NOTE: At the time of this journey Etihad had yet to unveil the new First Class lounge, as such all First Class passengers were directed to use the Premium Lounge, ordinarily reserved for Business Class passengers only. Here is the follow up review of the First Class facility:
Walking through the terminal in a caffeinated and slightly hungover daze, we took the chance to take one last look at the magnificent beast that had carried us here in such style from London.
Much like the Qatar Al Mourjan Lounge in Doha, Etihad reserves the Premium Lounge for passengers actually ticketed in Business Class (or in Etihad’s case, also those willing to pay a hefty access fee). Etihad Gold card holders in Economy are sent to the Al Reem lounge instead.
Upon making our way to the chaotic reception desks it became immediately obvious why. The place was absolutely overrun with people. If you’re looking for an oasis of tranquility, this is not your place.
I did my best to snap pictures where I could but there were so many people absolutely everywhere that it was quite hard to do so without featuring strangers looking straight down my lens.
We sat on a couple of stools at the coffee bar and ordered more macchiatos whilst enjoying some scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. The coffees were pretty great and bizarrely nobody else seemed to be asking for them, opting to make their own at one of the regular machines instead.
Rule number one of coffee: Machines behind a bar always make it better.
I tried to get a shower but it was chaos. No reservation system and no staff members in the bathrooms really able to speak English.
One guy saw me looking a bit lost and said “busy, come”. He kindly let me into the disabled shower room. Naturally I was overcome with Britishness and just got changed as quickly as humanly possible without showering, for fear that somebody with a disability was going to need the facility at the precise second I entered it. Of course I could have refused to use the disabled shower room at all but that would have risked offending the bathroom attendant that went out of his way to help me.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
It reminds me of the old riddle: If cats always land on their feet and toast always land butter side down, what happens when you tie toast butter-side up onto a cat’s back and then drop it?
Hang on, where was I?
Oh yes, the lounge is ok to pass a couple of hours. The decor is bright the staff are helpful, the coffee is decent and the wifi works well even when it’s full. It sure as hell isn’t worth paying $100 for though unless you have 4+ hours to kill.