Etihad scraps free chauffeur drive for business, first class

By David Flynn, June 22 2017
Etihad scraps free chauffeur drive for business, first class

Etihad Airways is cutting back its free chauffeur drive service as of July 3.

Business class and first class travellers in all cities other than Etihad's home port of Abu Dhabi will now be charged for the service, at what the airline describes as 'specially negotiated rates' through designated local contractors.

The only exception will be those well-heeled high flyers in Etihad's Airbus A380 Residence, who will – as one would expect - continue to enjoy a complimentary ride at both ends of their journey.

Etihad says that first and business class tickets issued prior to 3 July 2017 "will not be affected by these changes and will receive complimentary chauffeur service across destinations where the service is currently offered."

As previously reported, the airline has also opened the doors of its 'premium' airport lounges – normally reserved for first and business class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers –  to economy class passengers.

The rates vary depending on the lounge's location and facilities: for example, Etihad's Sydney and Melbourne lounges charge A$99 per adult, while Etihad's London lounge charges £45 (A$72) for adults.

Similarly, passengers can pay their way into the airline’s luxurious flagship First Class Lounge & Spa when flying from or transiting through Abu Dhabi at US$200 (A$266) if they're in economy or business class, or US$100 (A$133) if they are in business class and hold Gold status in the Etihad Guest frequent flyer scheme.


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.

As long as they keep in AD. Had a nice 2 hour drive north to Sharjah the other day :)

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 157

I wonder if Virgin Australia will now discontinue their complimentary limousine service for code-share flights operated by Etihad Airlines.

08 Feb 2016

Total posts 14

Nearly had a heart attack!! But booked and paid for a trip in Sept ! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

So is it now just EK/QF offering this for J passengers? When you factor in four transfers per return booking, its quite an incentive if fares are similar prices across airlines.

06 Jul 2016

Total posts 8

It's an interesting cost cutting move. Surprised that first class lose out too. 

Must say, I've never been impressed with the Qantas/Emirates service in Sydney. The drivers receive a fixed payment and therefore are desperate to avoid toll roads. I had a highly unpleasant experience coming home with a driver that took the most illogical route possible to avoid tolls. Really annoyed me - especially after a long trip. 

The service I've had overseas has, in contrast, been excellent. 

Ive only done Emirates once but it was to North Sydney and the guy didnt say anything about crossing the bridge.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 57

Well that would p..s me off as a business or first traveller with them. I can't believe with all the Gulf money behind them that Etihad (and Emirates) are so profit driven they need/want to dilute and cheapen the premium travel experience. Very short sighted I believe...

Well BOOOHOO to you EtiHad!!! Makes the world of difference to us travelling... I've shifted across to EK/QF because of their chauffeur drive program around the world, so convenient... must say that my Sydney drivers have always looked after me, so convenient from the hills not to have to worry about transport in/out. Can't say that I've ever had any problems with drivers not using the toll roads, they always use toll roads to get me to and from home... 

Bad Luck EY :( Good Luck EK :D

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 157

Makes you wonder what they are thinking. I understand J Class but not F Class. Combined with the pay entry to global lounges, the premium product is quickly being watered down. I understand cut backs are required to survive, however I feel they can achieve this in other ways. They will lose patronage as loyal customers are only as good today as their 12 month status permits. Gone are the days of brand loyalty, unfortunately. Passengers are now 12 month wonders and swinging voters - airlines need to remember this. 

Not surprised they axed this, I've had my share of problems with there providers both here in Sydney and overseas, it was detracting from the premium experience. I suspect the VA chauffeur service will go the same way, it was great but it has gone off the rails recently.  QF/EK chauffeur service by comparison has been a breath of fresh air, much slicker and hassle free. EY have lost my business and will continue to lose market share as a result, a very short sighted decision which fails to account for the value of the transfer component to regular business travelers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 129

I think with all their financial dramas with Alitalia , I,m not surprised,, as i wont be also when EK follow suite .

08 Feb 2016

Total posts 14

This has to be a bad move surly? I have had no problems with the service in Dublin but if you are announcing that a service is no longer going to be included in a business or first ticket and make vague noises about special ( wink wink) pricing well explain the whole story at once instead of allowing the rumours to take hold .   Bad move EY imo!  I have booked in Sept and I do expect a high standard to be upheld . 

01 Jul 2017

Total posts 1

Always have flown Emirates business but thought we would try Etihad business. Chauffeur services take the stress out of arrivals. Booked in March for September and October flights and have confirmations of flights and chauffeur services which they have now announced they will not honour. Very unhappy and next time back to Emirates. Just received an email from A2B their contractors in Germany that our booking with them has been cancelled by Etihad and I can tell you I am not happy!! 

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 157

According to this article "Etihad says that first and business class tickets issued prior to 3 July 2017 "will not be affected by these changes and will receive complimentary chauffeur service across destinations where the service is currently offered."

I would take it up with Etihad.


26 Apr 2015

Total posts 4

Having operated a Chauffeur service in Sydney for 22years, I've been surprised that it lasted so long here. Many of the bookings would cascade down from Etihad's primary contractor who did do a good job, to secondary booking services when it got busy.

Once out of their hands, further margins were taken each time the job was passed down the line by booking agents bounc d jobs between them hunting available cars.
There was no direct quality control, with some ordinary drivers and cars being offered a transfer to the city for less than $50.00. Take the $11.50 tolls and 2hr+ commitment a driver had put aside, and you begin to understand the old saying "you get what you pay for".

09 Sep 2012

Total posts 139

"Cutting back" is a quaint way of putting it, David. They're virtually eliminating it.

I never used it in Abu Dhabi (who would?) but the service in Brisbane, Heathrow and Dublin was excellent, and almost made up for the dreadful airport at Abu Dhabi.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Etihad scraps free chauffeur drive for business, first class