Browsing Tag: EY

Etihad has strength in branding, this lounge could be anywhere. This entrance is the new LAX lounge, though.

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

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.

Follow the signs to the Hugo Junkers Lounge in DUS.

Recently on a oneworld itinerary connecting through Düsseldorf 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.

As a oneworld Sapphire elite member (in my case, Platinum on American Airlines), flying with Oneworld partners grants me access to airport lounges, though with the caveat that lounges operated by third parties may not be available. Fortunately, that restriction wasn’t in place on this trip; previously, flying Air Berlin on my first leg from Hamburg (HAM) to DUS, I was given access to the Hamburg Airport Lounge. My next leg from DUS to London Heathrow (LHR) was on British Airways, which contracts with the Hugo Junkers Lounge operated by DUS, to which I was also granted access thanks to my status.

Wikipedia: Who is Hugo Junkers?

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).

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport. Etihad Airways at JFK - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Somehow understated, but an amazing and easy to find mark in any airport – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I seem to live in airport lounges these days. I’ve noticed a theme, especially within the United States. The concept of luxury, decadence, and modernity have been eschewed by small packs of American cheese, rubbery cookies, and buy-your-own ill-textured food provided by Sysco. On top of that, the lounges are usually dirty. The showers feel more “grandmother’s  basement” than luxury. In the case of one overseas lounge, it cannot pass a health inspection to save its life!

Etihad Airways has had great lounges in the past, but now again succeeds with the introduction of Facets of Abu Dhabi brand. Etihad knew they had to not just lead, but cement that lead, as best in all classes. To be fair though, the older-style Etihad lounges are starting to merely be the best, not years beyond the competition.

That said, according to Calum Laming, Etihad’s Vice President of Guest Experience, what they came up with is really not a mere lounge.

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It's truly beautiful - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The bar is the central fixture of the new Etihad JFK lounge. It’s truly beautiful. – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

He is right.

Imagine if you could, with the help of an airport facility design firm called Gensler (they do shopping malls as well), create something inside an airport that felt nothing like it, save for the spectacular ramp view?

Well, they did it. I knew, previously, that Etihad takes its design cues from Fairmont hotels. Except when you step into the lobby of this lounge, it feels as if you have left JFK; teleported to Vancouver, and walked into the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.

A6-LRE a 777-237/LR loading up for the long flight back to Abu Dhabi at LAX - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AIrlineReporter

A6-LRE, a 777-237LR, loading up at LAX for the long flight back to Abu Dhabi – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

“That was the bulliest experience I ever had. I envy you your professional conquest of space.”

Thing is, Teddy Roosevelt never flew Etihad. Guy missed out. If a small biplane could impress our only president to ever ride a moose, I think the sheer awesomeness of Etihad would likely have left him a gibbering fool!

AirlineReporter Senior Correspondent Jacob Pfleger flew Etihad’s first class product back in the days when it was still called “Diamond First Class.” It was amazing, but with the introduction of the Facets of Abu Dhabi scheme and removal of the word diamond, Etihad has taken it even further. Out of a sense of curiosity and jealousy, a need to travel to South Africa, and a desire to best Jacob, I found a good fare from Los Angeles to Johannesburg that would let me put Etihad to the test on their longest pair of flights. I flew from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi and back, the route that Etihad purchased their 777-200LR fleet from Air India specifically to launch.

The suite was too long to fit its entirety in my 14mm lens! Photo- Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The suite was too long to fit its entirety in my 14mm lens! – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Now, when these planes came from Air India, they were in legendary Air India style. Missing parts, missing documents, pretty much close to the axe; the aircraft were not taken care of. Worse, Air India had decided to purchase the auxiliary fuel tanks from Boeing that were necessary for their dream routes to the U.S. West Coast that will only materialize this year (maybe). Etihad and Boeing worked for months to bring these aircraft up to scratch.

However, when you get on board, there is not a trace of the old horrors and neglect that these wonderful machines faced. The result is a first class cabin that is better than both Gulfstreams I have flown on.

The extremely wide seat extends into a bed well over six feet in length. Feeling exposed? Yeah, I would be too. Even though you can’t really see any other passengers when seated, that’s not the point – you have the ability to shut your doors and have ultimate privacy. When I fly, I’d rather not see anyone but the cabin crew. Commercial flights are not about socializing for me. Etihad understands.