Etihad restarts Sydney-London flights, but there's a catch...

Settle into your seat for a marathon 24 hour trek, because you won't be stepping off the plane – even briefly – at Abu Dhabi.

By David Flynn, May 20 2020
Etihad restarts Sydney-London flights, but there's a catch...

Etihad Airways will temporarily resume flights between Sydney and London over the next few weeks, with a weekly Boeing 777 taking passengers all the way from the Harbour City to Heathrow, or vice versa.

Travellers will get to know that aircraft exceptionally well, as they'll remain on board for the entire 24+ hour journey – including the stopover at Abu Dhabi.

This is how Etihad will work around the United Arab Emirates' continued ban on transit passengers, which doesn't allow passengers to step off one flight in order to board another.

In other words: you'll board the Boeing 777-300ER in Sydney and settle into your seat for a marathon trek.

That's good enough reason to be in one of the lie-flat business class seats, even if they're not the latest design featured on Etihad's Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 fleet (and this being a two-class Boeing 777, there's only business and economy on offer).

This unique 'seamless transit' arrangement is the same which Etihad has in place for its Melbourne-London flights, which began on May 15.

Etihad's temporary Sydney-London schedule

Etihad's Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight EY455 departs Sydney each Wednesday on May 27, June 3 and June 10 at 9pm, reaching Abu Dhabi at 5.50am the next morning.

You'll stay on board while the aircraft refuels, crews are changed and new catering is brought on board, then the flight – now rebranded as EY19 – will lift off at 7.15am and touch down at London's Heathrow Airport at 11.50am.

Note that Etihad is now using Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport, as its normal T4 home is temprarily closed.

Heading from Blighty to Bondi? The London-Abu Dhabi flight EY20 runs each Thursday, leaving London at 1.20pm so you'll get to Abu Dhabi at 11.55pm. 

After a short time taking in scenic views of the airport and arrivals gate from the comfort of your seat, the Boeing 777 – now tagged as EY454 – will be wheels up at 12.45am, and you'll be in Sydney by 8.40pm.

Leaving Australia? You may need special exemption

Travellers will still be subject to any entry and exit restrictions imposed by both Australia and the United Kingdom.

Australia continues to ban most outbound travel, with travellers generally required to obtain a government-granted exemption before they can check-in for their flight.

As reported earlier this week, the Australian Border Force has granted close to 3,000 exemptions in the first six weeks of the ban, with almost 75% approved for travel on humanitarian grounds or for compassionate reasons, 514 greenlit for "urgent and unavoidable personal business" and 189 travellers cleared to fly for business reasons.

Read: How to apply for an Australian 'travel ban' exemption

Similarly, all international passengers arriving into Australia are required to complete 14 days of quarantine in government-provided accommodation before being allowed to return home.

On board, Etihad Airways "recommends" that passengers wear masks and aims to ensure that travellers "are seated with as much space as possible between every guest".

Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

16 Feb 2017

Total posts 28

Where do you get 26 hours + from ?? 23 hrs 50 minutes heading over and 22 hours 30 minutes coming back.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 126

EY455 - 14h 45m. EY19 - 7h 35m. Plus 2h 35m transit. Total 24h 55m.

The changed times in this casr mean it's about 24 hours. Although with likely much smaller payloads, this will be quicker either side.

Article says 24+ hours. Europe bound is always longer than home bound though due to headwinds.

16 Feb 2017

Total posts 28

The original article was posted saying 26 hours plus. It now says 24hrs - has been quietly changed in the past 2 hours.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 237

So it's sort of like the "poor man's version" of Project Sunrise, the plane makes a stopover but passengers don't LOL!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 138

If they have few of these aircrafts flying, it is only fair for them to park these aircrafts somewhere far enough from terminals, so passengers can step out, walk for 20-30mins before they board again. Basic courtesy would be nice, rather than having to be seated for the 1:20 break in AUH.

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1245

"Basic courtesy" would suggest this is something the airline has just decided to do by itself. I would think they are simply trying to be compliant with local laws in order to be able to operate the flights.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 517

mspcooper, basic courtesy has gone out the window during the current times, unfortunately. Government mandates covering all sorts of things, most importantly what regulations to follow for allowing air travel are extremely strict right now. The last thing you can expect from an autocratic Middle Eastern government is to allow you to go outside for 20-30 minutes. It ain't happening.

BTW it's not such a big deal; in the past, before all this security nonsense started happening, I remember when one would stay on board the flight on a short 1 hour stopover. This was the case during flights from Sydney to Bangkok via Brisbane back in the 90s, on THAI Airways.

I can thing of far worse things than staying on an aircraft for a short 1-hour stop.

29 Jan 2015

Total posts 41

Did it on the old Kangaroo route Darwin-Bombay-Bahrain-London not allowed out for any stop. In Y In a plane with old air systems. First international flight so didnt know to hydrate. Then straight on to Germany by boat train

Took me a week to recover even though young and fit.

You guys dont know how lucky you are...!

27 May 2020

Total posts 2

There are many words in the English language which are being misused in recent times. words that do not have plural forms are perfect exampkes. Aircraft and training shoukd never have an "s" at the end. 1 aircraft or multiple aircraft, the word is still aircraft!!!

Aircrafts and trainings are unacceptable in proper English language use!!

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 69

Etihad were in decline before covid-19 with poor service, food and amenities on board. I'd personally dread having to fly them now all the way to LHR on a loud, cramped, 777 with poor atmospherics for 24 hours straight!

28 May 2020

Total posts 1

Ehhhh, they just updated their 777 cabin. Get your facts, man....


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Aug 2015

Total posts 36

David, was trying to workout what happens to the aircraft that arrives in Sydney from London at 8.40pm Friday night. Does it sit in Sydney till the following Wednesday departure ?

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 236

It would be a hell of a lot better being in a spacious 777 with 9 abreast, than a cramped up 9 abreast 787 “sunrise” flight.

29 Jan 2015

Total posts 41

777 is not that bad but 787 has better air and that makes a huge difference.

I'm just thinking of the poor guys doing it in Y.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 28

Business class service on these flights: does anyone know what it is like and what you actually get??

We looked at booking on Emirates for Dec 2020 as we usually fly to South Africa on business or first class (the prices were too good to be true!$4500 return Biz and $5900 Plus on first)

However! When you're directed to the next page it's states [lounges closed] no or limited purser and cabin crew; and worst of all! “No premium food and alcohol on these flights” only prepackaged food in bags will be passed out; with on demand food and wine unavailable”

Out of pure interest and as an enthusiast:

- Does anyone know what is actually being served to business and first passengers currently?

- in premium cabins; Both internationally and domestic?

I know lounges are closed, but there is no articles or YouTube / videos showing what is actually happening in the premium cabins.

We have a Qantas confirmed business class fares for both; Bali and Hong Kong flights in Oct & Sept 2020; booked within the Double Status promo from Feb 2020 and would be interesting to see if:

A- this even goes ahead (and we feel safe to do so.

B- what is actually being experienced on board in premium Business Class cabins?

C - how many people actually have booked on the Double Status promo in Feb 2020? Can ET do an article on how Qantas plans to remedy/ honour the thousands/ hundreds of bookings made in this promo period?

Thanks ET forum.... just any tips or videos for above items would be helpful;

and if ET can do an article or confirm the Feb 2020 double status promo issues and how Qantas is helping us all whom may have booked numerous flights

keep safe all, mental, physically and emotionally!!


20 May 2020

Total posts 6

Is Etihad going to allow passengers (locals) to board in Abu Dhabi.

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