Flying Short Haul With Etihad Business Class
Etihad really impressed me with their 787 Dreamliner service from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi. If you’d like to find our more about that superb flight, then read our post – How Etihad is Disrupting the Business Class Market With its Dreamliner Service.
In recent months Etihad has been in the news for some of the wrong reasons. They invested heavily in both Alitalia and airberlin, both of which have resulted in losses for Etihad. They have also been cutting back on Premium services including their chauffeur drive service in locations outside of Abu Dhabi; and facilities inside their lounges. So I was curious to see what flying short haul with them would be like.
I was in Dubai for part one of an international conference, the second part of which was to be held in Mumbai in India. I’d booked my entire trip in business class as one ticket, giving me exceptional value. This of course allowed me to travel in Etihad business class on the short haul service from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai – a flight of only 3 hours and 20 minutes. After the superb service on the Dreamliner, I was curious to see how Etihad would deliver on this short hop flight.
Check-in at their home base airport in Abu Dhabi was very smooth. They have their own dedicated business check in area, with direct access to premium security.
The Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi
Etihad has several business class lounges in the terminal, and originally I had followed the signs to the lounge to find it was their smaller one. The staff at the entrance were lovely and quickly recommended I transfer to their larger lounge, which has a much wider offer. This made a big difference and I was pleased that they had made me aware of the alternative lounge, otherwise I may not have known myself.
The Premium Business Class Lounge is very impressive. Designed to cater to business class passengers only. The state of the art facilities include a barber, Six Senses spa, buffet and bar, as well as a good business centre and library. For first class passengers there is a separate lounge entirely.
Eating and Drinking in the Etihad Business Class Lounge
The Etihad business class lounge is large, with many separate areas to sit, work or relax. I found it easy to find space, get a drink, or access the buffet. I found the buffet a bit underwhelming, with only a few choices of hot and cold food, as well as a separate dessert station. The food looked quite nice, although on both occasions I was in the lounge, I only ate small amounts, waiting of course for the much better offer on board. Of note is the excellent Arabic coffee and sweets available all the time.
The Etihad Spa
There was both a Six Senses Spa and a Style and Shave available to guests for a fee. On offer from the spa is a full range of beauty, nail and massage services. The Style and Shave was offering haircuts and shaves for men. However Etihad have just announced they have closed all Style and Shave salons – another cost cutting measure.
Both were still operating when I was in the lounge but they didn’t look to be getting much patronage. It’s a real pity that Etihad can no longer offer these services, it really stood them apart.
First Class passengers do still get some services for free as part of their offer, however it might be worth checking when you arrive in the lounge as further cutbacks are very possible.
Flying Short Haul with Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai – What’s it like?
I have flown many airlines where their long haul product is fantastic. Sadly though when you switch to the short haul flight to get to your final destination, you are often disappointed. I am genuinely pleased to say this was not the case with Etihad. I was lucky in that I was flying the short haul on a 777, so their smaller planes might offer a different experience.
Choosing Your Seat
The business class cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration, however the seating varies from aisle to aisle. For couples, the middle seats would work well. These seats are either closer together or further apart, either still allowing you to chat.
For travellers on their own, or those preferring a window seat, it is worth noting that seats alternate from being closer to the window or the aisle. Therefore if taking photos from the window seat is something you love doing, like us here at Expert Traveller, then opt for the seats closer to the window. Here you’ll enjoy the fact the armrest and small shelf are alongside the aisle. Leg room was good and the entertainment system offered an excellent range of movies and TV shows to keep you entertained.
The Food and Drink Onboard
Even though this was a short 3 hour flight, a full lunch meal service was provided. As is common with flights to India, the meal was a vegetarian curry offering, but looked and tasted great. The full meal including, salad and dessert, was served on one tray, but still with that business class touch of real crockery.
To accompany the meal a range of wines were available, all detailed in the menus provided. I enjoyed a very good Australian red – the Elderton 2014 Barossa Shiraz.
Expert Traveller Recommends…
We were pleasantly surprised by the short haul product offered by Etihad on the three hour flight from Abu Dhabi. It was comfortable, a good meal was provided, and the service was at the consistently high quality synonymous with Middle Eastern airlines.
We’d also recommend spending a good couple of hours in the Etihad Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi. It is spacious, and as our photos show, never very crowded. Although Etihad are cost cutting in many areas, we would still recommend the airline (their business class fares are consistently lower then their competitors) and would happily fly them again. Go check them out for yourself.
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