Etihad Flight 403 Business Class Review
Flight du jour:
Bangkok (BKK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
December 1st, 2015
Departs: 8:35 AM
Arrives: 11:59 AM
Duration: 6 Hours 24 Minutes
The Etihad flight du jour.
The time had come for another adventure and this one was off to a good start with our Etihad Chaffeur picking us up in an black Mercedes Benz and whisking us off to the airport (Etihad discontinued their Chaffeur service for partner award tickets on August 10th, 2016). We booked the tickets pre-devaluation using 30,000 American Airlines Aadvantage miles each way (the new award price between Asia 2 and the Middle East is 40,000 AA miles) and $91.40 in taxes and fees total for the outbound and return segments.
My first thought upon entering the cabin was that it looked like someone had stolen the upholstery from my parents couch and sold it to Etihad. Airlines tend to put a lot of thought into their premium cabins but the striped seats looked like everything about the 1980’s that we don’t want to remember. Maybe they were trying to replicate the fake wood grain on the adjacent side tables, or maybe stripes were super hot when they put in the order for these seats, but whatever the case may have been they weren’t looking so hot now.
I found my seat (6A) and got settled in. The flight only had a few passengers in the business class cabin and even if the cabin were full there seemed to be ample space in the overhead bins for the number of seats.
The seat controls were all pretty standard and intuitive. Similarly to several other business and first class hard products the seat had a massage function along with the numerous seat adjustments. I am always enchanted by the idea of getting a massage while in the air. Seriously, what goes better with your champagne than a nice back rub?
Sadly, the massage function for all airline seats seems to be universally terrible. It’s so bad! It’s like if you order a delicious looking slice of chocolate cake from the menu and when it arrives it looks like a pile of sawdust and cocoa powder and then they proceed to dump it on your lap…on purpose. It’s that bad! Why is the massage function always so terrible?
They came around and handed out hot towels for freshening up prior to departure. I find this to be a nice touch.
Nothing like a little bit of bubbly while they load the plane.
There were only a few other passengers in the business class cabin for our flight so it was nice and quiet. The way the seats are configured allows for direct access to the aisle for every passenger. While I don’t think that the Etihad seats stand out in any way for privacy, the partition between the middle seats is generally good enough to keep your neighbor out of your business.
Somewhere In That Cloud of Smog Lies Bangkok
Before long they had collected the empty champagne glasses and we were off!
I was looking forward to the meal service on this flight as I enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine and, with a flight time of around six and half hours, I had plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
I started with the Arabic mezze and moved onto the Trio of Arabic Koftas while Em ordered the Ratatouille for her main.
The ratatouille cannelloni option was a bit bland and underwhelming.
When Etihad brought out my warm bread it’s a good thing I was seated otherwise I might have fallen over from sheer amazement. They had completely revolutionized airplane bread service! No more “white or wheat?” On Etihad the answer is both, in the same piece of bread. How can it be that I have never seen dual-bread technology before?
For my liquid relaxation I went with the Chateau Grand Corbin Manuel 2007, and was very pleased with my choice. Despite restrictions on alcohol in some Middle Eastern countries the wine flows freely on Etihad flights.
The Luxe brand amenity kits contained pretty much everything you would need for getting a good night’s sleep and freshening up before arrival. They came in a single compartment bag/pouch/thingy that was thankfully kinder on the eyes than the upholstery.
There are two types of headphones for flying, Bose noise cancelling and everything else. These fall into the latter category.
It’s nice that they have both an outlet and a usb port, that way I can run my laptop while I charge my phone or other device. I’m pretty sure I also spied an ethernet port above the USB port, which should come in handy for those using laptops from the early 90s. If you ask nicely, they may even bring you one of those “Free 40 hours of AOL online” discs (Just kidding, that’s reserved for first class customers).
I am a big fan of the lie-flat seat and despite it being a daytime flight I took the “bedihad” for a spin. I laid down for a brief nap and found the seat to be relatively comfortable for sleeping. The footwell could feel a bit constricting if you move around much in your sleep or have Shaq sized feet, but it was fine for my normal-ish size 11 feet. I definitely did no find it as comfortable as the first class products on JAL or Cathay Pacific, but I still think it was adequate for getting some shut eye.
The Etihad IFE was pretty decent. I do appreciate that Aladdin is the avatar for the “Favorites” section. I also liked that they had Street Fighter 2 in their games section. Despite being able to play a dizzying array of great games on all but the most ancient personal devices, for whatever reason, the games offered on IFE systems are not fun to play. I would be happy with even just a few decent Nintendo games, but judging from what is on offer from the world’s top airlines, 8-bit video game technology is far more difficult to incorporate into the IFE than anyone could have imagined. Getting a 200,000 pound pressurized aluminum tube to scream through the air at 500+ miles per hour; no problem. Getting Super Mario 3 installed into the IFE system; can’t be done!
The little points of light on the ceiling that look like a starry sky are a nice touch. Why they closed all the windows and turned down the cabin lights for a flight that flew entirely during the daytime was a bit perplexing.
If there is one thing that I treasure about flying comfortably it’s my stare out the window time. I tend to be quite busy while on the ground and I treat my fights in the premium cabins as a sort of meditative escape from my worldly cares. Having some peaceful moments to reflect is, for me and many others, a really wonderful luxury that travel affords.
After indulging in an extended bit of zoning out a flight attendant came by to make sure I hadn’t had a stroke, offer me some mixed nuts and see if there was anything he could bring me before we started our descent into Abu Dhabi. I was well aware that the desert is probably not the best place to get fresh fruit, so I went with the fruit plate. It was nicely plated and pretty tasty but I still do not understand the appeal of dragon fruit. If you do, please tell me about what the appeal is in the comments section.
Before I knew it, we were already making our descent into Abu Dhabi where the upholstery would undoubtedly be better but the alcohol would no longer be free. But before I was subjected to buying my own drinks again there was thankfully the Etihad arrival lounge to ease me through this painful transition (lounge report coming shortly).
Fast Track immigration is the icing on the premium-cabin cake. It would seriously harsh my mellow if I had to spend 45 minutes waiting to get the stink-eye from immigration every time I flew internationally.
Another great flight and a good way to start our next adventure!
Etihad Business Class Final Review
Food and Drink:
This was my first time flying Etihad business class and I enjoyed the experience overall. I found the service to be relatively attentive and polite but not remarkable in any way (3 ‘staches). While I found their seat and bed comfortable in general, I’m not so certain it would be so for a full night’s rest. The foot space felt a little cramped and the headphones could be improved (2.5 ‘staches). I enjoyed both the food and the beverage selection aboard my Etihad flight (3 ‘staches). The crew, hard product and dining options were all good for this flight making for a solid and enjoyable flight experience. I would certainly fly with Etihad in business class again (3 ‘staches).
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