, tea, and self serve soft drinks.


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport buffet


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport tea selection


Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport fresh juice

For more broad thoughts on the lounge, I thought the design was beautiful, and I loved how much natural light there was. I also really appreciated how empty it was — Etihad’s two daily flights from Melbourne don’t depart until the afternoon and evening, so it was only Virgin Australia passengers using the lounge at this time. Furthermore, the staffing levels were impressive, and the people in the lounge were friendly and attentive.

At the same time, there’s no denying that Etihad has been doing a lot of cost cutting with their lounges. I remember my first visit to the Etihad Lounge New York, where they had a la carte dining, incredible signature cocktails, and barista made coffee.

Meanwhile this lounge had no menu, no cocktail list, and the only coffee available was from the machine. These are of course total first world problems, but I think Etihad spoiled us a bit too much in the past with how good their lounge soft product was.

I had about a three hour connection, so I ended up spending about 90 minutes in the lounge. The wifi was fast, and allowed me to get some work done, since I knew my flight to Los Angeles wouldn’t have wifi.

My flight to LAX was departing at 11:30AM, so at around 10:30AM I decided to head to the gate. Boarding was scheduled for 10:45AM from gate 14, which was about a 10 minute walk away.


Walking to Virgin Australia departure gate Melbourne Airport

The international terminal was remarkably empty, and nice and modern.


Walking to Virgin Australia departure gate Melbourne Airport


Malaysia A330 Melbourne Airport

Gate 14 was at the far end of the terminal on the left. The gate area was surprisingly empty.


Departure gate Melbourne Airport

By 10:45AM boarding was called, starting with those who needed extra time, and followed by those in business class. I couldn’t wait to experience Virgin Australia’s longhaul business class product.

Etihad Lounge Melbourne bottom line

It’s cool that Virgin Australia uses the Etihad Lounge for their business class passengers in Melbourne. It’s a beautiful lounge, and wasn’t at all crowded, given that “our” flight was the only one using the lounge at the time. The design of the lounge is beautiful and the food was decent, though there has certainly been a good bit of cost cutting when it comes to Etihad’s lounge experience.

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Comments

  1. “It’s soft of funny that the two Gulf carriers have lounges right across from one another.”

    As opposed to the hard type of funny? 😉

  2. It’s sad to see Etihad cutting sit down dining, it was what set them apart from all the other business lounges… I’m surprised they didn’t just reserve it for first class and just kick business and frequent flyers out.

  3. @Aaron Tan No, it isn’t true. I was in Japan for a month and never had anyone do something like that. Where’d you find that? Someone’s screwing with you….

  4. Virgin Australia don’t actually use the Etihad lounge for all their international flights. Flights to New Zealand for example must use the domestic lounge before their flight. There has been no word so far about which lounge Hong Kong flights will use. Go figure.

  5. Definitely agree about the annoying trend of having to walk through Duty Free. Auckland does that, among other airports. What’s especially annoying is when a plane disembarks, a huge volume of people gets squeezed through this narrow walkway. Sometimes bottles of booze precariously line the sides.

  6. Having recently flown the MEL-AUH-LHR business class, evening departure, I used the lounge, which i found a bit of challenge to locate, when approaching from gate 10 side of the concourse. This could have been due to some Melair maintenance work that was underway at the time though. I did think that the preflight food offering in the buffet was somewhat pared back, with only a small selection of cheeses and crackers with minimal dried fruit on offer. I wondered if it was due to the late departure time, and they were winding back for the end of the day. If not the case sure felt like it. Whilst I agree some stunning styling elements and quick wifi, and overall a pleasant lounge, I think I prefer the equivalent product from EK.

  7. Is the lack of a menu due to the morning hours? or the cost cutting?

    I was there for dinner last October and there was definitely a menu back then.

  8. Try adjusting white balance to improve your photos. Probably no point to fix these ones but a lot of your hotel photos have a yellow bias which does do the interior design justice.

  9. @Lucky when you get a chance you might want to update readers about the Qatar bound flights being basically off limits for all gulf based airlines as of…well immediately.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40155829

    Flights transiting (gulf airlines only currently) via Doha are suspended as of Tuesday morning local time. Not sure if the State Dept here in the US is going to issue any travel advisories in light of this.

  10. @Jim
    I also don’t think it’s cost cutting, but the fact that Lucky passed through when there weren’t any Etihad flights scheduled to depart soon (the lounge looks almost completely empty in the photos).
    My wife transited through Melbourne last month and ordered a burger off the menu and had a barista made coffee before her flight.

  11. Off-topic but:

    Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain have cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. All flights between those countries and Qatar have been suspended. Look into it.

  12. The truth is – kick out all the partners, 3rd party airlines bookings and only allow etihad first, business and gold, platinum frequent flyers.

  13. @Jim @Eddie agreed. I flew First from Melbourne 2 weeks ago and they a menu and barista. So I suspect they’re prioritising their own EY flights later in the day. Cost cutting would have been to deny VA guests!

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