Etihad Business is among Middle Eastern carriers' best Business Class products. Etihad Airways offers its passengers regionally-inspired cuisine and excellent service from takeoff to touchdown. The ground experience at its Abu Dhabi hub features local highlights from its Business Class lounges to the soon-to-open airport terminal, estimated to open in late 2023.
Etihad Airways is transforming from a long-haul, global airline to targeting certain routes. This makes perfect sense for its smaller fleet and network, with around 90 per cent of the timetable fixed but the remainder having the flexibility to adapt to customer demand. There will still be long-haul intercontinental flying, but fewer destinations than before, as the carrier focuses more on Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia instead. The airline is downsizing its fleet, and the Business Class experience may differ on many aircraft.
Etihad is not a member of a global alliance but does have partnerships with other carriers, including Air New Zealand, Air Canada, Oman Air and Sri Lankan Airlines, allowing reciprocal earning and redemption of miles. Etihad Guest, the airline's loyalty program, also has its fans, especially if you live in the United Arab Emirates - the airline is based in Abu Dhabi - or travel through.
When starting - or ending - your journey in Abu Dhabi, passengers can take advantage of chauffeur service from their home or hotel to the airport, where Business Class travellers have a dedicated check-in area.
Once through priority-lane security - available for originating passengers or those in transit - passengers can visit one of the airline's Business Class lounges with a Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired menu including sushi, a staffed bar for fine wines, cocktails and mocktails, showers and quiet places to relax alone or with young family members or work in the dedicated business centre.
A new centrepiece terminal at Etihad's primary Abu Dhabi hub, named Midfield Terminal due to its proximity between the two runways, is under construction and is expected to have new lounge facilities. For now, some connections require long walks between terminals. Business Class passengers have a private bus transfer to take them to the aircraft for flights that board via airstairs rather than from a jet bridge.
When Etihad Business Class passengers travel from other airports, they are treated to priority check-in, security and lounge facilities with airline partners or one of the few Etihad-branded lounges in select airports, including London Heathrow and Washington Dulles.
A unique feature of Abu Dhabi's airport, compared to other Middle Eastern departure points, is that U.S.-bound travellers complete pre-clearance formalities while still in the United Arab Emirates. They undergo U.S. customs and immigration before taking off. On landing in the United States, they deplane as if it were a domestic flight. While this is especially convenient, it does mean that U.S.-bound passengers must allow plenty of time before the flight or while in transit to undergo these checks. Once completed, there is a separate Business Class lounge for U.S.-bound travellers to enjoy.
A dedicated Etihad Airways Arrivals Lounge is also available at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Business Class seats can vary depending on the aircraft. The airline's Boeing 787 aircraft and its soon-to-be-retired 777s are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving all passengers easy access to the aisle. The soon-to-be returning Airbus A380s also share the 1-2-1 configuration on the upper deck with 70 Business Studios and access to The Lobby – lounge bar area between First and Business Class cabins. The airline's narrowbody planes like the Airbus A320 or A321, which operate sectors that can span 4 to 5 hours, are laid out in a 2-2 configuration. Window seat passengers must step over their neighbours to reach the aisle. These recliner-style seats do not go fully flat but have leg rests for more comfort.
On widebody planes, the airline has two different types of seats. One comes with seats that are staggered between slightly facing the aisle or slightly facing the window. Go for the latter as those turned toward the aisle feel more exposed.
A newer version of the Business Class seat - branded Business Studio - also in the same 1-2-1 configuration, has higher partitions, making it more modern and private. These seats alternate between being forward and rear-facing. The central forward-facing seats are together with a central removable divider – so great for couples or those travelling with children. Central rear-facing seats are positioned next to the aisle, and the single window seats follow the same pattern, with forward-facing seats positioned beside the window and rear-facing next to the aisle.
Both recline into various positions using electronic controls and can go fully flat in bed mode. There is also a massage function built into the seat controls. Either version of the seat has a large side table that is great for working or storing items while eating or sleeping.
Small storage compartments provide a place for reading material, eyeglasses, mobile devices and other things. Power and USB outlets are easy to reach.
Each seat comes with a large pillow and thick duvet awaiting on the ottoman facing the chair.
Large and sturdy tray tables fold out toward the seat with plentiful space to dine or work.
On the 787, window dimmers allow different amounts of light while still being able to see out rather than a traditional window shade to lower.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes images, videos, and seat maps for most airlines and aircraft Search results also include details such as seat pitch, width and recline. This way, you can see the seat and cabin configuration of the flight in which you are interested before making your choice.
Etihad offers dine-on-demand service for Business Class passengers - you can eat what you want when you want. While flight attendants work hard to prepare and deliver food with a restaurant-style presentation, it can take a bit longer for everyone to be served since it is a personalised service.
A new collaboration with Armani/Casa sees the introduction of 'The Constellation Collection' – a bespoke designer dining service featuring elegant ceramics, glassware, cutlery, serving ware, and premium textiles which the airline terms' Beyond Business.'
Meal service begins with a beverage from the bar, a warm towel, and a ramekin of nuts delivered on a decorative tray. Once you peruse the menu, you realise why things may take a while, as there is a great variety, including many Arabic and Western choices.
Starters include salmon tartare, salads or soup. Try the Arabic mezze for one of the airline's signature appetisers.
Main course options can include beef, chicken, pasta and fish. Dessert consists of cakes, fresh fruit, ice creams and cheese platters. Cordials, coffee, tea and other after-dinner drinks round out the service.
In between meals, passengers can order from an all-day snack menu, including everything from burgers and sandwiches to baklava and crisps. The Etihad Steak Sandwich is an all-time favourite with fans of the airline.
In addition to a lunch or dinner menu, there is usually a breakfast selection, including bakery items, cereal, fruit and an omelette.
Passengers can dine according to their body clock, which helps reduce jet lag. Be sure to place an order for your preferred things early, as the crew can run out of popular items. There is also an option to order special meals, including Asian vegetarian, Muslim and Kosher entrees, but this must be done in advance.
As guests board, a warm towel and welcome drink, including the option for Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut Champagne and fresh juices, help passengers get settled.
Printed menus outline what is available throughout the flight, including Champagne, two white wines, two red wines and a dessert wine. There is a long list of cocktails using an impressive array of liqueurs, spirits and mocktails, plus a wide assortment of soft drinks and juices. There is even a traditional Bellini delivered in a beautiful Champagne flute. International beer selections are available, and tea and coffee are served in many ways - cappuccino, espresso and macchiato are just some of the preparations.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on which Champagne is served in Business Class and First Class on many airlines. We do our best to keep track of any changes but feel free to let us know if we missed something.
Flight attendant service is attentive and friendly from an international crew that speaks a variety of languages. In Business Class, they work hard to remember particular preferences, which can be difficult to execute with dine-on-demand service. Service is impressive.
Noise-reducing headphones plug into the side of the seat. The airline's E-BOX in-flight entertainment system holds hundreds of international movies, including options from the Middle East, Europe and Asia, a similar number of short subject features like comedies and documentaries.
World music, radio stations and podcasts are available via the large touch screen or extendable remote control. Children have their movies and favourite television shows, while interactive games will also entertain gaming fans. In addition, there is a 3-D moving map display showing details of the route of the flight and the destinations the plane is passing along the way. Passengers can also peruse the food and beverage offerings via the entertainment system.
Wi-Fi is available with fees based on data usage, and Bluetooth options allow passengers to use their own devices.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi.
Complimentary amenity kits provided by Acqua di Parma contain signature fragrances, eye masks, ear plugs and luxurious socks. Additional such as shaving kits and combs are available upon request. The lavatories - decked out in attractive mosaic tiles and mood lighting - feature more comfort products, including face mist, lotion, and eau de cologne.
On shorter flights, the dine-on-demand meal service remains the same, even on narrowbody aircraft with smaller gallies. While the recliner seats and smaller entertainment screens are not ideal, they still offer a comfortable way to travel. The same food and beverage menu is in place including Champagne and the full wine & cocktail list.
The airline is focused on recycling and efficient ground operations. In addition, the airline is working to reduce single-use plastics and plans to operate at a net zero carbon emissions level by 2050. It is also committed to the illegal trade of endangered wildlife and has conservation programs in place to monitor for potential problems.
More than 300 cabin crew participate in the airline's Green Ambassador program and wear green scarves on flights. Their role is to share information with passengers on how Etihad is focused on more eco-friendly operations. They also share details with the airline on how to operate more efficiently by suggesting changes that can be put in place to support the environment. For example, the airline now uses a paper seal on blankets rather than wrapping them in single-use plastic.
Etihad has a partnership with Boeing to trial new initiatives covering everything from noise reduction to sustainable biofuel using its planes as test flights. Even an Etihad Dreamliner is painted in a green livery and dubbed the "Greenliner." Etihad also offers customers the chance to offset their carbon emissions and help fund global gold-standard decarbonisation projects.
The flight search on BusinessClass.com includes information on CO2 emissions for each flight. Our quality algorithms also score higher on flights operated by the most modern and environmentally friendly aircraft.
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