February 1, 2023

Etihad Business Class, Heathrow-Abu Dhabi

THE FLIGHT: I flew with Etihad from Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abu Dhabi on a Boeing 787-10, en route to Riyadh for the WTTC Global Summit.

CHECK-IN: Heathrow Terminal 4 was busy but well organised. Business Class check-in and security were almost literally effortless – and fast.

I was in the Etihad lounge in record time and found it to be spacious, light and relaxing. I sat down to a lamb biryani and vegetable curry that was, in all seriousness, about as good as it gets. There were also Middle Eastern snacks, light-bites, desserts, coffees, teas and great wines too.

BOARDING: Boarding was quick and easy, and ‘turning left’ as I entered, the cabin immediately felt calm. The seat is so much more than just a seat. Clearly, Etihad has invested in top-level ergonomic design and engineering.

After getting myself comfortable and packing away my bag in the handy compartment, I then enjoyed the next 20 minutes or so working through the different facilities, plug points, and gadgets on offer. This included familiarising myself with the multiple seat-positioning options in readiness for, in due course, a flat-bed, blanket-covered, eye-masked, daytime sleep, the like of which rarely comes anyone’s way.

There are five different lights, all independently touch-screen controlled for reading, ambiance, etc., depending on how you wish to spend the coming hours.

In-flight entertainment is in a world of its own. There’s unlimited availability depending on your taste. I hadn’t had a news update for at least an hour (!) so that was first option. Then, I checked out all the flight and route details, followed by the indulgence of a nice film. However, out of the vast choice, I couldn’t find a film that really appealed. Opting for a supposedly classic Mel Gibson (2nd sequel) I lasted barely 15 minutes before deciding it was the worst film in living history. Ah well, hundreds of others to go for.

Everything is reasonably intuitive but some people might perhaps consider it rather ‘awe inspiring’?

THE SERVICE: The cabin crew were friendly, experienced and impeccably service orientated. I found them to be constantly keen to provide every assistance, whether to unlock a mystery of my futuristic seat or to respond to whatever F&B need occurred to me. Indeed, the dinner options – all served on a massive fold-away table – can realistically be described as haute cuisine. For example, my braised beef cheeks with peppercorn sauce was superb, and well accompanied by a 2015 Bordeaux. The ‘all day’ options were well thought out to cater for the ad hoc needs of any traveller.

THE VERDICT: Deciding to fly business class can for most of us be a tough financial decision, but my Etihad experience was the absolute opposite of ‘let’s just get there’. This was 6hr 45mins of pampered pleasure and relaxation.

THE DETAILS: Return business fares flying Heathrow-Abu Dhabi from £ 2,787; etihad.com

By Martin Steady

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