May 20, 2024

Etihad Business Class, London Heathrow-Abu Dhabi

My first flight since the pandemic began and a great way to be welcomed back to air travel

THE FLIGHT: I flew in the Business cabin with Etihad on flight EY020 from London to Abu Dhabi on a Boeing 787.

THE CHECK-IN: I didn’t have to queue at all and check-in was quick, efficient and friendly. The desk concierge tipped me off about how many seats were left in business and how likely it was I’d be upgraded, and arranged fast track through security for me. All in all a very good start to my journey.

BOARDING: The Etihad crew were kind enough to give me access to the Qantas Lounge at Terminal 3 in Heathrow before my flight. Sadly I didn’t have time to try the à la carte dining or avail myself of the fully-serviced bar, but the lounge itself was comfortable, peaceful and strikingly designed, with big glass chandeliers and a 1920s theme to the bars and seating. 

There was a bit of a delay in boarding but once it got underway I was in my seat within five minutes. Although it was a high capacity aircraft, getting everyone else onboard didn’t seem to take too long and we were underway pretty quickly.

THE SEAT: With a fully-reclining seat, I was able to get a few hours of shut eye. The headrest was cushioned and the width was generous, but I did find it a bit strange to have my feet inside a storage cubby hole when fully reclined. I would also have liked the option of having a dividing screen with the adjacent seat for extra privacy. 

The pillow provided was comfortable for sleeping and the blanket was warm and thick. There was plenty of storage for hand luggage, water bottles and anything else you might need within reach. 

The screen was big and good quality, but quite far away – trying to sit up and reach when the seat was reclined was pretty difficult, but the remote control does have an extension cord and can be used relatively intuitively for most functions.

THE SERVICE: All beverages are complimentary, with a good selection of wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks. I tried to use the order to seat function on my screen but was informed that it wasn’t working, which was a shame. I really enjoyed my two glasses of premium champagne, the bellini was excellent, and the selection of nuts on the side was very moreish. Each seat also comes with a bottle of still water so you can stay hydrated.

I was really looking forward to the food and I wasn’t disappointed. I opted to have a traditional Middle Eastern dish of spiced rice with raisins and prawns for my first meal, with mezze including hummus and olives on the side. This was followed up by a deliciously chocolatey pudding which I inhaled in under a minute. For round two, I decided to try the vegetarian option, which was halloumi cakes with feta crumbs, followed by lemon cheesecake. I can confirm that, as is often the case, veggies aren’t missing out. The service was prompt and the timings were perfectly spaced so I never felt too hungry or too full to eat again. 

THE VERDICT: Although at times the service outside of mealtimes could have been a bit quicker, overall this was a good experience. This was my first flight since the pandemic began and a great way to be welcomed back to air travel!