Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A: Etihad’s Gorgeous New Home

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A: Etihad’s Gorgeous New Home

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During my current wild review trip, I had the chance to check out Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A. This is Abu Dhabi’s new terminal, which opened as of November 2023, and it’s an exciting addition, as the home of Etihad Airways.

Previously, one of the downsides of traveling with Etihad was that Abu Dhabi Airport was kind of dumpy, but that’s no longer the case.

In this post I wanted to share my thoughts on the new terminal. All-in-all, I’m really impressed — the terminal has stunning architecture and is easy to navigate, though don’t expect any amenities that will blow you away.

The basics of Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A (initially referred to as the Midfield Terminal) has been a long time coming. Construction on the terminal started back in 2012, but the project stalled for an extended period of time, as Etihad underwent a business transformation.

With Etihad once again trying to grow sustainably and establish itself as a premium airline, we finally saw the new terminal open in late 2023.

Abu Dhabi Airport’s new Terminal A is 780,000 square meters (around 8.4 million square feet), and can handle 11,000 passengers per hour, plus 79 planes simultaneously. The terminal has 49 numbered gates, though that doesn’t account for remote stands, and also doesn’t account for some gates being able to accommodate two smaller planes at once.

Abu Dhabi Terminal A is able to serve up to 45 million passengers per year. For the time being, all flights at Abu Dhabi Airport are departing from the new Terminal A. Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 have been closed, though if demand increases in the future, we could see the reopening of Terminal 3.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A layout & design

Below you can see a map of Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A (thanks to “merely another passerby” for creating this, since there aren’t otherwise any maps of the terminal that I’ve seen). As you can see below, the terminal has one main central area, and then there are four wings with gates.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A map
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A layout

I do find the whole naming and numbering convention to be illogical. The airport terminals used to have numbers (Terminal 1 & Terminal 3), and now have letters (Terminal A). It’s weird to name the terminal after a letter, and then also have different parts of the terminal named after letters. So Terminal A has the A gates, B gates, C, gates, and D gates, which just seems unnecessarily confusing. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Anyway, Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A has gorgeous architecture, in particular in the central airside area that connects all of the gate areas. What I love about the terminal is that it feels quite grand, without feeling overwhelmingly large. It’s not like Istanbul Airport in terms of scale, so it still feels like a boutique hub.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A central area
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A central area
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A central area
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A central area

Thanks to the terminal having a larger central areas and then smaller individual piers, it’s never too far to get from the central security checkpoint (whether departing from Abu Dhabi or in transit) to any gate, which is great.

In comparison to the huge central area, the individual piers with gates are quite narrow. They have moving sidewalks in one direction only (which is fair enough, because unless you’re walking just to explore the terminal, there’s never a need to go in the other direction on the departures level.).

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A gate area
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A gate area

The terminal has a wide variety of seating options, beyond just your typical cluster of chairs in gate areas, which I’m sure passengers without lounge access appreciate.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A seating

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A amenities & features

Aside from pretty architecture, Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A doesn’t have any standout features, in my opinion. There are no waterfalls, or movie theaters, or multi-million dollar teddy bears, or butterfly gardens. One thing that stood out to me is that the general shopping and dining didn’t seem as high-end and extensive as at some of the other Gulf hubs, like Doha Hamad Airport.

Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I always question the economics of high-end outlets at airports, when many premium passengers have lounge access, and therefore are less likely to visit restaurants in terminals, and are less likely to just stroll around and visit stores.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A seems to have a fairly limited selection of dining options, most of which are consolidated on the upper level in the central part of the terminal.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A dining

For example, there’s a “Food Park,” with a TGI Fridays, Burger King, and Texas Chicken.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A dining

As far as shopping goes, the airport does have some luxury brands, but not as many as you’ll find in other airports.

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A shopping

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A lounges

I’ll be writing full reviews of these lounges in the near future, but Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A has two sets of lounge options. For Etihad passengers, there’s the Etihad First & Business Lounge. This lounge is spread across three floors, and is massive.

The layout of the lounge is unconventional, though I’m not necessarily sure I mind. In terms of proportions, this has to be the longest and narrowest lounge in the world. It seems like when the terminal was designed, lounges were almost considered as an afterthought, because the space dedicated to lounges is unlike what I’ve seen at any other airport.

Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

There’s a dedicated Etihad First Lounge, which is pretty and has great a la carte dining, but otherwise doesn’t have any standout features.

Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

Then the Etihad Business Lounge has quite a few amenities, including multiple dining areas, a beautiful bar, a relaxation area, showers, and much more.

Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

One other great improvement is that there are a few gates that offer direct boarding from the lounge, and A380 and other premium flights typically get these gates.

Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi

Personally I think the new business class lounge is a big improvement over the old one, both in terms of capacity and design. Meanwhile I’m not sure I feel the same way about the first class lounge. The new first class lounge doesn’t have a bar, doesn’t have a gym, and has much less impressive VIP rooms. It does otherwise have an elegant design, though.

The terminal’s other lounge is the Pearl Lounge, which is the contract lounge for all other airlines, and it’s also open to Priority Pass members. While I wouldn’t say it’s amazing, it does have a nice terrace area, and is quite large, so it’s good by Priority Pass standards.

Pearl Lounge Abu Dhabi
Pearl Lounge Abu Dhabi

I’d say the biggest shortcoming of the new terminal is that there’s not yet a transit hotel, as that’s always a useful feature for an extended layover. Does anyone know if there are plans for a transit hotel in the future? I Haven’t heard anything, though it does seem like there are some multi-story structures in the terminal with windows. Does anyone know if these are just offices, or what?

Anyone know what this is?

Bottom line

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A finally opened as of November 2023. The terminal is currently the only one in operation at Abu Dhabi Airport, and it’s a game changer for Etihad. Etihad went from having one of the least impressive hubs in the region, to having a beautiful new terminal that’s easy to navigate and beautiful.

While the terminal isn’t going to change your life in terms of the amenities, it has great design, is easy enough to navigate, and the airport is now also less reliant on remote stands, which is also great.

What do you make of Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal A?

Conversations (36)
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  1. Sveta Guest

    where can I buy a Hafilat transport card after arrival?

  2. sakshi Guest

    i am on transit from abudhabi from terminal a …can you pls tell me the distance between terminal 1 and terminal a

    1. Susan Guest

      I shall be doing a transit thought Abi Dhabi, flying in from Istanbul with Ethad and connecting with another Ethad flight to Kuala Lumpa.
      What would be the transfer distance or times any one know please..

  3. Jagdish Chavda Guest

    I transited thru new AbuDhabi airport twice. It's called Terminal A rather than airport. (There's no other operational terminal at present). This is a little strange. Main Central hub is quite impressive in terms of architecture rather than scale. All waiting areas, and seatings are reasonably comfortable and more than adequate. Only thing lacking is is any reclining or sleeping chairs. Gates names and numbering is confusing at best. Sign posting need to be improved...

    I transited thru new AbuDhabi airport twice. It's called Terminal A rather than airport. (There's no other operational terminal at present). This is a little strange. Main Central hub is quite impressive in terms of architecture rather than scale. All waiting areas, and seatings are reasonably comfortable and more than adequate. Only thing lacking is is any reclining or sleeping chairs. Gates names and numbering is confusing at best. Sign posting need to be improved to specify which gate numbers are located in each Gates labelled from AtoF.

  4. Jacobin777 Guest

    My sister-in-law connected at AUH last night. While she liked the airport she said WiFi was very spotty and choppy.

  5. K R Guest

    Is the walking between the gates a bit too much for aged passengers? And how frequent are the electric carts to Gerry passengers? There's not clearly defined priority queue for the electric carts so theres always a rush for getting in one.

    And the check in counters, although plentiful in number, are scarcely staffed and are always crowded. They take a hell of a lot of time to clear people. When one flight operater has...

    Is the walking between the gates a bit too much for aged passengers? And how frequent are the electric carts to Gerry passengers? There's not clearly defined priority queue for the electric carts so theres always a rush for getting in one.

    And the check in counters, although plentiful in number, are scarcely staffed and are always crowded. They take a hell of a lot of time to clear people. When one flight operater has flights heading to multiple locations, they don't open multiple counters as per demand, instead they usher in the passengers who feel it's enough to arrive 30 mins before flight departure hence de-prioritizing the people already in the queue.

    What is the point of all those shops and lounges when the distance from the longue and gate is almost 1 km ?? No one is going to have the feeling to shop nor the time to stop before departure.

    Still a long way to go before elder people feel comfortable traveling in this airport.
    I still stand by what I think, this airport is brand new, 5 years ago.

  6. Conor Guest

    I worked on the design of this,,,, in 2011. Absolutely wild it's only opened now and I imagine it's quite different to what we designed starting in 2009. Looks epic and the overall sweeping nature of it remains but not sure those lounges are as intended.

    1. Raj Guest

      How is USA pre clearance handled at the new terminal. Haven't seen any reviews of that.

  7. Robbie Guest

    There are two 'buildings' under the main roof located between check in and the departure lounge. One is an office building and the other a transit hotel which is not as yet open.

  8. David Guest

    No family lane for non gcc/ non business residents returning to the country, so it is very slow going through passport control and the old airport was much quicker and more efficient.

  9. Mick Guest

    The letters and numbers have always confused me at Frankfurt. I’m prob the only one! Haha

  10. Ricardo Guest

    Etihad and that airport just left a horrible taste in my mouth. The new addition looks nice, but I am incredibly skeptical it will stand the test of time like HKG, and BKK have in my opinion.

    I will pass on this new thing for the time being.
    The U.S. pre clearance just did not do it for me, and next time I will just clear it at home.

  11. JP Guest

    The transit hotel is indeed in the “orb-shaped buildings” that separate landside from airside.

    I actually saw Ben walking through the business lounge. I was at the new Jeddah terminal earlier in the day, so possibly crossed paths there as well.

    The new lounges at AUH are indeed an afterthought by the architects. The narrow, multi-level space is going to have numerous bottlenecks, especially at the top level bar.
    And, there’s a surprising...

    The transit hotel is indeed in the “orb-shaped buildings” that separate landside from airside.

    I actually saw Ben walking through the business lounge. I was at the new Jeddah terminal earlier in the day, so possibly crossed paths there as well.

    The new lounges at AUH are indeed an afterthought by the architects. The narrow, multi-level space is going to have numerous bottlenecks, especially at the top level bar.
    And, there’s a surprising lack of windows, the result of an over designed terminal facade. Same for most gates. Minimal views to the airfield.

  12. Travis Guest

    You obviously haven't been to ORD's terminal 5 enough if you are complaining about space for lounges hahahaha

  13. Not a Victim Guest

    @Scott: Why do you have to Bring out "I am a Jew". No special treatment for you because you are one or you are NOT a "Victim" in this article.you had a good time,so let's leave it at that.

    1. Scott Guest

      I, like Harrison to whom I was responding, had concerns about traveling to the Middle East. I was merely explaining my concerns for traveling to the region at that time. I don't feel victimized, nor did I express that in my comments. There is no reason to dictate to me what I should write or how I should feel.

  14. Abidjan Gold

    Presume Terminal 1 is being bulldozed (and Terminal 3 eventually)?

  15. splane21 New Member

    You need to do a review of BLR (Bengaluru) new Terminal 2 the garden terminal. Supposed to rival Singapore and new Doha.

  16. Icarus Guest

    It’s ridiculous when there are 100s of high end designer stores like Doha which each time I’ve been are mostly empty, and few shops for regular people who make up the majority. It’s mostly show. The perfumery above the garden at DOH had dozens of staff last time, and about 3 customers.

  17. Jake Guest

    I have literally blacklisted Etihad because of the remote stand situation. Is this now 100% fixed?

    1. Barry Guest

      No. I flew into AUH last week and noted several planes boarding from remote stands. It appears not all gates are opened at this time, as construction barriers were still there in the terminal where our flight deplaned.

  18. Scott Guest

    I was just there on Sunday, and what I loved about it was that the architecture and overall design was stunning without being ostentatious. It didn't need a yellow teddy bear or anything like that. For the Middle East, I found it elegant and restrained in the best way.

    1. Harrison Guest

      Did you stay in Abu Dhabi? I have a trip coming up soon that includes a stopover in Abu Dhabi but I'm wondering if its safe to go. Idk how sentiment in Abu Dhabi is towards people from the US given all that's going on with the war in Israel...

    2. Scott Guest

      Yes, I stayed at the St. Regis. I had this trip booked several weeks ago (mainly to experience Ethiad A380 Residence), but canceled because I was also concerned about the sentiment toward US citizens (and especially, American Jews like me) . Once the cease fire began I started looking for reward seats again and was lucky enough to find a seat again using AA miles for late last week and decided to go. I stayed...

      Yes, I stayed at the St. Regis. I had this trip booked several weeks ago (mainly to experience Ethiad A380 Residence), but canceled because I was also concerned about the sentiment toward US citizens (and especially, American Jews like me) . Once the cease fire began I started looking for reward seats again and was lucky enough to find a seat again using AA miles for late last week and decided to go. I stayed at the St. Regis for 2 nights and went off property for a walk once. So other than 2 cab drivers and the St. Regis staff, I didnt interact with anyone else. Although my interactions were limited, I did not feel any hostility or anything like that.
      .

    3. Mick Guest

      Lolll no one in Abu Dhabi is attacking Americans.

    4. Harrison Guest

      Thanks for sharing!

    5. Barry Guest

      It's completely safe in the UAE. I am in Dubai now

  19. Jason Guest

    How do U.S. flights work? I thought they bused people from Gate F to pre clearance in Terminal 3? any insight?

    1. Matt Guest

      That's correct you have to allow extra time for this and arrive early to airport. For the moment they only offer pre-clearance to 2 US flights (EY101 to JFK and EY131 to IAD) until they make the move to Terminal A. Those 2 flights get their bags tagged to final destination and get treatdd as a domestic flight on arrival to USA. All the other flights have to go through immigration on arrival to US...

      That's correct you have to allow extra time for this and arrive early to airport. For the moment they only offer pre-clearance to 2 US flights (EY101 to JFK and EY131 to IAD) until they make the move to Terminal A. Those 2 flights get their bags tagged to final destination and get treatdd as a domestic flight on arrival to USA. All the other flights have to go through immigration on arrival to US and collect luggage, re-check, potentially go back through security, etc.

    2. Serge T Guest

      Hi Matt, but in terms of lounge access. Can I visit the new lounge and then make my way over to the other terminal or how does it work?

  20. Jack Guest

    Once the U.S. pre-clearance facility moves to Terminal A, I will give this terminal a hard pass. A pre-clearance facility means having to leave the lounge early to deal with security where there is typically chaos, long lines, and no premium option. Then one has to wait at the gate where there is never enough seating. Even with increasing Global Entry lines in the USA, clearance on the U.S. side is always preferable.

    1. Albert Guest

      Are you a US citizen?
      For others, pre-clearance makes more sense?

  21. KV Guest

    Terminal 3 isn’t completely closed, since the US Preclearance facility is still there and several US-bound flights leave from there. I’m not sure if or when this will move to the new terminal.

    1. Guest Guest

      According to authorities by August next year
      And transit hotel opening in first half of 2024

    2. KV Guest

      Interesting. Where did you see this info?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Robbie Guest

There are two 'buildings' under the main roof located between check in and the departure lounge. One is an office building and the other a transit hotel which is not as yet open.

1
Adi Siddharth Guest

Check out BLR's new T2

1
Sveta Guest

where can I buy a Hafilat transport card after arrival?

0
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