A few years ago Etihad Airways set out to streamline itself. After hitting hard times and running into fierce competition, it cut routes, cut costs, and invested in a more fuel-efficient fleet. And earlier this year Etihad announced a long-awaited return to profitability. So that part of the transformation seems to be working.
But did the passenger experience take a hit from the airline’s belt-tightening? We had a chance to find while flying business class on their 787-9 Dreamliner, a staple of their leaner long-haul fleet. Read on for plenty of photos, videos, and opinions on the experience. And at the end of the story we have some fresh news about Etihad’s onboard product.
Arriving at Dulles
Our flight was in business class from Washington D.C. to Abu Dhabi. I love planespotting at Dulles, especially from onboard those goofy “mobile lounge” buses.
Etihad’s Verified to Fly program allows you to confirm your COVID vaccine related documentation in advance, which scores you access to a separate shorter check-in line. Definitely take advantage of if you can — it can mean major time savings at the airport.
With the Dreamliner typically stuck on international duty, it’s been hard to fulfill my Dreamliner Quest. In January, on a trip to Montreal, I finally succeeded! – Photo: John Jamieson
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by commercial aircraft. When I was a kid, I tried my best to learn everything about my two favorite jets: the Fokker F28 and the Boeing 747. Supposedly, when I was in grade one, my teacher found me on Cathay Pacific’s website trying to book a flight to Hong Kong. As I remember it, I was looking up facts about the airline’s new triple-7 fleet.
When Boeing announced plans to build the 7E7, I remember receiving a newspaper clipping from my grandmother. The article, plucked from the pages of the Vancouver Sun, described the aircraft as a “Long-Haul Gamechanger.” With its largely composite design, this aircraft was reportedly going to revolutionize fuel consumption.
Despite having only flown on a few commercial aircraft (at the time), Boeing’s new jet captured my attention more than any other plane I had yet to encounter. Maybe it was the fancy name or all the marketing hype at the time… it didn’t matter! When the 787 took to the skies in 2011, I needed to fly on it. Little did I know that my Dreamliner Quest would last almost 10 years. On a recent cross-Canada trip to Montreal, I finally succeeded!
It was time to find out what I’d been missing and see if it lived up to all the hype…
Founded in 1919, KLM is actually the world’s oldest airline still flying under its original name. How do you keep an airline with that long of a history feeling fresh? New planes definitely help, and for KLM’s long-haul fleet the freshest faces are its 787 Dreamliners.
Since joining the fleet a few years ago, the 787-9 has been KLM’s pride and joy. One of my very first AirlineReporter stories was a KLM pop-up exhibit in San Francisco back in 2016. Both then and now, folks at the airline are super proud of the Dreamliner fleet and its newest-generation onboard product. A few months ago, I scored a great deal on an award ticket from San Francisco to Amsterdam and on to Rio, and I’d get to try KLM’s long-haul Dreamliner service along the way. And it ended up being one of the best international business class experiences I’ve had.
For more of the highlights — from gin-filled ceramic houses and fancy Dutch glassware, to bubbly flight attendants and incredible views of that Dreamliner wing flex — keep on reading!