ETIHAD AIRWAYS BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW
Lounge access (Etihad Lounge not used)
When flying into and out of Abu Dhabi on a codeshare flight like I did you get access to the Plaza Premium Lounge which is used by several different carriers and can also be "pay as you use" for all classes of travel. With this in mind it can be a very busy lounge. As I was there for 5 hours, and I did get to see it fill up and empty out.
A 1-2-1 configuration welcomes you on board the with Arabian flare and colouring feeling like you're in a bit of a desert setting. Again they have made sure everyone seated has direct aisle access but with this being a smaller feeling cabin with the single seats being in a back-to-back configuration. Warm tones and lighting in your area make you feel cosy.
Meals on Board
Once you are seated your attendant comes to introduce themselves with a offering of a welcome glass of champagne or juice. You are again presented with a leather-bound menu with what you will be served on the flight. In business class you have the option of "all day dining" along with "a la carte". The beverage list on this flight with Etihad was extensive. A lovely strong coffee and pastry selection is available just before arrival into Abu Dhabi.
Professional but slightly aloof. Whilst I know there are many types of business class traveller I believe a sense of warmth was lacking with the service from Etihad. Everything was timed well from the welcome drink to the meal service, presentation of the amenity kit, to them helping to turn down your bed and storing any jacket you may have.
WHAT I LOVED ABOUT IT
The experience on board this aircraft - Dreamliner 787-9, was a comfortable experience. In terms of service and meals it didn't blow me away, but the seating on offer was very comfortable and worth it. The room to stretch out was a great start to my business class experience on this RAW Travel research trip. As it was a codeshare with Oman Air I felt like I wasn't a true "Etihad business class passenger" with a completely opposite feeling when I flew back to Melbourne with Malaysian Airlines.
As soon as you board the plane you you feel a sense of warmth from the layout, fixtures, fittings and colour tones - I think the lighting is the best I have seen on any aircraft.
Coming out of Australia with this flight I didn't feel the meals were authentically Arabic, and the vegetarian pasta dish that I chose for my diner was extremely bland - I wish I had of just picked from the "all day dining" menu. With the meal lacking they did make up with the extensive beverages on offer, Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut was freely poured from boarding to when we landed in Abu Dhabi. And once I had woken from my snooze coming into Abu Dhabi as I had missed the offical breakfast timing I did have a delicious selection of pastries and a hot coffee served to leisurely wake up with.
The large 18.5 inch TV screen in front had a rather dull selection of movies on offer so I just watched sitcoms and documentaries. The screen to hand-held remote can become quite confusing at times, so I preferred to lean forward to touch and change. they did have a wonderful relaxation music selection which helped ease me into sleep, but its hard when you want to turn on your side and you have the large headphones pressing into your ear but I figured it out.
The seating on this flight was comfortable with lush deep browns and fawns. The area in front of the seat below the screen had room for your feet and then underneath that some space for shoes and handbag. It had compartments next to you where you could store your Luxe Amenity kit, camera and bottled water. Again with this being business class the advantage was the lie-flat bed it converted into. The staff we happy to assist you with a turn down service and working out the seats many configuration options.
The bathrooms were on the small side but just big enough for a quick change into my "plane clothes".....I like to board and disembark in one set of clothes and change into others on board once that seatbelt light has been switched off - popping on some slippers makes the toilet area more sanitary too.
Arriving into Abu Dhabi we were bused from the aircraft to the terminal - boy was it hot at midnight, so the comfort of the Plaza Premium lounge was worth the walk. The Plaza Premium Lounge is used for codeshare flights and is a busy lounge. It had ample space for all passengers, a bar area, work pods, quiet areas, lounge seating with TV's for everyone to watch, and a area to grab some food. The busiest part of this lounge seemed to be the 6 shower rooms that were there, you had to book in to use them, they were cleaned to a high standard after each use, towels were provided.
Staff were attentive and friendly and it was interesting to see the movement of passengers though the space - mad busy to super quiet. A very comfortable place to hang out in between flights as Abu Dhabi is a very very busy airport.
I flew on Etihad for my first leg of my business class journey with Oman Air.
Value for Money
I would give this a rating of 6/10. The seating was what stood out on this flight.