AIRLINE – ETIHAD AIRWAYS
CLASS OF TRAVEL – BUSINESS CLASS
AIRCRAFT – A330-200
ROUTE – HONG KONG TO ABU DHABI
Etihad Airways is renowned for its innovative design and exceptional service. With the award-winning airline now flying daily from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi and beyond, ScrubySnacks decided that it was high time to experience their long-haul Business Class offering during a recent trip to the UK.
Boarding the relatively small two class A330-200 aircraft was a breeze at Hong Kong International Airport. After settling into my allocated seat at the front and centre of the cabin, I was swiftly offered a welcome drink from a choice of champagne, orange juice, guava juice or water, along with a complimentary newspaper and a beautifully scented hot towel served on a little silver plate.
Something I immediately noticed was how strikingly smart the female cabin crew looked in their recently updated Ettore Bilotta crafted uniforms. A perfectly tilted, elegant eggplant beret was complimented by a patterned neckerchief, flattering blouse, suit jacket and fitted pencil skirt. But then, you wouldn’t expect anything less from Etihad Airways, who are now the official sponsors of the coveted Fashion Week events around the globe.
Etihad Airways’ Business Class cabin comprised of 22 seats in total with a 1-2-1 configuration, offering direct aisle access to every passenger, therefore avoiding the awkward squeeze or straddling of strangers mid-flight.
The relatively firm seats were upholstered with a striped fabric and Poltrona Frau leather trims. To the side was a gold coloured foldaway dining table, a personal coat hook, and charging facilities underneath. A handy stationary table was located to the side of the seat, complete with a two-setting personal wall light, separate reading spotlight, water bottle storage compartment, magazine rack and handy little compartment for storing loose items such as a smartphone or passport. Noise-cancelling headphones were stored under the entertainment remote, nestled under the arm rest. Positioned to the front of the seat was a 15.4” touchscreen, with a cushioned footrest below, and a compartment big enough to store shoes or a small bag.
The seat position control panel had an impressive collection of buttons, along with in-seat massage functions, and it wasn’t long before I was trying them all, switching between the upper back, lower back, derrière and upper legs, which was particularly comforting after my legs went numb a few hours into the flight.
A full sized pillow was provided along with the most beautifully soft and snuggly, velvet-lined comforter, which was in fact so delightful, that I had to resist the urge to take it home with me.
The Etihad Business Class personal amenity kit was neatly packed into a brightly coloured limited edition collectable LUXE branded bag. Apparently there are six to collect, each inspired by several destinations on the Etihad Airways network. Inside was a handy array of items including a Scaramouche + Fandango (insert rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!) facial hydrator, lip balm, dental pack, inflight socks and eyeshades, earplugs, cotton buds, emery board and a useful LUXE City Guide which sparked an instant desire to collect all six of them.
Although the screen was touch-sensitive, I found it far easier to use the remote control located in the seat panel simply due to its proximity, plus the mini screen on the remote handset rather handily displayed the time at destination and remaining journey time. Etihad Airways’ E-Box offered a huge range of entertainment options including Hollywood blockbusters, Arabic, Indian, European and Asian Cinema along with TV programmes ranging from classic comedy and lifestyle, to drama and documentaries. Also available was a multitude of audio and games files, as well as live TV and on-board WIFI at an extra cost for anyone desperate enough to get online during the 7 hour 20 minute flight.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
Etihad Airways’ Business Class menu offers an à la carte option for those wishing to enjoy a hearty three-course meal and an ‘anytime’ menu for those who are still peckish and wish to dine at their own convenience. Orders for aperitifs and dinner were taken just before take-off and each passenger was also given the option of when they would like their meal to be served. I was keen to eat immediately as I was looking forward to spending the rest of the journey in a deep, fully-flat slumber.
As the meals were prepared, a rather generously filled bowl of warm roasted almonds and cashews were served with my drink of choice, an extra spicy Virgin Mary which had such a kick, it almost blew my head off. Thankfully it was only a ‘Virgin’ and not a fully loaded ‘Bloody’ version.
The onboard wine list included a Duval Leroy Brut Reserve from France, a white wine selection from France, New Zealand and Spain, and some delectable reds including an Australian Shiraz, Italian Vigna Vecchia and a particularly impressive 2005 Carbernet Blend from Bordeaux, France.
Shortly after drinks were served, the cabin crew delicately placed a crisp white table cloth across my table, and gently lowered down a tray consisting of a warm, soft bread roll, butter, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and my choice of starter which was a light and refreshing green pea soup, topped with a dollop of crème fraîche. A very tempting warm bread selection shortly followed which I reluctantly declined, as an attempt to save myself for the main event and of course dessert.
Unfortunately my first choice of chicken kabsa with basmati rice cooked with Gulf spices proved too popular with the rest of the Business Class guests, so I settled for my second choice of herb crusted fillet of salmon, mashed potatoes and asparagus. The piping hot pink piece of salmon was deliciously soft and juicy, but my favourite part was the accompanying smooth, buttery mashed potatoes that honestly tasted like it had just been crushed in the kitchen. Even the asparagus tasted freshly blanched, moist and tender.
For desert, I was torn between the warm lemon pudding and the honey & pecan tart with vanilla ice cream. I asked a member of the crew if the warm lemon pudding would be something along the lines of a steamed lemon cake, and she agreed. One can only imagine my genuine disappointment as I poked my spoon into the centre of the dessert, only to find that it actually resembled a hot lemon meringue pie, without the delicious biscuit base or indeed the meringue. I still managed to polish off this slightly odd lemon infused jelly, washing it down with a cup of decaffeinated coffee.
With an extremely full belly, it wasn’t long before the cabin lights were dimmed and I was finally wrapped up in the deliciously soft, fluffy arms of my comforter, settling straight into my favourite horizontal position for a good portion of the remaining flight.
About an hour and a half before landing, the cabin lights were gradually turned on, gently waking each passenger from their slumber. On the side table I found that the crew had placed a small information card, detailing my next destination and gate number, which I thought was a very nice, personalised touch.
The cabin crew offered me a light breakfast which I declined, simply requesting a cup of coffee, which arrived beautifully presented on a tray with a warmed chocolate cookie.
I arrived in Abu Dhabi refreshed and revived, and very much looking forward to my second leg of my journey with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Manchester.
As the Business Class cabin consisted of a 1-2-1 configuration, if your preference is not to be seated directly next to another passenger, make sure that you request a window seat, or one of the centre section seats, which includes a middle partition well in advance of your flight.
It is also worth noting that the Business Class cabins on the A330-200 as described above comprise of a Business Flatbed seat. Those seats found on the larger A380 and B787 Dreamliner aircrafts, comprise of the brand new Business Studio design, which is something that ScrubySnacks hopes to review in the not too distant future. Watch this space!
Check out and compare ScrubySnacks’ other airline reviews:
British Airways Review – Club World (Business Class)
American Airlines Review – Business Class (Long haul)
Japan Airlines Review – Sky Suite II (Business Class)
Hong Kong Airlines Review – Business Class
British Airways Review – World Traveller (Economy Class)
Cathay Pacific Review – Economy Class