Etihad Updates Their First Class Lounge Access Policy For The Better

Filed Under: Etihad

A few weeks ago Etihad’s much anticipated new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi finally opened, after a significant delay. The lounge looks gorgeous, and I’ve heard great things so far. I’m excited to visit it myself soon, so I can decide if it ranks in my list of the top seven first class airline lounges in the world.

Etihad’s new first class lounge Abu Dhabi

However, shortly after the first class lounge opened, Mike wrote about a rather frustrating policy Etihad has with the new lounge. Etihad is only granting first class lounge access to those departing in first class, and not those connecting from first class to a flight without a first class cabin.

While they’re not alone in having such a policy, a vast majority of airlines allow those connecting from international first class to use the first class lounge.

It’s the logical policy for a variety of reasons.

On the most basic level, a first class fare is typically the same regardless of whether your connection is in first, business, or economy. For example, Etihad operates Abu Dhabi to Delhi both with two cabin and three cabin planes, and you pay the same fare whether you’re in first or business class for that last segment. So why should you get penalized with worse lounge access as well?



I’d also note that the new first class lounge is big, so it’s not that they put this restriction into place due to major space constraints.

Etihad’s new first class lounge Abu Dhabi

Lastly, with this new policy, first class passengers are actually worse off than before. Previously there was a partitioned off section in the business class lounge for first class passengers, including those connecting from first class to business class. That section is no longer there given that the first class lounge has opened, but connecting passengers don’t have access to that either.

Etihad business class lounge Abu Dhabi

Well, at least they haven’t until now.

It looks like there’s some good news on this front — Etihad is now allowing passengers connecting from first class to business class into their new first class lounge. I’ve had two reports now of people getting access to the lounge without any issues, so it seems they quietly made this update.

This is great news for those connecting from first class to business class.

  1. What if you were connecting either on separate tickets or on the same ticket but to a different carrier also out of T3 – VA, JU, AB & HM?

  2. But will you still get access if you arrive in Etihad First from JFK and connecting on Qatar First to DOH?

  3. Especially since JU, AB & HM are Etihad Airways partners and EY owns a significant portion of those airlines, incl VA.

  4. I specifically inquired about this the other day when I was at the FC Lounge flying MNL -AUH (J on 2 class plane) and F on AUH-LHR. I asked if I would be allowed access to FC lounge on my return trip (connecting from F to J) and they said yes- as long as the there is no FC on the departing leg. I asked to double check since I knew of the previous departing FC only access policy and she reiterated that this is not the case anymore.
    No need to slum it out on my return! Whew…
    That being said…I was a bit disappointed though… If they couldn’t make the lounge as architecturally interesting as Al Safwa..they can at least amp up the offerings instead of cutting down (15 minute massage OR shave?)….

  5. Great news! I don’t get unnecessarily restrictive lounge policies. I was on LH F class FRA-ORD, connecting to UA domestic F on Monday. I was denied lounge access in ORD, because UA’s policy is that United Club access on intl premium arrivals is only for those flying on UA metal. I was shocked.

  6. Looking forward to your review of this lounge (and overall transit experience at AUH.) What concerns me more is the transit experience, especially with the US pre-clearance for F class passengers.
    I’m not sure whether AUH will top FRA FCT or CDG La Premiere but this is the newest F class lounge out there so they had time to observe what the competition is doing.

  7. I’m curious about how this will apply to Etihad flights that are part of a partner booking. I’ve got a JFK-AUH flight on Etihad First, and then a business class flight AUH-DEL on Jet, as part of an AA award booking. I wonder if I’ll be able to use the first class lounge for that one.

  8. Recently we had to in first and 2 in bus traveling together and they let us all in with no problems. We all had Global Entry as well but it wasn’t working and the TSA officer just got of shrugged and said that happens lot. the US passport line literally had no one else in it so it was not a big deal.

  9. I flew first class on an Ethiad ticket from Abu Dhabi to Charlotte with a connection in Dallas. Ethiad offered no lounge access in Dallas whatsoever for my connection on AA to Charlotte even though Ethiad has a lounge in Terminal D. That’s ridiculous.

  10. I have an upcoming trip on EK First connecting to EK Business in Dubai. Curious to know what Emirates’ policy is.

  11. Yes, unfortunately for me I can also confirm this new policy. I’m sitting in the Business lounge as I write this having arrived on First onboard an Etihad flight. We’re connecting on Business again with Etihad and were told we could only access the First Lounge (which I was hoping to do) if our onward flight did not have a First cabin. As ours does we were limited to the Business lounge. It’s still very nice mind you, although a little busy at this time of night.

  12. I did LHR-AUH on First with a connecting AUH-SIN on Business, and I can also confirm that I didn’t get access to the First lounge. The lounge agent verified that my AUH-SIN flight had a First cabin, and very politely said it’s not possible to use the First lounge.

    However, my main reason for this post is to thank you, Lucky, for opening my eyes to this option. I always thought I was savvy with miles but apparently I was only 10% there. Thanks to you, I went through the (pre-devaluation) AA route and got my chance of a lifetime in the First Apartment. Amazing experience, one that I’ll never forget – also because I’ve got about 1,000 pictures to remember it by 🙂

    And yes, for some strange reason I giggled too when showering on board.

    Thank you.

  13. So Damien and Ryan contradict this entire post. I’m confused now. Have the changed the policy or not? I’ve got a 5-day hold on a US-AUH-JNB flight. F on the first leg; Biz on the 2nd, as there is no F cabin on that route. If I can’t check out the F lounge, I probably won’t pull the trigger on this. Any other data points out there to support this post?

  14. Hi guys does anyone else have an update on if lounge access is being granted or is it purely luck of the draw? Thanks!

  15. Wondering if there is any time limit for the onward connection regarding F lounge access? We arrive AUH from JFK at 8:00p in F and connect to JNB at 10:00a the following morning in J, which is first connection available.

  16. Fiona, in the end we extended our Abu Dhabi stay by another day so didn’t attempt the F lounge access. Sorry not more helpful!

  17. I’m also in Jack’s situation. Does anyone know whether access is granted if the connection involves an overnight, and you leave the airport?

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