Abu Dhabi airport: Crossroads of the world

19 Feb 2018 by Akanksha Maker
Terminal 1 of Abu Dhabi International Airport

Akanksha Maker lists services and facilities at Abu Dhabi International Airport that make frequent travel easy

I caught my connecting flight to New York JFK from Abu Dhabi International Airport a couple of months ago. It was the first time I was flying to the US through the emirate. And so it came as a pleasant surprise when I could complete all necessary immigration and customs inspections prior to departure at the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3 of the Abu Dhabi airport. This means, upon landing in the US, I was treated as a domestic traveller.

There are many such facilities and services at Abu Dhabi International Airport that make it convenient to business travellers in transit or otherwise. For instance, on deboarding the aircraft, I could easily connect to the airport’s free wifi.


The airport has designated four self check-in kiosks around the city. The first one — City Terminal — is located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s business district, close to top international hotels. It offers early check-in and bag drop to passengers. Airlines including Etihad Airways, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways and Air India offer this facility at City Terminal. This check-in service is unavailable for US-bound passengers, those with special medical needs, unaccompanied minors and passengers with a staff ticket.

The other check-in kiosk is at Abu Dhabi Exhibitions Centre (ADNEC), which is the first of its kind at an events space in the Gulf. This makes sense for corporate travellers attending events at ADNEC, as you can check-in your bags and freely enjoy the exhibition. Park Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi and Crowne Plaza in Abu Dhabi Yas Island also offer check-in kiosks for passengers flying on Etihad Airways, Jet Airways and KLM.

A charge of AED 30/₹523 per adult applies for remote check-in at City Terminal and the Abu Dhabi International Airport Expo. There is no charge for guests using self check-in kiosks at the Park Rotana Hotel and the Crowne Plaza, Yas Island though.

Midfield Terminal Complex

The second largest airport of the UAE, Abu Dhabi International Airport has over 30 airlines flying from here to around 100 destinations in 50 countries. It has been in operation since 2006; in 2015 its passenger numbers reached over 23 million, and this figure is expected to touch around 45 million in the coming decade. Anticipating an increase in passenger traffic, Abu Dhabi International Airport is constructing the new Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC), which will accommodate an additional 30 million passengers per year. Sprawling over 7,00,000 sqm, this building costs $2.9 billion and is expected to open by 2019. It will be located between the airport’s two runways, which is why it has been named so. The construction of the MTC Building is a part of the government’s vision — Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 — that aims to make the emirate a top business and tourism destination. It will house 165 conventional check-in counters that can handle 8,500 passengers per hour. Additionally 48 self-service kiosks will be installed in the terminal. The new building will feature around 136 screening lanes for passengers and 25 screening lanes for staff. It will be installed with state-of-the-art baggage handling system with a capacity to handle over 19,000 bags per hour. The new terminal will have over 10,000 sqm of F&B space and over 27500 sqm for lounges, hotels and a museum.


Abu Dhabi International Airport advocates smart travel, and this is apparent once you arrive at the airport. In February last year, it became the first airport in the region to automate all passenger processes from check-in to boarding the aircraft. This Smart Travel system was implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Interior and Abu Dhabi Police, significantly minimising human contact. Passengers can also move through immigration and security interacting only with innovative technology. It is known to decrease processing time within the airport by up to 70 per cent, allowing passengers to enjoy the various leisure facilities at the airport for longer durations such as duty free and F&B to name a few.


Being centrally located between east and west, Abu Dhabi International Airport is a hub for long haul travel. Around 80 per cent of the world’s destinations are within eight hours flying time of the UAE capital. For its long haul travellers with ample transit time are two airport hotels — Aerotel and Premier Inn. Aerotel located in Terminal 1 has 52 rooms and offers free wifi, wake-up call and tea and coffee making facilities. Room categories begin at XS and continue as S and M, which increase as per size. Prices begin at AED 290/₹5,053 for an XS single room. Premier Inn has direct access to Terminals 1 and 3 via a retail corridor called Skypark. Rooms are equipped with free wifi and guests can access leisure facilities that include a gym and swimming pool.


There are several options for passengers who are crunched for time and have the shopping itch. Those with shorter layovers can shop online at addf.ae and have their goods ready for collection upon arrival in Abu Dhabi. The airport allows passengers to pre-order their items and have them kept ready for pick-up while departing the emirate.

And for those who wish to amplify the luxury quotient of their arrival into Abu Dhabi, the airport offers a host of “Meet & Assist” services. On arrival, an agent escorts you through fast-track immigration and passport control, retina scanning, customs and baggage collection. These are examples of what one could expect. Executives ensure you are well taken care of during departure or transit as well.

Those with long layovers here will not be disappointed with the array of well spread out premium lounges. Terminal 1 has Al Reem Lounge, Al Dhabi Lounge and Etihad Premium Lounge.  Terminal 2 features Al Ghazal Lounge. Terminal 3 houses Etihad Airways’ three lounges — Etihad Diamond First Class Lounge and Spa, Etihad Premium Lounge and Etihad US Premium Lounge, while Arrivals Hall has Etihad Arrivals Lounge.

Etihad Diamond First and Pearl Business Class lounges have Six Senses Spa that offer express 15-minute treatments for quick rejuvenation. There is also a Tosa Spa at the Skypark Plaza (retail space) and at Terminal 1 too.

Restaurant and Dine
Etihad’s First Class Lounge and Spa


Terminal 1

Al Reem Lounge

Access: Holders of Priority pass, selected Diners Club International or American
Express cards

Al Dhabi Lounge

Access: First and business class passengers or frequent flyers of all other airlines except Etihad Airways or paid access (AED180/₹3,142 per person for two hours).

Etihad Premium Lounge

Access: Business class passengers of Etihad Airways and its partner airlines

Terminal 2

Al Ghazal Lounge

Access: First and business class passengers or frequent flyers of all other airlines except Etihad Airways or paid access (AED150/₹2,618 per person for two hours).

Terminal 3

Etihad Diamond First Class Lounge and Spa

Access: Passengers of The Residence, Etihad’s first class passengers travelling in first class onwards from Abu Dhabi, Etihad Guest Platinum members (plus one), eligible passengers from Etihad Airways
partner airlines.

Etihad Premium Lounge

Access: Business class passengers of Etihad Airways travelling in business class onwards from Abu Dhabi, business class passengers of Etihad’s partner airlines, eligible passengers from Etihad’s partner airlines.

Etihad US Premium Lounge

Access: First and business class passengers of
Etihad Airways.


Etihad Arrivals Lounge

Access: First and business class passengers of
Etihad Airways.

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