File this under “things that are cool but not necessarily all that useful.” 😉
Etihad Airways and Virgin Australia have a partnership (it’s certainly one of Etihad’s more “premium” partnerships, compared to Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, and Alitalia).
As part of that, Virgin Australia offers three times weekly service between Sydney and Abu Dhabi, as a way to provide “feed” to Etihad flights for passengers connecting to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Because of the way the scheduling works out, the Virgin Australia 777-300ER would be sitting in Abu Dhabi all day on Sunday.
Etihad is growing like crazy, and can use all the planes they can get (which is why they lease several Jet Airways 777-300ERs as well).
So they creatively utilize the Virgin Australia 777-300ER for a Sunday flight between Abu Dhabi and Kuala Lumpur. The Virgin Australia flight operates with the following schedule:
EY418 Abu Dhabi to Kuala Lumpur departing 1:55AM arriving 1:25PM
EY411 Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi departing 8:35PM arriving 11:40PM
My understanding is that this flight is operated by Virgin Australia crews but has Etihad service standards (hopefully that doesn’t simply consist of them catering less food). 😉
I used Etihad’s website to search award space on the flight, and they have quite a bit of space. I see two seats per flight in business class for all the dates I checked.
And since it’s an Etihad flight for all intents and purposes, it is bookable with American miles — they charge 30,000 miles for one-way business class between the Middle East and Asia 2.
All that being said, Etihad is probably going to offer a better all around experience in business class than Virgin Australia. They do have a superior hard product with staggered Solstys seats, while Virgin Australia only has standard forward facing business class seats.
Virgin Australia business class
Etihad business class
I sure do find this unique, if nothing else…