Tried & Tested

Etihad Airways A330-200 Business Class

31 Oct 2015 by Clement Huang
BACKGROUND Etihad started flying daily between Hong Kong and its Abu Dhabi hub in June this year. The national airline of the United Arab Emirates is codesharing on the route with Hong Kong Airlines and Air Seychelles. Etihad uses Terminal 1 at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). CHECK-IN I arrived at HKIA’s Aisle E at 1730 for check-in for an 1855 departure on EY833, a flight of eight hours and 30 minutes. There were two counters for business class, and I was quickly processed and airside within minutes. THE LOUNGE Etihad uses the Plaza Premium Lounge located on Level 6 near Gate 1 at HKIA. However, Etihad guests are allowed to settle down in a separate Etihad-exclusive section of the facility, which is great because the lounge was very full when I visited. The lounge was of good quality, offering a decent food and beverage selection. THE SEAT The A330-200s feature 22 flat beds in Pearl Business Class. Seating is in a 1-2-1 configuration, with a staggered effect to allow all seats to recline fully with aisle access. The seat is comfortable, but there is a lack of storage space, with only a narrow magazine pocket and a side table with no lip on it, so items can slide off. Offering some consolation, the pillows and duvets were of excellent quality. The IFE system is good, with a wide selection of entertainment supported by noise cancelling headphones and a high-definition screen. Etihad provides onboard wifi, chargeable at a fixed rate of US$17.95. WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Try and get the window seats, since you have direct access to the aisle while still being protected by a side table. The seats on the aisle have the same amount of room, but feel more exposed when you stretch out your legs as they are open to the aisle. THE FLIGHT We took off at 1925, half an hour behind schedule. The cabin crew were friendly and helpful. The dedicated food and beverage manager onboard explained that I could dine at my convenience, so I had dinner at about 2030. The menu included starter options of Arabic mezze; smoked duck with tofu and red pepper salad; and cream of mushroom soup. For the main course the flight offered grass-fed fillet of beef, braised chicken in spicy seafood sauce with sautéed egg noodles, Arabic spiced fish and vegetarian lasagne. The menu also featured a selection of fine international cheeses, while dessert options included banana crumble; ginger and white chocolate cake; fruit and ice cream. The beverage list included champagne (Lallier Grande Reserve), three whites and three reds, and a selection of spirits, fresh juices and sodas. I had the mushroom soup to start, which was hot, tasty and fragrant. For the main, I tried both the beef and the fish. Both were of impressive quality, cooked to perfection and finely seasoned. The banana crumble was similarly delicious. I slept for nearly four hours and when I woke saw that my fellow passengers had started on the All Day menu (available throughout the flight), which comprised hot sandwiches, Cantonese soup noodles and Arabic sweets. Thirty minutes before arrival into Abu Dhabi, the crew cleared all loose items, handed out immigration forms and fast-track arrival passes, and took the time to thank each passenger for flying with Etihad: a nice personal touch. ARRIVAL Despite the late departure in Hong Kong, we actually touched down in Abu Dhabi at 2300, 25 minutes ahead of schedule. However, congested taxiways meant we didn’t arrive on stand and disembark until 2330. There were no lines at immigration and the luggage arrived within minutes. I was landside at 2350 and made use of the Etihad Chauffeur Service, complimentary for first and business class passengers, to take me to Dubai, an hour’s drive away. VERDICT Very impressive: the well trained and professional cabin crew and extensive, delicious food and beverage offerings made the journey feel special, despite small shortcomings with the seat design.   FACT FILE
  • SEAT PITCH 28.7in/73cm
  • SEAT WIDTH 20in/50.8cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return business class flight from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi in December start from HK$16,563 (US$2,137), including taxes and surcharges.
Dominic Sebastian Lalk
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