Airline review: Etihad economy

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-300ER

THE ROUTE

Abu-Dhabi to Sydney

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Etihad Guest Miles can be redeemed with Virgin Australia's loyalty program on Etihad flights and when flying with various other Etihad partners.

CLASS

Economy, seat 32A. It's an exit row seat that I pay an additional fee of $US150 for, however I end up moving to my own row of three seats for extra space.

DURATION

Thirteen hours, 55 minutes. We leave almost an hour late but arrive into Sydney 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

FREQUENCY

Daily

THE SEAT

The 282 economy seats are in a 3-4-3 configuration that turns into 2-4-2 towards the back. The pitch is 31 inches (79 centimetres), the width is 17.5 inches (44cm).

BAGGAGE

Economy passengers can take on a generous 30 kilograms of checked-in luggage and seven kilograms carry-on. 

ENTERTAINMENT

All "Coral" economy passengers have a 30-centimetre slanted screen with hundreds of movies and television sitcoms plus radio channels and games. The touch-screen system is simple to use with large icons and an easy-to-navigate menu. There is Wi-Fi on board (for a fee), but I go internet free. 

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COMFORT

The plane is half full so most passengers have at least two seats to themselves. The fleece blanket is warm and soft and the pillow provided works as a standard or a neck pillow. The amenity kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, socks and an eye mask. The reversible "Do not disturb/Wake me for meals" eye-mask is nifty. 

SERVICE

Most of the time requests were met efficiently and the service was good. When I did get hungry in the middle of the night (I blame the eye mask; a fellow passenger told me I missed out on a delicious panini), I asked for popcorn but was told it was 20 minutes away from being served. I would have preferred to have been given my snack straight away because 20 minutes later I was back asleep – and missed out again. 

FOOD

My vegetarian option of pasta and cheese (no vegies in sight) was a little bland. I ended up asking for the other vegetarian choice – satay tofu and vegetables teamed with rice vermicelli – which was much better. About one hour before landing I enjoyed a tasty tomato-based ragout.

ONE MORE THING

Etihad offers hot chocolate as part of the drinks service. Vegetarians receive fresh fruit instead of the normal dessert however, if you ask nicely, chances are staff will bring you the standard dessert option too.

THE VERDICT

Good service and extra space meant a very comfortable flying experience. 

Reviewed by Tatyana Leonov, who flew courtesy of Scenic Tours.

See also: The best airline experience named
See also: Why first class is on the decline

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