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Etihad Business Class Review: 19 Things We Loved & Loathed

"Because of the back-to-front seats you can hear the person behind you reclining."

Etihad Business Class Review: 19 Things We Loved & Loathed

We’re getting good at hooking business flights to America and Europe thanks to our regular travel with sponsors. The airlines are not always interested in working with publishers, so we review the airlines, business class, food and lounge offerings every chance we get. This week we flew Etihad’s mighty Airbus A380 service to London.

Route: Sydney – Abu Dhabi – London (Return)
Average Cost: $9,000 inc taxes
Travel Class: Business
Seat: 13G / 11G (Rear Facing)

Etihad are based in Abu Dhabi, which is just a short drive from Dubai (the home of Emirates).

1. Etihad have by far the coolest livery of any airline. The livery dropped in 2014 and is inspired by traditional Emirati design patterns, the landscapes of the desert and the geometric shapes found in the modern architecture of Abu Dhabi.

2. The Etihad lounge in Sydney is pretty whack compared to others at the airport. The smell of tomato sauce and chips is not the best way to start a flight but their Piper-Heidsieck champagne is on-point. The staff quietly tell you the flight is ready to board, which is a nice touch.

Couldn’t help think that many of the travellers were seniors on their once in a lifetime trip… so it didn’t feel overly corporate.

3. Paperless boarding passes (added to Apple Wallet) of Etihad are a welcome evolution for international travel. Although they do get annoying when airport staff don’t know what to do with them.

4. Onboard service is very good. Staff are super nice—but lack the personal introductions you get with Emirates. They tend to leave you alone unless you ask. A simple smile or nod of the head when they walk past is enough to get their attention.

Note: We didn’t take any random staff photos due to privacy. 

5. Business seat product is very good, but rear facing seats are odd. However… you get used to them and don’t really notice after take off. We were rear facing for all four legs of our journey.

6. Privacy tends to be very good, however the middle rear facing seats lack the divider. This seat also means you can’t see any windows, which may annoy some people. The adjustable side screen (for rear facing passengers only) enables the passenger to get some more privacy.

7. I initially found the seat uncomfortable due to the adjustment settings. Being tall it took some time to adjust. My recommendation would be to get flat as fast as possible.

8. Etihad do not offer additional seat mattresses like Qantas, United and Emirates. This seems like a small addition which would have improved sleep quality… but they have a secret weapon.

Yes, their secret weapon is the the Etihad blanket. Fussy on one side, smooth on the other. It’s the ducks nuts and probably one of the best inflight blankets around.

9. Massage function is very loud and because of the back-to-front seats you can hear the person behind you reclining.

10. Onboard bathrooms are well designed and have ambient lighting. They kind of remind me of nightclub toilets. The middle toilet in between two smaller ones in the middle of the plane is larger and better for getting changed.

11. No shortage of overhead storage. More than I can remember having in business class.

Photo Credit: Sam Chui

12. Modern design touches are great. It’s where Etihad leads Emirates. Think a contemporary mix of tradition and technology.

13. Amenities kit by Acqua di Parma is nice: but misses essentials like hair brush and deodorant. I know Acqua di Parma make deodorant so they need to step that up.

14. Entertainment on Etihad system is top notch with many different movie and TV choices across multiple languages. The system itself is very intuitive and the screen is large. Definitely one of the best in its class.

Entertainment on Etihad

15. The entertainment remote was well placed away from your bum (fanny), which often accidentally turns it on when you’re asleep on Qantas flights.

Etihad Entertainment

16. We have to congratulate Etihad on breaking with airline tradition and offering business class passengers true a la carte dining. No longer are we forced to eat like cattle 2 hours after take off and 2 hours before landing. On Etihad business class you choose when you eat, anytime… but not anywhere.

Etihad Dining
A great selection of healthy and indulgent foods to suit all tastes plus a strong selection of wine.

17. Etihad lounge in Abu Dhabi was underwhelming, and very similar to that of Sydney. Small selection of food. Long bench style seats around the bar mean people sleep there rather than sit. The outlook onto the badlands of Dubai is rather lacklustre.

Etihad Abu Dhabi Lounge

18. The bathroom had one cubicle and one shower only. Which meant long queues for a post flight number. Imagine when the lounge is full of grumpy people who need a poop & a shower…

Etihad Shower
Yes, that’s a shower and a single toilet.

19. They have a conveniently located spa in the arrivals lounge in Abu Dhabi. We recommend booking ahead and using it on your longer layovers.

Overall, Etihad offers great value for money. They’re not as expensive as Emirates and it shows in some areas but they have many positive and unique elements to their business class. Yes, their arrivals lounge needs a bit of help, but its a good incentive to earn the status credits to get access to the first class lounge & spa. Etihad is a good option for those wanting to save a few dollars on a business class experience to Europe: but may not be the first choice for regular business travellers.

Etihad A380 Business Class FAQ


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