Inside the Special Etihad Residence Lounge at New York JFK

Over the past two months I’ve flown 3 trips in Etihad’s Airbus A380 ‘First Apartment’. These were redemptions using 90,000 American AAdvantage miles apiece.

  • Doha – Abu Dhabi – New York JFK
  • New York JFK – Abu Dhabi – Male
  • Abu Dhabi – New York JFK

I’ll be reviewing these separate trips shortly. The Doha – Abu Dhabi flight was on Qatar, so the trip also includes the new Qatar Al Safwa first class lounge, which is remarkable aesthetically (but otherwise not super special).

Back in December Etihad opened a new dedicated lounge at New York JFK. It’s much better than the old Oasis lounge which I used three years ago taking the New York JFK – Abu Dhabi flight. Chris Guillebeau had aptly described that lounge as “the Star Wars galaxy bar of middle-cabin travelers.”

I didn’t make it out to the lounge’s grand opening, but I was thrilled to be flying out of New York JFK with a chance to see it last month.

I reached out ahead of time to Etihad and asked if it would be possible to see the new lounge for Residence passengers as well. And if I was lucky — if no one had booked the Residence on one of my flights — whether it would be possible to see that, too.

Etihad has a new product beyond first class. Two passengers can share a suite with private bathroom and separate bedroom onboard their Airbus A380s. There’s a dedicated butler onboard, and they’ll strive to do “anything that’s legal” as two of their butlers have told me. The experience doesn’t just start onboard though. The ultimate luxuries in air travel, I think, are privacy and space. Etihad offers that in their new JFK lounge as well, and not just onboard.

I’ll get to the trip report shortly. For now I wanted to highlight the separate Residence Lounge at New York JFK.

Etihad’s new lounge has an attractive and distinctive entryway.

When you enter you face a reception desk. Residence passengers, of course, will be escorted there — no need to check in at the lounge, and instead of entering with everyone else there’s a separate door off to the right where they’ll go. There’s no signage. If it isn’t meant for you, you wouldn’t otherwise know that it exists.

The lounge is a large private room with two couches and also a private dining table.

For dining you have a proper table setup, and staff who will serve you (or leave you alone as much as you prefer).

Here’s the cocktail menu (click to enlarge):

And the sit down dining menu, served a la carte (click to enlage):

Buffet items are in the larger lounge, although staff will happily bring you items from the buffet so that you don’t have to exit your private space.

And apparently meal service can be customized, and made more elaborate for Residence guests, because The Points Guy reported receiving caviar as a starter when he was a paying guest.

The lounge has a view of airport operations.

Etihad puts out snacks for Residence guests. Here’s fruit, cheese, and champagne (along with champagne glasses both with and without strawberries). The champagne was Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle.

Just like onboard in first class, the staff bring around dates and Arabic coffee.

The residence lounge has its own bathroom with shower.

Because they’re a Gulf carrier, just as the lounge for business and first class passengers itself has a prayer room the Residence lounge has a private prayer room.

I prayed for an upgrade from First to the Residence. Alas… they do not do that.

The lounge itself isn’t meant as a standalone experience. Instead, it’s part of Etihad’s ability now in New York to provide a seamless experience. Business and first class passengers (including award passengers) receive complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport. Etihad can meet Residence passengers at their car, have them pre-checked in, escort them through security and straight to a dedicated private lounge.

When the time comes Residence passengers will be escorted to the gate and onboard the aircraft.

In the meantime, staff make note of any preferences that guests express — that weren’t shared with the airline ahead of time — and can communicate that onboard. One Residence Butler shared with me that the lounge will tell him how a Residence guest orders their cocktail, or their coffee, so he can have that for them upon boarding. The a is to know the preferences of guests and make the experience as effortless as possible.

Coming up: the largest and most luxurious accommodation on any commercial aircraft, inside Etihad’s The Residence.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How did you get access to the Residence lounge?
    DId you actually fly in the Residence cabin?

  2. @ Tom, Answered in the post… “I reached out ahead of time to Etihad and asked if it would be possible to see the new lounge for Residence passengers as well.”

  3. @Tom I did not fly in the Residence. I reached out to the airline to ask if I could see it and since no one was flying in the Residence that day they allowed it. I had been invited to the grand opening party for the lounge but unfortunately couldn’t make that (when I’d have seen the lounge back in December). I asked the person who invited me to that event.

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