Australian Business Traveller reveals the best seats to pick on on the aircraft you're most likely to encounter on your travels.
This week: Pearl Business Class on Etihad's Airbus A340-600.
Virgin Blue (soon to be Virgin Australia) partner Etihad uses the A340-600 on most flights between its Abu Dhabi hub and Australian destinations Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Australian passengers will find useful connections from Abu Dhabi to European, Middle Eastern and African destinations.
Pearl Business Class sits in two cabins behind three rows of Diamond First Class and ahead of Coral Economy Class.
The Pearl Business Class cabin
Split over two mini-cabins, there are 26 seats in business class. Rows 5-8 sit ahead of a block of galley kitchens and lavatories, and rows 9-12 are found just in front of Economy.
The Business Class cabin is laid out in a staggered layout similar to Emirates' A380s, where every seat has direct access to the aisle. Here's how it works.
A and K seats are in even-numbered rows next to the windows on each side of the plane, with B and J seats on the aisle in odd-numbered rows. To get to A & K, you squeeze through a small gap between the rows.
Middle seats E and F are in the centre in even-numbered rows, with a privacy screen separating them. D and G seats are centre aisles in odd-numbered rows.
Each seat converts into a fully flat bed -- not a lie-flat tilted seat on an angle.
There's a large fold-out table for meals and working as well, and every seat has an AC power point, plus two USB connectors for charging mobile devices like iPhones, iPads and BlackBerrys.
The best seats on the plane
Since the seats are staggered in the cabin, they can be split into three categories:
- A & K seats: by the window, these have the most privacy.
- B, D, G & J seats: no need to squeeze out into the aisle, but lack privacy.
- E & F seats: if you're travelling in a pair, these very centre seats have extra privacy from others and let you talk to each other easily.
Once you've chosen which sort of seat you want, pick your row:
Row 8: With only window seats A and K in this row, these are the quietest and most private seats in Business Class.
Row 5-7: these are further forward, so likely to have less noise from economy class, engines and lavatories.
The worst seats on the plane
Row 12: right in front of economy -- and bassinet positions -- this will be the noisiest row in business class. Seats 12A and 12K are above the wing, so won't have a good view either.
Row 9-11: these are closer to economy and the engines, so will be noisier than the forward cabin.
Next week: Business Class on Singapore Airlines' Boeing 747-400.