Flying Ethiad’s First Class was an absolute dream and I was afraid that after experiencing First Class that Business Class would be a letdown. Luckily, this wasn’t the case, unlike my experience on Cathay’s Business Class.
We had to endure an unfortunate weather delay thanks to Storm Grayson and that really messed up our connecting flight in New York. Despite all that, I was still looking very forward to experiencing Etihad’s Business Studio and seeing whether First Class was worth the additional points.
Etihad flies the A380-800 which is a double-decker plane with First Class and Business Class occuping the top deck of the plane. With only 9 seats in First Class, Business Class’ 70 seats take up a large majority of the space on the A380’s top deck.
The Seat and Cabin
I had the family seated in 10A, 12A, and 14A and as each of the seats in Business Class has direct aisle access, I wanted to ensure that we all had windows. I personally occupied 14A and as soon as I got to my seat, I knew it was going to be a good flight.
The first thing I noticed about the seat is the privacy, the excellent use of space, and how new the cabin felt. While I didn’t get a photo of it, the storage space next to the windows is massive. It was cavernous enough to fit my camera bag as well as my laptop … and there are two of them. It is certainly a welcome surprise when you get more than enough storage.
Similar to the First Class cabin, there are small design touches that make this plane uniquely Arabic. You’ll notice the beautiful Emarati designs throughout Etihad’s plane, from the pillows to the uniforms to the cutouts in the ceiling.
As a bed, the seat is quite comfortable even though there is no turndown service (ie make your own bed), nor is there a mattress pad, though I would argue that it’s not necessary. During the flight, I got a good 6 hours of sleep. As I had mentioned in my previous post, the A380 is extremely quiet so conversations from close-by seats can be heard loud and clear which I why I would recommend using the earplugs provided in the amenity kit.
As a welcome aboard, I was provided with warm nuts and a drink. I went with half orange juice and half soda water.
Due to our late departure and the fact that the flight was 14 hours, we had both dinner and breakfast options available for our meals. I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry so I skipped the appetizer course and went for the main which was a Beef Tenderloin with Roast Potatoes, Baby Carrots, Cherry Mushrooms, and Shitake Mushroom Sauce.
I had requested my beef to be medium-rare but as you can see it was slightly overcooked, though quite tasty. It’s certainly not as pretty as what you might find in First Class but nonetheless, it was quite a good meal.
For dessert, I had strawberry ice cream with some cookies and baklava on the side. I’m being nitpicky here but because the ice cream is flash frozen when it is ordered, it comes to you completely rock solid, meaning that you have to wait a good 5-10 minutes for it to defrost before eating.
Breakfast on the flight was a very simple but incredibly delicious scrambled egg on toast with mushrooms. I’m not sure why it was so delicious but it really was. It probably had to do with the mushrooms, which were very flavourful.
The Amenity Kit
The amenity kit that was provided in Business Class has a unique “collect them all” type feature with 6 different designs that you can collect. Each design represents a different city with my kit symbolizing Rome, Italy. What’s interesting about this is that each kit comes with a city guide for its own specific city.
As far as what comes inside the kit, you have your traditional sleep amenities including earplugs, eye mask, and socks. You also receive a toothbrush, toothpaste, cotton swabs, cotton pads and an emery board. For lotions, you are provided with a lip balm and facial moisturizer by UK based grooming company, Scaramouche + Fandango.
The service on board Etihad’s Business Class is good but certainly not great. I’m certain that it has to do with the sheer number of Business Class passengers (70) but it was definitely a noticeable difference to First Class.
After ringing the call bell. it would not be out of the ordinary to wait up to 20 minutes for the call to be answered and it wasn’t uncommon to see no flight attendants at all throughout the entire cabin.
When the flight attendants did respond, they were all very friendly and professional. It seemed to me that there as a strategy behind not answering calls immediately as they would clear multiple requests at the same time. While this might have been more efficient for them, as a passenger, you couldn’t help but feel a little bit neglected.
In between the First Class and Business Class cabin is Etihad’s Lounge. It is meant to be an area in which you can conduct business meetings or just sit and chat with friends, though I noticed it was completely unutilized during our flight.
There is seating for 6 and an open bar concept where you can serve yourself wine or liquor but it seemed oddly out of place. Based on my observation, I would expect that on the next redesign of the cabin, Etihad may eliminate this area and instead use it for additional Business Class seats.
I quite liked my experience onboard Etihad’s Business Class but my main reason for testing it out was to determine whether the First Class cabin was worth the extra miles. Using American Airlines Advantage miles, flying in Business Class from the Middle East to the Continental US costs 70,000 miles versus 115,000 for First Class. On a 14-hour flight that equates to an additional 3,215 miles per hour, which is nothing to scoff at. That being said, if there was availability, I would no doubt shell out the extra miles required. That’s not to say that Business Class is bad in any way, just that First Class in Eithad’s apartments is just that much better.
If you want to book this for yourself, it’s going to take a bit of work as a Canadian because American Airlines Advantage Miles are hard to come by. The easiest path is to get yourself some Amerian Express Membership Rewards and transfer them to SPG. Then convert the SPG to Marriott points and purchase a Travel Package. I know it sounds complicated but if you want a further breakdown on how I did it, check out my post about it.