Review: Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge, Sydney

Overall Rating

By David Flynn, May 22 2014
Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge, Sydney





Sydney - Kingsford Smith




Etihad Airways


Business & First

The Good
  • A la carte dining
  • Dedicated children's room
  • Arabian coffee and Arabic dates


Etihad Airways' new first and business class lounge at Sydney Airport is also the airline's first in Australia, with another in Melbourne to follow in early 2015.

It's part of a push to carve out a larger slice of Australia's travel market which also includes Etihad's new Airbus A380 for Sydney and Melbourne plus plans to bring its Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Brisbane and Perth.

And with two daily flights from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, feeding into connections throughout Europe, Etihad's Sydney Airport lounge is where the airline's premium passengers and frequent flyers will begin their journey.

Location & Impressions

Etihad's Sydney Airport lounge is located adjacent to gate 51 of the international T1 terminal, conveniently close to the gates which the airline uses.

So close, in fact, that you'll probably see your EY flight sitting right outside the lounge.

The easiest way to find the lounge?

When you step off the moving walkways which connect T1's central hub to the gates numbered 50 and above, veer left – opposite the gourmet gift store A Little Something and next to the National Geographic store you'll spy the lounge's elegant wooden doors.

Etihad's description of this as a two-level lounge is technically accurate, although the top floor is really just the reception desk and a room where you can stow your carry-on baggage.

The lounge proper is located downstairs, where globetrotting Etihad travellers will see a very familiar design which shares its colour scheme, furnishings and general 'design DNA' with the airline's latest international lounges such as at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport.

This also includes signature Etihad lounge touches such as Arabian coffee – flavoured with rose water and cardamom – and Arabic dates.

The lounge is fairly compact, although the way the space is used shows careful planning without trying to squeeze too many passengers shoulder to shoulder.

There are four main areas where passengers can park themselves.

The most likely is along the ranks of comfortable leather armchairs which line the windows (with a view over the airport's operation area for a bit of plane-watching, if that takes your fancy) and are also nestled into the curved wooden dividers.

At the far end of this area you'll find the bar serving all manner of drinks, from coffee and non-alcoholic tipples to a selection of beers, champagne, aperitifs, spirits and liqueurs.

On the other side of the lounge is the dining room where passengers can choose from an a la carte menu.

Also notice the tall orange barstools ranked along the curved partition – this is a great spot to perch with your laptop or tablet plus a drink and a small plate form the self-serve buffet adjacent to the dining room.

As we said, this is a compact lounge, enough so that you can stand in any one corner and see pretty much the rest of the lounge with a single sweep. But it's the right size to cater for Etihad's own flights and still have a bit of extra space to spare, and there's a certain clubby 'intimacy' you get from being in this smaller space.

However, that's not all there is to the Etihad lounge.

The kid's play room will be appreciated by children and their parents alike, as well as their fellow travellers who enjoy the lounge being a bit more of a child-free zone.

Sliding and fairly sound-proofed glass doors separate this from a small banquette just outside, which is a very thoughtful touch so that parents can relax while keeping an eye on their young ones.

Further along this corridor you'll find bathrooms and showers...

... plus male and female prayer rooms.



The Etihad lounge is open three hours prior to each of the airline's two daily flights out of Sydney, those being EY451 at 3.50pm and EY455 at 9.50pm.

The welcome mat is laid out for the following passengers:

  • Etihad Airways first and business class travellers
  • Etihad Guest Silver, Gold and Gold Elite members on Etihad flights
  • Eligible frequent flyers from codeshare/partner airlines on Etihad's Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights, including Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum

Virgin Australia passengers travelling on the VA29 Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight can also use the lounge if they're in business class or hold Velocity Gold or Platinum status.

However, the lounge isn't available to passengers flying to other destinations on other airlines, regardless of whether an EY code is attached to that flight.


The lounge's dining options centre on a menu with a selection of western and Arabian dishes which changes every two months.

There's also a self-serve buffet area with a range of lighter snacks, salads and Tapas-style mezze dishes.

None of the dishes are exceptionally heavy, but they're substantial enough to stave off your appetite in style while leaving room for Etihad's excellent inflight business an first class meals.


A small business centre provides three Apple iMacs plus a printer/fax machine snuck away to one corner of the lounge.

But with the number of travellers who today pack their own notebook or tablet, plus the lounge's fast, free (and password protected) Wi-Fi and plentiful supply of AC and USB power sockets, we expect most visitors will be happier to plonk themselves anywhere in the lounge, especially if it's handy to the bar or buffet.


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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

22 Apr 2013

Total posts 143

Bye bye Krou Club **waves** It was fun!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2014

Total posts 123

Unless you travel to the US :( More hot dogs for me. 

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 180

Given that VA29 only runs three times a week without an overlapping EY service will the lounge be even open on those days?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199

Yeah, there's a night flight to AUH on EY that's daily.

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 180

You're missing my point and your post is simply uncessary. EY455 departs at 9:50PM. The lounge is only open 3 hours prior so 6:50PM as per what David says in the article.

On the days that EY451 that do not operate, VA run their VA29 service departing 3:15PM, a full 3.5 hours PRIOR to the lounge opening for the evening EY flight.

I was asking for clarifications whether the lounge will be open to cater for the VA29 flight as there are no other EY flights within the same time frame.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199

Ah, my mistake.

Please carry on. <flees>

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Dec 2012

Total posts 170

I think he already was!


23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

Looks great. Will have to take lots of photos and maybe do a comprehensive lounge report of my own next month. 

Only downside of this lounge is they don't have a Six Senses Spa. Will have to wait until AUH to enjoy that. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2539

I'd love to see those pics, especially of the food Ben84 – I took plenty of shots of the meals and a la carte menu plus the buffet dishes, but my iPhone fritzed later in the day and I lost the lot :(


23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

I will be there as early as possible so will have plenty of time to have a decent dinner and drinks. I'm looking to do a proper travel blog on this trip - so happy to send airline/lounge related photos. 

One thing I find disappointing about Etihad is the poor selection of alcohol compared to Emirates. Etihad serves Chivas while I prefer JW Blue. Plus EK serves Dom. Can't beat that. 

Maybe they've changed their alcohol menu in the last year. I hope so. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards Platinum

01 Jul 2013

Total posts 13

Whilst they say it's wrong to judge a book by it's cover....I can't help feel looking at the pics and reading the article that Etihad have delivered well below what was expected given the 18mth ramp up  Given their advertised and sought after status as the go to airline for luxury travel e.g. "The Residence" I am left feeling the lounge is another lounge opening that may well have the smell of leather and soft touches but doesn't deliver on functionality.  I think they had the chance to deliver something truly unique in the Australian market and have missed the boat!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Dec 2012

Total posts 170

I agree Mont80,

The lounge looks good and quite functional and it is great that there is A La Carte dining! However, Etihad (Hogan) has been plugging that they are the go to airline (what's the #? Flying Reimagined?) I have read other articles about them slating new lounges for L.A. and N.Y. and sounds like they plan on targeting some of the cultural aspects of those cities and their cuisine when establishing the lounges.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

What's particularly interesting about this review David is that there was nothing that niggled you during your visit (no What's Not). Sure, as some have said here, there is always room for bigger and greater services/special touches/more access but it sounds like they got the overall package pretty well on target for the F/J and high status pax.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2539

Gipps: that's a very good observation. I did wonder about that myself but to be fair, there's simply nothing 'wanting' about this lounge. If it was much larger and had many more passengers and maybe no family room then I'd have been itching for a 'quiet zone' but a lounge of this type simply doesn't need one. This is just one of those lounges which, for what it is, simply ticks all the boxes that the guests could reasonably expect.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

Further to my last, I look on an airline lounge as something that should build you up for further luxury on-board (because you generally spend more time on-board, than you do in the lounge). Emirates forthcoming First and Business cabins certainly tick that box (the current offering does pretty well too), so as long as their lounges are quite pleasant to linger in for a hour or so, that is pretty good in my view.

The Qantas First SYD/MEL Lounges are high quality, for example, but you spend longer in their cabins which aren't as sexy (although the wine list can get there, often).

It's always a harder proposition, too, to put too many resources into lounges - except where that lounge is at your primary hub (hence EY have a lot more at their AUH lounges), mainly because you tend to have longer layovers here too.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 698

Sorry, it's Friday lol. I meant Etihad, not  Emirates *blush*

Any word on the progress of the Etihad Melbourne lounge? 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge, Sydney