Flight test: Etihad Airways first class

Aircraft Etihad Airways A340-600.

Route Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

Class and seat First, 3A.

Seat pitch and width Length 80 ½ inches and 29 ¾ inches wide. Flat bed.

Seat configuration 1-2-1 layout for a total of 12 seats. A sliding screen turns the seat into a private suite. The two middle seats have a retractable privacy screen between them.

Scheduled flight time 14 hours, 25 minutes.

On-time performance Spot on.

Lounge access Qantas business-class lounge in Sydney and Etihad's first-class lounge in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi lounge is sumptuous. There's a champagne bar and an open kitchen delivering a la carte dining accompanied by fine napery, silver and crystal. The family room has games and activities for littlies. For the grown-ups, there are Macs and televisions. Best of all is the Six Senses Spa with complimentary 15-minute treatments.

Entertainment A 58cm LCD television and 600 hours of entertainment — but too many Sandra Bullock movies!


Comfort If only home was as good. Leather seats are produced by the upholsterer responsible for the leather in Ferraris. Even the most technologically challenged (me) can navigate the switch system for the seat, though staff insist on sorting the bed. There's a minibar and wardrobe. Love the changing room; it is three times the size of regular airline bathrooms.

Service Attentive without being obsequious. The staff's pride in what they do is palpable. That also applies to the chauffeur service between home and the airport.

Food and beverage You eat when hungry. Etihad has a food and beverage manager to guide you through the extensive menu and wine list. The food is as good as promised on the menu. Love the taste of Arabia selections and choice of 13 teas.

Amenities Salvatore Ferragamo hand cream, lotion and lip balm, plus earplugs and dental kit come in a cool grey computer bag.

Flight frequency Sydney to Abu Dhabi 11 times a week.

Online etihadairways.com.

Tested by Kay O'Sullivan, who flew courtesy of Etihad.