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Etihad flight review – Brisbane – Abu Dhabi – London – eating my way to the UK in luxury as Etihad is still leading the market after 15 years

May 23, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

In the highly competitive world of aviation, it has become even harder to choose an airline that can not only deliver what it promises in its promotional material, but also one demonstrates consistent and continuing ongoing high quality service and all other aspects of a long haul flight and in doing so, not only retaining business across all classes, but also raising the bar even further for its competitors to strive to achieve.

This is particularly relevant for airlines that operate mega long haul flights like any flight from Australia and I have done a number recently and not just at the pointy end, but also in economy.

My recent flight on Etihad, the national airline of the UAE and only 15 years old in 2018, was from Brisbane to Abu Dhabi and on to London Heathrow, and a perfect example of an airline that has achieved and exceeded world class airline status and continues to work hard to improve even further and one anyone can be comfortable booking in any class.

I was fortunate to have experienced flying with Etihad in its very early days and several times since and it has been very impressive and consistently good each time,.

Flying Brisbane to London via Abu Dhabi, is a superb long-haul flying experience and it was really very interesting to be able to experience the Dreamliner and then the Airbus A380, with the quality and in particular consistency of service between both aircraft being very good indeed.

To join me on my Etihad flights, check out my video clip snapshot below of my excellent Etihad business class experience: –

In the meantime, also check out my review below: –


Airline: Etihad Airways

Seats: Brisbane to Abu Dhabi – 7C.  Abu Dhabi to London – 26F.  Both Business Class.

Flight Nos: Brisbane to Abu Dhabi – EY 485 and Abu Dhabi to London – EY 19

Aircraft: Brisbane to Abu Dhabi – Boeing 787 and Abu Dhabi to London – Airbus A380

Departure time: Brisbane to Abu Dhabi –  22.35 and Abu Dhabi to London 08.10

Flight arrival time: Abu Dhabi – 06.45 and London 13.00

Flight rating: 10 out of 10 – a very rare score for me to give, but totally and very well deserved.


Check In: The check-in process in Brisbane was as always very quick, smooth and professional, with all lines moving quickly and well managed, as one would expect for a carrier that even from the outset clearly prides itself in providing the highest and consistent levels of customer care.  Other more traditional carriers and also newer carriers who promise to claim these high standards and consistency, but frequently sadly fail to deliver.

Lounge Brisbane: Etihad uses the Air New Zealand Lounge in Brisbane, which as you would expect was excellent.

Transit in Abu Dhabi: The transit in Abu Dhabi in the very smart airport was absolutely seamless and speedy, with plenty of staff available and on hand to provide advice and guidance.

Lounge Abu Dhabi: The Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi is superb, with a very comprehensive range of facilities including a children’s play room and a Six Senses Spa – what else could you wish for – check out my video.

Boarding: On time in both Brisbane and Abu Dhabi


Seat: I loved the seat, which was very well equipped for this first leg of around 14hrs, with my seat actually rear facing seat, which I found extremely pleasant and comfortable and the rear facing not an issue whatsoever.

I had my own massive personal video screen with an equally massive selection of the latest and classical movies, TV shows and more available and although I have my own noise cancelling headsets, Etihad also provides some.  My seat felt like a very cosy cocoon, an awesome over 6ft lie flat bed long enough for me for certain and what appeared to be a portfolio of recline and other seat permutations, plus a very cosy and comfortable luxury doona and pillows and I also tried the in-built massage facility. I was also able to recharge all my electronic paraphernalia from the in-seat power sockets.

Cuisine: The service was really very good and the food equally good, with great choices and I particularly liked the All Day and A La Carte menu, and in particular the Dine Anytime service, so you can choose when you want to eat, fitting that around sleeping and watching movies and TV shows.

The All Day Menu includes a selection of quality breads and pastries, cereals, yoghurts, a choice of a delicious gruyere cheese and tomato frittata with veal sausages, roast potatoes, asparagus and grilled tomato or a beef sandwich with melted cheese, caramelised onions, mayonnaise and rocket leaves, or as if that was not enough of a choice, a beef and mushroom pie with herb mash potato and beef jus, in addition to potato crisps, baked cookies, madeleines or Arabic baklava.  So, a balance of daytime and breakfast dishes with the breakfast dishes perfect for pre-arrival in Abu Dhabi.

The A La Carte Menu is also perfect for late dinner after boarding with starter choices including hot and cold Arabic mezzo – my choice and delicious, seared tuna with cucumber salad and vinaigrette, or leek and potato soup, with main courses including filet of beef – which was really very good and tender, excellent, snapper in red curry sauce with jasmine rice, eggplant, cherry tomatoes and green beans, chicken biryani of tender chicken cooked with basmati rice and spices, or goats’ cheese tortellini with courgettes, cream sauce, tomato salsa and parmesan.  This was followed by followed by cheese, artisan crackers and fruit or those with a sweet tooth, a choice of cherry clafoutis served warm with creme anglaise, a wonderful chocolate tart with chantilly cream, seasonal fresh fruit, or a selection of ice creams.

There was an amazing choice of wines, way too extensive to go into here, but I went for a glass of ice cold Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut, followed by Mud House Sauvignon Blank from New Zealand and a New Zealand Journey’s End “Estate Varietal” Shiraz, all of which formed the perfect complement to my Etihad gourmet experience, which was superb!


Seat: My seat 26F on the A380 in Business Class, with alternate front and rear facing seats, which takes most of the Upper Deck, except for the bar and the rear facing again not an issue whatsoever.

My seat of course again had its own massive personal video screen with an equally massive selection of the latest and classical movies, TV shows and more available and also although I have my own noise cancelling headsets, Etihad also provides those.

While an aisle seat it really did feel like a very cosy cocoon, with a 6ft long lie flat bed, long enough for me for certain.  I was also able to recharge all my electronic paraphernalia from the in-seat power sockets and check my emails through the on-board Wi-Fi.  The seat also offers a very interesting in built massage facility, what appeared to be endless recline and other permutations plus again a very cosy and comfortable luxury doona and pillows, perfect for sleeping on the around 7hr or so flight to London.

Cuisine: The Etihad All Day fabulous starter choice included a steak sandwich of striploin, Emmental cheese and red onion chutney, chicken avocado, crème fraiche and rocket, seasonal fresh fruit or ice cream, in addition to potato crisps, baked cookies, madeleines or Arabic baklava.  The selection of drinks included all the usual ones, but the high points were a wonderful Cipriani Bellini Mocktail or the genuine Bellini cocktail, seemingly straight from Harry’s bar in Venice, plus of course Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut Champagne and a wonderful Albarino Altos de Cristimil Rias Baixas 2016 from Spain, great choices indeed.

The A380 Bar: At the front of the Business Class cabin and behind First Class, there is a bar, yes a bar, but I hate to say that eating and sleeping were higher on my agenda, but the bar was fully quality spirits, wine and champagne, food, drinks and snacks – a great place to network and meet new faces!


Welcome on Board:  The welcome on board both flights was really good with happy smiling crew on meet and greet, excellent on both flights right from the smiling, welcoming flight attendant at the door right to the seat – excellent.

Safety briefing: Very good video version and fully understandable on both flights.

Departure: Both sectors departed on time and arrived on time – perfect.

Service: Excellent and very professional on both flights.

Amenity Kits: Etihad has recently introduced launched a major new partnership with Italian fragrancy brand ACQUA DI PARMA for its passengers in The Residence on A380s and on long haul First and Business Class services and in the airline’s flagship First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi.  Etihad says that it has worked closely with ACQUA DI PARMA to tailor their unique products to what they describe of each stage of the guest experiences on the ground and in the air using its signatures Colonia fragrances unchanged for 120 years, with the fantastic fragrances provided in some very smart leather pouches to guests on board – check out my video.

Summary: My Etihad long haul flight experience was without question in all manners and elements superb and it is amazing to consider how Etihad gets it so right and across the multitude of elements that make up a flight like this – well done Etihad and I look forward very much to flying Etihad again.

I also had a short tour through Economy and the First Class suites, which it looked awesome and in Economy, Etihad has recently introduced ten Airbus A380’s with what Etihad calls Economy Space seats which feature and increased pitch of up to 36 inches which is significantly more seat pitch than normal.

The points of difference between the world’s leading carriers, at least two of which are based in the Middle East are getting smaller, with other more traditional mainstream carriers being left way behind and I flew on two recently, one from the northern hemisphere and one from the southern hemisphere and they were pretty average, especially compared to the excellent across the board Etihad flight experience.

The Etihad combination of great service, great crew, great food, great entertainment and much more, made this an extremely memorable, enjoyable and impressive flying experience – congratulations Etihad!

Finally, OK so the crew on the Dreamliner must have known I was a journo and of course that should not matter and it did not as I saw that they were providing the same excellent service to all the guests on board, but wait for this…how many times do the crew on an aircraft make a card for you and present it to you at the end of a flight – that tells you a great deal about the very high standards of service, passion, care commitment and attention on board an Etihad aircraft.  Well done Etihad – I can’t wait to fly with you again!

An Etihad Airways in flight review by John Alwyn-Jones

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