Etihad Airways now lets economy passengers pay to access its airport lounges, following similar moves by Gulf neighbour and rival Emirates.
Lounges covered by the scheme include Etihad's business class lounges at Abu Dhabi terminals 1 and 3, as well as the premium 'first and business class' lounges at Sydney, Melbourne, London Heathrow, Manchester, Dublin, Paris, New York JFK and Washington Dulles.
The cost varies between lounges, depending on their facilities; for example, Etihad's Sydney and Melbourne lounges charge A$99 per person, with a reduced $77 fee for children aged between 3 and 12, and free for infants under three years.
By comparison, Etihad's London lounge charges £45 (A$72) for adults and £35 (A$56) for children.
As you'd expect, access is subject to capacity restrictions – so if the lounge is unexpectedly full when you arrive (due to a delayed Airbus A380 flight, for instance) don't be surprised if you're turned away.
Is it value for money? Obviously that depends on the lounge, but Etihad's latest lounges are superb efforts (especially those at Melbourne and New York) with a la carte dining and a tended bar.
There are certainly worse places to spend a few hours before your flight, and arguably few better – and the appeal is even greater if you have a long layover at Etihad's Abu Dhabi hub.
However, and as many Australian Business Traveller readers have noted with regards to Emirates lounges, it has to be said that offering paid access to any upmarket 'premium' lounge will always take the shine off its purported exclusivity for business and first class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers.