I love the Airbus A350, but no airline has created a more beautiful A350-1000 business class cabin than Etihad Airways. My flight from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi was far too short…
Etihad Airways A350-1000 Business Class Review (IST-AUH)
I booked this ticket using Aeroplan miles (as part of a larger ticket that would take me back home via a scenic route), a lovely non-alliance partner that makes Air Canada’s loyalty program so valuable.
Check-In + Lounge
Etihad check-in from Istanbul was easy enough and I was soon issued my boarding pass as well as a lounge invitation to the IGA lounge.
I reviewed the IGA lounge here.
> Read More: IGA Lounge Istanbul Review
Boarding commenced at 45 minutes minutes prior to departure. The A350-1000 is beautiful on the outside…but even more beautiful on the inside.
Istanbul (IST) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Thursday, April 7
Depart: 02:55 PM
Arrive: 08:10 PM
Duration: 04hr, 15min
Distance: 1,889 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000
Seat: 6K (Business Class)
Onboard, I was warmly welcomed by a trio of ladies, with one showing me to my seat.
The cabin was gorgeous! I credit that to light colors juxtaposed to the brown seats, the eye-catching lamps at each seat, and the lack of overhead bins in the center, which give the cabin a very spacious feel.
Etihad chose the Collins Aerospace Vector suites with sliding privacy doors for its business class cabin. Each seat (there are 44 business class seats in the cabin, all located between doors 1 and 2) is 21 inches wide and converts to a lie-flat bed that is 79 inches long. I recommend choosing window seats A or K for the most privacy. All seats have direct aisle access.
There is storage space in the counter along the window and also storage space inside the armrest and under the counter. The tray table folds out from under the monitor.
Seat control adjustments can be made via a touch screen pad located in the seat console (there’s also a button for the reading light).
Wireless charging is available for your mobile phone.
Below the side console were two USB chargers, a USB-A and USB-C, which I hope to see a lot more of in the future. There was also a universal power port inside one of the storage cabinets.
But what I liked the most about the suites was the lamps, which cast a tantalizing light effect over the cabin.
I also loved the high-quality leather and faux-marble finishes on the seat.
Of course most importantly the seat is well-padded and very comfortable in all positions. I took a little nap enroute to Abu Dhabi and slept well (thankfully, the cabin was kept cool because there are no individual air vents).
Bedding included a plush duvet and pillow, both above-average for business class. With the door closed you do have a fairly good deal of privacy and I loved the mood lighting as well.
As beautiful as the cabin was, what truly made this flight special was the sublime service of Olja and particularly Amalia. These two ladies were two of the kindest, most attentive, professional flight attendants I have encountered in the last year (and I’ve flown so much and had a lot of great service).
Amalia took care of my side of the aisle and was so kind and attentive.
I’ll address this next week when Ramadan starts again, but my flight took place during Ramadan and as such, very few people ate (it was, after all, a flight between two predominantly Muslim countries)…until the sun set…which was about 30 minuets prior to landing.
Picture Amalia, Olja, and two other flight attendants hustling to feed half the cabin who, now that the sun was set, were ready to eat. It was a hustle unlike I have ever seen before and the ladies did a fabulous job in serving every last customer before we touched down in Abu Dhabi.
What great service!
Food + Drink
Prior to takeoff, I was offered a glass of water or orange juice (not freshly-squeezed).
Etihad offered a three-course menu with drinks on demand during this flight. Alcohol was available, including Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve Champagne.
I was encouraged by Amalia to “eat as much as you want, as often as you want. Try everything!” Apparently, the flight was catered full and not only was it a daytime flight during Ramadan, but the cabin was less than 1/3 full.
As tempting as it was to order multiple appetizers and main courses, I stuck to a “simple” meal, including:
- Mixed nuts with lemon mint juice
- Arabic mezze
- Curry butter crusted sea bass
- served with tahini cannellini beans, jalapeno, and yuzu creme fraische
- Vanilla mousse aseeda
- pumpkin caramel mousse, pepita praline, white chocolate, and sesame crumbs
- Seasonal fresh fruit
I finished off the meal with a cappuccino. Fully staffed, there was no way I could have handled another entree. The food was nicely presented and tasted good (though I’ve had better mezze and better sea bass in the past)
Each passenger was offered a special to-go bag for Iftar including a bottle of water, dates, and a yogurt drink.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Business class on the A350-1000 includes an 18-inch screen which hosts Etihad’s “E-Box” entertainment, featuring live TV, other television programming, movies, music, games, and a moving flight map.
Over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones filtered around ambient noise, though the A350 is already a very quiet aircraft.
Wi-Fi was available for purchase onboard, with a number of packages available, ranging from text-only (1.79USD, you capped at 10MB) to time-based, data-constrained packages. This was quite disappointing and really the only downside of the flight. A “24-hour” internet package is only 29.99USD. Reasonable, right? Not when the fine print reveals it is capped at 350MB of data.
Etihad needs to lift its wi-fi data caps…
Theoretically, access was also available via boingo or iPass.
As is often the case, the most beautiful views were from the window.
The lavatory was clean and included dark finishes and an automatic (via sensor) faucet.
Even in the lavatory there was Etihad’s signature light effect.
We landed on-time in Abu Dhabi International Airport and pulled up to a remote stand. A bus had pulled up and we were taken to the terminal (there was not a separate bus for business class passengers), where I had a long layover ahead of me.
But what a great flight. The A350 is a beautiful new plane with a beautiful business class. Both the food and service were excellent as well. I would love to try the Etihad A350 business class on a long haul flight.
Have you flown the new Etihad business class on the A350? What was your impression of the onboard product?
Beautiful cabin. I’ll still never understand the desire to have no overhead bins in the middle. It absolutely can lead to issues with luggage getting shuffled around, swapped, and moved away from its owner order to fit. The only supposed benefit is making the cabin appear more “spacious” for the photo op – but then the same folks go on and praise doors for making the cabin feel more cozy. Give me bins, do what you want with the doors. My cabin will feel just as nice 🙂
Agree and also don’t understand why it’s so difficult to provide individual air vents for foreign carriers.
I must say, your meal looked amazing. Like someone actually put some thought into it. What great service and beautiful cabin. Otherwise, I read that Etihad is bringing back the a380. Are you interested in doing a new review of it?
That looks lovely. I’d steal the lamp idea if I was a seat consultant 🙂
I have no idea where this flight fits into which trip thoigh 🙂
They served champagne during Ramadan?
Considering that the airlines invest so much in their alcohol procurement, only to have it not reviewed – is a big miss. Could you take a drink for the team?
No. You can review the menu, can’t you?
I flew JFK-AUH on A350-1000 last year and it’s the best product out there besides QSuite. On the return I was on a 787-9 and was quite disappointed in both the hard and soft product.
Fabulous product and for all the attention EK gets I much prefer Etihad. It feels more boutique, I prefer Abu Dhabi for a night or two layover, and the airport, for as dated as it is, does the job just fine without fanfare. Great lounges as well. I find it to be the most consistent of the ME carriers all the way around.
Pre Covid I only ever got the old planes to and from ord and it was pretty budget especially if on an aisle seat.
Although a lot of people I know agree with you and prefer this airline as a whole.
“served with tahini cannellini beans, harry, jalepeno and yuzu creme fraische”
I hope Harry tasted good.
Chestnut roasting on an open fire.
I don’t get your reply. Hopefully it doesn’t mean what google says. Confusing
Amazing soft product, flying Lufthansa or even AF on a flight of a similar length might well involve being served a tiny portion of cold food of dubious quality.
Once again, this review is almost a year old. Ramadan in 2023 starts new week. This is clearly from last April
You should disclose this more openly. A year old review is way out of date and not necessarily indicative of the current airline offerings (catering, amenities, etc).
I would disagree with your second point. I keep a close watch on things and if there is a difference between then and now, I note it. I travel so much that I am simply unable to live blog (like Ukraine) my trips. Delays are a necessary reality of this blog being a hobby, not my primary job.
Personally, I don’t like the new seat of Etihad, even though they upgrade the cabin of latest herring bone suites with Element. I did expect more but EY failed to impress me. Finnair, in contrast, introduced such an amazing seat and that makes me curious to try on.
I wish EY could have suites similar to JL, WY, NH or QR.
I’ve flown them both and do prefer the EY seat over the AY seat.
Just took a trip to a Asia from the US flying EY there and SQ back, both in the business class cabin. I was shocked to find that the EY hard product and elements of the soft product blew SQ away. On the whole, I’d choose EY moving forward based on seat comfort (SQ seats on the A380 were flat out uncomfortable!) on both A350 and 781.
The business class on A350-1000 is excellent, not a big fan of tail facing seats on the 787s !
This looks incredible, somehow missed this the first time around. The lighting is phenomenal with the lamps. Lighting is key, especially in homes. The dark finishes in the bathroom are great, too. Wonder why more American carriers don’t implement that. I hope I get to fly their A350 in business someday.