Today (December 13, 2017):Trip report: Etihad Airways B777 Business Class from Abud Dhabi (UAE) to Bangkok (Thailand).
On November 5th 2017, I flew Business Class in an Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300ER from Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) to Bangkok (Thailand). Etihad has a fleet of 29 Boeings 777 – a mix of the B777-200LR and B777-300ER subtypes – which are mainly used for flights to Africa, the USA, Asia, and Oceania. These planes feature the same Business Class product as on Etihad’s Airbus A330 aircraft (which I reviewed here), and although it’s still a decent lie flat seat, it’s not nearly as good as the Business Studios which are installed on Etihad’s A380 and B787 Dreamliner planes.
Etihad Airways features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the most luxurious First Class suites in the sky, the world’s best airline lounges, and the most delicious airline food.
In this review (there is more information below my Youtube clip and slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Business Class Cabin
- Business Class Seat (+ best & worst seats in the plane)
- Entertainment & WiFi
- Other experiences (crew, crew uniform, lavatory, views)
- Comparison with other Middle Eastern carriers (Emirates, Qatar Airways)
- My verdict
1. COST OF MY TICKET
Although this review only covers the leg between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok, the flight was part of a larger itinerary, which involved a round trip between Frankfurt (Germany) and Bangkok (Thailand) with a stopover in Abu Dhabi. The cost of my ticket was 1299 euros, which is a fabulous price for an intercontinental, longhaul Business Class trip from Europe to Asia. I purchased the ticket during a 48 hour flash sale on the Etihad Airways website, with tickets being sold with discounts of more than 50%. Most airlines offer sales from time to time and if you add yourself to their mailing lists, you will be notified when they have a sale.
Read here my tips to book cheap Business & First Class flight.
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Etihad Airways’ Boeing 777 fleet comes in four different seat configurations.
- Its long-range B777-200LR and some B777-300ER have a three class layout, with one First, two Business and several Economy Class cabins per plane.
- Most of the carriers B777-300ER aircraft have a two class layout since Etihad choose to drop First Class cabins on them. The high density B777-300ER planes feature just one Business Class cabin with 28 seats and 3 Economy Class cabins with 384 seats, while the low density B777-300ER aircraft are flown to premium markets and have two Business Class cabins of 40 seats in total and 340 Economy Class seats spread over 3 cabins.
This flight to Bangkok was operated by a high density B777-300ER with the 40 Business Class seats spread over two cabins in front of the plane, separated by a galley with two restrooms. The front cabin is the larger cabin with 28 seats, while the aft cabin is much smaller with only 12 seats and has a more intimate feel. The Business Class seats onboard all of Etihad’s B777s are arranged in a 1-2-1 staggered layout, which means that all seats face forward and that every passenger has direct access to the aisle. Note that this seating pattern means that middle pairs and window seats have a few inches/cm more length in bed mode than the aisle seats. This seat layout is not unique to Etihad as you also find it on other carriers such as Iberia, Emirates (A380 planes), Finnair (A330), Qantas, Asiana, and Thai Airways.
The cabin has an elegant albeit slightly dated look. The predominant colour of the seat pods and cabins is beige, which contrasts with the dark brown, striped pattern of the seat covers. The Business Class cabins in Etihad Airways A330 planes (which I reviewed here) feature an identical design and seat layout. While it still guarantees an excellent and comfortable ride, the Etihad B777/A330 Business Class product is now inferior to the stunning cabin design and seats – called ‘studios’ – aboard Etihad Airways new B787 and A380 planes. To the best of my knowlegde, Etihad has no plans to retrofit its B777 and A330 planes with its new and innovative Business Studios product.
For a seating plan of Etihad’s low density B777-300ER, click here.
3. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT ( + WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE)
I had chosen seat 7K for the 6h30 minute flight to Bangkok,.
The Business Class seat, which is located in its own shelf except for the aisle seats, has a pitch of 72 inches (183 cm) and a width is 20 inches (50 cm). These seat dimensions are ok for most of us, although tall people may have difficulties stretching out in the bed position while those with wide shoulders may find the seat too narrow when trying to sleep or rest on their back.
In front of the each seat, below the fixed entertainment screen, is an ottoman covered in brown leather with some storage space (e.g. for a backpack) below. The tray table is attached to the back of the seat in front, and can be pulled out quite easily; the table can also be moved out-of-the-way when you need to get up, without disturbing the contents. The seat’s side features a USB port and international power port near the floor, making it quite difficult to reach for them when you want to charge your devices. The arm rest holds the handset for the inflight entertainment system, as well as the seat controls, which includes massage functions.
At the push of a button, the seat can be reclined into a fully flat-bed with a length of 72 inches (183 cm), which includes the footrest. Unfortunately, no duvet was provided to enhance sleep comfort on this medium-haul flights; Etihad only provides turn-down service (including a mattress, cotton loungewear and slippers) on longer flights. For your information: Etihad’s Middle East competitors Emirates and Qatar Airways do offer turn down service on both medium- and long-haul flights.
What are the best Business Class seats on Etihad’s low density B777s? Click here for a seat map.
- Solo travelers should go for the window seats. Widows seats are alternately located closer to the window (A & K seats) or to the aisle (C & H seats), and the A & K seats are the ones you want to choose (you will feel very exposed in the C & H seats, which are more located along the aisle than the window).
- Couples and good friends should go for one of the so-called ‘honeymoon’ middle seats (seats E and F on rows 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 14).
- The seats in the smaller Business Class cabin (rows 7 and 8) enjoy a more intimate ambience.
- If you are a tall person (taller than the length of the flat-bed), you should choose on the middle pairs or window seats, since these seats have a few inches/cm more length in bed mode than the aisle seats.
What are the worst Business Class seats on Etihad’s low density B777s? Click here for a seat map.
- Solo aisle seats 5A&K, and seats 12A&K are located in front of each cabin and other travelers tend to bump into these seats every time they return from the lavatory. Avoid these seats if you can.
To my own disappointment, no amenity kit was provided on this medium-haul flight to Bangkok. The only amenities provided on this flight were an extremely comfortable blanket (IMHO, Etihad provides the best blankets of all airlines), a decently sized pillow, and a noise cancelling headphone.
During this day flight to Bangkok, only one meal (lunch) was served. I choose the following selection from the menu:
- Starter: Dill poached prawn with sesame red cabbage
- Main course: Beef tenderloin with roast potatoes, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and shiitake mushroom sauce.
- Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce
Food was good and decent and the presentation was quite nice – as you would expect from Etihad – although I was not blown away by what I was served.
6. ENTERTAINMENT & WIFI
Each Business Class seat is equipped with a personal 15 inch (38 cm) LCD screen with plug and play feature that allows passengers to upload their own games and create personalised music playlists. Etihad offers more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment (so-called E-box) with a wide selection of films, tv shows, live tv channels, audio programmes and CDs. You can create your own personal entertainment program, or pass the time with 28 games. The entertainment can be commanded by either directly touching the screen or by handset, although the system is a bit slow to react. WiFi is availalbe for a charge based on the data usage, with $4.95 USD for 30MB, $11.95 USD for 90MB, and $19.95 USD for 180MB.
7. OTHER EXPERIENCES
#CREW: Etihad is famous for its onboard service and it was not different on this flight. Although the flight was full, the crew was very efficient and attentive, addressing each one of the Business Class passengers by name and presenting themselves individually before take-off. All requests were dealt with promptly and cordially.
#CREW UNIFORM: Etihad’s crew uniforms – created by Italian designer Ettore Bilotta – are worth a special mention since I find them to be the most stylish crew uniforms in the sky. The chocolate-brown, purple and orange colours are part of the “reimagined” Etihad brand which is headed by Australian James Hogan.
#LAVATORY: There are 3 lavatories for Business Class passengers on Etihad’s low density B777-300ER aircraft: one behind the cockpit and two in the galley between the two cabins. Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.
#VIEWS: shortly after takeoff from Abu Dhabi airport, we were treated to some fabulous areal views of Oman’s mountainous scenery.
8. COMPARISON WITH OTHER MIDDLE EASTERN CARRIERS
The 3 major Middle Eastern carriers (Etihad airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways) are known for their excellent Business Class. However, there are some differences that distinguish one from another (click here for more info):
- Chauffeur service: Emirates offers complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers for Business Class passengers, while Etihad Airways only offers chauffeur transfers to/from Abu Dhabi airport. Qatar Airways does not offer complimentary airport transfers. A huge plus for Emirates!
- Pyjamas: Qatar Airways offers pyjamas on overnight medium- and long-haul flights, while Etihad and Emirates only offer them in First Class.
- Duvets: Qatar Airways and Emirates offer duvets on medium-haul flights (to increase sleeping comfort), while Etihad only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Fleet-wide consistency: Etihad offers a consistent Business Class product across it wide-body fleet (with the exception of its superior Dreamliner B787 & Airbus A380 products, which were introduced a couple of years ago), while Emirates and Qatar offer a more variable Business Class product across their wide-body fleets.
- Cabin interior & design: Etihad’s Airbus A380s & Dreamliner B787s feature an extremely elegant decor in their Business Class cabins (it doesn’t get any better at 40.000 feet), while Qatar’s A380, B787 and A350 cabins are very sexy with a red/white decor theme. Qatar is currently also refurbishing its B777 Business Class cabins. Emirates features rather bombastic interiors, with lots of walnut veneer, gold trim and pearlised plastic, which is not to my liking.
- Cabin layout & seats: you need to take the aircraft type into account when booking a flight on one of the 3 Middle Eastern carriers. The best wide-body Business Class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre):
- Qatar B777 (with Qsuites)
- Etihad B787/A380
- Qatar B787/A350/A380
- Emirates A380
- Etihad A330/B777
- Qatar B777 (without SQuites)
- Emirates B777
- Qatar A330
- Flat beds: Etihad Airways is the only carrier to offer flat beds (with 180 degree recline) across its wide body fleet. Contrary to their A380s, Emirates’ B777s have angled lie flat-beds, although Emirates’ new B777 planes are delivered with full lie-flat seats. Qatar Airways is currently replacing the (very uncomfortable) angled lie flat-beds on its Airbus A330 fleet by true lie-flat seats (after which the whole Qatar fleet will offer flat beds).
- Food: meals are delicious on all 3 carriers, but my best gastronomic experiences (so far) were always on Qatar Airways, followed by Etihad, and then Emirates.
- Number of meal services: on longhaul flights, all 3 carriers offer 2 meal services (one after takeoff, and one 90 minutes before landing). On medium-haul flights though (e.g. Europe to/from Middle East), Etihad and Emirates only offer one meal; Qatar Airways used to offer a second light meal before landing but now seems to have skipped that as well. So there’s no difference here.
- Inflight entertainment: Emirates is the winner when it comes to the inflight entertainment product, with large screens and an extensive range of films, television shows, and audio options (but Etihad and Qatar offer plenty of choices as well).
- WiFi: onboard WiFi is offered by all 3 Middle Eastern carriers, but with a different price tag: Emirates offers the cheapest WiFi, while Qatar’s WiFi is just way too expensive, with Etihad somewhere in between.
- Amenity kit: Emirates has by the far the best amenity kit of the 3 airlines, with Etihad offering the least impressive Business Class amenity kit. Unfortunately, Emirates only offers them on longhaul flights, while Etihad and Qatar Airways offer amenity kits on both medium- and longhaul flights.
- Onboard bar: an onboard bar, exclusively accessible for passengers flying the premium cabins, is only present on the Airbus A380 aircrafts, which are now operated by all 3 carriers. But your chances of flying an Airbus A380, and thus socializing with other passengers in a fantastic onboard bar, are highest with Emirates, which has more than 100 of these megaplanes in its fleet (Qatar Airways and Etihad own only 8 and 10 Airbus A380s respectively).
9. MY VERDICT
- Seat : 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- Amenity kit: not provided
- Service: 8/10
- Cabin atmosphere: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10