Etihad offers complimentary chauffeur service for their first and business class passengers, so I requested a pick-up for the InterContinental Abu Dhabi at 7:30AM, leaving me plenty of time in the lounge. I was in the lobby at 7:20AM, though the driver didn’t show up until 8:10AM, a full 40 minutes late. That’s totally unacceptable, in my opinion, especially since he made no effort to contact me and let me know he’d be late. He didn’t even apologize, but rather just said “don’t worry, you still have plenty of time and won’t miss your flight.”
Anyway, he was friendly once we were actually underway for the ~20 minute drive to the airport. While the outbound transfer service was in an Audi, this time it was in a Volvo.
The driver was from India, so we discussed my recent trip there for most of the ride.
He dropped me off at the dedicated first and business class check-in area, where I was promptly offered help by one of the porters.
Premium check-in entrance
The premium check-in area is separated into a first and business class section, with the business class section having counters, while the first class section has seating.
First class check-in
First class check-in
Check-in was efficient, and I was quickly directed towards security, where I queued behind an Australian guy heading to Sydney in first class. Security was quick, though the agents were yapping on their cell phones while working.
Past security there were a ton of high end duty free shops, though I headed straight for the first class lounge to have breakfast and catch up on email.
Duty free shopping
The lounge entrance was easy to find and not far past security.
At the lounge I was directed to the first class area, which was fairly empty. A majority of the lounge consists of comfortable sofas overlooking the tarmac, so I took a seat there.
First class lounge
Within moments of being seated I was offered a beverage and hot towel. At that point I decided to take a quick tour of the lounge.
The lounge features a library with more comfortable seating, though I didn’t use it.
Next is the restaurant, which consists of several tables overlooking the kitchen.
Larger table at restaurant
Next to the restaurant was the well stocked bar, though it was a bit early to enjoy it.
They were running a “promotion” with Mumm champagne, though I’m not sure what exactly that means in the context of a lounge where drinks are free. I suspect this simply means that Etihad was offered the champagne at a discounted price (or maybe for free?) in exchange for it being promoted.
The lounge also featured a Six Senses Spa (the brand of hotel I stayed at in the Maldives back in October), with several shower rooms.
As a first class passenger I was entitled to a complimentary 15 minute massage, which I took advantage of immediately. While it was only 15 minutes, it was spectacular. I’m used to airlines offering short massage “teasers” to passengers, and they’re usually pretty half a$$ed given that these people are often giving 30-40 massages a day. But the massage was awesome, and I felt great afterwards. While I realize a tip probably wasn’t required, I gave him my remaining Dirham, which translated to about $20USD, and seemed to make his day.
After a great massage I decided to go to the restaurant for breakfast, given that I hadn’t eaten at the hotel. I sat down at a table overlooking the kitchen, and was promptly served.
View of kitchen
The lounge has an extensive a la carte menu, and I went with an omelet.
I ordered a Mimosa to drink, and was also served orange juice and water, in addition to some toast to start.
Mimosa and toast
My omelet was brought out about 15 minutes later, and was nicely presented.
I should also mention the one huge downside to the lounge, which is that Wi-Fi is incredibly slow.
About 30 minutes before departure I headed for the gate. As I left the lounge and asked which gate the New York flight was departing from, the agent had the widest eyes as I hadn’t yet left, and said “sir, you better run or you’ll miss your plane.”
On the whole I’d rank this as one of the better first class lounges. It’s a notch below the Lufthansa First Class Terminal and Thai First Class Lounge & Spa, though a notch above the British Airways First Lounge and Cathay Pacific Wing/Pier. I’d say it’s probably a slight notch below the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse, which is my third favorite lounge in the world.