Those highlights included a free hotel program for long layovers and a unique US immigration pre-clearance facility. The pièce de résistance was a morning visit to the incredible first class lounge, with a gourmet breakfast, great views of the ramp, and even a cigar bar.
Read on for a walkthrough of Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub, and for tips on how to take advantage if you pass through the airport yourself.
A few years ago Etihad Airways set out to streamline itself. After hitting hard times and running into fierce competition, it cut routes, cut costs, and invested in a more fuel-efficient fleet. And earlier this year Etihad announced a long-awaited return to profitability. So that part of the transformation seems to be working.
But did the passenger experience take a hit from the airline’s belt-tightening? We had a chance to find while flying business class on their 787-9 Dreamliner, a staple of their leaner long-haul fleet. Read on for plenty of photos, videos, and opinions on the experience. And at the end of the story we have some fresh news about Etihad’s onboard product.
Arriving at Dulles
Our flight was in business class from Washington D.C. to Abu Dhabi. I love planespotting at Dulles, especially from onboard those goofy “mobile lounge” buses.
Etihad’s Verified to Fly program allows you to confirm your COVID vaccine related documentation in advance, which scores you access to a separate shorter check-in line. Definitely take advantage of if you can — it can mean major time savings at the airport.
A few months ago, Etihad Airways introduced the Airbus A350-1000 to their active fleet, which came equipped with a brand-new business class cabin. These aircraft have been flying a select few long-haul routes, including to New York JFK.
It was on that route that my wife — ahem I mean the newest AirlineReporter guest contributor Meghan Koushik — grabbed some quick pictures. And it’s a really gorgeous cabin. Take a look for yourself.
This business class cabin has the same understated style as Etihad’s previous business class seat still flying on their Dreamliners, but with more consistency from seat to seat. There’s also an improved privacy factor, thanks to sliding doors that turn your seat into a miniature suite. Notably, Etihad doesn’t offer a first class cabin on their A350s, so this business class is as fancy as you’re going to get.
We’ll be back later with some thoughts, photos, and videos from a separate flight on their B787 business class. For now, let us know in the comments section below what you think about the cabin, or if any of you have firsthand experience flying it.
Etihad has strength in branding; this lounge could be anywhere. This entrance is the new LAX lounge, though. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
It’s no secret that Etihad knows how to build a lounge. They have been very busy. Late last year, they opened their fabulous New York lounge. This year it was followed by a new lounge in Melbourne and their new First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi’s terminal 3. Before their efforts go to maximum on finishing the gorgeous new midfield terminal back home, they had one more lounge up their sleeve; Los Angeles. In the two years they’ve been serving LAX, they have transported more than a quarter million guests. The premium guests were using the lovely Star Alliance lounge next door until this facility opened earlier this week. The Star Alliance lounge, however, did not say Etihad.
James Hogan, in presence of the CEO of LAWA and other Etihad executives opening the LAX lounge – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
While this lounge does not have a Residence nook, yet, it does have a VIP area that could easily serve the purpose should the A380 ever grace the west coast. The public premium area, however, is fantastic.
Follow the signs to the Hugo Junkers Lounge in DUS.
Recently on a oneworld itinerary connecting through Dà¼sseldorf Airport (DUS), I was able to visit the Hugo Junkers Lounge, which is contracted by several airlines to serve their premium passengers. As I said in my review of the Hamburg Airport Lounge, I’m always iffy when it comes to third-party lounges, so I headed up the elevator with cautious optimism.
The Hugo Junkers Lounge also contracts with several other airlines departing out of in the Schengen zone (read: mainly any airline not named Lufthansa), as well as a few membership programs. One could also pay €21 for access (credit cards only).