etihad lounge AUH
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REVIEW – Etihad Airways : Business Class (Regional) – Abu Dhabi to Malé (A320)

Etihad business class Jarvis Marcos
auh mle - REVIEW - Etihad Airways : Business Class (Regional) - Abu Dhabi to Malé (A320)

Etihad Airways (EY)

  • Flight: EY278
  • Class: Business Class
  • Seat: 2K
  • From: Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • To: Malé (MLE)
  • Duration: 4h25
  • Aircraft: Airbus A320
  • Status during flight: Etihad Guest Gold
  • Booking type: AA Miles Award
    • 40k Miles one way for LHR-AUH in First plus AUH-MLE in Business



FOR INFORMATION ON HOW I BOOKED THIS FLIGHT CHECK OUT THE INTRODUCTION TO THIS TRIP REPORT HERE:

Trip Report: First Class Apartments to the Maldives


Boarding


Boarding for our flight was called rather earlier than I had expected and immediately it became apparent why.

We were scheduled to leave from a bus gate for our departure on one of Etihad’s regional A320s to Malé.

In stark contrast to Etihad’s regional competitor Qatar, there was no separate priority bus for Business Class passengers, we were crammed in like weekday commuters on the Yamanote circle line, with temperatures outside north of 35 degrees. Thankfully, the aircon was working!

Still I cant deny it it, I do love bus gates when it’s sunny and humid outside. There’s an undeniable holiday feeling about the whole process when the weather cooperates.

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No priority boarding for business class here!

 


The Cabin


We were warmly greeted at the top of the stairs by two smiling FAs, although we were left to find our seats ourselves. I guess this is standard practice when all pax are boarding at once via the stairs.

The business cabin went out with 6/8 seats taken but all other pax arrived well after us on a second bus. I guess they liked the Business Class lounge more than we did!

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The cabin is very small and private, with only 8 seats. The seats are hardly modern but at least the leather headrests add something of a premium feel.

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I photographed row 1 for ease but we picked seats in Row 2.

I wasn’t too bothered about somebody reclining into my space as I was planning to recline and sleep as much as possible anyway. The barrier between the economy and business cabins meant that I wouldn’t need to worry about my reclining bothering anybody else.

EY J AUH MLE 2016 4 576x1024 - REVIEW - Etihad Airways : Business Class (Regional) - Abu Dhabi to Malé (A320)

There was plenty of legroom for me at 5’11” and even when the seat in front reclined I didn’t feel particularly boxed in.

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A slight nod to modernity with the electronic seat controls. I’ve sat in plenty of regional J recliners that still had mechanical levers.

 


The Flight


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We were offered pre-departure beverages and whilst Kamara went for water, I thought I’d try something different, opting for the lime and mint drink. It was a bit sweet but I needed some energy after my three hour sleep in Apartments.

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We departed on time with some very interesting views of AUH. Seeing all of the roads without buildings reminds me of my strategy when I played Sim City as a kid.

EY J AUH MLE 2016 8 1024x576 - REVIEW - Etihad Airways : Business Class (Regional) - Abu Dhabi to Malé (A320)

Menus were handed out as soon as we reached our cruise. I was pleasantly surprised at how extensive the options were.

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A very extensive selection of both soft drinks and alcohol. I love the variety of soft drinks available in the Middle East. Just having proper coffee in regional business class is a big plus in my book.

In-flight entertainment

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Headphones, not really noise cancelling but quite comfortable and OK sound quality.

EY J AUH MLE 2016 11 1024x576 - REVIEW - Etihad Airways : Business Class (Regional) - Abu Dhabi to Malé (A320)

The IFE folded out of the armrest and was rather…retro. I was pleasantly surprised to see a USB port though!

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Moving map. No tailcam here folks.

Breakfast

Breakfast was brought out very quickly, which I guess is to be expected when there are only 6 passengers to serve. Despite the fact that the meals were presented on trays, I think Etihad did quite well with the presentation. Salt and pepper pots, matching (full sized) cutlery and side plates. A proper breadbasket. All notable and quite a departure from what I’m used to in intra-European business class.

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Kamara and I both ordered the fruit plate to start. It was ok, nothing special.

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I followed this with the omelette sausage and hash brown. The omelette was really good, the sausages were OK and the hash brown was an atrocious, soggy triangle of hatred.

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Kamara’s pancakes were as good as the hash brown was hateful. I found the flavoured pink butter quite pleasing as it was presented in the exact same way as the regular butter, making it seem boldly transgressive.

With a little over 3 hours to go before landing I donned the eye mask handed out on this short flight and passed out until we were half an hour from landing.

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I awoke to find the cabin crew handing these Fast Track cards out. They were utterly unnecessary, as it transpires, but a nice gesture nonetheless.

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Fast track cards

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Not wanting to break with the tradition of every single time I wake up ever, I got a coffee within seconds of waking up. The double macchiato was strong, tasted great and was really well presented. Bonus points to Etihad for the praline.

With ten minutes to go until landing I started to see some pretty spectacular sights out of window. After months of drooling over the unbelievable looking resorts of the Maldives, I was finally seeing those blues for myself and they were just as beautiful in reality. Usually I develop a sense of ennui at the end of a flight, always wishing it would go on for a little longer. Not here. I’ve never been so excited to land. The Conrad was now only a single seaplane ride away!

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You never forget the first time you set sight on the Maldives…


Conclusion


Whilst Etihad’s ground services and lounge are a notch behind Qatar, the overall Premium passenger experience on their short haul network is very good.

The food and beverage are as good as you could hope for (with the exception of that heinous hash brown) and the presentation and service were extremely polished. The seats felt really hard to me but I still managed to get a decent sleep. If you’re tired you won’t struggle. If you want to see what this product is like later in the day, when lounging throughout the flight, you’ll have to stay tuned for the return journey…


4 Comments

  1. Peter B says:

    I’ve found EYs regional recliner seats to be some of the best around. Way better than CXs.

    • JarvisMarcos says:

      Oh man, don’t even get me started on the CX Regional ‘asskillers’ !

      • Peter B says:

        LOL “asskillers” is right. I’ve been equipment swapped to that seat between HKG and BKK more times than I’d like.

        Talk about “asskiller” I just did a mileage run JNB-HKG-JFK in Premium Economy, which is pretty much the same seat. 12 1/2 hours to HKG, 1 hour layover, then 16 hours to JFK. I suffered considering I just got off TK and EY J lol. When I got home I spent a couple days thinking about my return to JNB and decided to call CX about an upgrade. When the guy quoted me $997 to upgrade the return all the way back to JNB I damn near fell out my seat. That was an easy decision :joy:

        • JarvisMarcos says:

          “I damn near fell out my seat.”
          Instinctive reaction after all that time spent in Y+ 😛
          Seriously though, that is an amazing price.

          I am scheduled to fly my first Y+ in many years, 7h daytime flight on BA as a OWE. I’m thinking there’s a high chance of an op-up. If not I now know that it could be much worse!

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