Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi

After flying airberlin business class from Miami to Dusseldorf, I connected to an Etihad Airways flight from Dusseldorf to Abu Dhabi. My layover in Dusseldorf was about four hours, and I spent it at the airberlin lounge, which is quite possibly the worst hub lounge I’ve ever been to. Ever.

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Airberlin lounge Dusseldorf

But I’ll cover that in much more detail in the trip report.

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Etihad Airways A330

Etihad Airways business class seat

This flight was operated by one of Etihad Airways’ A330s, which was in a three cabin configuration. There’s a first class cabin with the standard Diamond First Class fully enclosed suites, though on this particular flight it was empty.

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Etihad Airways business class A330

You have no clue how much restraint it took not to book a first class award in a completely empty cabin, though I’ve reviewed Etihad Airways first class before, so took one for the team and booked business class instead. You’re welcome. 😉

Instead I selected seat 6K, which is in the mini-cabin right behind first class. There are two rows of business class there, with a total of eight seats (four seats per row).

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Seatmap (per SeatGuru)

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Etihad Airways business class A330

Etihad Airways also has a staggered business class product on their A330s, very similar to airberlin and Alitalia. The finishes in their cabins are just so much nicer, though.

I was also able to snag a “true” window seat. On the airberlin flight I had one of the “aisle” window seats, which feels quite exposed.

The true window seats are just so private, and after a reverse herringbone configuration, one of my favorite business class hard products.

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Etihad Airways business class seat A330

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Etihad Airways business class seat A330

So I give Etihad’s business class seats high marks, especially if you can snag a “true” window seat. It really makes a huge difference.

Etihad Airways business class food

Etihad’s business class meal service was simultaneously brilliant and disappointing. The three big Gulf carriers have “anytime” dining concepts, whereby you can eat what you want when you want. They have a fairly extensive menu with all kinds of options, so you can have a meal at the beginning of the flight, end of the flight, or anywhere inbetween (or even multiple meals).

It amazes me that other airlines can’t do this, and still use carts in business class. It really does feel like first class when you’re not restricted to eating when it’s convenient for the crew.

So they did have a wide variety of options on the menu, and I ordered before takeoff. But what really disappointed me is that they were out of both my starter option (arabic mezze) and main course (sea bass). I get that occasionally the first choice isn’t available, but this is the first time I’ve ever had my first choice on two courses not available. And business class was only half full, on top of that.

It’s just very odd to fly Etihad Airways and not be able to have the arabic mezze.

But my second choices — and the food as a whole — were still phenomenal.

To start there were nuts and champagne (Lanson Black Label Brut, which is a fairly good champagne for business class)

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Etihad Airways business class champagne and nuts

The starter was a salmon terrine with avocado and cream, which was just fabulous.

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Etihad Airways business class appetizer

And then for the main course I had the baked chicken breast with sumac. I’m not usually much of an airplane chicken guy, but it was really good.

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Etihad Airways business class main course

The dessert was probably the highlight, though — banana and toffee gateau. I had a cappuccino to accompany it, which was one of the better coffee drinks I’ve had on a plane.

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Etihad Airways business class dessert

The presentation and plating was on par with the best I’ve seen in first class.

After a nap I later had another cappuccino and some of Etihad’s always delicious baklava. Mainly because we were over Baghdad, and with a slight champagne buzz “Baklava over Baghdad” just sounded kinda cool.

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Etihad Airways business class baklava and cappuccino

Etihad Airways business class service

The service on this sector was very good, keeping in mind that this is a Gulf carrier. I think a lot of people that haven’t flown any of the big three Gulf carriers get the wrong impression of their service. It’s generally not as polished or sincere as you’d get on an airline like Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, etc.

I find at Gulf carriers the crew often lacks an identity/rhythm, given how diverse they are. Furthermore, the Gulf carriers are so strict with their rules that the crews are always on their “toes,” to the point that I sometimes kind of feel like they’re just nervously going through the motions. Usually.

On this particular sector the service was very good, though. I had a fairly young Czech flight attendant taking care of me, and he was friendly, attentive, and had a good sense of humor. The rest of the crew struck me as a bit scattered, but on the whole I thought the service was very good.

The captain was also hilarious. I couldn’t tell for sure what nationality he was (maybe French?) but he cracked me up. He started his welcome aboard announcement in German, then stopped mid-sentence and said “and that’s all the German I know.” He would start all of his announcements with “ladies and gentlemen, meine Damen und Herren,” which I thought was a nice touch.

Etihad Airways business class amenities

Etihad has a nice amenity kit in business class, though now that I live in hotels full time I’m not much of an amenity kit guy anymore, since I have nowhere to store them.

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Etihad Airways business class amenity kit

The blanket and pillow were also quite nice.

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Etihad Airways business class blanket

But really the highlight in terms of the amenities was the wifi. A 24 hour pass was priced at $21.95, which seemed reasonable to me. Wifi speed was good, and there were no service interruptions.

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Etihad Airways wifi

Going back several years I was more opposed to wifi on planes than anyone else, since planes were my “sanctuary.” But nowadays I have a hard time taking airlines that don’t have wifi, since I love always being connected.

Etihad Airways business class bottom line

Aside from the disappointment of not getting my first choice for two courses, the flight was fantastic. Etihad really has a top notch business class product, with excellent food (both in terms of the concept and execution), good service, wifi, and a solid hard product.

Ultimately it’s worth the mileage premium to book first class, in my opinion, but that doesn’t make this any less solid of a business class product.

If you’ve flown Etihad Airways business class, what did you think?

Comments

  1. Was this Czech flight attendant the chap wearing the white jacket? Did you find out his age?

  2. I think we should make a drinking game for every time you say “I live in hotels full time” 🙂

  3. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Brilliant link to the China Southern post!

    Well played Lucky. Well played.

  4. Great report! Etihad ran out of choices on most flights I’ve taken with them. And I was far from the last to being served.

  5. P.S. I agree with you on the Air Berlin lounge. The bathroom was like one of those you find at a cheap restaurant and it was separated from the lounge. The soda fountain didn’t even work, just spat out foam. The cappuccino machine was pretty cool, though.

  6. I’ve heard that if the cabin is full and the crew isn’t the most…competent, it can lead to a very disorganized dining experience.

    The color scheme on the seats look much better than the previous green version. Though the magazine/light fixture does seem like an awkward use of space on the armrest, no?

  7. do you think it would have been much better if you had booked F? what in particular?
    thank you.

  8. @ Lantean — I mean, at the end of the day it’s a fully private suite and I’m sure I would have gotten my meal choice in first class. So they’re subtle differences, but the mileage premium isn’t big, so I think it’s worth it.

  9. Umm. You forgot to tell us about the seat. Full flat bed? Comfortable? How long is it? For some of us, that’s the critical factor.

  10. @ Miami Flyer — Sorry, I linked to previous reports of the Alitalia seat and airberlin seat. It’s identical in terms of comfort. It’s fully flat and extremely comfortable, especially the “true” window seats.

  11. Speaking of the comparison between the Middle Eastern carriers and other premium airlines have you found any arabic pursers as eager to serve you their warm nuts as Stewart at BA was?

  12. What was wrong with the lounge? It made having to deal with a 19 hour layover in Dusseldorf so much bearable when I was there, lets just ignore the fact that I was to cheap to book rooms at the hotels right across the road from the airport.

  13. @ Hemal — Ultimately having a lounge is better than not having a lounge, but what I didn’t like about it:
    — The decor was dated as could be
    — Furniture was uncomfortable
    — No shower and horrible bathrooms
    — Bad food spread
    — I had to create a new account every two hours to use the wifi

    Just my two cents…

  14. @lucky

    Yeah I was just happy to be sitting in there. Now that you mention it, I do recall the bathroom being a trek down some service corridor. Furthermore the food spread wasn’t much to rave about, just some cold breakfast food and croissants. You’ve got some extremely valid points. I look forward to the full review in the trip report!

  15. You should start giving away these amenity kits on a regular basis then Ben.
    I’d be more than glad to take some off your hands 🙂

  16. I have flown Etihad Business Class on one of their 777s with two class cabin. This product looks a little bit a older than the one you have flown. Still good though!

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