On this trip, I flew Etihad A380 business class from New York to Abu Dhabi using American AAdvantage miles. At approximately 2:00 PM, I left the Etihad Lounge JFK and made my way to gate A7 where my bird was waiting. Upon my arrival to the gate, I snapped some pictures of the massive beast and got in line to board the plane. I presented my boarding pass to the gate agent and immediately boarded the A380 through first door of the upper deck.
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Depart: 3:00 PM on Sunday (2:57 PM actual), gate A7 of Terminal 4.
Arrive: 12:05 PM + 1 day (11:25 AM actual), Terminal 3.
Duration: 12hrs 28mns
Seat: 12K Business Class, Upper Deck
Etihad A380 Business Class
As I entered the Etihad A380 business class cabin, my first impression was just how beautiful and classy the cabin was. The cabin design was simple and sophisticated. The materials used were complimentary of each other and the ambient lighting and color palette created a calming and relaxing vibe for boarding.
Etihad A380 business class cabins are configured in a 1 x 2 x 1 layout on the upper deck. These staggered forward and rear facing seats provide direct aisle access for all passengers and are my second favorite seats after a reverse herringbone configuration. With this layout, the center row of seats alternate between forward facing “love seats” (where the two seats are next to each other) and rear facing seats where the two seats are separated by the center consoles. The “love seats” are great for couples traveling together but in my opinion, are better for passengers traveling solo as there is a large divider that can be raised to completely shield you from the other person.
In terms of privacy, these seats actually provide more privacy than the rear facing, center seats with the center consoles in between the two passengers as (with the divider up), you are completely shielded from the passenger next to you and from the aisle where people are walking back and forth.
As for the window seats, the seats alternate between a forward facing, true window seat (where the seat is directly next to the window and the tray console separates the seat from the aisle) and a rear facing “aisle window” seat where the seat is next to the aisle. The true window seats offer more privacy (and better views out the window) than the “aisle window” seats. All the seats along the aisles have adjustable wall extenders to give these passengers additional privacy from their neighbors. Below is what the “aisle window” seats look like.
A feature unique to Etihad A380 business class is the social area located in between business class and the First Class Apartments called, The Lobby. It’s a circular bar area with plush leather seats where passengers can congregate and mingle with one another. I took these pictures below during boarding but during flight, there was a circular table installed in the center of the two seats.
On this trip, I was seated in seat, 12K, a true window seat on the right side of the plane. Each seat is configured with a personal, touchscreen entertainment system (with a companion, touchscreen remote), two USB ports, a poorly placed, universal electrical outlet down by your left leg, and several sources of ambient lighting for lounging, reading and dining.
And you guys know how much I love electronic window shades. They are just so cool! You can lower one shade for reduced lighting and a second one for complete darkness.
Storage wise, the overhead bins above the window seats are not very big and cannot accommodate larger roll-aboards. Larger roll-aboards need to be stored in the overhead bins above the center seats. Your backpacks, purses and other personal items can be stored in the overhead bins above, in the side bins next to the window seats or below your footrest. Smaller items such as cell phones, iPads and reading glasses can be kept nearby in the storage compartment adjacent to the seat.
Waiting at our seats were non-branded, noise-cancelling headphones, a pillow, blanket, water bottle, amenities kit and menu.
The LUXE branded amenities kits are nice but probably not something that I would re-use again. The case and contents are gender neutral but the top zip, polyester case itself is a little too bright for my taste. Inside, it’s packed with comfort items such as ear plugs, socks and an oversized sleep mask, a dental hygiene kit and facial products by Scaramouche + Fandango. The amenities kits come in different colors and each one includes a unique city guide. The red one is for Hong Kong.
As I got settled into my seat, one of the flight attendants came by to offer me a pre-departure beverage of lemonade, orange juice or champagne and other flight attendants came by with hot towels and pajamas.
After a little while, the main flight attendant working our area came by to take our meal orders. She advised we could dine on demand but asked if we wanted our meals after takeoff. I said I would and placed my order. A note about dine on demand: it was great to be able to eat what I wanted, whenever I wanted but it also led to people eating throughout the flight. Unlike traditional meal services, there was no “quiet time” after meals when people are just resting. People literally ate throughout my entire flight.
There are four lavatories for Etihad A380 business class passengers. They are standard size lavatories but just like the rest of the plane, are beautifully decorated with mosaic tiles and soft ambient lighting. They were also stocked with Scaramouche + Fandango hand and facial products during flight.
On this flight, the cabin was approximately 90% full with only a few seats unoccupied. Once all the passengers were boarded, the Captain came on the PA, advised our travel time of 11hrs and 40mns and made our way towards the runway.
Once we were airborne, the flight attendant came by with a pre-meal beverage and a ramekin of warm nuts.
After that, a starter was served with a warm bread roll. I had the caprese salad.
My appetizer dish was then taken away and my main dish, an Arabic lamb kofta, was brought out.
Followed by a berry bread pudding dessert.
If you guys can’t tell by the pictures, the food was delicious and I ate every bit of it. The meal was beautifully presented, the food was perfectly cooked and the portions were appropriately sized. The meal wasn’t as remarkable as their pre-flight dining in the Etihad Lounge JFK but was still pretty good for a business class meal.
After my meal tray was taken away, I decided to recline my seat back and get some shuteye. No turndown service was provided nor an extra pillow but the seat itself was so comfortable, I slept for a solid five hours. The cabin was kept at a perfect temperature (slightly cool) and the seat was great for sleeping.
These Etihad A380 business class seats are true lie-flat seats and when fully extended to the ottoman, offer a bed 73 inches long. I’m normally not a fan of lie-flat seat where my feet and legs go into a foot well but these cubbies are large and spacious enough to allow comfortable movement.
A word about the Etihad A380 business class seats: there are preset controls on the tray table but don’t use these. Use the seat controls on the touchscreen display in the second picture instead. That display control allows you to control everything from the individual parts of the seat and window shades to all the ambient lighting around your seat. You can even control the firmness of your seat cushion from here. It’s amazing.
About four hours prior to arrival, I got hungry and asked for more food. With dine on demand, I ordered the scrambled eggs with a side of fruit and yogurt. The scrambled eggs were served with asparagus, tomatoes and a hash brown patty. As with my main meal, this meal was delicious and perfectly cooked as well. The asparagus was firm and crisp and the cherry tomatoes (still on the vine) were plump and juicy.
After I was done, my tray was taken away and I settled in for a movie and some work. With Etihad’s E-Box entertainment system, there was a good selection of new Hollywood releases, classic movies, TV shows, digital music, games and an interactive flight map and tail camera. I tried watching The Revenant but quickly got bored so I entertained myself with the tail camera instead. Check out that sunrise.
Shortly thereafter, we touched down at a very quiet (and almost deserted) Abu Dhabi International Airport. This was my first time in Abu Dhabi and it caught me by surprise how few airlines actually fly into AUH. Despite that, AUH seems to be expanding like crazy with construction at every corner of the airport.
All business class passengers were given expedited customs and immigration passes but that proved rather pointless as there was virtually no wait for customs and immigration.
A note about Etihad’s chauffeur service: Etihad provides first and business class passengers complimentary chauffeur service to and from the airport (even on award tickets). On this flight, I arrived at New York on a connecting flight from Los Angeles so I didn’t get a car but I did receive a complimentary chauffeur to my hotel after my visit to the Etihad Arrivals Lounge. You can either schedule your chauffeur online at Etihad’s website (under My Trips) or by calling Etihad. You will need your Etihad confirmation number. If you are using American AAdvantage miles, AA can provide you with your Etihad confirmation (booking reference) number.
Etihad A380 Business Class Overall Thoughts
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my Etihad A380 business class flight. From their complimentary chauffeur service and pre-flight lounge experience to their onboard offerings, Etihad provides a business class product unmatched by any other airline. Etihad has a truly competitive (hard and soft) product and I would highly recommend it to everyone as they are now my new favorite business class experience.
Other trip reports in this series include:
- Qantas oneworld Business Class Lounge
- American Airlines A321T Business Class, Los Angeles to New York
- Etihad Lounge at New York JFK
- Etihad Business Class, New York to Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi
- Hilton Abu Dhabi
- Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
- Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
- Qantas A330 Business Class, Melbourne to Perth to Sydney
- Qantas Business Class Lounge at Perth
- Qantas First Class Lounge and Spa at Sydney
- Qantas A380 First Class, Sydney to Los Angeles