Review: Etihad First and Business Class Lounge New York JFK

Etihad first and business class passengers receive complimentary car service both on departure and on arrival in most major cities. This is even offered on award tickets.

We were staying at the Andaz 5th Avenue, and Etihad’s driver (contracted through Empire CLS) was right on time for the ride to New York JFK.

We checked in with Etihad, and went through security on our way to Etihad’s gorgeous New York JFK lounge.

Previous installments:

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.”

Etihad’s new lounge is just past security. It’s even before you’d take the escalator down to the concourse for departure gates.

The lounge has an attractive and distinctive entryway.

When you enter you face a reception desk. The only passengers with access to this lounge are either premium cabin or elite Etihad customers (and elites in equity partner frequent flyer programs) or similar passengers for Air Serbia’s new flight.

Etihad has two flights a day from New York. One is operated by an Airbus A380 and the other by a 777, though starting June of next year both will be A380s. The Airbus A380 has a special three room cabin for up to two people called “The Residence” on its A380s. And there’s a special room just for Residence passengers in this lounge.

Residence passengers are escorted to the lounge from check-in through security so there’s no reason for them 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 into their private space. There’s no signage for it. If it isn’t meant for you, you wouldn’t otherwise know that it exists. I reviewed the New York JFK Etihad Residence lounge back in March.

The lounge is gorgeous with tarmac views, a full bar, and comfortable seating.

The lounge offers both buffet and a la carte dining.

There are restrooms inside the lounge, and shower rooms. There’s also a prayer room for the airline’s Muslim guests.

Lounge staff come around with dates and Arabic coffee, just like they offer prior to departure onboard in first class.

The lounge is a reasonable distance walk from the gate, since you head downstairs and then down the concourse. It’s not like you just walk out and onto the plane. But this space, not more than 5 or 6 minutes away, is well work it for the relaxation, service, and food — and for its gorgeous design.

As a lounge that combines business and first class passengers, it’s not going to be one of the top lounges in the world or rival Etihad’s first class offerings in their home market, but it’s a solid space and truly fantastic for JFK — and such an improvement over when they used a contract lounge before.

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. Looks a bit bland and uninspiring. Much nicer looking lounges and better quality food in some of the Asian lounges.

  2. @Mark as I say at the end, it’s great for a US lounge and at JFK. It’s better than a Centurion lounge. But of course there are better lounges in the world, this is an outstation even (2x flights daily) for the airline.

  3. Car service is nice though seems wasteful. Why not use a van or a bus instead of having a dozen or more different cars go the airport?

    Too bad you have to go to the Middle East on these airlines.

  4. Do you tip the Etihad driver, and if so what’s a good ballpark amount? Seems super useful at LAX.

  5. @Stannis I do more often than not, I’ve had no change a couple of times didn’t say anything and leaving without tipping wasn’t awkward at all. My mental model is, let’s assume the base far is covered by Etihad but I’ll tip based on what it would have been [I’m not a huge tipper]. Usually ~ $10.

  6. Question here, for Gary or whomever: We have a Christmas Day flight from Zurich to Abu Dhabi. We are staying in Freiburg, Germany (about 45 mi. away), and I can take the train from Basel, Switzerland to ZRH airport. Anyone know whether my AA miles-award flight entitles us to a limo pickup in Freiburg or Basel? Who would I call on this, Etihad’s US 800 reservations line, Etihad’s in Zurich, or ?

  7. @SST ring etihad, if that’s beyond the allowed distance for Zurich then you can pay the incremental mileage to the driver

  8. Hi Gary- do you know if executive platinum (AA) passengers flying economy from JFK-AUH have access to the lounge? Thanks

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