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Strong coffee, top quality champagne, and an inviting, cozy seat make flying Etihad Airways Business Class a good choice for getting to the start of your RAW Travel walk. Just ask our Flights Specialist Rosalind…

What I loved about flying Business Class with Etihad Airways

The Route: Melbourne–Abu Dhabi (14.5 hours)

The experience on board this aircraft (Dreamliner 787-9) was comfortable. As soon as you board the plane you feel a sense of warmth from the layout, fixtures, fittings and colour tones; the lighting is the best I have seen on any aircraft.

While the meals were a letdown (not authentically Arabic and the vegetarian pasta dish was bland; I should have selected from the ‘all day dining’ menu), there were extensive beverages on offer. Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut was freely poured from when I boarded to when I landed in Abu Dhabi. I was asleep during the offical breakfast so enjoyed a delicious selection of pastries and hot coffee instead.

In front of the seat below the screen there was room for my feet and then underneath that there was more space for my shoes and handbag. The seat also has plenty of compartments to store your Luxe amenity kit, camera and bottled water. As you’d expect, it converted to a lie-flat bed. The staff were happy to provide a turn-down service, along with assistance with the seat’s many configuration options.

The bathrooms were on the small side – just big enough for a quick change into my ‘plane clothes’. (I like to board and disembark in one set of clothes and change into another set once the seatbelt sign has been switched off).

Arriving into Abu Dhabi we were bused from the aircraft to the terminal. It was hot even at midnight, so the air-conditioned comfort of the Plaza Premium Lounge was worth the walk. This lounge is used for codeshare flights and it changes from madly busy to super quiet. With ample space for all passengers it features a bar area, work pods, quiet areas, lounge seating with TVs, and an area to grab some food. There are also six shower rooms (you have to book in to use one of them), which were cleaned to a high standard after each use; towels are provided. Staff were attentive and friendly, helping to make it a very comfortable place to hang out in between flights as Abu Dhabi.

Lounge access

When flying into and out of Abu Dhabi on a codeshare flight like I did you get access to the Plaza Premium Lounge, which is used by several different carriers. It is also ‘pay as you use’ for all classes of travel. With this in mind it can be a very busy lounge. As I was there for 5 hours, and I did see it fill up and empty out.

Seating

A 1-2-1 configuration welcomes you on board. Every seat has direct aisle access. Single seats are back-to-back. This is a smaller feeling cabin than other airlines, but the individual areas are cozy with lovely lighting. The Arabian flare and warm colours evoke feelings of the desert.

Meals

Once seated, you’ll be offered a welcome glass of champagne or juice and a leather-bound menu. In business class you have the option of ‘all day dining’ and ‘a la carte’. The beverage list is extensive. A lovely strong coffee and pastry selection are available just before your arrival into Abu Dhabi.

Entertainment

The screen was large (18.5 inches) but the movie selection was dull, so I chose sitcoms and documentaries. The remote became quite confusing at times, so I used the touch-screen options instead. The wonderful relaxation music helped ease me into sleep. It was hard to turn on my side with large headphones pressing into my ear but I figured it out.

Onboard experience

Everything was well timed and well presented, from the welcome drink to the meal service and the amenity kit, but the service lacked warmth. The flight crew were professional and attentive (they will help turn down your bed and store your jacket, for example) but slightly aloof.

Stopover

Your stopover for this flight is Abu Dhabi.

Price

Flying in conjunction with Oman Air business class special to Europe costs from: $4859. Subject to availability; blackout dates apply.

Best for walking the…

Note: We’d love to help find you a great deal on an international flight, but please note that we only offer this service to clients who have booked one of our walking trips.

Value for money

Score: 6/10

I flew Etihad for the first leg of my codeshare* business class journey with Oman Air. The service and meals didn’t blow me away, but the seating on offer was very comfortable and worth the expense.

Why book your flights with RAW Travel?

Our in-house Flights Expert Rosalind specialises in business class airfares and city breaks and can help take the stress out of planning all the travel arrangements around your walk. Rosalind can book your international flights, give you advice about land transfers to the start of your walk, organise the perfect city break, and more! She offers a personalised service that you won’t find on online booking sites, along with specific destination knowledge you won’t necessarily find with your own travel agent. For more info, contact Rosalind today on (03) 5976 3763 or email [email protected]

* Codeshare: An interline partnership where one carrier markets service and places its code on another carrier’s flights. This offers carriers an opportunity to provide service to destinations that are not in their route structure.