My very own Etihad Airlines Review
After hearing and reading a range of mixed reviews I really didn’t know what to think of Etihad Airways. There was only one solution for this and that is to experience flying with Etihad myself.
Etihad Airways calls itself the national carrier of The United Arab Emirates and they face stiff competition from the more established Emirates Airline. However Etihad Airlines are growing in prominence and global reach with their routes.
If Ethiad Airlines have never appeared on any of your flight itinerary options before then you might know them as sponsors of Manchester City FC or of a main sporting stadium in Melbourne.
To date I’d only had the views of others to go by. Firstly, one of the first guest posts on this site was by Shane Todd. He provided an Etihad Airways review based on a not so pleasant experience. Then other people have over time added comments to that review, mainly critical of the airline.
With all respect the airline were quick to respond to the article and have subscribed to this site. Clearly they are conscientious about their public image and I can’t fault them for that.
Counter that with some other views.
I’ve read some positive travel blogger experiences, plus my next door neighbour has taken numerous Etihad flights and speaks highly of them. He also advised me a while ago how the Etihad frequent flyer scheme, Etihad Guest were offering Gold status to those European frequent flyers who were high status elsewhere. I was quick to jump onto this time limited offer which has now passed.
So armed with Gold status and no experience of flying Etihad I would wait for an opportunity to arise. Soon enough a trip to Australia arose however I was working with a reduced budget for travel. Etihad proved fairly price competitive at less than £900 return flight from the UK to Australia with a domestic connection in Australia, all in economy. It seemed like a good price for my specific itinerary. There was a reasonably good timing flight out of Manchester (around 8am) and arriving in Brisbane early evening. This seemed perfect as a chance for my first experience of Etihad Airways.
I was also slightly influenced since my neighbour predicted there was a reasonable chance of me obtaining a complimentary upgrade (as I’ve previously discussed high status members are more likely to be selected).
I never got an upgrade at check-in (I never expect an upgrade nor do I ask for a complimentary one as this could rile the airline staff who are serving customers). However I was pleasantly surprised to be upgraded at boarding. I was already a happy flyer now.
Etihad 777 Business Class Review
The business class section seemed to go as far back as row 14 on my Boeing B777-300 flight. (Seat plans and furnishings vary on some aircraft types.)
I had the lucky seat in row 13. Business class was fairly busy but the seat to the side of me was also empty.
The layout of the Etihad Airways Business Class seats is a 1-2-1 seat plan. So every seat has aisle access plus there was a dedicated overhead bin for luggage for each seat, so no sharing.
The seat was of reasonable comfort but had good leg room. Anticipating a 7 hour flight in economy this extra leg space was very welcome indeed.
Seat width was fairly standard for this class of seat but the controls for the seat adjustment and built in massage seemed fairly fancy.
I was a little confused with the seat design since the in-flight magazines and entertainment guide were round a corner, out of sight from where you are sat. All that being said the entertainment selection was reasonable with a combination of new and old. Around half of the films were Hollywood titles. Then there were some from the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Russia plus a range of Arabic and Hindi offerings. I felt the range was okay but there were maybe more to choose from on a recent economy class Delta international flight.
TV programmes were also offered. I tend to look at the comedy selection and it is fair to say most of these were US offerings. If I’m honest, as a Brit I tend to have a sense of humour which differs to the US one so little by way of these shows appealed to me.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see some live, yes live TV broadcasts being transmitted, such as CNBC and Sky News. Fairly easy to keep in touch with ongoing events.
Do they serve alcohol on Etihad flights?
This seems to be a common query which leads people to find Shane’s article on this site. Well to answer the question once and for all, absolutely, yes. The UAE is not a “dry” country and as a result there is little reason for it to have a “dry” flight. Yes, they serve alcohol on Etihad Airlines flights.
On boarding I was able to enjoy a pre-take off glass of champagne.
Then there was a choice of 3 red or 3 white wines plus beers and spirits. I enjoyed a tipple or two as it was a long flight.
Working on board an Etihad flight
The desktop table by the Etihad business class seat was of a size that I could fit my Macbook Airwith enough room for some basic computer mouse movement too. If I had a large laptop then it might have been tight.
Etihad however offered a universal plug socket by the seat plus a USB charger socket. (It is worth noting that a universal power socket and USB point is also available at each economy class seat on Etihad Airways too.)
Wifi is available on Etihad international flights but it has to be paid for. In late 2015 charges ranged from a 2 hour to 4 hour or a full flight length pass. With food to be served and sleep to be had I’d struggle to see why people would need to go for the full flight option.
In flight dining on Etihad Airways
Once in flight there is a range of dining options.
First of all, in business class I was delighted to see that Etihad Airways offer a dine anytime option. So you call the shots as to when you eat. With an early morning flight this suited me perfectly.
There is an All Day menu plus an A La Carte selection. For my flight of Manchester to Abu Dhabi in November 2015 these consisted of:-
All Day menu
– selection of breads and pastries
– strawberry and elderflower smoothie
– range of breakfast cereals with full cream or low fat milk
– natural yoghurt granola and stewed apple
– scrambled egg with spring onion rosti potato, cherry tomato and asparagus spears
– steak sandwich with melted cheese and red onion chutney
– selection of fine international cheeses
– seasonal fresh fruit
– selection of ice cream
Plus as snack options you had:
– potato crisps
– baked cookies and madeleines
– Swedish crips breads
– Arabic baklava
A La Carte
– Arabic mezze
– Smoked chicken salad
– Artichoke and ginger soup
– Lamb loin, baby squash, pumpkin, spring onion and rosemary jus
– Seared Loch Fyne smoked ginger salmon with beetroot mash, sauteed spinach and lemon vinaigrette
– Arabic style stuffed chicken breast, curried lentils and tomato bulgur
– Spinach and ricotta tortellini with cherry tomato ragout, mozzarella and rocket leaves
– selection of fine international cheeses
– warm apricot pudding with fresh cream
– greek yoghurt and honey mousse cake
– seasonal fresh fruit
– selection of ice cream flavours
Well if all that doesn’t whet your appetite I don’t know what will!
To top it all off I received the customary bowl of nuts selection with my pre-dinner drink too.
Etihad amenity kit
It kind of goes without saying that Etihad are in direct competition with Emirates for business. Both are based in the UAE and act as transporters through a Middle East hub.
So when it comes to the amenity kit this is where you find that Etihad are maybe not quite offering as much.
In my Business Class Etihad travel bag I found the following:-
– Skin care facial moisturiser and lip balm
– Luxe City Guides handbook of recommended places to eat in Sydney (yes this was in my amenity kit. Nothing to do with helping me relax on the flight nor was I flying to Sydney)
– A sleep pack consisting of flight socks and eyeshades
– A care pack which consisted of cotton pads, earbuds and an emery board
– A set of earplugs
– Dental pack containing a toothbrush and toothpaste
All in all I felt this was a rather basic amenity kit, maybe more fitting of economy class? Where was my razor blade and shave cream, cologne and so on?
Etihad offered an international flight crew
The cabin crew were from a mix of international locations. I am always encouraged seeing staff from the country of origin of the airline. However seeing fellow Brits and other nationalities on board gives a fair element of reassurance that most if not all travellers can be cateered for.
Business Class On Etihad Airlines Review Final Thoughts
Overall Etihad Airways offered me a respectable level of comfort. The business class seat was cosy, with ample legroom. More width is always appreciated but this can be hard to come by from any airline.
Service in my experience was polite and professional. I know other people have reported negative experiences but this is not something I found.
The plane was fitted out to a modern standard and was clean and respectable. In all honesty the plane appeared cleaner than some recent aircraft that I’ve taken with some other airlines.
The entertainment selection was fair but maybe not exceptional. The supplied headphones provided good sound quality but sadly were not noise reducing.
Having the option to buy wifi access and a universal plug socket at the seat was much appreciated.
Flights can be booked directly on the Etihad Airways website.
Alternatively perform a free flight search with SkyScanner to see all possible flight options for your trip.
Overall in concluding my Etihad Airlines review it was a pleasant experience but I could see little to suggest they had an edge of their main rival, Emirates. Having said that I’d be more than happy to fly with Etihad Airways again. In fact, I am sure that I will.