Review: Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles Airport

Filed Under: Etihad

After my brief visit to the Turkish Lounge, I headed over towards the Etihad Lounge at around 6:30PM, right as it opened. The Etihad Lounge is located at the far end of the A Concourse, right by gate A14.

Washington Dulles A Concourse

The lounge is quite literally at the end of the concourse, next to the escalators that passengers originating at Dulles Airport would take.

Washington Dulles A Concourse escalators

Etihad has a total of three US lounges, with the other locations being in Los Angeles and New York. The Washington location was their very first lounge in the US, as it opened in 2013. It doesn’t have their newest lounge design, unlike their other two US lounges.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles exterior

I arrived right as the doors to the lounge opened, and explained to the associate at the front desk that I didn’t yet have a boarding pass. She asked for my passport, and then invited me to enjoy the lounge, and said she’d come find me (which isn’t too tough to do when you’re the only guest).

Even though the lounge doesn’t have Etihad’s newest design, it’s a stunning space. There’s a second level for part of the lounge, so the ceilings throughout most of the lounge are quite high, which is nice.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles

The lounge apparently has seating for about 65 people, though I doubt it often fills up all the way.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

The lounge has tons of great seating options, mostly consisting of leather chairs in a variety of configurations. I especially liked the pairs of chairs along the windows, though do wish they had more conveniently placed power outlets, which seems like a bit of a design flaw.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

All the seating areas were cozy, and I’m generally a fan of Etihad’s “living room style” lounge design.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

In the center area of the lounge was the dining area, which had almost a dozen tables seating two people each.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles dining area

This is also where the buffet was located.

Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles dining area

Then past that was the bar area, which had four high-top seats.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles seating

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles bar area

There was a solid liquor selection, and perhaps more importantly, they had a legit espresso machine, which I appreciated.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles bar

The lounge also had a small business center with three iMacs and a printer, back near the entrance.

Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles business center

There was also a play area for kids.

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles kids area

Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles kids area

Towards the back of the lounge near the bar were the bathrooms, showers, and prayer room.

Etihad Lounge Washington prayer room

The bathroom itself was nice, and I’m always impressed by how Etihad seems to have a full time bathroom attendant at all their lounges, who makes sure that the towel triangle always stays perfect.

Etihad Lounge Washington bathroom

The lounge also had a shower room located inside the main bathroom. While I far prefer a fully private shower room, Etihad seems to have the shower rooms inside bathrooms at most of their lounges.

Etihad Lounge Washington shower room

Etihad Lounge Washington shower room

Fortunately the shower room itself was nice, and it had great toiletries from The White Company.

Etihad Lounge Washington shower room toiletries

Not only are the bathroom attendants at Etihad lounges on point, but I found everyone working in the lounge to be friendly and proactive. It’s just a totally different culture than you’ll find at most other airline lounges in the US.

In terms of the food & drinks, the buffet was back in the center of the lounge, and was in an “L” shape. On one side was a coffee machine, tea, and Arabic coffee. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting a coffee here — instead have them make you a legit one using the espresso machine behind the bar.

Etihad Lounge Washington coffee & tea selection

Then there was also a limited food spread.

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

Cold options included hummus, tabouleh, cheese, fruit, salad, and two types of small desserts.

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

Then there were three hot plates, which had a total of six hot options. These included paneer tikka masala with pulao rice, chicken breast with mushroom sauce and roasted vegetables, and lamb kofte with tomato sauce.

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

Frankly the quality of the food looked fine, but not that great.

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

Etihad Lounge Washington buffet

In terms of drinks, there was a selection of self serve wine, including Louis Roederer champagne.

Etihad Lounge Washington wine selection

Etihad Lounge Washington wine selection

Then there were soft drinks just standing on the table, which I found a bit odd. You’d think they’d be refrigerated — the way it was set up felt sort of like what you’d expect at a birthday party being held in a rec room. On the plus side, I was happy to see that they had San Pellegrino.

Etihad Lounge Washington soft drink & water selection

Overall the food & drink selection was the most disappointing part of the lounge, and where it was apparent that Etihad has been doing a lot of cost cutting. They used to have an a la carte selection in the lounge, though apparently they eliminated that a while back. Not only that, but I didn’t consider the buffet selection to be especially exceptional.

I can’t imagine how much money Etihad is investing in the lounge, so it seems sort of silly to spend so much on a lounge, but then have a mediocre food selection, as they have here.

Furthermore, their other lounges have an incredible selection of city-themed cocktails, though they don’t have that in this lounge either. Don’t get me wrong, the selection overall is still decent, it’s just sad when you know what they used to offer…

As I mentioned earlier, the Etihad Lounge also has an upper level, which I’ve heard is typically roped off. It wasn’t in use when I was there either, though I asked if I could go upstairs and take pictures, which was gladly accommodated. Apparently this is used as an overflow area and/or for VIPs, though it doesn’t seem like they need the capacity nowadays.

Etihad Lounge Washington upper level

The upstairs area had a few areas with a similar design to the downstairs area, though the seating areas had a bit more privacy than downstairs.

Etihad Lounge Washington upper level seating

Etihad Lounge Washington upper level seating

Etihad Lounge Washington upper level seating

There was also a buffet area, though there was nothing to eat or drink.

Etihad Lounge Washington upper level buffet

The lounge also had fantastic views of the Etihad 787-9 that would be taking me to Abu Dhabi.

Etihad 787 Washington Dulles Airport

Etihad 787 Washington Dulles Airport

One of the other awesome things about the lounge is that you can board the flight directly through it. There’s a door at the far end of the lounge that lets you straight onto the jet bridge.

Boarding directly through Etihad Airways Lounge Washington Dulles

Interestingly the lounge can also be used by Royal Air Maroc passengers, and that seems to be the only other airline they contract out to (which is strange since I don’t think they have an especially close partnership otherwise).

Etihad Lounge Washington departure monitor

I saved my appetite for onboard, and just had a cappuccino and sparkling water in the lounge.

Etihad Lounge Dulles Airport cappuccino

Then shortly before boarding I had some Arabic coffee and a date.

Etihad Lounge Dulles Airport Arabic coffee & date

Boarding was scheduled for 9:10PM, a full hour before departure. Typically Etihad doesn’t board anywhere close to the posted boarding time, though to my surprise, boarding did in fact start at 9:15PM.

Etihad Lounge Dulles bottom line

Overall I thought the Etihad Lounge Washington was beautiful. While it doesn’t have Etihad’s newest lounge design, I think their classic design is great as well. The staff in the lounge were great and it’s impressive that Etihad operates their own lounge when they have just one daily flight. Furthermore, the ability to board directly through the lounge is a nice perk that is usually reserved for the best airport lounges in the world.

However, I was disappointed by the cost cutting. This lounge used to have a menu off of which you can order, while now it just has a small buffet, which is pretty mediocre.

  1. Looks like the perfect setting for a Mad Men episode. The wine selection looks suspiciously similar to what AA used to serve before the revamp.

  2. That is NOT a mediocre buffet; it’s way above average. Not up to Emirates level perhaps but I infinitely prefer this kind of dining to the way over-rated menu based choices in a Qantas lounge, for example.

  3. The food looks pretty decent! Especially the Indian food looks solid. Kind of hard to comment on the quality without having tried any of it, though, right? But I get that it’s disappointed when compared to Etihad’s other lounges. If I hadn’t known about the other lounges and was in this one, I imagine I’d be pretty satisfied with this spread.

  4. It’s so interesting that they have this lounge for only 2 flights a day. It will be very interesting to see how the vast network of flights to/from the US that Etihad and Emirates have created will shake out as the electronics ban settles in and they continue to look for ways to cut costs. You have to figure some of their flights to smaller cities will be cut.

  5. I thought the food looked delicious.

    Sure they don’t have an a la carte menu, but what are they supposed to be serving? Shrimp brocettes? Lamb chops? Huge bowls of caviar?

    The food was obviously fresh–since they just opened, but it’s carefully laid out, garnished and bountiful. To say it’s mediocre without even tasting it seems elitist and unfair.

  6. Given that everyone arriving from Abu Dhabi will have pre-cleared US immigration, I really wish Etihad would allow arriving passengers to use this as an arrivals lounge, at least for those in first class. Seems like the timing would work reasonably well (the flight from Abu Dhabi gets to Dulles at 5pm, which would mean most arriving passengers would be out of there before the rush ahead of their 10pm flight). Heck, most passengers probably wouldn’t even use the lounge on arrival, but it would be nice to have the option if connecting, or to freshen up before heading to a dinner or event.

  7. Two lounge reviews in one day!

    What is this world coming to? At this rate, he’ll be posting that residence review thing in four days. The one with Johan the South African, that uneaten macaron tray and the signed photo of SHAWN MENDES!

    OMG! So fetch!

  8. @DiscountEconomyFlyer – I saw you posting snarky comments here yesterday as well. You must have a lot of spare time on your hands to visit a site you hate so often. Remember that when it comes to ad revenue, your clicks count the same as anyone else’s – so it’s you who is keeping Lucky in this job!

  9. The food actually looks delicious! But I haven’t tried it obviously.

    Why on earth are Emirates and Etihad cost cutting when their country supports them $$$ financially & their ticket prices are through the roof, considering they get a lot of revenue? Makes absolutely no sense

  10. Why didn’t you have the boarding pass with you yet Ben?

    I tried to find the answer in “Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington Dulles Airport” but failed….

  11. @Donald for those who fly up front, nothing but the best would do. I do live vicariously through Luckys writings, and I do enjoy them but yes, he can be elitist.

  12. @747always

    It’s not elitist as much as a charade. The guy flew halfway across the world to a semi-hellhole for a much cheaper fare on this product. For all his bluster and uneaten macaroons, he can’t escape what he is. It shows up in nearly every post.

    The other guy that reviewed this paid four times as much to get on the inaugural flight from JFK and covered it all in one post. He earned the right to be elitist but surprisingly comes off as more grounded in his writings.

  13. Truthfully, the buffet as a whole looked pretty good. I think the presentation does make a difference, the buffet set-up in the Turkish lounge looks much nicer than the one here does, so maybe that is one reason why Lucky felt the buffet here was average looking at best.

  14. @Lucky
    for the residnce flight, where did you credit the miles and how much did you earn?

  15. That lounge used to be the crew break room for Independence Air pilots and flight attendants. I think the Chief Pilot’s office is now the bathroom (or maybe the kids room) and the admin’s desk is now the bar.

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