Review: Etihad Airways Pearl Business Lounge, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Updated


Thanks to some surprise flight delays, we ended up spending more time in the Etihad Airways Pearl Business Lounge than we originally anticipated. Despite the high density seating, the lounge offered great food and beverage (including champagne); making it a worthwhile stop on any connecting travellers journey.

This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Etihad Airways Pearl Business Lounge, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Updated

“The Etihad Airways Pearl Business Lounge was well equipped with an open bar including champagne, a full buffet, and a free Six Senses spa treatment. While it was very busy on our visit, it eventually quieted down allowing for a more relaxing visit”

This is our second visit to this lounge. We invite you to see here for our previous visit to the Etihad Pearl Business Lounge in Abu Dhabi Terminal Three.

Getting from the United Arab Emirates to Oman:

Our First Experience Redeeming with Etihad Guest

’I’ve always wanted to return to the United Arab Emirates for a driving holiday. We had a blast driving around on our last visit to Qsar Al Sarab and would do it again in a heartbeat. 

Initially, I wanted to drive from the United Arab Emirates on the highway into Oman. However, reading reports on the internet about semi complicated border crossings, getting exit stamps, entry visas, purchasing additional Omani car insurance and sourcing a car rental agency that would allow you to travel across the border with their cars proved to be a headache. Add to this, the occasional Trip Advisor horror story of windshield rock damage on rental cars and we decided that it was just easier to fly. 

Since Etihad has a distance based reward chart, we were able to secure 2 tickets in business class, including the complimentary Eithad Chauffeur drive, for a reasonable 12,000 miles and 85 AED ($37 USD) taxes and fees per person round trip (that’s 6,000 miles per segment in Business Class). Indeed with a few clicks of the mouse our flights were instantly booked. It was much easier than sorting out all the driving and immigration processes.

Using the Etihad Chauffeur Drive:

Complimentary Airport Transfers:

We booked the included Etihad Chauffeur in advance through the Etihad website. The process requires a separate sign in, and completing of an online request up to 48 hours prior to travel. The information is then passed on to their transport provider, who is supposed to contact you to confirm your collection / pick up time. 

On the day prior to departure, no confirmation call as promised was received from the Etihad Chauffeur Drive company to our North American area code cellphone. Since the Abu Dhabi airport is about 120 kilometers from Dubai, I wanted to confirm the travel arrangements so I wouldn’t have to put together alternate transportation to the airport at the last minute. 

Since Eithad doesn’t provide a direct number to the service provider arranging the chauffeur service, I called the main Etihad Global Contact center in the United Arab Emirates. Our first call was at 1 PM the day prior to travel (you can see where this was going). I was told that the chauffeur provider would usually collect you 3 hours before. “The chauffeur company will call you, or email maybe…”? The answer didn’t inspire a whole degree of confidence.

The day passed and we never received a call, (or email maybe…) Our second call to the Etihad UAE Glboal Contact Center again at 7 PM the day before travel. We were told that the Chauffer Drive would be there at 6:05 AM. I was read back the pickup address by Etihad and told not to worry. In the end, we never received a call from the transportation provider. 

It was an interesting set up as we wouldn’t have known the pickup time if I hadn’t chased them down. For a service that’s supposed to be catered towards business travelers that actually have less time, I spent more time chasing them down trying to get answers.

On the day of departure we arrived downstairs at the Grosvenor Hotel check out. The time of 6:05 AM rolled by with no sign of limo. Even the concierge staff at the door started to get worried. The Grosvenor House concierge proactively placed what was now a third call to Etihad to look for the limo. “I’m sorry – their guest service center office are closed. Do you have another number ?” While I was opening up my laptop, the car rolled up at 6:20 AM. The driver had told us that was the appointed time pick up time, but no one ever got a hold of us to inform us of that.  

Today’s transport was in a black Audi A6, which appeared to be common vehicle in the fleet for the Chauffeur Drive to and from Abu Dhabi.

Etihad Chauffeur Drive

Before we knew it, the Audi A6 was loaded up and we were headed down the A20 expressway to Abu Dhabi at 140 km/h (the posted speed limit) to Abu Dhabi Terminal 3. Etihad branded water was also provided.

On the Highway
Etihad Branded Water

We arrived to Abu Dhabi airport after 50 minutes. The driver was unclear about which terminal I was headed to. This was a bit strange for a Etihad Chauffeur service that was supposedly run (or contracted) by the airline. Luckily we had the information handy and not buried in the laptop back in the trunk of the car.

Ethiad Terminal 3 First & Business Class Check In

The car was unloaded the car curbside at Terminal Three and we were greeted by an Etihad Porter. Etihad uses porters for it’s business and first class travelers departing from Abu Dhabi. We were led in by the porter into the business class line. The porter acted much like a porter, and less like a Walmart Greeter or a host. The porter didn’t say much. 

Checking into Etihad Business Class:

Initial impressions of the exclusive check in area was an area of chaos – people all over the place, kids running about and no real separation from the first and business class groups aside from a corridor. 

Following our Porter to Business Class Check In
Etihad Business Class Check In

We were promptly checked in. Bags were weighed. Instead of being placed on a conveyer belt, the bags were left behind the counter and portered over to a conveyer belt just off the check in banks. 

After check in, we were stamped out of the UAE immigration and joined the blended first and business queue at the dedicated security screening. Security was much more relaxed here with no laptops out and bottled water was allowed through the security screening. 

We stepped over to the Etihad Business Lounge Terminal 3. The terminal is now showing its age. Thankfully a new one is coming along. We stepped into a cramped elevator along with a family of 5 for a ride up on floor to the business lounge.

Etihad Business Lounge – Abu Dhabi

Accessing the Lounge:

Etihad offers Pearl Business Lounge Access in Abu Dhabi Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 at Abu Dhabi International Airport on a complimentary basis if you’re an Etihad Guest Gold member or flying in Business on an Etihad operated flight.

Etihad Guest Silver members are welcome to use the Al Reem Lounge in Terminal 1.

More recently, Etihad has also offered pay per use access for access to their lounges. The rate is based on the amount of time that you want to stay. At the time of publication was 2 hours for AED 370 ($100 USD), or 14,100 Etihad Guest Miles, 4 hours for AED 550 ($150 USD) or 21,100 Etihad Guest Miles, 6 hours for AED 730 ($200 USD) or 28,100 Etihad Guest Miles or 8 hours for AED 920 ($250 USD) or 35,100 Etihad Guest Miles. For some of those prices, it may be worth getting a hotel for the layover.

Our access was provided courtesy of an Etihad Pearl Business Class ticket.

Inside the Etihad Pearl Business Lounge Abu Dhabi – Terminal 3:

This was our third visit to this lounge. Every time we have visited, the lounge has always been stuffed full. The only time the lounge was empty, was on our last visit when we were stuck here at 3 AM as a result of a mechanical issue on our flight to Doha. Today was somewhat similar, hardly anywhere to sit with many wandering looking for chairs.

Busy Lounge Seating
Even the Tables and Chairs were fully occupied
Occupied Seating All Around

Food and Beverage in the Lounge:

What Etihad loses out on in space, they make up for in catering. Lanson Champagne was available on pour and a full English Buffet Breakfast was out on offer. I have to say that aside from some Lufthansa First Class Lounge experiences in Frankfurt, or the Thai Royal First Lounge in Bangkok, the Etihad Business Class Lounge offered among the nicest feature food catering that I’ve ever experienced in a Business Lounge. 

The Etihad Bar: Champagne is Available
The Etihad Buffet
Hot Buffet Items
Morning Breakfast Pastries

We settled in waiting our flight. Given our late arrival and all the lines at check in, immigration and security, we only had 30 minutes in the lounge. We didn’t get the opportunity to use the Six Senses Spa this visit, although many therapists (if you can call them that) appeared to be waiting around for customers to use their services. Instead, we enjoyed a little Etihad Champagne from the bar.

Breakfast Champagne

We did enjoy a few morning airside views under the Middle East glare.

Lounge Airside Views

My Thoughts on our Return to the Etihad Pearl Business Lounge:

The Etihad Airways Pearl Business Lounge was just as busy on our second and third trip through its hub in Abu Dhabi. It’s difficult to find this a relaxing place. However, what it lacks in seating space, it makes up in ample food and beverage with one of the best business class food spreads out there. The food alone in enough to bring us back on our travels through Abu Dhabi. The fact that it also offers actual champagne at the bar is another bonus, making this a worthwhile visit when passing through, even if it is only for a quick stop.

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