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Trip Report: Etihad Airbus A330 business class Brussels to Maldives via Abu Dhabi

Trip Report: Etihad Airbus A330 business class Brussels to Maldives via Abu Dhabi

Old Feb 18, 15, 9:51 am
  #1  
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Trip Report: Etihad Airbus A330 business class Brussels to Maldives via Abu Dhabi

On February 1st 2015, I flew Business Class on Etihad Airways from Brussels (Belgium) to Male (Maldives) via a stopover in Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Both flight legs were operated by an Airbus A330-200. As of today, Etihad has 26 A330-200’s in its fleet, mainly used for medium-range flights to secondary European cities and Asian getaways. Excellent seats (in a staggered layout), a good entertainment selection, and delicious food made it a comfortable journey. The Business Class product on all of Etihad’s wide-body aircraft (Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 777) is identical to the one described in this trip report, although Etihad’s new planes (Airbus A380 and Dreamliner) are delivered with an updated, ultraluxurious Business Class.

- I took a lot of photos during the flight. You can find them here: http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/201...s-to-maldives/
- I also made a Youtube clip of my flight experience. Hope you like it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCbgtdH9BTI

(1) FLIGHT FROM BRUSSELS TO ABU DHABI:
*Trip: BRU-AUH
* Date: February 1, 2015
* Airline: Etihad Airways
* Aircraft type: Airbus A330-200
* Flight Number: EY56
* On time departure: yes (9.35 pm)
* On time arrival: yes (6.43 am; +1 day)
* Miles: 3214
* Flight time: 06:07
* Seat: 7K
* Class: Business

(2) FLIGHT FROM ABU DHABI TO THE MALDIVES
* Trip: AUH-MLE
* Date: February 2, 2015
* Airline: Etihad Airways
* Aircraft type: Airbus A330-200
* Flight Number: EY278
* On time departure: yes (9.42 am)
* On time arrival: yes (2.27 pm)
* Miles: 1876
* Flight time: 03:45
* Seat: 7K
* Class: Business

1. ETIHAD BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGES AT BRUSSELS AND ABU DHABI

Etihad does not have its own lounge at Brussels International Airport, the departure point of my journey. Etihad’s Business Class passengers have access to the Star Alliance Lounge at pier B, managed by Brussels Airlines. Although this is Brussels Airlines’ flagship lounge, it is nothing to write home about. The lounge is too small but it does offer basic amenities: WiFi, business centre, complimentary magazines and newspapers, and restrooms. There’s only a very limited number of food items on display: some snacks (cheese & chips) and small, tasteless sandwiches. The contrast with Etihad’s impressive Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi (see below) could hardly be more extreme.

Etihad’s new and spacious Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport is located at Terminal 3, close to gate 35. When you walk into the facility, you will be welcomed by the friendly staff in a white, chic decor that you would expect in a boutique hotel rather than an airport lounge. After checking into the lounge, my first stop was the Six Senses Spa to add myself to the waiting list for a treatment before the next flight (lounge guests are entitled to complimentary, 15 minute spa treatments). Overall, I was impressed by the wealth of services and facilities on offer in the lounge, which includes shower rooms, champagne bar, cigar lounge, children’s play area staffed with qualified nannies, work and relaxation areas. It was morning time when I was in the lounge and there was several food stations displaying a huge breakfast buffet including a wide variety of meats, cheeses, pastries, fruits, and hot items. The food was nicely presented and replenished frequently. Truly an exceptional lounge!

2. THE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

In Etihad’s A330-200, the 22 Business Class seats are located in one cabin in front of the plane, behind the cockpit and in front of a galley and restrooms for Economy Class passengers. The layout of the seats is staggered (1-2-1), which means that all seats face forward and that every passenger has access to the aisle without having to clamber over anybody else , even when all seats are reclined. Note that this seating pattern means that middle pairs and window seats have a few inches more length in bed mode than their aisle compatriots.

The Business Class cabin was full on both flights (from Brussels to Abu Dhabi, and from Abu Dhabi to Male).

3. THE BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

The Pearl Business Class seat has a generous pitch of 72 inches (183 cm). The seat width is 19.1 inches (48,5 cm), which can feel a little narrow for larger passengers. Each seat comes with plenty of storage space, an in-seat power supply (so you can use your laptop for the duration of the flight), and a large table to dine or work. The seat can be reclined into a fully and very comfortable – albeit narrow – flatbed of 6 feet one (186 cm), including the footrest. Unfortunately, no duvet was provided to enhance sleeping comfort on these medium-haul flights; Etihad only provides turndown 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 seats on Etihad’s A330-200?
- The window seats in row 7 (7A and 7K) are furthest away from sources of noise and disturbance like the galley kitchens and lavatories. They’re also the longer version of the seats if you’re taller.
- The other four window seats (9A, 9K, 5A, 5K) in the cabin are a good bet if you can’t get the ones in row 7.
- While the middle pairs in row 7 (7E and 7F) are a little close to each other if you don’t know the person you’re travelling with really well, the extra length is a bonus, as with all middle seats.

4. AMENITIES

Each seat comes with a extremely comfortable blanket (my favorite airline blanket in the skies!), a decently sized pillow, and a noise cancelling headphone.

Before take-off, an amenity kit was offered to all Business Class passengers (only during the Brussels to Abu dhabi flight). The amenity kit was presented as small bag, its modern design and colorful tapestry reflecting a tribute to the rich heritage and artistry of the Emirati people. The bag contained a range of designer skin products including hand lotion and lip balm as well as essentials like socks, eyeshades, earplugs and dental kit.

Unfortunately, pyjamas are not offered on Etihad’s medium-haul flights. Of the 3 major Middle Eastern airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad), Qatar is the only one to offer pyjamas on medium-haul flights.

5. MEALS

Upon boarding in Brussels, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice or Champagn. I also received a refreshing hot towel with a nice texture. It took a long time before the plane degated (because the wings needed to be deiced), so I had plenty of time to go through the menu.

Soon after take off, dinner was served. As as starter, I choose the Arabic mezze, a selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetizers, followed by a mushroom soup. As main course , I choose the poached cod, prawns and grilled scallops, potato stomp, mushroom, aspergus and dill cream sauce. It was delicious but there was no trace of the cod on my platter, which was kind of odd. As a dessert, I choose the lemon tart with crème anglaise. Overall, food was excellent, despite the missing cod.

About 60 minutes before landing, I requested a light breakfast: passionfruit smoothie, yoghurt with granola and stewed apple.

On the second flight from Abu Dhabi to Male, a brunch was served shortly after take-off. I choose the seasonal fresh fruit as a starter, followed by the Arabic breakfast, which comprised lamb kofta, scrambled eggs, chickpea’s, roasted tomato, zataar, onion, and potato cubes. It all tasted very well.

6. ENTERTAINMENT

Each Pearl 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. In-flight telephony and WiFi is also available on newer aircraft. 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. Passengers can create their own personal entertainment programme, or pass the time with 28 games, all operated by Etihad’s innovative touch-screen technology.

7. OTHER INFLIGHT & GROUND EXPERIENCES

#CREW: Etihad’ cabin crew is famous for the delivered onboard service and this was no different on this flight. Crew was professional and friendly (addressing me by name, presenting themselves individually before take-off). All requests were dealt with promptly and cordially.

#CREW UNIFORM: the crew was wearing the new and very stylish uniforms by Italian designer Ettore Bilotta, which were introduced last month in celebration for delivery of Etihad’s new A380 and B787 aircraft. The chocolate-brown, purple and orange colours are part of the “reimagined” Etihad which is headed by Australian James Hogan.

#LAVATORY: the 2 lavatories for Business Class passengers are located in front of the plane (behind the cockpit). Both lavatories were kept very clean during the flight.

#FLIGHT PATH: normally, the flight path from Brussels to Abu Dhabi goes straight over Syria and Iraq, but the plane detoured around the current ISIS conflict area by flying over eastern Iran.

#VIEWS: before landing at Male International Aiport, we were given some spectacular aerial views of paradise and its deep blue atolls. Other views during the flight included scenery from the Arab Peninsula.

#CHAUFFEUR SERVICE: one of the great things about flying Business (or First) class with Etihad is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 24 hours prior to your flight. It is so nice to be picked up at your hotel and to be whisked away to the airport in a minimum of time.

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. There are some differences however that distinguish one from another:
- Etihad and Emirates both offer complimentary chauffeur-driven chauffeur, while this is not the case with Qatar Airways.
- Qatar Airways offers pyjamas on medium-haul flights, while Etihad and Emirates only offer them on longhaul flights.
- Qatar Airways and Emirates offer duvets on medium-haul flights (to increase sleeping comfort), while Etihad only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Etihad has a consistent and identical Business Class product across it wide-body fleet, while this is not the case with Emirates and Qatar
- The best wide-body business class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre): (1) Etihad 787/A380; (2) Qatar 787/A380; (3) Emirates A380; (4) Etihad A330/B777; (5) Qatar B777; (6) Emirates B777; (7) Qatar A330.
- Food is delicious on all 3 carriers, but my best gastronomic experiences (so far) were on Qatar, followed by Etihad, and then Emirates.
- Etihad and Emirates only offer one meal on medium-haul flights, while Qatar Airways offers a second light meal before landing.
- Emirates is the winner when it comes to the inflight entertainment (but Etihad and Qatar offer plenty of choices as well).
- Etihad and Qatar Airways offer aminity kits on medium- and longhaul flights, while Emirates only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Emirates has by the far the best aminity kit of the 3 airlines, with Etihad offering the least impressive amenity kit (at least in Business Class).

9. MY VERDICT

- Seat : 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- Amenity kit: 7/10
- Service: 9/10
- Cabin atmosphere (upper deck): 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8.2/10









theLuxuryTravelExpert is offline  
Old Feb 18, 15, 10:13 am
  #2  
TPJ
 
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
Although this is Brussels Airlines’ flagship lounge, it is nothing to write home about.
Nice report, thank you for sharing

Just one correction - this is NOT SN flagship lounge - THE LOFT in Schengen area is the flagship lounge. Also SN African flights depart from Pier A (which in the morning is Schengen/non-Schengen terminal and becomes dedicated Schengen terminal only when the last flight to Africa leaves) and there is a dedicated lounge for these flights called 'SN Sunrise Lounge'.
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Old Feb 19, 15, 6:08 am
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Originally Posted by TPJ View Post
Nice report, thank you for sharing

Just one correction - this is NOT SN flagship lounge - THE LOFT in Schengen area is the flagship lounge. Also SN African flights depart from Pier A (which in the morning is Schengen/non-Schengen terminal and becomes dedicated Schengen terminal only when the last flight to Africa leaves) and there is a dedicated lounge for these flights called 'SN Sunrise Lounge'.
Thx for the correction.
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Old Feb 20, 15, 1:13 pm
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Thank you for the nice trip report. Can you post more photos? Flying First Class on Etihad's A380 is my dream!
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Old Feb 20, 15, 5:07 pm
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Originally Posted by theLuxuryTravelExpert View Post
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. There are some differences however that distinguish one from another:
- Etihad and Emirates both offer complimentary chauffeur-driven chauffeur, while this is not the case with Qatar Airways.
- Qatar Airways offers pyjamas on medium-haul flights, while Etihad and Emirates only offer them on longhaul flights.
- Qatar Airways and Emirates offer duvets on medium-haul flights (to increase sleeping comfort), while Etihad only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Etihad has a consistent and identical Business Class product across it wide-body fleet, while this is not the case with Emirates and Qatar
- The best wide-body business class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre): (1) Etihad 787/A380; (2) Qatar 787/A380; (3) Emirates A380; (4) Etihad A330/B777; (5) Qatar B777; (6) Emirates B777; (7) Qatar A330.
- Food is delicious on all 3 carriers, but my best gastronomic experiences (so far) were on Qatar, followed by Etihad, and then Emirates.
- Etihad and Emirates only offer one meal on medium-haul flights, while Qatar Airways offers a second light meal before landing.
- Emirates is the winner when it comes to the inflight entertainment (but Etihad and Qatar offer plenty of choices as well).
- Etihad and Qatar Airways offer aminity kits on medium- and longhaul flights, while Emirates only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Emirates has by the far the best aminity kit of the 3 airlines, with Etihad offering the least impressive amenity kit (at least in Business Class).
I think you are quite confused on the amenities:

Neither Emirates nor Etihad ever give pajamas in Business; only First gets them.

Qatar does provide pajamas in both First and Business but only on overnight medium-haul flights; on short day flights, not even First gets them usually.
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Old Feb 21, 15, 11:24 am
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Thanks for sharing looks like a great flight experience
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Old Feb 23, 15, 12:57 pm
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some more pics ...













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Old Feb 24, 15, 9:27 am
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Great photos, thank you for sharing this amazing trip with us.

Hope we will see you again soon! *JS
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Old Feb 25, 15, 9:29 am
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Did you like the Maldives?

Where did you stay?

Some people say you are stuck on an island; little to do?
Bretteee is offline  
Old Feb 25, 15, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
Did you like the Maldives?

Where did you stay?

Some people say you are stuck on an island; little to do?
I LOVE THE MALDIVES. IMHO, it the most spectacular beach destination on the planet, beyond anything else you will ever experience (although the Seychelles & Bora Bora come close to the same experience). In addition, it has some of the most stunning and luxurious hotels in the world. I stayed at Maalifushi by COMO, a new 5* resort in the Thaa Atoll. I posted a review on my blog (http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/201...como-maldives/) and made a Youtube clip as well (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_trC0waXjUQ). Not a bad place to be stuck for a week (at least in the dry season) :-).
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