Etihad Airways A340-600 (3-class new – 2) Pearl Business

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  goalie11 27 Feb 2012
at 13:59

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  • Anonymous


    A little delayed, but finally, here is a report from my trip in April to Sydney on Etihad in J.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t resist making some rather unfavourable comparisons with BA, but given that this flight was about £1000 cheaper than the BA fare, I don’t see that there can be any harm in making such comparisons. I realise that Etihad is bankrolled by the UAE, but there is still no excuse for BA’s failure to deliver an acceptable product.

    Anyway, I realise that gripes are a bore, so let me get back to Etihad. I was going down to Australia to meet the sixth-month-old son of my oldest friend, who emigrated about four years ago. I did look into flyluxury4less, as my dad and brother-in-law had both used them recently for first class tickets to China, and I was about to book with them, when I found out that they wouldn’t accept credit cards, and, frankly, I didn’t want to shell out that sort of cash from my bank account. So, I booked, as usual, through Expedia, which I highly recommend. There was an excellent first class fare on Etihad for the dates, but I restrained myself and booked into Business Class.

    I had read a lot about Etihad’s J class seat (Pearl Zone) and the feedback was pretty mixed. I can understand the criticisms of the seat that I had read, although I didn’t necessarily agree with them, but these have been addressed in Etihad’s new generation J class seat, which, to my complete surprise, featured on 3 of the 4 legs on this trip. I hadn’t seen this seat advertised or featured anywhere, either on this site or, indeed, on Etihad’s own website, which I found surprising.

    Anyway, the new cabin, as I have tried to capture in this report and photographs, should appease the detractors. I should point out, however, that I found it very difficult to do the cabin justice in my photos, so please be tolerant!

    Ok, so to the trip and the features. Firstly, limo service in Business Class is great. I live 96.8 miles from Terminal 4 at LHR, so was just within the 100 mile radius for EY’s J class rules. I was unable to book the limo service on EY’s website – I just kept going round in circles on there – but the call centre staff, based, I believe, in India, were very helpful and the limo service itself was very good. Nice ride in a BMW 730D (this means nothing to me, but it might to people who know about cars). Water and newspapers were in the car, and despite a major pile-up on the M3, we arrived in good time, as we diverted.

    I have to say, I love the EY lounge at LHR. It is a combined F/J lounge, but caters more towards the F end. It is a little small perhaps, but then flight EY18 was the only flight going out that night, so it was easily big enough to cope with the passengers on that flight. I was quite early arriving, and was offered spa treatments by the very friendly spa staff, but I didn’t really fancy them (the treatments, I mean, not the staff). There is a bar, but also waiter service, and I have to say the staff were outstanding. I am torn between this lounge and the Virgin Atlantic LHR clubhouse as my favourite lounge. I think EY might just have it, but perhaps unfairly, as the last time I was in the VS lounge, the hot water had failed, and so there was not hot food. However, the food in EY lounge was excellent. The A la carte menu was a bit limited, but the buffet selection was superb. I had a bit of everything – tiger prawn salad, chicken and Singapore noodle salad, spinach, beetroot and goat’s cheese salad, all delicious. I then moved on to hot dishes of pasta with fresh parmesan, and beef stew and excellent potatoes dauphinoise. I do realise that I sound like a pig now. A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to fly Emirates First Class down to Australia, and experienced their lounge at Gatwick. Etihad’s lounge at LHR beats it hands down.

    Seating area in LHR lounge:" />

    Sit down meal area in lounge:" />

    Buffet selection:" />

    Buffet selection 2:" />

    Bar area in lounge:" />

    Dining area in lounge:" />

    Arabic coffee just before departure. Departure wasn’t announced until about 15 minutes before scheduled departure time, but the gate was virtually opposite the lounge, so F/J passengers could board very easily after the majority of passengers were already on board." />

    I was greeted at the door by name, and escorted to my seat. Always such a nice touch. And here’s the much advertised J class seat:" />

    Footrest and ptv:" />

    And my feet! I have read numerous complaints about Etihad’s J class seat, but I suppose because the people who choose to review seats on sites like airlinequality are generally only writing reviews because they have had a negative experience.

    However, I am 6 foot tall and of medium build, and the seat was plenty big enough for me, both in seated and bed positions. It is true that storage for small items or a drink/water bottle was lacking, and there could be more room for one’s feet, but these issues have all been successfully addressed in Etihad’s new J cabin, more of which later. There was plenty of room in overhead lockers, although there were no lockers over the central seats. The window seat in this cabin is clearly the best for people travelling on their own – very private. There is one criticism that I did have of the cabin on all four legs of the flight, however, and that was that it was kept uncomfortably warm, making sleep difficult. I have read that airlines up the temperature to make passengers fall asleep, but in my experience exactly the opposite is achieved." />

    Pre-departure champagne. Hot towels were also distributed on small wooden trays, rather than with tongs." />

    I just loved this warning! Can only imagine what had happened in the past!" />

    Amenity kit turned into a shoulder bag, but not sure who would actually use it as such!" />

    Menus distributed – didn’t realise you’re not really allowed to keep them! I did though." />

    Chardonnay and amuse-bouche." />

    This may not look great, but it was excellent! Was late night, and I’d already eaten like a pig in lounge, but this soup – carrot and almond – from the express menu was superb." />

    And breakfast was delicious too." />

    Very classy Voss water – I notice it’s disappeared from the service in the new J cabin, where Etihad’s own branded water is now served." />

    Beautiful view of engines!" />

    F1 livery on our plane from LHR" />

    Lounge was crowded, but still some people were happy to take up a couple of seats! The criticisms of the size of EK’s J lounge at AUH are quite justified at busy times, and the poor guy trying to keep the bathrooms serviced with towels etc simply couldn’t keep up. It does drive me nuts, however, that people are quite happy to occupy free seats in the lounge with their coats, just so that nobody will sit next to them. I rather pointedly asked one rather snotty looking woman if the seat next to her was actually taken, or whether the coat was hers. She VERY reluctantly then removed the coat. I meant to mutter a comment under my breath, but instead rather loudly said “selfish cow”. This did, however, have the bonus of her getting to leave fairly soon afterwards.

    There was no PA system in the lounge – I imagine this is deliberate – so lounge staff walk around shouting out flight departure info, or a passenger’s name, if they were trying to page someone. I have to say, I found this rather irritating after a while." />

    Nice to have a shower in lounge – there was a “plate” showerhead over head too" />

    Can’t deny beauty of A340" />

    And here we are – the new generation Pearl Zone seat – love it!" />

    Notice all the little extra storage bits?" />

    Water storage, BUT, Voss water is now only in First Class I believe." />

    Table storage is an improvement on previous version of seat." />

    And much more room for feet, which I think was a common gripe about old version of seat." />

    Love the hot towel on wooden tray presentation." />

    I think my brother-in-law would be more interested in this shot than I am!" />

    Bloody Mary and another interesting amuse-bouche!" />

    And lunch –tiger prawns with a three-bread-loaf – was quite delicious." />

    This was grilled beef tenderloin with wasabi mashed potato and buttered carrots – it doesn’t look that special on the plate, but it was excellent." />

    Cheese was nice too!" />

    This was breakfast coming into Sydney – was really delicious! And I could have asked for more or different combinations. The dine anytime menu system worked well, and FA’s were attentive and happy to serve." />

    Sunrise over engines at Sydney" />

    Etihad’s black and white blankets and pillows are great – very distinctive." />

    This is a great business class seat." />

    Seat lights and water storage." />

    Etihad business class check-in at Sydney." />

    Etihad uses the Air New Zealand lounge at Sydney, as, it seems, do a lot of airlines! Strange that Etihad doesn’t get a mention on the boards outside the lounge." />

    The snacks etc in Air New Zealand lounge were fine, but not a patch on offerings either in Abu Dhabi or Heathrow." />

    On the other hand, I counted 35 bottles of chardonnay, so was quite happy!" />

    Bathroom at SYD was nice" />

    So, had the new generation Pearl Zone seat on way home too. I think it’s great." />

    Another view of seat" />

    Gin and Tonic and another great amuse-bouche!" />

    Just remembering here, what a bloody long way to go!" />

    An extraordinarily good starter – I’d been proud to serve this at home." />

    This veal might not look like much, but it really did just melt in the mouth –outclassed anything I had on Emirates First Class!" />

    And the cheesecake was good too!" />

    And a great light breakfast." />

    A shot on take off which I suspect would be of more interest to brother in law than me!" />

    I’ve read a lot of criticism about the J lounge at AUH, and I agree with some of it, but I can’t fault them for their food selection." />

    More" />

    And sushi!" />

    I was in lounge for 8 hours, but quite happy" />

    Airbag seatbelt and storage space." />


    RichardRg may I say that your T/R was one of the best I have read !! thank you so much as it has made up my mind to fly with Etihad to Dublin .I hope to report just as good a trip


    Now that’s what I call a trip report! Excellent thank you Richard. I wish I had the patience to write one!


    Great report, Richard.

    As a frequent user if Etihad, I think you present a fair and balanced view of the experience.

    The new J seat is excellent, the older ones have flaws, as you say.


    WOW, love it :o) does the new seat have a water bottle holder like on the old seat? xx


    I was impressed with EY when I flew with them. I am fortunate to have BA staff travel so I travel CW a lot and you can’t even compare it to Etihad business. EY have fewer seats and more staff so they can cope with a more indulgent service level. I don’t need to be escorted to my seat but it’s nice for it to be offered. What is so much better than BA is the food offerings which are so beautifully presented and plentiful, I have never heard them have to apologise for not having your selection. BA’s problem is that they have 50 CW seats on the main deck of the 747, try plating up 50 meals at a time, it is nigh-on impossible and that’s why BA don’t do it. EY staff are always lovely and helpful and many BA staff could learn a lesson from them. Having said that, there are some wonderful BA staff who are much better than anyone at Etihad, there is just no consistency. I would not pay full price for CW on BA but I would happily pay full price to fly to Oz with Etihad.


    It’s amazing that even with all that Etihad are cheaper than BA and most other airlines, but I guess they must have benefited to some extent from subsidies in the past even if they don’t now, but then again, so did BA and its European counterparts, who often still benefit from protectionist policies, especially Lufthansa.

    If anyone questions why I always compare BA to other airlines its probably because BA offer the best biz product of the big three carriers in Europe, so it is actually positive.

    Thanks for the great review!


    A very good report of Etihad’s service. As a regular traveller with them in J between AUH and LHR or MAN I agree with much of what has been said.

    While the new seat is a vast improvement on the old one (which is still far better than the BA CW seat) there are still some minor flaws, such as the fact that when laying down flat the leg area is not straight and your legs are slightly at an angle making slightly uncomfortable for tall flyers. I have also raised issue with Etihad about the large wooden panel they have fixed to the floor, which they say is a response to customers wanting added privacy in the middle two seats. I think it is potentially dangerous.

    Etihad’s pricing is very good unless you do point to point from AUH to UK, where the prices can be ridiculously high. Rcents quotes on their website for AUH-UK return in J have come in at £3200, however I’ve taken to use AUH as a hub by taking a short flight to Muscat with Etihad and then buying a return to UK from there (getting on the same aircraft at AUH thats costs £3200) for £1300 return.

    You need to do your homework.

    BA’s offering from AUH to LHR is a disgrace – sleeper service is an excuse for lazy staff to do what they do best and BA to maximise profit. Their food service is hopeless and they want to take a leaf out of Etihad’s book by providing the dine when you want concept. Lastly their IFE is so archaic that it’s hardly worth wasting your time trying.

    It’s well worth trying Etihad but as has already been said, they’re not perfect we’re dealing with humans after all.

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