The Middle Eastern carriers are largely focused on controlling as many aspects of the customer experience as they can, probably largely because they can afford to do so.
For example, Emirates operates their own lounge at LAX, despite the fact that they only have one daily flight. Emirates could contract the lounge out to other airlines, but to maintain the quality of the lounge, they open it exclusively for their own passengers, so it’s only open a few hours a day. That’s not a cheap investment, given how expensive real estate is at Tom Bradley International Terminal.
While walking through Terminal 4 at JFK on Tuesday I noticed something I wasn’t aware of. There was wallpaper indicating that an Etihad Lounge was being built. I forgot to snap a picture, though it seems to concretely be under construction, even if it’s not all that far along. It was just past the security checkpoint on the left, on the upper level.
As it stands, Etihad uses The Wingtips Lounge JFK, which is an okay contract lounge, though hardly something a top airline would be proud of.
I followed up regarding the new lounge, and apparently Etihad is hoping to open their new JFK lounge before the end of the year, to coincide with the new Airbus A380 service to New York, which launches December 1, 2015. I wouldn’t necessarily count on that opening timeline being accurate, given that Etihad still hasn’t opened their new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi.
Presently Etihad operates their own lounges in eight cities, including Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Manchester, Paris, Sydney, and Washington.
Much like most of their outstation lounges, I would guess the New York JFK lounge will be a shared first & business class space, probably very similar to the Etihad Lounge London Heathrow.
The food at Etihad lounges is typically quite good, I’d say better than the average business class lounge but not quite as good as the top first class lounges.
My guess is that they’ll have a Six Senses Spa… I do love a spa treatment before a longhaul flight!
Color me very excited about Etihad opening their own lounge in New York. It should be a huge improvement over The Wingtips Lounge. Here’s to hoping it actually opens anywhere reasonably close to on time.