Reviews

Review: Etihad Airbus A330 business class: Abu Dhabi-Munich

By Chris Chamberlin, March 24 2015
Etihad Airbus A330 business class: Abu Dhabi-Munich
Route

Abu Dhabi - Munich

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330-300

Airline

Etihad Airways

Flight

EY3 / VA7003

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

9A

Notes
The Good
  • Fully-flat beds with direct aisle access
  • Visit the all-new Etihad Premium Lounge in Abu Dhabi
  • Free 15-minute treatments at the Six Senses Spa
The Bad
  • Limited storage space for cabin bags
  • Decidedly average food served on today's flight
X-Factor
  • Business class window seats are incredibly private

Introduction

With fully-flat beds in Etihad business class, direct aisle access for every passenger on every long haul flight and an inflight menu that lets you dine on what you like, when you like, Etihad and codeshare partner Virgin Australia give the Qantas/Emirates alliance a real run for its money.

Join Australian Business Traveller as we put the airline's Airbus A330s to the test on a recent flight from Abu Dhabi to Munich, in the second phase of a one-stop journey from Sydney to Germany.

Check-in

Connecting directly from Sydney made things easy in Abu Dhabi – all boarding passes were printed before we'd left Australia and all bags checked through to Germany, with no need to collect them while in transit.

Etihad's complimentary chauffeur service is also provided at either end of the journey if booked at least 24 hours in advance.

Business class travellers can fly with up to 40kg of luggage at no charge (max. 32kg per piece), along with 12kg in the cabin at a maximum of two bags.

Silver and Gold members of Etihad Guest and Virgin Australia Velocity can check an extra 10kg and 15kg, respectively, with Etihad and Velocity Platinums welcome to a 20kg boost on the regular allowance.

Lounge

The doors to Etihad's new Premium Lounge in Abu Dhabi are open, with a fully-stocked bar, dining facilities and power points to recharge your travel tech.

Business class passengers can enjoy a complimentary 15-minute treatment or massage at the in-lounge Six Senses Spa, so we'd suggest heading there as soon as you arrive to secure an appointment.

There's also a barber and nail salon, which both come at an extra charge to all but first class flyers.

Flight

The first thing you'll notice on boarding is a sense of space, as there aren't any lockers above the centre seats.

But it's a double-edged sword: fewer lockers means less storage space, and those that remain are quite shallow and require larger bags to be stored side-on – only exacerbating the problem.

After finding storage space several rows from our seat, we're greeted with a glass of Duval-Leroy NV champagne...

... and are treated to quite a view once airborne.

EY3 left the gate in Abu Dhabi 10 minutes behind schedule to arrive in Munich 28 minutes late.

Seat

Configured in a 1-2-1 layout, every passenger has direct aisle access – now the standard for modern international business class.

Each seat transforms into a 185cm fully-flat bed, with the legs and feet of one passenger extending underneath the cocktail table of the guest in front.

The space is fully-enclosed, and each row of seats alternates – with the traveller being closer to the aisle in one row and closer to the window or centre of the cabin in the other.

In the single seats, we much prefer sitting against the window as opposed to the aisle

There's less chance of being disturbed by other passengers and your seat is further away from the aisle and thus affords more privacy – especially when using your tray table as an added privacy screen:

Aside the seat is a little nook to house your amenity kit, which contains Korres lip balm and moisturiser, socks, an eyeshade, ear plugs, a dental kit, and a 'care kit' with cotton buds, pads and an emery board.

Once packed away, you can use that space to recharge your phone via USB power or to connect your own audio-visual device to the inflight entertainment system.

There's another USB port down by your feet, along with an AC power outlet and a document holder – which is a great place to keep the menu in between meals.

Your water bottle and larger reading material live next to the seat, as does your reading light and wall lamp.

The tray table is incredibly sturdy, supports a large laptop and pivots away from the seat to let you easily access the aisle during meal time...

... although Row 9 is missing a window on Etihad's A330s, which makes the seat a little darker on our daytime flight and renders the wall lamp a necessity – even with the window blind fully raised.

Meal

The menu offers guests both breakfast and lunch after take-off. Being 9am in Abu Dhabi and 6am in Munich, a light breakfast was an easy choice.

We began with warmed nuts and a glass of orange juice...

... and progressed to a latte and a fruit smoothie energiser drink atop a selection of breads and pastries for a little 'sampling'.

The toast was dry, incredibly hard and impossible to eat beyond the first bite, although the croissant, snail bread (pain aux raisins) and the pain au chocolat duo were considerably fresher.

Other basics such as yoghurt with granola, cereals and fresh fruit were also available, along with a smoked salmon, tomato and cucumber bagel.

A second latte followed the pastries, yet both lacked any crema – instead arriving layered with the milk at the bottom, the espresso in the centre and milk froth on the top.

That's different to a traditional café latte with coffee and textured milk blended at the bottom and 1cm of froth and crema at the top, but for airplane coffee, it's more than drinkable after giving it a good stir.

At noon in Munich local time – or around five hours into the flight – I decided to try the Etihad Steak Sandwich after passing it up on the first leg of the journey from Sydney.

Served with red onion compote, cheese, mayonnaise and rocket leaves, the steak itself was incredibly tender and the combination of flavours was simply delicious.

On the side were hot chips, crisps and crackers.

The former were unfortunately quite soggy and tasteless until dipped into the tomato sauce and seeded mustard, and the crisps and crackers were as you'd expect.

Hungrier travellers can instead indulge in a three course lunch with bread on the side, matching wines and a choice of sweet or savoury desserts.

Entertainment & Service

Keeping you entertained is a 15" LCD touchscreen, packed with 120 movies, 290 TV shows, 16 radio channels, live satellite television including CNN and Sport24 and a selection of games and audio CDs:

This particular aircraft also had Etihad's Wi-Fly Internet service available, which allowed this reporter to file the day's stories from 35,000 feet rather than making a mad dash for the hotel after clearing passport control in Germany.

Read our full review: Etihad inflight Internet

The entertainment system can also be operated using a remote control – perfect for clicking through classical music archives and choosing the next album while the tray table and laptop were open in front of the aircraft screen.

Absent from the journey were pyjamas and a mattress to cover and soften the seat – which Etihad provides only on services of 10 hours or more – although these aren't a necessity on flight during daylight hours.

If you're planning to sleep on this shorter hop between the UAE and Europe rather than the longer journey from Australia to the Middle East, we'd suggest packing your PJs from the first leg to wear on the second.

The crew on today's flight addressed every passenger by name, promptly collected used plates and glasses, and were personable in a way that made the passenger/crew dynamic feel a little more friendly yet still entirely professional.

Although flying between the United Arab Emirates and Germany – where the primary languages are Arabic and German, respectively – announcements on board were also made in English.

The entertainment system was available in our native tongue, and all crew members we interacted with could speak the language fluently. Top marks for service.

Missing was an inflight bar as you'd find on Emirates' A380s between neighbouring Dubai and the Bavarian capital, but with an extensive list of apéritifs, spirits and liqueurs at the ready, your favourite drink is but a call bell away.

Also read: Etihad Boeing 777 first class review: Sydney-Abu Dhabi

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Germany as a guest of Etihad.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

After seeing the photos, i have to say Singapore Airlines' product is better. Maybe A330 doesnt have enough room to achieve the wow factor.

Next time i will probably look for Boeing 777-300ER flights more actively.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 517

What SQ product? Seeing as they have 3 or 4 different products, including A330 regional, which doesn't look anywhere near as good as this.

SQ 77W J class (1-2-1) is a better product in my opinion. seats are not cramped and there is more room.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 517

It is hardly a valid comparision though, comparing a regional product (Etihads A330) with SQ's long haul 77W Something you see all the time on these pages.

The more valid comparision would be to compare what SQ flies on comparable routes. Abu Dahbi to Munich is around 6 hours, on flights of around 6 hours SQ normally flys their ever increasing A330 fleet, or their older 772's, both of which have a similar product, which differs from their long haul product seen on the 77W's and A380's.

The only exceptions are destinations like Sydney and Melbourne where SQ does fly the long haul 77W and A380 because it knows it will be able to fill the premium cabins or some short flights like Jakarta where they are just using the aircraft to fill in what would otherwise be down time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 212

I tend to agree with you particularly on SQ's Aus flights. Very inconsistent hard product in J, especially A330 compared to new 77W. I'm actually quite a fan of Etihad J, especially given that it's consistent on Aus flights- I usually take the EY BNE-SIN A330 over the SQ options for this reason.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Isn't this the same as Etihad's 777 biz product? Isn't this Etihad's only business-class product (with the exception of the very brand new A380?)

Correct – you'll find the same basic seat (EADS Sogerma Solstys) on Etihad's Boeing 777s, although the 777s do have overhead lockers above the centre group of seats.

Etihad also has a 'regional' business class on short flights within the Middle East (domestic-style recliners), and then the new Business Studios on the A380s, B787s and when upgraded, the B777s.

Etihad

23 Jan 2013

Total posts 175

Etihad also has its Jet Airways configured business class on some A330-200s. It's a herringbone set-up, which I found really comfortable for my Athens to Abu Dhabi flight last year. It's fully flat too. 

Interesting to see this review today. I have just today cancelled an Etihad Sydney to Munich with Etihad in J. Rebooking after transfering points from Virgin to Krisflyer with Singapore in Melbourne to Munich in their new F on the 777-300ER. Nothing in this reiview has made me reconsider.

27 Mar 2015

Total posts 3

Interesting differences in seat rating between this review and the EK J review - this one four star, the EK one five star. Review seems more willing to find fault on one carrier than another - like faulting for lack of in-flight bar on a much smaller aircraft to an A380.

Hi Jaken,

"Review seems more willing to find fault on one carrier than another": nope.

Both this review and the Emirates A380 review to which you reference spell out the pros and cons of the seats as experienced by me, the reviewer, and if I didn't find something to be an issue, then I didn't just make it one just for the sake of complaining.

Regarding the 'seat' ratings, they take into account what's available on competing airlines on the same or similar routes, and when a competing airline has somewhere else for a passenger to sit (such as an on-board lounge or an inflight bar), that becomes a consideration and usually results in a deduction of one star (making the product 'good' rather than 'great').

"like faulting for lack of in-flight bar on a much smaller aircraft to an A380"

To the average traveller, the aircraft type is largely irrelevant - what matters most is the passenger experience en route - so whether we're looking at an A330, a 777 or an A380, we're less concerned with the number of engines or seats as we are with what's actually offered to passengers inside the cabin walls.

-Chris

27 Mar 2015

Total posts 3

If you check the comments on your review on Emirates more than one poster criticised that you failed to point out the narrow Business seat compared to other carriers flying the same route. So a inflight bar gets raised regardless of aircraft size but seat widths across airlines flying the same route doesn't? Seat width is a offering within cabin walls, and more relevant to all than a bar, yet one gets raised and another doesn't?

Again, the reviews that I write are reflective of my own experience on a particular flight and aircraft, and in my experience, the width of the seat wasn't an issue and didn't feel cramped, having flown Auckland-Sydney-Dubai and then Dubai-Brisbane on the Emirates A380.

However, from the comments provided by readers we can see that some place particular emphasis on the width of the seat, which is something that we haven't traditionally included in reviews unless it actually felt narrow and lacking, but can look to include in the future in response to this feedback.

(As a taller but relatively thin traveller, my focus has always been on the length of the bed, as I've never personally felt that business class flatbeds were too narrow, rather that some are shorter in length than others and are thus less comfortable when trying to doze off.)

An inflight bar, on the other hand, is something that can be enjoyed by all (adult) passengers.

You seem to have created your user account this morning purely to complain about the way that AusBT news articles and reviews are presented, having done so on several pieces in various ways. In line with our published commenting policy, you are welcome to contact myself or our editor directly with any further comments.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 6

I recently flew Emirates A380 LHR-SYD. I'm a reasonably big guy - 5"11" and 115kg and didn't have a problem with the width of the Emirates seat. For me, the keys are fully flat (180 degrees) and not having lumps in the middle. I slept about 7 hours from DXB-SYD. 

However I must say that I found the food on Emirates not as good as on Qantas and Singapore Airlines. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

I didn't have a problem myself either Rahaul, other than some restriction around one elbow due to the console, but it was only a minor niggle. I know there are wider seats out there but EK's seemed OK to me. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

From the lovely photo of you and your wife to be Victoria in another article, taken while seated in TG's Business seats (which are about 20" wide), I would have to agree that your body shape, while being about half a head taller, is otherwise fairly typical for a majority of adult males and therefore allows for a fairly representative appreciation of seat sizes. I don't think using your body shape in assessing seat dimensions is unrepresentative despite what else anyone says.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 124

I have had the privelege of flying Business Class with a few different Airlines over the past few years. Without any doubt by far the best is SQ A380 / B777-300ER with it's 30 inch wide seats.Nearly all of the others have such narrow seats it makes it almost impossible for a large frame person to have any sleep whatever on their back. Emirates are by far the worst with a lousy 18.5 inches and are horrible to try to sleep in.

Even SQ A330 are wider than Emirates at 24.5 inches.

A lot of these new type seats have the arm rest on one side higher than the other which makes it difficult if not impossible to lay on ones back without having one arm much higher up on one side. If this arm rest could be lowered it would solve that problem. There's absolutelly no doubt in my opinion about who has by far the best and most comfortable Business class seat and that's SQ.

I reckon a lot of Pax would rather a few more inches in seat width instead of the large  storage shelves along side of the seats. Slightly Smaller storage would give much better seating width.


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