Flight test: Etihad business class

Aircraft Etihad Airways Airbus A340-600.

Route Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

Class Business, seat 5C.

Seat pitch and width 224 centimetres between rows of seats; 51 centimetres between armrests. Every seat reclines flat into a 185-centimetre-long bed.

Seat configuration The one-two-one layout ensures all seats have unimpeded aisle access. There are 30 business class seats in total.

Luggage allowance 30 kilograms of checked baggage, plus two pieces of cabin baggage up to seven kilograms.

Scheduled flight time 14 hours, 50 minutes.

On-time performance Spot on.

Lounge access The Pearl Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi is a stylish haven of dark wood, leather seats and artfully arranged coffee-table books. Take a shower then have a free foot and leg massage in the Six Senses spa. There's Wi-Fi access, a room of computer games and a gallery showcasing Arabic art. The hot and cold food is excellent.


Aircraft condition The first A340-600 flew in 2001 but this immaculate aircraft is clearly much younger than that.

Console Etihad's 38-centimetre personal LCD video screen makes it easy to watch a movie, even when you're lying down. Every seat has an in-flight phone, two USB ports and an RCA socket for laptop connection.

Comfort The seat feels narrow in the reclined position but I sleep well. If you feel a bit stiff, you can select one of three built-in massage options. The blanket and pillows are adequate without being luxurious and the "revolutionary mood-lighting system" — soft, coloured light synchronised with the time and duration of the journey — creates a soothing ambience.

Service Immaculately dressed, the staff are friendly, attentive and efficient.

Food and beverages Excellent. The a la carte menu includes Arabic treats such as chicken tagine with stewed potatoes, preserved lemons and olives, as well as more Western fare. The artisan ice-creams are delicious and the wine list includes two types of French champagne.

Entertainment There are 132 television programs and 76 movies in more than 10 languages. Also, 13 audio channels, a library of more than 250 CDs and 29 games.

Flight frequency Etihad Airways flies from Sydney to Abu Dhabi 11 times a week, seven times a week from Melbourne and three times a week from Brisbane.

Photos Etihad Airways' Pearl business class

Online etihadairways.com.

Tested by Richard Jinman, who flew courtesy of Etihad Airways.

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