Travel Weekly’s deputy editor managed to snag a business class seat on her recent flight with Etihad Airways. Here’s her verdict.
Flight: Sydney to Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways (EY451)
When: Wednesday 1 May
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER JET
Seat: 11A (window seat)
Etihad business class passengers can enjoy two pieces of carry-on luggage with a combined weight of 12 kilograms (dimensions: 50 centimetres by 40 centimetres by 25centimetres), plus one personal item such as a handbag, laptop bag or duty-free purchases weighing up to five kilograms. The overhead bins were spacious and my partner and I didn’t have to jam our carry-on luggage in or search for spare room, which was a pleasant surprise.
Our final destination was Italy, so as with all Etihad business class flights from Australia to Europe, our checked luggage allowance was 40 kilograms. Being the classically unprepared travellers we are, we neglected to do our research beforehand and assumed we would be allowed 30 kilograms and packed accordingly. We’ll have to make up for it by indulging in a 10 kilograms shopping spree when we hit Milan.
We breezed through check-in without a hitch. Staff were warm and accommodating.
As business class first-timers, we behaved like kids on Christmas morning, trying out every feature in our seats and expressing out delight in every extra inch of space the second we were in the air. The reclining lounge chair was 22 inches wide with plush upholstering and joined up with the ottoman to create a flat bed of up to 80.5 inches.
We cannot stress how much we enjoyed the flatbed. Being able to sleep and watch movies while cosied up in an obscenely soft blanket changed the game for us. We were able to enjoy uninterrupted REAL SLEEP for the majority of the flight, so we arrived at our destination feeling rested and refreshed, instead of rolling out of the airport feeling (and looking) like we’ve been hit by a bus.
The cabin crew were warm and friendly, offering us champagne or juice when we boarded and took our drink orders for after take-off. They were helpful with our dietary requirements and didn’t scold us for forgetting to alert them of them beforehand, which has happened to us numerous times on other airlines.
Turns out everything we thought we knew about aeroplane food was wrong. Our dinner service was akin to a world-class degustation, enjoyed from the comfort of our blanket cocoon while watching Die Hard, no less.
We had the choice between three starters, four mains and four deserts or a selection of cheeses and fruit. We had the salmon tartar with thyme crisps, cucumber and chive yoghurt dressing to start, followed by the gnocchi with olive butter, cherry tomatoes, pumpkin wedges, fried sage leaves and parmesan. Needless to say, it was just as good as any upscale restaurant we’ve experienced in Sydney, if not better.
The entertainment selection was diverse and plentiful, with a large selection of movies and TV shows from all over the world. We managed to fit in a triple feature of Eat Pray Love (we were going to Italy after all), Isle of Dogs and Die Hard before the food coma hit.
Again, we cannot stress enough how comfy the flatbed was. It was like having our own tiny hotel room. But the chair was also comfortable when switched to the relax setting for dining and movie watching. And big enough to curl up in!
Did we mention the chair also had massage settings? Because it sure did!
Honestly, Etihad’s business class offering was the anti-matter of every discomfort we’ve ever experienced in economy class. Usually, we dread flying. The lack of space, the aches and pains, the icky food, everything! But this flight changed the game for us. We can never go back to economy after this experience. Please, don’t make us!