Review: Etihad Airways Arrivals lounge, Abu Dhabi

Overall Rating

By David Flynn, February 16 2016
Etihad Airways Arrivals lounge, Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates


Abu Dhabi


Abu Dhabi




Etihad Airways


Business & First

The Good
  • Good breakfast spread
The Bad
  • AC power sockets in short supply
  • Shave service


Arrivals lounges should be all about regaining your humanity after a long flight: walking in a bit tired perhaps, but leaving fed, caffeinated and refreshed.

Etihad Airways' Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport adds 'looking smart' to that checklist, thanks to a barber and clothes-pressing service.

Little wonder we rate this as the world's best arrivals lounge, providing Etihad's premium travellers with a premium pit-stop between getting off the plane and heading off to a pitch meeting.

Location & Impressions

The Etihad Airways Arrivals lounge is clearly signposted once you've collected your bags.

The design palette of wood, browns, creams and greens is shared by Etihad's other lounges, as is the friendly welcoming nature of its staff, who'll whisk your luggage into a small bag check area.

The main part of the lounge serves up plenty of seating plus a buffet spread so you can refill and refuel before heading to your hotel.

The tall windows at the end of the lounge face directly onto the outside of the terminal...

... but inside it's a cosy and sedate buffer between your overnight flight and the start of your day.


Like many airlines, Etihad is more selective when it comes to access to its arrivals lounge compared to departure lounges inside the airport – you'll need to have flown into Abu Dhabi in first class or business class on an Etihad Airways flights.

This rules out Etihad Guest card-holders travelling in economy and top-tier frequent flyers from partner airlines such as Virgin Australia.


We never expect too much from an arrivals lounge – after all, breakfast should be a meal that gets you going instead of weighing you down, doubly so when you're travelling.

On the menu at Etihad's Arrivals lounge: freshly-prepared rolls and wraps, croissants...

... plus yoghurt, fruit and fruit juices, coffee and tea.

In all, it's a tasty and well-balanced spread which any arrivals lounge should consider as a starting point, with "café style refreshments" served throughout the day.


A small 'business centre' nook houses an iMac desktop and printer, but most travellers these days pack their own tablets and laptops.

As you'd expect the WiFi is fast and free, although there's not the riot of AC power sockets we've come to expect from modern lounges – you need to go looking for them and sit yourself within cable's reach.


As with any arrivals lounge deserving of the name there are plenty of shower suites (10 in all)...

... with a good selection of amenities plus powerful hair-dryers for the female flyer.

While you're showering, lounge staff can retrieve your clothes through this two-way closet to give them a quick steam-press to smooth out any inflight wrinkles, and have them back to you in 10 minutes.

But the shave service is where Etihad hits this one out of the park, with qualified barbers to get you looking in top-top shape with a free wet shave or beard trim.

The well-appointed The Shave by Etihad salon is more akin to what you'd find in a boutique five-star hotel – one of the airline's models for its bravura Flying Reimagined campaign...

... complete with quality products from Murdock's of London...

... so after a 5.30am arrival following a 14 hour flight from Sydney, what else were we to do but try it for ourselves?

This is a professional 'wet shave' which has itself undergone a remarkable renaissance over recent years.

A hot wet towel helps soften the facial hair and open the pores, followed by the application of pre-shave oil before the straight razor comes into play.

If you've never had a total stranger take to your skin with a cut-throat razor this is bound to be a little nerve-racking at first – but relax, because you're literally in expert hands.

The job's finished with post-shave balm and a dash of cologne, and you're good to go.

David Flynn travelled to Abu Dhabi as a guest of Etihad Airways.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

The Arrivals Lounge experience was a bit disappointing. On arrival I was rushed through the lounge and out the other side by the staff and taken to the chauffeur desk. I had said I wanted to relax a bit and shower in the lounge. So a 20 minute walk back around through security was needed for me to re-enter (not worth it in the end, despite being told it was a 2 minute walk). The shower was fine, but my clothes were never pressed despite me asking. Wifi was very slow, but I still managed to check up on emails while grabbing a bite to eat. It's fine for what it is, but nowhere near the same service level as found in their main lounges. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 361

Looks awesome. Is The Shave a complimentary service?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

Indeed it is.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2014

Total posts 142

because men don't use hair dryers lol.

Love the way they plate up the rolls and wraps, nice little touch.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

because men don't use hair dryers lol

That's true, Deany83 – some mens do use hair dryers – but I wrote this considering that more women use them than men and that women tend to need (and thus appreciate) a more powerful hair dryer than the blokes.

first two pic it same guy on marketing photo??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 169

Spot On David!

I've used the Arrivals Lounge three times in the last three months and, having done the globe more than I like, it's just 'spot on'. Disappointing Ben84? I think you need to look around the globe at the options. Off the plane, into the lounge for a SX3 ('ill let the readers work that one out), Breakfast, Email and a Breather. Then you can jump into the car that's wating at any time and go straight to meetings at 8am. Seriously, where else can you do this? 

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