This review looks at Etihad Business Class on A350. As a relatively new airline, Etihad has built an image as an uber luxurious airline, with sleek product offering and premium soft touches, excellent service being one of the few airlines offering dine-on-demand,
I’ve flown Etihad Business Studio as it is also branded a few times during 2014-2016 and found them to be a very competitive product at the time. I’ve always wanted to fly their A380s, and eventually managed to book the awesome First Class Apartments for June 2020 only for covid to derail that plan entirely even in 2021.
This year they finally rolled out new A350s into service which only feature an updated Business Studio with no First Class. When looking for flights to Seychelles, Etihad had the most reasonable business prices (considering how airfares have really shot up lately). So how are they still holding up as an airline and will the new product keep them in the leading edge of business products?
Route: London Heathrow – Abu Dhabi
Flight No: EY12
Departure Time: 09:30
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 (Tail: A6XBW)
Seats/Suite: 14A Business Class ( AKA Business Studio )
I arrived in Heathrow Terminal 4 just past 7am on an unseasonably warm autumn morning. With check-in lines tailing back several layers for Economy..
I was glad to see Business Class was almost empty..
I quickly got checked through with my very light bag, that I could have probably fitted everything in a larger carry on. Anyway I had my boarding passes on hand within a couple of minutes and dashed through to fast security
Etihad Terminal 4 Lounge
The timing was good for this flight as Etihad had just re-opened their own lounge in Terminal 4..
You have to take a lift/or stair downstairs and there is a nice reception area where you are checked in. I did not take a picture at the time as there was a family checking in right before me who seemed to have misplaced one of their boarding passes!
It’s a nice enough lounge with a good relaxing atmosphere but is perhaps starting to look rather dated. I decided to head straight to the restaurant for breakfast..
There is a proper a-la carte menu here with table service.. but they also have a buffet selection if you just wanted to get your food very quickly..
After breakfast, I was able to relax for about 30 minutes before I headed to the gates.
Boarding Etihad Business Class On A350
When I reached the boarding gates, there was a hold up with everyone still being asked to remain seated. It was not possible to take a good picture of our aircraft due to boarding bridges and other aircraft with gate itself blocking some views.
About 15 minutes later, boarding began for priority needs customers followed by Business Class..
As I walked in I was very aware this was a full Business Class cabin this morning. We were greeted at the door by 2 crew who pointed me to my seat.
There were already a handful of passengers boarded and placing their overhead baggage etc so it was difficult to take good picture of the whole cabin, but these are the ones I managed..
There are 44 Business Studio Suites in a now typical 1-2-1 layout with each having privacy doors similar to British Airways etc
It’s an absolutely beautiful cabin not done justice by my very fast mobile phone snaps..
Etihad Business Studio On A350 Seat
Looking deeper into the Suites, each one is equipped with the signature Etihad lamp with beautiful brown, grey and yellow tones of Etihad branding throughout the seat and cushions
I was in 14A, the second to last row, which I preferred due to the engine views. Most seats either have 2 full windows (bear in mind the A350 windows are huge so its probably 2 and half windows on a A330 or 777) or in some 1 and half.
While some airlines have placed an additional storage above the panel on the left shoulder, Etihad has just opted for a simple literature storage so not as to detract from their Signature lamp which lights up the faux marge panel finishes in a warming glow.
The bigger standard storage space contains your mains charging points and the handheld IFE controller
Already on the seat was amenity kit by Acqua di Parma, wellness sanitation pack, a light pillow and duvet
Boarding took a good 30 to 40 minutes to complete with the cabin completely full. The captain informed us of a little delay and expected flight operation for today.
We finally departed the gates at 10:25am.
Etihad Business Class Service
Given the A350 is currently Etihad’s flagship aircraft operating on their premium long-haul routes, you would expect their best and fullest service.
Etihad operates a full dine on demand concept and has done so even in my last flight with them in 2016 (again this might not apply to all routes)
Post take-off I was offered a choice of drinks and warm nuts
As I expected the seat afforded some great engine views as well
On inspecting the menu, I was pleased to see the catering did not involve breakfast (which is never a great meal to have on a plane regardless)
Sorry for the poor quality of the menu pics!
I was in no rush to eat after a hearty breakfast so asked to be served as late as possible. About an hour and 20 minutes after take-off I was ready for lunch.
I don’t know what it is, but I really enjoy watching the crew setup the table and bring everything out, and Etihad does this well…
I generally find Arabic Mezze rather boring so I opted for the Prawn salad with orange, fennel and asparagus to start. This was served with fresh warm bread and I requested some water and more juice
As you can see the prawns were huge! I wasn’t a huge fan of the terragon dressing which was almost too watery making a somewhat bland dish even more blander, which was a real shame!
For the main, I really liked the idea of the prawn biriyani, but having selected a prawn starter I thought I should mix it up a little so chose the braised beef cheeks
This was much better and flavoursome. The mushroom and mash were beautifully cooked and creamy. The beef cheek was good overall. As would be expected it was somewhat tough and I could not finish more than half of it.
After a little breather, the cheese plate was served.
This was beautifully presented and the biscuit like crackers were not something I have tried before, made a great companion to the cheese and pickle.
Finally I was ready for the dessert which I ordered with some peppermint tea
This again was just fantastic! I was already pretty full by that point but I finished every bite of that 🙂
Etihad Business Studio On A350 Bed
Off course this was a daylight so I had no plan or need for any sleep. I have already slept in this bed type with several airlines, more recently Aeromexico. But I was keen to see how the bed felt with Etihad’s soft product and touches including being fully closed..
The bed converts into over 6 foot with good room to move your legs, and did not feel restricted like some chubby hole like seats out there.
I just decided to relax in bed most for a little while, watching a movie..
While relaxing I ordered some more tea as well. It felt so cosy under that duvet, I could easily imagine falling asleep in this quite well.
I appreciated the tea was served in a tray with some light treats alongside it!
Etihad Business Pre-landing Service
About 80 minutes before landing, the crew came around to ask if I liked anything from the All Day Dining menu. While I was not really hungry I could not pass up the Steak Sandwich..
This was served with a side of chips. The meal was substantial enough to keep me going for my 2 hour layover and onto the short night flight into Mahe.
The service throughout the flight has been very professional and courteous. Crew in general seemed happy to serve and had a smile on their face when they checked up on me. Both times all the plates were cleared away in a timely manner too.
Not long after we were approaching Abu Dhabi and the captain announced a descent.
We were treated to some awesome views of Abu Dhabi going in, which I have captured on video.
Etihad Business Studio On A350 Overall Thoughts
I had an excellent flight with Etihad once again. The latest iteration of the Business Studio is great. Even though it is a standard off-the shelf product ( as far as manufacturing is concerned) I love Etihad’s touches to the base product. Though I would say this is more a nice evolution than the revolution that was the original launch of the Business Studio.
As an airline Etihad has gone through quite a bumpy ride over the years. Even before covid, they were bleeding money like crazy. Part of this was due to unlucky investments in other airlines. So Etihad has almost gone through survival mode longer than any other airlines and took drastic actions to downsize and cut costs. And those cost cutting in services did not go unnoticed by customers.
On this flight there was no evidence of any cost cutting however. My next leg to Mahe though, was a trip back to the past on an A320 with the same recliner seats I few over 12 years ago. My return to London was meant to be on the A350 too but unfortunately got swapped to a rusty 777 with older business product that I flew back in 2014 and vastly inferior that I will probably not have time to review.
On a more positive note, after months of rumours, Etihad is bringing back the A380 with their fantastic First Class Apartments and the Residence, the only 3 room product in commercial aviation!