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Australian Business Traveller Etihad

Etihad's Pearl Business Class, Abu Dhabi to Sydney

Check-in

Etihad's Terminal 3 is the newest in Abu Dhabi, with older Terminal 1 (a 5-10 minute indoor walk away) used for a minority of the airline's flights.

My taxi dropped me off at the first and business class entrance, which is fully separate from the economy doors.

I understand there are supposed to be porters to assist with luggage, but none sprang to help me with my luggage this morning.

Inside, business class sees a row of half a dozen modern, clean desks, where a courteous and efficient checkin agent had me all sorted (and my bag priority tagged to Sydney) in under a minute.

Priority customs/immigration and security was only three passengers deep, and from picking up your carry-on it's just a few steps to the business and first class lounge complex.

Take note, airports of the world: there's no horrible duty free maze in Abu Dhabi, so you don't have to dodge milling shoppers, wandering families and scent-spritzing passengers. That's a big point in the plus column.

Lounge

My first impression of Etihad's T3 business lounge is that it was, well, busy. The morning is rush-hour for connections, and the lounge is too small to be able to accommodate everybody pleasantly.

(The T1 business lounge is also available, but the T3 one is newer and larger. If you're connecting to T1, you're best off stopping in T3 and then heading over to the other terminal.)

The lounge's layout is roughly a capital-J shape, where you enter at the bottom of the J and walk through to your left. The corner of the of the J is the food area, the stem is the bar, and the cross-piece at the top of the J a bank of windows and a seating area.

My pick for seating is the light, bright area at the top of the J, but you'll want to leave a jacket or something to guard your seat once you've found one.

Food in the lounge at breakfast-time was pretty standard international buffet breakfast fare, plus some more interesting things like ful medames.

I did try some of the praiseworthy Drappier champagne, though. Hey, it's a fruit-based beverage, which makes it breakfast-appropriate.

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