Written by Mark Smith. Published on .
The weekend was drawing closer… the excitement was reaching fever pitch… and for the fist time, I was heading to the Etihad Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix! And what better way to to get there than to fly with the title sponsor. So here is my Etihad Airways Business Class review.
Arriving at Terminal 4 at the cold, wet, and cringe-inducing time of 6:30am for my morning flight from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi was not my idea of a perfect start to the holiday, but the departure time of 9am meant a very reasonable arrival time; a big plus that Etihad have to all its competitors.
The dedicated check-in counter manned by friendly and professional staff were a welcome sight and they made checking in a breeze. What i was really anticipating, was the Etihad First and Business Class Lounge!
Located below the enormous SkyTeam Lounge, the cosier and more discreet Etihad Airways Lounge is a haven filled with earthy tones and serene surrounds. The lounge can occasionally get busy due to the number of business and first class passengers that are on an Airbus A-380, as well as the Etihad status members and some partner airlines, but the slick operation and facilities shine.
The bar area was well serviced even though it was a little early for me to kick off, so I took a table in the dining area, passing the continental breakfast buffet options. No sooner had I sat, a waiter appeared with a full a la carte menu of hot food selections much more to my liking, and after eggs benedict (which they graciously exchanged the turkey bacon for smoked salmon on request), I took a brief walk to investigate some of the other facilities.
Etihad have recently closed the Six Senses Spa onsite, apparently to create more room for their guests, but the business centre, for any last minute work needing to be done, and the separate children’s room are excellent and remain available to cater to the passengers’ needs. On the whole, though occasionally a little cramped, the lounge is a great place to begin your trip!
With the short walk from the lounge to the gate, and onto the upper deck of the A-380, I took my seat directly from the aisle and settled in to the warm and private cocoon, known as a Business Studio, with a glass of champagne. The spacious area is perfect for stretching out while the side table and various storage compartments meant I never felt cluttered.
Shortly after takeoff, the Food and Beverage Manager asked what I fancied from the a-la-carte menu and made suggestions from the premium wine list to match my meal. I decided on the steak with a lovely small-vineyard malbec as an accompaniment. I actually chose to have the meal served a few hours into the flight; a great facility from Etihad called Dine Anytime.
With my meal ordered, I stretched my legs and made my way to The Lobby, the in-flight bar area situated between the Business Studios and the First Apartments. The area small, compact and beautifully designed. A few other passengers were currently making use of the couch and I didn’t feel the need to knock knees so retired back to my seat.
Sliding the privacy screen across, I reclined into my amazingly comfortable massage seat and world of endless entertainment, before being presented my beautifully cooked medium-rare steak with sides, followed by a creamy dessert parfait that could have come from any top restaurant. Not bad for in flight meals!
Although i didn’t feel the need to sleep, i did, as a matter of curiosity, fully recline the seat to the lie flat position. It is excellent. Firm and comfortable and completely 180 degees flat, i could tell this would be a very pleasant way to travel at night.
The only let down I felt from the entire flight experience was that Wi-Fi is not complimentary… a minor inconvenience for me but something business people may find more problematic. Then again, there are many people enjoy the fact that planes are one of the few places remaining where you can really get away from the constant communications we’ve all come so used to.
With the A-380 upper deck being only for premium cabin classes, the disembarkation was effortless into the terminal, and with priority luggage I was able to breeze through Abu Dhabi’s airport and into the Arrivals Lounge just past customs where I was able to freshen up and enjoy a light meal before exiting.
Being their home hub, Abu Dhabi is the only city that Etihad offer a chauffeur service at, and it certainly makes a nice touch when this city is your destination or a stopover location. My chauffeur was waiting for me, complete with refreshments, to take me to my hotel, so it was time for this Etihad Airways Business Class review to end.
Being a 7 hour day flight, I didn’t make full use of the fully lie-flat bed with its turn-down service in the Business Studios; but i did test briefly it and it was fabulously comfortable. The daytime amenity kits are a scaled down version of the night time kits containing just the essentials and I felt privileged that I could experience Etihad’s fantastic business class product. Compared to the other airlines with a direct route servicing Abu Dhabi, there are a few minuses on the ground (smaller lounge on departure), but once onboard there are a lot of pluses making Etihad still the best choice to begin this adrenaline filled weekend!
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