Review: Etihad Business Class A340 Abu Dhabi To Male

Introduction: New Years In The Maldives, Summer In New Zealand
Review: Etihad Airways Lounge New York JFK
Review: Etihad First Class A380 New York To Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways Arrivals Lounge Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Business Class A340 Abu Dhabi To Male
Review: Returning To The Park Hyatt Maldives
This Is What A $570 Per Person New Year’s Eve Hotel Gala Is Like
Review: Etihad First Class A380 Abu Dhabi To Sydney
Review: Park Hyatt Sydney
Review: Qantas Business Class 737 Sydney To Auckland
Review: Hilton Auckland
Review: Air New Zealand Lounge Auckland
Review: Hilton Queenstown
Review: American First Class 777-300ER Sydney To Los Angeles


We had an awesome night in Abu Dhabi. As I mentioned in the previous installment, we stayed at the Hyatt Capital Gate. We visited the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, walked along the Corniche, visited the Emirates Palace (where we had a great dinner at the Emirati restaurant), etc.

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Abu Dhabi skyline

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Sheikh Zayed Mosque Abu Dhabi

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Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi

After a good night of sleep we headed back to Abu Dhabi Airport and bid farewell to Matt. I won’t be reviewing the Etihad Premium Lounge again, since I’ve done so before. Instead I’ll be sticking to the flight itself.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:20AM from gate 55. Unfortunately that’s a remote gate, meaning we’d have to take a bus to the plane.

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Abu Dhabi Airport bus gates

Boarding commenced at around 8:30AM, a full 50 minutes before our scheduled departure. The boarding process was rather chaotic, as everyone crowded around the gate and ignored the boarding calls.

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Abu Dhabi Airport bus gates

Within a few minutes we managed to get on the bus, one of which was reserved for first & business class passengers (these buses have a good amount of seating, while the other buses are typically standing room only).

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Bus to plane Abu Dhabi Airport

The ride to the plane took about five minutes. Our flight was operated by an Airbus A340-500, which is a very rare treat (just from an aviation geek’s perspective), as the flight is typically otherwise operated by an A330. They used just one set of stairs for the plane, meaning everyone boarded through door L2.

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Etihad A340 Abu Dhabi Airport

The A340-500/600 sure is a mighty fine plane, one of my favorites in the sky (at least physically — I don’t love the passenger experience).

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Etihad A340 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad A340 Abu Dhabi Airport

Etihad 278
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Male (MLE)
Monday, December 28
Depart: 9:20AM
Arrive: 2:55PM
Duration: 4hr35min
Aircraft: Airbus A340-500
Seat: 7K (Business Class)

We boarded through door L2, located between the first & business class cabins. Upon presenting our boarding passes to the cabin manager we were directed to the far aisle, where our seats were located.

This plane has a fairly small business class cabin, with just 28 seats. All the seats are in one cabin, and they’re in a staggered configuration. There are four seats per row, with the seats in each row staggered to maximize the efficiency of the cabin. These are similar business class seats to what you’re find on airberlin, Alitalia, etc.

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Etihad business class cabin A340

In the center section, seats alternated between being further apart from one another (in which case they were near the aisles), and being in a “honeymoon” configuration (where the seats were as close to one another as you’d find in economy).

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Etihad business class cabin A340

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Etihad business class A340 honeymoon seats

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Etihad business class A340, seat 8G

The window seats are also in a staggered configuration. I was in seat 7K, which was a “true” window seat. The true window seats feel very private, though also a bit confined.

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Etihad business class A340, seat 7K

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Etihad business class A340, seat 7K

Then there are seats closer to the aisle, which I’m not as much a fan of, since they feel really exposed, and lack privacy.

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Etihad business class A340, seat 8H

The benefit of these types of staggered configurations is that you have plenty of legroom, and you don’t have to fit your feet into a tiny cubby when you’re trying to sleep. So the seat is fairly comfortable in the fully reclined position.

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Etihad business class legroom A340

However, these particular seats are extremely worn, and Etihad really should update them. My seat cushion was so worn that I felt like I was sitting on wires.

Below the ottoman was a small compartment big enough for a pair of shoes.

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Etihad business class shoe compartment A340

The seat controls were located to the left of my seat, and were easy to use.

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Etihad business class seat controls A340

Below the seat controls was a rather awkward storage compartment, which was shallow, narrow, and exposed, so wasn’t especially practical for storing anything other than a pair of glasses.

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Etihad business class storage A340

Below that were the entertainment controls, which were rather outdated.

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Etihad business class entertainment controls A340

Already waiting at my seat upon boarding were a pillow and blanket. The pillow featured Etihad’s new branding, which is pretty swanky. The pillow was plush and the blanket was large, so they were more than sufficient for a short flight.

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Etihad business class pillow & blanket

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Etihad business class legroom A340

Also waiting at my seat were headphones.

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Etihad business class headphones

Within about 15 minutes of settling in, the cabin crew came through with pre-departure beverages. I had a glass of juice. I could tell early on this wasn’t the best crew. They lacked any sort of charm, and seemed to almost be robotic.

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Etihad business class pre-departure juice A340

Eventually the crew also distributed hot towels.

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Etihad business class hot towel

Then they distributed menus for the flight.

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Etihad business class menu

And then finally eyeshades and socks.

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Etihad business class socks & eyeshades

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Etihad business class socks & eyeshades

Boarding was reasonably efficient, at least as efficient as it can get with a completely full A340 using one jet bridge to board. Within about 30 minutes boarding was complete, at which point the captain (who was Mexican) added his welcome aboard, informing us of our flight time of 3hr35min, and our cruising alttiude of 39,000 feet.

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Etihad A340 business class cabin view

We pushed back at 9:35AM, at which point the cabin manager, Joanna, added her welcome aboard and also screened the safety video.

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Etihad 777 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Pushing back Abu Dhabi Airport

I loved the Etihad Cargo 747-8 we taxied by — such a gorgeous plane!

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Etihad Cargo 747-8 Abu Dhabi Airport

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Etihad Cargo 747-8 Abu Dhabi Airport

Abu Dhabi Airport is under construction (they’re building a new terminal, which should hopefully open next year), so the taxi from the current terminal to the runway is long.

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Taxiing to departure runway Abu Dhabi Airport

It was about a 20 minute taxi, at which point we found ourselves in the takeoff queue, behind five other planes.

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Queue for takeoff Abu Dhabi Airport

At around 10AM we were cleared for takeoff, and I could see Abu Dhabi’s distinctive ATC tower in the distance.

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View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

Initially we had views of the new terminal, which they seem to be making good progress on.

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View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

Other areas of the airport don’t look quite as promising in terms of progress.

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Abu Dhabi Airport construction progress

The cool thing about departing Abu Dhabi Airport is that you sometimes have a view of Ferrari World about a minute after takeoff, as was the case on this flight. Such a cool view!

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View of Ferrari World after takeoff from Abu Dhabi Airport

While the interior of the Gulf countries can be somewhat boring in terms of the landscape, I find the coastal areas to be fascinating.

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View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

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View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.

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View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

I decided to browse the entertainment selection. While the selection was reasonably good, the system on this plane felt rather outdated, and the video quality wasn’t very good.

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Etihad entertainment system

So I just turned on the airshow, which I enjoyed watching.

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Airshow enroute to Male

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Airshow enroute to Male

While I didn’t love the entertainment system, this flight did feature wifi, so I bought a pass for ~$20, which lasted the whole flight without data restrictions. That was incredibly useful, given that it was a Monday morning, and I’d be disconnected for much of the rest of the day after landing (since we had to take a small plane and then boat to get to the Park Hyatt Maldives).

About 20 minutes after takeoff the crew came around to take breakfast and drink orders.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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The entire meal was served on one tray. I ordered the Emirati breakfast along with a cappuccino.

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Etihad business class breakfast — balaleet

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Etihad business class breakfast — sweet vermicelli with egg omelet and chabab

The meal was accompanied by fresh fruit and a croissant, and was reasonably tasty.

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Etihad business class breakfast — seasonal fresh fruit

Meanwhile Ford had the chive omelet with the beef fillet. It wasn’t the tastiest looking steak I’ve ever seen…

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Etihad business class breakfast — beef fillet with chive omelet

The meals were quickly cleared, though I ordered another cappuccino after breakfast, which was served on a nice tray, accompanied by a chocolate.

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Etihad business class breakfast — cappuccino

This crew was subpar. They just weren’t friendly, weren’t smiling, and stuck to the absolute basics. That was fine since this was a short flight and I was happy just working, but it’s always a bit disappointing when you have a crew which lacks personality.

About an hour before landing the crew distributed landing cards for the Maldives, along with a fast track card.

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Maldives landing card

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Airshow enroute to Male

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Airshow enroute to Male

Soon enough we began our descent into Male, at which point we started to hit some chop. I love the views on approach into Male, as you can sometimes even see overwater bungalows from the plane.

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View approaching the Maldives

We had a smooth touchdown on runway 18 at Male Airport at 2:40PM.

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Final approach into Male

We had a long roll as we slowed down, given that the airport only has a taxiway in the center of the airport.

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Touchdown Male

The way the bigger planes get to the terminal is by rolling to the end of the runway, then making a 180 degree turn, and then turning into the parking area.

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Taxiing Male Airport

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Taxiing Male Airport

As we taxied on the runway we had a view of all the private jets which were parked at the airport.

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Private jets Male Airport

There was even a Qatar Airways private jet.

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Male Airport planes

Once at the terminal we pulled in next to a Qatar Airways A330 and an Emirates 777.

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Qatar A330 Male Airport

While the airport doesn’t have any gates, the good news is that our plane parked close enough to the terminal so we could walk to immigration without having to take a bus.

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Ibrahim Nasir International Airport terminal

I do love being up close with heavy aircraft, so I can’t say I minded that.

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Deplaning Etihad A340 Male Airport

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Etihad A340 Male Airport

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Etihad A340 Male Airport

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Emirates 777 Male Airport

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Qatar A330 Male Airport

Immigration took about 20 minutes, and at that point we began the process of checking in for our Maldivian flight to Kooddoo. I won’t be discussing the transfer experience again in this installment, but check out my review from my previous trip to the Maldives, where I reviewed the Maldivian Moonimaa Lounge Male Airport, as well as the Maldivian Dash 8 Male to Kooddoo flight and Park Hyatt boat transfer.

Etihad business class A340 bottom line

Ultimately this was a great product for a short flight. Getting a fully flat bed on a three hour flight is always awesome, and having wifi is even better. However, other than that I wasn’t especially impressed by this flight. The crew wasn’t friendly, the seats were worn, and the product overall could really use a refresh. Fortunately Etihad’s new business class looks excellent, though they don’t have any immediate plans to install it on the A340. I wouldn’t be thrilled if I were booked in these seats on a longhaul flight.

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Comments

  1. Is there a reason for the inconsistency in the cabin at boarding? Some seats had pillows, one had a blanket, one had a newspaper, some had headphones. I’m used to getting on to a plane and seeing all seats with the same setup.

  2. The slight presentation difference is your and Ford’s meals was interesting. Wonder why your fruit was served in a bowl and his wasn’t.

    The staggered seats you flew before on Etihad during a long haul flight had a nicer design, no?

  3. I recently flew EY First A380 JFK to AUH and 787 AUH to IAD but flew EK to MLE bc they had more flexible schedule. I’ll have to look at EY next time but I don’t think the A340 is a daily flight is it? I saw more A320 service. ALSO– although I’m sure you’ve already done so but if you not you Absolutley need to stay at the Rosewood AUH. It’s simply awesome. Not the best location unless you’re shopping but it’s the best for the rest.

  4. Lucky, great review. Last year I was able to find Saver points availability and use AA miles to fly on the A380 JFK-AUH flight (pre devaluation). Are you seeing any availability, at all, for First on the A380 from JFK? I am not. I am hoping to book a trip to Maldives with the same first/connection experience as yours.

  5. I prefer the old 773/345 J seat over the new seats on the 789 or the 388, the older product more leg room width, the new 789 and 388 are too tight by the knees.

  6. We flew this route in April and both times it was served by A320. Would have been nice to have some flat beds.

  7. Since you were connecting on an F ticket, why are you sitting in J on this leg? Award availability never opened up or do they block F to MLE?

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