You Can Now Buy Access To Etihad’s JFK Residence Lounge

Filed Under: Etihad

Etihad is known for the Residence, which is their private three room suite with butler service available on their fleet of A380s. I had the chance to fly the Residence from Abu Dhabi to Sydney last year, and it was probably the most memorable flight I’ve ever had.

The Residence experience begins before you get on the plane. In addition to being escorted every step of the way from the moment you arrive at the airport at your origin until the moment you leave the airport at your destination, Etihad has a dedicated Residence Lounge in Abu Dhabi. Here you get a private suite with butler service, and it’s almost as over the top as the in-air experience.

In order to make the experience as consistent as possible, Etihad also has special rooms for passengers traveling in the Residence at some of their outstations, so they can get privacy from the rest of the passengers. They have this in New York and London, for example.

A bit over a week ago I wrote about how Etihad has started selling access to their former Residence Lounge in Melbourne. This decision is fair enough — Etihad stopped flying the A380 to Melbourne as of October 2017, meaning that the Residence is no longer offered on the route.

Now that the room is empty, Etihad has started selling access to it for just 40AUD (~31USD) per visit, on a first come, first serve basis. The intent is that passengers wanting a bit more privacy can choose to use this room, though they don’t get any extra services included.

Etihad has just extended this to another airport, though in a way that I find sort of ridiculous. View from the Wing reports that Etihad is now selling access to their JFK Residence Lounge for $40, on a first come, first serve basis:

Now you can access our First & Business Class lounge for $75 per person. Pay and relax in our Etihad Lounge and enjoy great food, free Wi-Fi and shower facilities.

You can also upgrade to our VIP Room for an additional $40 for you and your family. This is a completely private area, where you can have a bite to eat, rest or simply enjoy time together before your flight. Our New York lounge opens three hours prior to flight departures. Lounge access and use of the VIP Room are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can pay at the lounge on the day by using credit card or Etihad Guest Miles.

This is the private lounge within Etihad’s JFK Lounge. You might be saying to yourself “but wait a second, Etihad still operates the Residence to New York!” They sure do. Twice daily. But the intent is that when there’s no one in the Residence (which is most of the time) they’ll sell you access to the room.

I’ve gotta be honest, this comes across as extremely cheap to me. It’s one thing to sell access to a room in a market where the Residence is no longer available, but to sell access to the room for literally $40 just seems desperate. Next thing you know they’ll let you buy access to the room for $40, buy caviar for $100, buy a butler for $50 per hour, buy an upgrade to the Residence onboard for $500 (without any extra service), etc.

What do you guys think — is this a creative way for Etihad to generate revenue, or does it come across as downright desperate?

  1. Sure, maybe start to sell The Residence Arrival service for $40, First Class onboard Caviar for $100, The Residence Butler service onboard for First Class $60 Per Hour.

  2. unbundling of premium cabins is good, some of us just want a flat bed and don’t care about the bells and whistles.

  3. I agree with Lucky. This cheapens the Residence experience. To access perks that are normally only available if you are flying the Residence (for $40!), makes the Residence experience feel less elusive and exclusive. The most Etihad can expect to make from this is ~$30k/year ($40 x 2 (per day) x 365). And realistically, they probably won’t even get half of that. Is the upside potential of making an additional $30k/year really worth it?

  4. “buy an upgrade to the Residence onboard for $500 (without any extra service), etc.”
    Shut up and take my credit card.

  5. I absolutely agree with you Lucky i completely understand them selling it in Melbourne where they don’t fly their A380 though at JFK that just seems cheap and desperate i mean say you pay thousands and thousands of dollars to fly the residence and are talking to your friend about how good every thing was including the lounge and there like yeah i did that to for $40 when i flew economy it was so good.It juts takes away from the exclusivity from it also if families are spending time in there i hope they clean it well for actual residence passengers.
    Disappointing Etihad!!!!!

  6. to all the whiners, people fly the same route for vastly different amounts of money. This isn’t new and its sad that you’d let how much others pay impact your experience. SAD!

  7. Meanwhile, recently coming from Sydney I did not get access to the residence lounge at Abu Dhabi though I booked the Residence fare (it was not available on my connecting flight).

    Absolutely STUPID!!!

    Their idea of being able to use this lounge in Abu Dhabi only when you will CONTINUE also with a Residence class flight makes no sense when you pay this kind of money.

  8. I can certainly see how they don’t need to do this, but are you really disappointed, or just bitter about it? I could see if you’re bitter, to the same degree I’m bitter I’ve never flown on the residence, or on 8 out of ten of your world’s 10 best first class products.

    And to Morgans point about a friend in economy, you either have to be in First/Business already, then pay $40, or pay $75pp +$40 for access.

  9. I’ll just pay $25 for a pic of Shawn Mendes taped to the seatback of my economy seat 64-H wityh no direct aisle access

  10. If the Residence is usually empty, maybe they should lower the price.

    It seems they don’t know how business works.

  11. Lucky – think you are looking at this all wrong.

    What if Etihad is offering this service so people can get a small sample of what the Etihad Residence experience is like at an lower rate?
    Think of cities that conduct Restaurant Week where you can get a limited menu at a lower cost at a high end restaurant. Not everyone will convert to full paying customers , but is a great way to spread the story besides letting bloggers in for free to try it out and write about it.

    Also it pretty ironic that someone who promotes “mistake fares” and is indigent when they are not honored , is upset about others paying less for a service and think it feels cheap.

  12. @ Mogreen — To be clear, I have no issues with them “giving this away.” I flew the Residence once, and I doubt I’ll ever fly it again. I’m happy for anyone who experiences the room. My point is that I don’t think this will tempt anyone to fly in the Residence. Putting someone in an empty room without any service for $40 hardly does anything to “dangle” the Residence experience, in my opinion. It’s one thing if they offered a $1,000 package with the full Residence ground experience, but I don’t think this does much, personally.

  13. I don’t think it’ll tempt anyone to fly Residence either, but I dont think it’s a deterrent, either. I can’t imagine most people book it for the ground experience. There are those of us who show up early to get it, but I don’t think we’re the favorite customers of Etihad anyway.

    I also see the Irony in the mistake fare conundrum, but I don’t see indigence when they’re not honored. Usually that’s accepted with grace (at least in the last couple of years)

  14. Unless there is some amazing champagne and caviar, I don’t see the point of paying 40$ over the first/business lounge. The way I read it, its only open to C and F bookings.

  15. I think Ethihad underpriced it. And if they are opening it up they may as well releave some of the lounge crowding at JFK by opening up to pax from other airlines.
    How about this?:
    Existing Etihad lounge access: $50 per person
    Etihad ecconomy: $100 per person
    Everybody and their cousin: $125 per person
    But I honestly think they could charge even more.

    @JJJ I think an auction system may be best for filling the Residence.

  16. Can’t wait to get into the residence lounge with my wife when we next Travel etihad economy or business.

  17. An empty hotel suite, business or first class seat, or premium lounge does not generate any revenue. Like a wise person once said – a little bit of something is a whole lot better than a whole lot of nothing. Could Etihad have gotten more money for the upgrade? Probably. However, I will not fault them for opening it up. After All, unless you are already flying business or first class, the $40 is in addition to the $70 per person to access the first/business class lounge. I suspect that the supply/demand ratio will dictate the price going forward.

  18. $40 to just sit in a room. Ok. So what, you go next door to bring in a plate of food and grab a drink? Classy.

  19. I fail to see the reason for outrage here. If they don’t have any customers using that room people can pay to rent the room and use it vs just having it remain empty. They don’t get any of the perks or anything they simply get a private area to relax before their flight. I really don’t get why this is such a big deal. Its not like they are denying customers who paid for those seats access to this room.

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