Etihad Airways is raising the stakes in the battle to win premium passengers.
As rival Arabian Gulf carriers add more luxury touches in the air, Etihad is opening up a new front on the ground.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline has opened its new arrivals lounge complete with shower units and a 10-minute clothes steaming service for its premium passengers.
The luxurious facility is the first arrivals lounge to be operated by Etihad in the world. Men can also get a complimentary wet shave by qualified barbers.
“Once again we have benchmarked ourselves against some of the world’s leading hotels and restaurants, while placing the warmth of Arabian hospitality at the heart of the experience,” said Peter Baumgartner, the chief commercial officer at Etihad.
The carrier operates 11 airport lounges globally, including the new arrivals lounge and its existing first and business class facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Gulf carriers are competing to pamper their premium passengers by adding luxury twists to cabins and lounges. Etihad, Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways are leading the race to upgrade the premium travel experience to win more business and first-class passengers.
In May, Etihad announced its premium travel experience, which features private suites, apartments and business studios on its aircraft. The premium travel option is being offered on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Weeks after Etihad offered this service, Emirates said it would match that by introducing a “bedroom concept”, which mainly focuses on privacy.
“It is not just Etihad that benefits. The arrivals lounge also boosts the appeal for an Abu Dhabi stopover,” said Will Horton, an analyst at the Capa Centre for Aviation. “It is seldom a single factor that sways a passenger to an airline or hub, but rather the complete experience. Not all airlines can manage the complete passenger experience.”
While business and first class travellers enjoy the attention of the region’s big carriers, economy passengers may have to admire the improvements from afar.
“There is low reward for large innovation in economy class,” said Mr Horton.
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