Abu Dhabi to Sydney.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Etihad Guest (affiliated with Virgin Australia’s loyalty program).
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?
Pearl business class, seat 8C.
TIME IN THE AIR
12 hours and 55 minutes. Late departure but arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule.
Bags with a total weight not exceeding 40 kg.
THE SEAT STUFF
Seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration so direct aisle access for all. The beds lie fully flat to 6’1” in a privacy shell. They’re well designed so that it’s possible to comfortably sleep on either side. Seat controls are easily operated and there’s a bonus in-built massage.
Etihad has probably the most stylish cabin in the air. The blankets are exceptionally cosy and the pillow is large and soft. Socks and eye mask are tucked in with the blanket and there’s also a smart amenities kit in a zip-up purse that contains dental kit, earplugs, cotton buds and Korres brand lip balm and hand and body lotion. (Face moisturiser would also have been useful)
The entertainment system has a 15” touch screen with on-demand choices of more than 675 hours of the latest movies, TV shows, music and interactive games, including more than 90 movies, 180 TV titles and 400 music albums. The screens are so good I was able to watch The Great Gatsby without feeling I missed too much detail. Happily, guests are able to start watching movies before the plane takes off. Wireless internet is available onboard.
On taking our seats, we’re given hot towels before drink orders are taken. A flight attendant comes through the cabin with a tray of magazines and newspapers. Dinner service is prompt, with the large tray table laid with crisp linen and silver cutlery. Personalised beverage and food managers make sure things run along seamlessly. On the flight over, I’m not seated with my husband and when I mention this, the flight attendants find people who are willing to exchange their seats for us. On the return flight, the cabin manager remembers us and stops by for a chat.
Drinks include Mumm champagne and a delicious mint and lemon juice. Meal choices are extensive, including Emerati cuisine developed with the Mezlai restaurant from the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. On offer are three appetisers, four mains, a cheese course and four desserts. I opt for the Arabic mezze, the Arabic spiced lamb ouzi and chocolate, cardamom and orange pudding. There are Kitchen Anytime offerings of cheeses, steak sandwiches and cookies. I love the Arabic mint tea. There are four white wine and four red choices, plus spirits and beers.
ONE MORE THING
If you’re transiting in Abu Dhabi, make sure you book yourself a 15-minute treatment at the Six Senses Spa in the Business Class lounge as soon as you arrive. Appointments go fast and you don’t want to miss out.
Loads of style combined with a well-designed cabin and smart, personalised service make this one of the best business class offerings around.
28 flights a week between Abu Dhabi and Australia in partnership with Virgin Australia.
Tested by Lee Tulloch, who flew compliments of Etihad.