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Saturday 15 October 2016

Five reasons to love flying Etihad business class

Etihad has been one of the greatest airline success stories of the modern era. The national carrier of the United Arab Emirates launched just 13 years ago and is now a major international force.

Based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad has built a global schedule with flights to and from Australia code-sharing with Virgin Australia – great news for Virgin Velocity frequent flyers, who earn points and status credits on Etihad flights.

From small beginnings in 2003, the airline now operates more than 1,000 flights per week to passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas, with a fleet of 128 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

The lounges

The lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Paris and Abu Dhabi are all outstanding with excellent food, solicitous staff and quiet nooks in which to relax.

Virgin Platinum flyers can use the new first class lounge and spa in Abu Dhabi and enjoy a free massage in the luxurious Six Senses Spa, time permitting.

All business class passengers can use premium lounges, which are outstanding particularly at Abu Dhabi Airport, one of the most modern in the world. Food and beverage options are copious, a hot shower a great way to break up a long trip and, for a small fee, services like a massage, manicure or hot shave are available.

There are Etihad Premium lounges at Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Frankfurt, London, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Sydney and Washington DC, where guests can choose between a la carte dining or an impressive buffet throughout the day.

The spicy lamb biryani (below) that I enjoyed in Sydney and an Arabic omelette (with peppers and sumac) for breakfast in Abu Dhabi were both excellent.

At Abu Dhabi, business passengers are also invited to use an arrivals lounge to freshen up after their flight.

The seats

Etihad guarantees roomy seats that convert to comfortable lie-flat beds on all long-haul business class flights, which included all four legs on my recent trip to Paris.

The most luxurious experience is on the Airbus A380 flights with "business studio" seats and a shared "lobby" area in which to socialise, but the A340 and 777 cabins also offer plenty of space and enough comforts to ensure a good night of sleep.

Eligible business passengers get limousine transfers to and from their airports of choice, Luxe amenity bags, complimentary bottles of water and all seats feature universal power points and USB slots for charging phones and laptops.

The service
Business passengers are all allowed two bags weighing up to 32kg each, as well as carry-on bags.

Etihad is known for its multinational, multilingual staff, and the best get to work in the business and first-class cabins. On my way back from Europe recently one cabin supervisor was from Japan, another from Tanzania. Nothing was too much trouble.

Business class guests get priority check-in and boarding and are given express path vouchers to use on arrival, by-passing sometimes long immigration and customs queues at Australian ports.

The food

Etihad's multicultural menus offer at least four main-course choices on international business class flights as part of a four-course dinner served with white linen and metal cutlery.

Think of choices like braised beef cheek with mascarpone mashed potatoes, carrots and mushroom sauce, brie and pumpkin tartlet with mache, walnuts and parmesan, or maybe perch with warm barley and pomegranate, beans and lemon butter.

Alternatively, there is the option of dining whenever you want to from an “all day” menu that features dishes like steak sandwich with Emmental cheese and red onion chutney, or a mushroom and cheese omelette with Lyonnaise potatoes.

The wine list features the likes of Duval-Leroy Champagne and a choice of three whites and three reds from producers around the globe, including Australian wineries like d'Arenberg, St Hallett and de Bortoli Yarra Valley. There is also a dessert wine and choice of top-shelf spirits.

Wine list stand-outs included Moreau et Fils 2014 Chablis and Chateau Eglise L'Armens Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2013 red blend.

The entertainment

The latest movies and TV programs are part of Etihad's E-Box service.

I particularly enjoyed the live TV channels available between Abu Dhabi and Australian ports; watching a live English Premier League match on the way out and the Ryder Cup golf on the way back, as well as news programs on BCC and CNN.

There are over 120 movies to choose from, more than 300 TV shows and some box sets for binge viewing on long-haul flights.

You can pay a token sum for on-board wi-fi, which is a real bonus for those wanting to catch up with emails or work while in the air.

For full details visit This is an edited version of a story that first appeared on, which is a source of much useful advice for travellers.

# The writer travelled on a fully paid-for business class ticket.

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