Etihad to Hand Over Keys to London-Heathrow Lounge
Etihad Airways is on a roll—but not necessarily in the good way. Following a slew of reported financial troubles, the Abu Dhabi-based mega-airline will be closing its current first- and business-class lounge at London's Heathrow Airport (LHR) in Terminal 4.
UK-based lounge operator No1 will be taking the keys to the space and rebranding it, but won't be removing the Etihad name entirely. Instead, No1—with an existing collection of lounges at major UK airports like Gatwick (LGW), Edinburgh (EDI), Heathrow and Birmingham (BHM) —will be partnering with Etihad and renaming the lounge as "The House – Home of Etihad Airways and Other Leading Airlines."
Those flying in Etihad first and business class, along with Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum passengers will still be able to access the lounge for no extra charge, and according to a report on the Australian Business Traveler, frequent travelers of some partner airlines will also receive complimentary access to the lounge, like Virgin Australia's Velocity Gold and Platinum card-holders. As for Residence customers, we're not sure yet if or where they'll have a dedicated space to lounge in prior to their $30,000 one-way. All others interested in using the space will have to pay to enter—right now for its lounge in Heathrow's Terminal 3, No1 is charging £32 for advance purchase online or £40 when purchased at the lounge.
The big question now is: What will happen to the other premium lounges in Etihad's network? Right now, the ME3 airline offers top-notch first and business class lounges in New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Paris (CDG), Sydney (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) and Abu Dhabi (AUH), and it sounds like what's about to happen in London is indicative of a larger trend.
They've "recently initiated a process of sourcing a reputable vendor to manage the airline’s lounge offering at key locations outside Abu Dhabi, starting with London Heathrow," an Etihad Airways rep told the Australian Business Traveler.
The future remains uncertain for Etihad. Will they merge with Emirates to create a mega UAE airline? We don't know, but one thing's for sure, you should definitely take advantage of their frequent flyer program while you still can.