Review: Etihad Airways' Airbus A380 Lobby lounge

Review: Etihad Airways' Airbus A380 Lobby lounge

Passengers on the upper deck of Etihad Airways' Airbus A380 don't need to feel confined to their business class seat or first class suite, thanks to a unique social space called The Lobby.

Located between the first and business class cabins, the concept and design of The Lobby was inspired by the Arabian concept of the Majlis, which is a room where guests to a home are met and entertained.

As a result, it's markedly different in character to the superjumbo bars of middle-eastern neighbours Emirates...

... and Qatar Airways.

For starters, the focal point of The Lobby is the passengers themselves rather than a bar.

There's seating for six passengers – three on either side of the semi-circular leather sofa, with a marquetry table in the middle.

This works well if the only people in The Lobby are yourself and a partner, colleague or friend; or if The Lobby is fully occupied and everyone's enjoying some chit-chat back and forth.

The layout of The Lobby actually encourages this. As a result, The Lobby offers the social qualities of a bar without looking like a bar.

And when it comes to looks, Etihad's designers were careful to include the dappled lighting pattern seen in first class for an added touch of elegance.

Wide armrests between each seat double as a place to stow your drink and snacks, with AC (and USB) power sockets built into a recess directly above.

One wall of The Lobby sports a 32 inch TV screen with live TV channels, which we're sure would make this the place to be during many UK and European football matches.

In addition to drinks you can enjoy a selection of light snacks and sweet treats and even order selected dishes from the standard business class inflight menu.

But The Lobby isn't just for mixing and mingling during your flight.

I noticed that upon boarding the plane, some business class passengers (obviously regulars on Etihad's A380 ) would drop their carry-on bag onto or above their seat and then make a beeline for The Lobby and settle in for a preflight drink or two, chatting with fellow travellers for the next 20 minutes until the economy passengers downstairs had completed boarding, the doors were closed and the flight was ready for departure.

It's a wonderfully civilised way to begin any journey.

David Flynn travelled as a guest of Etihad Airways

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David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

20 comments

  • Joshb

    Joshb

    10 Feb, 2016 09:08 am

    Love the idea of pre-departure drinks in The Lobby as opposed to your designated seat, excellent service innovation

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Feb, 2016 01:41 pm

    After having been wined and dinned in the Etihad airport lounge for a few hours don't you think that once onboad it's time to actually settle down in your Business, First or Residence for departure rather than more drinks in The Lobby. Emirates responsibly open theirs when inflight and the seat belt sign is turned off. I think thats a much more elegant way of doing things rather than all rushing back to the Bar. I think a pre departure drink should be had in your seat so that you can sip it at your leisure, before, during and after blastoff.

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  • David Flynn

    David

    10 Feb, 2016 02:56 pm

    Nobody's forcing passengers to head to The Lobby, and it's certainly not about the chance to drink more - you have pretty much the same pre-departure drinks service as you'd enjoy in your seat. It's just an alternative space which gives you a chance to socialise a little with others. I quite like the idea :)

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Feb, 2016 04:42 pm

    We were talking about pre departure drinks in the Lobby and not at your assisgned seat. Sounds like they would all be getting in the way for a timely departure, at that moment in time I think the cabin crew have better things to be doing to enable that on time departure.

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  • sgb

    sgb

    11 Feb, 2016 08:42 am

    Perhaps an even better idea would be to permit take off from  The Lobby, no need to end your socialising.

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  • petrhsr

    petrhsr

    15 Feb, 2016 01:47 pm

    The whole point of flying F is to NOT have to mix with other passengers.  These lounge-type arrangements are really more of a J class thing.

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Feb, 2016 09:28 am

    Wonderful review of Etihads central A380 Lobby Lounge.

    All looks and sounds fantastic.

    I'm a rusted on Emirates flyer, and still like the individual Business Class Lounge down the back, and the First Class Lounge up the front. Do we think the First Class passengers will resent the hoi polloi in Business Class eating and drinking their food and beverages. Emirates served different drinks in First and Business, looks like the snacks and booze will be going up label or two for Business on Etihad.

    Just thought for two classes, that one location could become cramped, with only seating for 6, there would wanna be heaps of standing room.

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    10 Feb, 2016 05:00 pm

    Actually, the class distinction is maintained in the Lobby. If you're in First and you order an alcoholic beverage or coffee you get served with the nicer glasses or crockery. The alcohol distinction is also maintained. 

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Feb, 2016 06:55 pm

    How do they know what class your in?

    Residence out for a stroll & tired of being couped up, First out for a walk, or Business streching the legs.

    In Emirates e.g up front it's Krug, and then Moet in Business.

    It works in reverse, because First class can slum it in the rear bar on the Moet when they get tired of Krug up front, but Business cant go up front.

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    11 Feb, 2016 12:44 am

    The pyjamas give it away, plus remembering the 9 people in First cant be too hard I'd imagine. 

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  • sgb

    sgb

    11 Feb, 2016 08:24 am

    But if your not wearing the class distinction PJ's and it's daytime, how do they know to use the better china or the better scotch. Passengers will look like passengers up their on the top deck. Maybe you get a lanyard colour coded to class. What if someone dared to cross the roped off front or rear stairs and come up from below for a gander.

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    11 Feb, 2016 07:22 pm

    Even on day flights pyjamas were issued in First and on day flights longer than 10 hours also issued in Business. As I also pointed out before, it isn't hard for the crew to distinguish between 9 First passengers and everyone else on the upper deck. 

    The stairs down to economy have heavy ropes at the bottom and top, as well as a zipped heavy curtain at the bottom, preventing anyone looking upstairs or downstairs. 

    So, no need for the lanyard. 

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  • Dean

    deanr

    11 Feb, 2016 07:27 pm

    sgb: Your comments make it appear that you've never flown in first class. The best crews will learn your name before your board, and the next-best crews will at least know who you are shortly after departing. It's not hard to remember 9 faces as your VIPs, even if you forget the names, vs everyone else in the bar.

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  • Peterozzy

    Peterozzy

    10 Feb, 2016 03:29 pm

    I just flew back from London on an Etihad flight with this set up. Didn't seem to get much use during the flight and no-one using it pre-flight. That was despite a reasonably long delay on the ground.

    I had a drink in there which was a nice break from the seat. IT seemed to get used mostly by a young couple with twin boys .

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  • sgb

    sgb

    10 Feb, 2016 03:42 pm

    Was there a bar tender there all the time?

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    10 Feb, 2016 04:56 pm

    There's no permanent bar tender in there. However, the cabin crew will check in every so often to see if you want something. As soon as I sat down each time I was asked if I wanted a drink, some food, or something to read. There are also selections of flavoured water and snacks set out similar to what you find on Emirates. 

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  • Ben84

    Ben84

    10 Feb, 2016 04:53 pm

    I enjoyed using it to read the newspapers and have a coffee or two. For almost the entire time I used the space on 4 x 13 hour + journeys I was the only one in there.

    It's not a social space like on Emirates and I quite liked that to some extent. It provides a nice break from the seat or apartment. 

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  • Richard Foreman

    ptcruiser

    10 Feb, 2016 05:15 pm

    I recently flew on the Etihad A380 upstairs and I have to say that the business class studio is so good that I didn't really think I'd need to leave it, however during a period when I wanted to stretch my legs and have a change of scenery the Lobby was the perfect space to do that, not a bar as such, but much like the space on the Qantas A380, it's another area to go to and have a cup of tea or bite to eat and really just to break up the monotomy of the journey. I think I was served by the waiter/steward from the Residence, and  you really appreciate the fact that you can leave your seat and experience the spaciousness of that wonderful airplane.

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  • auspointer

    auspointer

    8 Mar, 2016 02:57 pm

    Hey David

    Any chance of a trip report / review of travelling business on the Etihad A380?  There are loads of F reports on the web but next to nothing on business... Be great to hear what you think.

    Cheers

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  • David Flynn

    David

    8 Mar, 2016 03:41 pm

    It's on the list.

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16 Jun, 2019 09:09 am

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