ETIHAD AIRWAYS PEARL BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:
Cheers: New business cabin layout, very private feel, direct aisle access for each seat, in-flight internet access (for a fee)
Jeers: Slightly narrow seat width for my liking
Overall: Etihad continues to be one of the market leaders in their premium cabin product
FULL ETIHAD FLIGHT REVIEW
Having been fortunate enough to have experienced the Etihad Diamond First Class product, and perhaps less fortunate to experience their Coral Economy Class, I finally had a chance to test out their Pearl Business Class cabin.
Having arrived in Abu Dhabi the previous night from Sydney, I now had a 10+ hour layover. Luckily, I booked a room at the recently opened Premier Inn Abu Dhabi airport, which saved me the 30-minute trip to the city hotels. As sleep was more important to me at the time (I had a bad head cold) I decided to skip the business class lounge the next day and head straight to the gate.
As the flight was departing during the morning rush hour, our aircraft was parked on a remote stand, which required us to ride the bus to the aircraft.
Etihad Airways has begun upgrading their business class cabins on all wide-body aircraft. Today’s flight was operated by an aircraft with the new cabin. The new cabin has a very smart-looking layout, with the use of coffee creams and browns creating for a very soothing and enjoyable experience.
Prior to departure, amenity kits, menus, and welcome drinks were distributed. One of the drinks available was freshly squeezed lemon and mint juice. This is one of my favorite drinks; sadly it is only available on flight originating in Abu Dhabi.
After departure, the inflight internet service was made available. I have covered this service previously in the economy class review. As with first class, Etihad operates an “anytime dining” option in its business class cabins. The catering is, in my opinion, the highest point of the whole experience with Etihad; there is always an abundant choice of dishes to suit any taste.
For the appetizer, I selected the Arabic mezze which never disappoints. This was followed by a perfectly cooked steak. For dessert there were many appetizing options, but I chose to stick with the classics and had the chocolate brownie with ice cream.
Not only is the selection and quality of the food truly a first rate experience but also the presentation of the dishes. As I later found out from the crew, they have an instruction manual on board to assist with plating of all dishes, as well as the food and beverage manager who overlooks the presentation of each dish.
After the meal service, I decided to explore my seat and its many functions. The seat converts into a 180-degree flat bed. While the bed is sufficiently long enough, even for taller guests, my biggest gripe is the width. It would be nice to have a slightly wider bed; I found it somewhat difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in. The seat is also equipped with numerous massage functions.
All seats in the business cabin have direct aisle access; however, the aisle seats seemed to lack a bit of privacy, whereas the window seats offer lots of privacy due to the position of the seat, as well as the staggered layout of the cabin.
Getting closer to Amsterdam, I decided to order something light from Etihads “Kitchen Anytime” menu. As I was still full from the previous meal, I decided to go with a fresh fruit platter.
Landing in Amsterdam was carried out on the notorious Polderbaan runway; this resulted in a 20 minute taxi to the gate. After arrival, disembarkation was pretty quick, as two jet bridges were used (something I have not come across on previous Etihad flights).
As I was transiting onto another flight I could not rate the baggage delivery service, nor the chauffeur service which is available complimentary to all Etihad First and Business class guests.
As Etihad CEO James Hogan mentioned at the launch of the airline’s A380 and B787 cabins, Etihad is striving to be the best airline in the world… not the biggest. This statement is made clearly by their product innovations onboard and on the ground, but also with their staff. Unlike other major Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad staff continuously strives to deliver a high level of service across their whole network.