Lounge Lowdown: New Etihad Residence Perks, First US Escape Lounge & More

Do you find it difficult to burn through your miles by grabbing award seats? If so, certain airlines are coming up with inventive new ways to help zero out your earnings. In this Lounge Lowdown, we'll have a look at Delta's slightly tipsy plan for mile redemption, the new Etihad Residence experience for guests departing from JFK and other interesting insights into the airport lounge world.

Etihad's The Residence Experience Gets Upgraded At JFK

Etihad has stepped up their game, as flyers traveling out of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on the A380's The Residence will have a chance to access a private suite before boarding the plane. The brand new suite features a stylish living room, shower facilities and a prayer room. This luxurious space is situated behind the front reception desk in Etihad's Terminal 4 lounge. Furthermore, Etihad plans to open a new lounge in Los Angeles (LAX) this year. However, given that the Abu Dhabi-based airline doesn't operate A380s to Los Angeles, it's not likely that the prospective lounge will come with a private suite for Residence guests.

Photo credit: Etihad

Mumbai Airport's GVK Lounge Receives A Big Award

December saw the Grand Final Gala Ceremony of the World Travel Awards in Morocco, which brought great news to the team behind the GVK Lounge in Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM). The luxurious lounge was named the World's Leading Airport Lounge - First Class 2015. The GVK Lounge is divided into three distinct categories (Premium, Business and First), each catering to different travel classes. The First Class area of the lounge offers á la carte dining, spa treatments, and shower facilities among other services to top class passengers. Other nominees include the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi and Lufthansa's First Class Lounges (Schengen, Non-Schengen) in Frankfurt.

Photo credit: CSIA

Star Alliance's Lounge Network Is Constantly Developing

In the same month, United Airlines hosted the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board meeting in Chicago to make an annual overview of the aviation industry landscape. Loungewise, the Star Alliance CEOs noted that new spaces were opened in Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires over the past couple years, while the lounge in Paris (Business, First) has received a total rejuvenation. Member carriers have been working to perfect their existing operations, with several green-lighted projects in place for 2016. Star Alliance is also evaluating whether there's a need for more alliance lounges in locations where a shared lounge may be more feasible as opposed to separate lounge for each carrier.

Delta's New Plan For SkyMile Redemption

Airlines are constantly inventing new ways for you to burn more miles. Last year, United allowed MileagePlus members to pay for their meals with miles at the airline's Newark hub. This year, Delta SkyMiles program members will be able to spend their hard-earned miles on premium alcoholic beverages at the Delta Sky Club. This boozy program is currently underway at San Francisco International Airport's new Sky Club location in Terminal 1. According to current plans (late 2015), the airline is trying to implement the premium drinks initiative at 34 Sky Clubs before April 2016. Wondering how much it'll cost? Stella Artois beer is available for 300 miles, while a nice cocktail will require 600-800 miles.

First Escape Lounge In The U.S.

Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has opened the $2 million Escape Lounge at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), the first of its kind in the U.S. So far, MAG operates five similar spaces across the pond in England. Visitors can expect a buffet spread that changes throughout the day, free Wi-Fi access, charging stations, a full bar and printer/scanners. Guests can enjoy great views of the Minneapolis skyline and the airport's operations. Paid access is available for $45 at the door and $40 when pre-booked online ($30 for children).

Photo credit: London Stansted Airport

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