A very solid business class product, with a great fully enclosed suite, good food and beverages, and good WiFi
In July 2023 I had the chance to fly Etihad’s new A350 business class from Abu Dhabi to London. Etihad introduced their A350s in 2019, of which came alongside a new business class seat with a sliding door. Etihad’s A350 seats are unique from those featured on their other newer aircraft (their 787s and A380s feature the same seat), though some of the airline’s 787s will be retrofitted with a similar seat in the future.
This was part of an itinerary that also involved another segment on Etihad’s 787 from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi, which was an experience I really enjoyed. I was curious to compare this seat against that of Etihad’s 787, because I thought that their 787 seat was also really good.
Booking Etihad’s A350 Business Class
I used 75,000 AAdvantage miles + £26.90 (HK$269/US$34.3) in taxes to redeem a one-way business class ticket from Bangkok to London Heathrow. The itinerary was as follows:
12/07 EY409 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi – Abu Dhabi dep. 20:25 arr. 23:40
13/07 EY11 Abu Dhabi – London Heathrow dep. 02:20 arr. 06:45
My Experience Flying Etihad’s A350 Business Class
After connecting from my Etihad flight from Bangkok, I made it to their flagship lounge in Terminal 3, which I’ve reviewed here. After the lounge filled up beyond capacity, I decided I might as well just make it to gate 33, which was a short walk from the lounge, and also where the plane flying us to London was located.
I erroneously expected that an additional security check would be required at the gate, though thankfully this wasn’t the case. Instead I just waited in a very packed gate area – there certainly seemed to be an A350’s worth of people even 45 minutes to an hour before boarding started.
Etihad A350 at Abu Dhabi Airport
Boarding started at 1:30 AM, 50 minutes before our scheduled departure (and 5 minutes after our scheduled boarding time – Etihad boards their flights early!). This began with passengers requiring assistance (such as young families), followed by business class passengers.
Etihad Flight EY11
Thursday, July 13th, 2023
Origin: Abu Dhabi (AUH) Gate: 33 Dep: 02:20 (02:15)
Destination: London (LHR) T: 4 Gate: 10 Arr: 06:45 (06:30)
Duration: 7 h 25 min (7 h 15 m)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: A6-XWC
Seat: 15K (Business Class)
I was greeted by the cabin crew at the first set of doors, and pointed to my seat, 15K.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Cabin and Seat
Etihad’s A350 business class features a unique configuration for the airline, with 44 business class enclosed suites laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. These were all reverse herringbone seats, though they featured sliding doors, very similarly to what you’d find on British Airways (in fact, they have the same manufacturer).
Etihad A350 Business Class Cabin
The cabin felt quite large, though I thought the finishes were stunning, from the grey-beige colour tones to the intricate light fixtures.
Etihad A350 Business Class Window Seats
I’d assigned myself seat 15K, a window seat located in the last row of the cabin on the right side. I had no qualms with this seat – there weren’t any lavatories behind, so there wasn’t much foot traffic unless crewmembers had to access the galley.
Etihad A350 Business Class Seat 15K (and yours truly)
If you’d like to chat during the flight, the centre seats do feature a retractable partition so you can see your seatmate, though I’d personally just prefer selecting two windows and catching up after the flight.
Etihad A350 Business Class Center Seats
I sat down in my beautiful seat, and explored the features. To my right was a large geometric light fixture – these really do add some pizzazz to Etihad’s cabins.
Etihad A350 Business Class Light Fixture
There were two large storage bins, similar to other Collins Super Diamond business class seats (and very similar to British Airways’ Club Suite, given that both seats have the same manufacturer). This also meant that there was a lot of countertop space to place a laptop or phone when the storage bins were closed. The storage bins themselves weren’t large enough for a laptop, though I could place my laptop in the literature pocket by my legs.
Etihad A350 Business Class Storage Compartments
The larger storage compartment housed both the IFE remote and a selection of power ports, including USB charging and a 110V power port.
Etihad A350 Business Class Power Ports
There was also a wireless charging pad, though unfortunately this ended up charging quite slowly (and it was super hard to align my phone on it, despite having a MagSafe case). I just resorted to charging via the power port throughout the flight.
Etihad A350 Business Class Wireless Charging
Also to my right were some intuitive seat controls. These weren’t as extensive as the seat controls offered on the airline’s 787, though were perfectly functional and responsive (and still touchscreen).
Etihad A350 Business Class Seat Controls
The footwell was beneath the seat. I didn’t find it to be restrictive by any means, though you can’t make snow angels here.
Etihad A350 Business Class Footwell
The tray table pulled out of the seat in front, and was large. It was bi-fold and perfectly sturdy (if not as thick and rock-solid as that offered by the Etihad 787).
Etihad A350 Business Class Table
To my left under the armrest was a much smaller compartment for a water bottle or headphones.
Etihad A350 Business Class Small Storage Compartment
The seat also featured a door, which was “locked” in the open position for takeoff and landing. I’ll cover its capabilities later on in the post.
This is a great and well-appointed business class seat. Granted, Etihad’s 787 business class seat was very impressive, and I have questions in my head as to whether this seat felt like much more of an upgrade, despite being fully enclosed. I don’t think I would go out of my way to fly the A350, though I am a sucker for fully enclosed business class seats, so I do slightly prefer this one over the 787. Also, all seats are more or less equally private in this configuration, whereas some seats are more private than others on the 787.
I also felt like the seat was stunning – despite being pretty much identical in design to the British Airways Club Suite, this seat felt more elegant to me.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Amenities
Waiting at my seat were a pillow and mattress pad (and a duvet, which you’ll see in the photo of the footwell above). Etihad partners with Casa Armani for their bedding, and it is great – the mattress pad doesn’t slip away from the seat (and despite not adding far too much in way of actual padding, does change the texture of the seat to feel more bed-like), the pillow is plush, and the duvet is soft and comfortable.
Etihad A350 Business Class Pillow and Mattress Pad
Also waiting at my seat was a nice leather amenity kit from Acqua di Parma, which was stocked with a dental kit, hand sanitiser and wipes, socks, hand cream, and a facial mist.
Etihad A350 Business Class Amenity Kit
I forgot to take a picture of the (perfectly nice, but not awesome) headphones also located at my seat, so here’s a picture of the headphones featured on my flight prior.
Etihad A350 Business Class Headphones
The bedding is great and the amenity kit is nice as well, so I really have no complaints (apart from perhaps slippers, and slightly better headphones). This isn’t as over-the-top as Etihad would have it a few years ago – there are no pajamas or the like – though all the basics are covered, and pretty good-quality too.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
About 15 minutes after departure I was offered a pre-departure beverage. I asked for a cheeky champagne, stating “I know it’s 2 AM in the morning, but I can’t resist”, and the friendly flight attendant stated that some passengers on this route regularly ask for mimosas with breakfast. The champagne was a nice Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve.
Etihad A350 Business Class Champagne
I was also handed a hot towel.
Etihad A350 Business Class Hot Towel
Taking Off from Abu Dhabi Airport
Boarding was complete at about 2:10 AM, 10 minutes before our scheduled departure. At this time the business class cabin was completely full.
View at Abu Dhabi Airport
The Etihad safety video was screened shortly after, followed by a “We’ve Still Got More TO Do” promotional video of Abu Dhabi.
Etihad A350 Business Class Safety Video and “More To Do” Video
The captain then came onto the PA, announcing our flight time of 6h 45m and our cruising altitude of 40,000 feet.
Pushback happened just about on time at 2:20 AM, where we had a long taxi to runway 31, past quite a few Etihad aircraft. At this point the lights were dimmed around the cabin.
Traffic at Abu Dhabi Airport
While views were fairly limited upon takeoff as it was dark outside, we did get a view of Abu Dhabi’s stunning new Terminal A, which should be opening about this time next month.
Takeoff from Abu Dhabi Airport
After we reached cruising altitude, the cabin crew put on pretty mood lighting in the cabin.
Etihad A350 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Door and Bed
Shortly after takeoff the doors were “unlocked” from their position, so that we could close them if we wanted. The door turns the seat into a fully enclosed suite (as far as the periphery is concerned – you can definitely look into the suite from above), and I did find that it made a difference, particularly with being “cocooned” in bed mode.
Etihad A350 Business Class Door
I also took the opportunity to recline the seat into a bed. The seat definitely feels nice and spacious – perhaps not as much so as their 787 business class, though with more privacy. The Casa de Armani bedding was great as well, and made for a very nice sleeping surface.
Etihad A350 Business Class Bed
Whether you’re flying Etihad’s 787 or A350 business class (or the A380, which features the same seat as the 787), you’re in for a treat. This is a very nice seat to work or catch a nap in – it really does feel both spacious and private. I don’t think the seat affords quite as much space as Qatar Airways’ QSuite, and probably only have a slightly preference for the A350 over the 787. However, it’d be a treat to fly this seat, even on a longer flight.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Lavatory
Before the meal service kicked off I decided to visit the lavatory. It was nicely appointed, though the most remarkable feature definitely was the automatically closing toilet lid after you flushed it.
Etihad A350 Business Class Lavatory
I would complain that two bathrooms are too few for 44 passengers. Crewmembers would come in to fold the toilet paper tips, though the floor did end up being a little sticky by the end of the flight.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Meal Service
Etihad’s business class features a dine-on-demand menu, though many chose to eat straight after takeoff. The menu read as follows:
Etihad A350 Business Class Meal Service
As you can see, the menu featured mainly late night snacks and breakfast. That’s apt for a flight leaving at 2:20 AM and leaving at 6:45 AM, though you might be left disappointed if you’re hoping for one of the airline’s more elaborate dinner dishes.
The drinks menu read as follows:
Etihad A350 Business Class Drinks List
In addition, on this flight I was also handed a breakfast card, where I could choose my breakfast in advance, as well as when to be woken up for it.
Etihad A350 Business Class Breakfast Card
Not long after takeoff my drink and meal order were taken – I believe the process began on the ground, with a pause during takeoff, and my order was taken last (since I was seated in the last row). I asked for a Thyme’s Up mocktail from the “Mission Impossible” menu, which was served with some hot nuts. The drink was served without the rosemary sprig, and the crewmember serving me swiftly came back within a few seconds, adding the rosemary sprig with a “sorry I forgot”).
Etihad A350 Business Class Drink – Thyme’s Up
The “Thyme’s Up” was a ginger lemon soda infused with thyme, and was quite refreshing and not too sweet, though didn’t otherwise pack a punch in flavour.
I was honestly stuffed from a day of good food, though wanted to sample something from the menu. Out of a series of “movie snacks”, I chose a seafood quesadilla.
The quesadilla arrived 30 minutes after my starter, with apologies for the delay due to the bumpy journey. It was fine – the filling was far too overpowered with tomato for me to taste any seafood, and I was too stuffed to have too much of the tortilla, though it didn’t taste bad.
Etihad A350 Business Class Midnight Snack – Seafood Quesadilla
I was feeling very stuffed after, so decided to ask for a peppermint tea before heading to bed. It was delivered with a madeleine.
Etihad A350 Business Class Mint Tea
No redeye flight is much of an opportunity to showcase an airline’s food offering, which might be a consideration if you’re trying to choose between one of Etihad’s multiple flight times on an Abu Dhabi-Europe flight.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class WiFi
Shortly after takeoff I decided to connect to the WiFi. Etihad updated their WiFi pricing earlier in 2023, and now charges by time instead of by data usage, which is great. WiFi was priced on this flight as follows:
- US$2.99 (HK$23.45/£2.35) for complimentary messaging
- US$9.99 (HK$78.34/£7.83) for browsing
These are great rates for WiFi, and I was very happy with the speeds for a majority of the flight, with only a few patches in the former half as we flew over Iraq and Syria.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Entertainment System
I didn’t indulge myself in Etihad’s entertainment system on this flight. It’s good, intuitive, and there’s a variety of movies and TV shows – however, don’t expect full seasons of TV shows. This is a fairly good selection, though not industry leading.
Etihad A350 Business Class Entertainment System
I did really like the airshow, which would periodically say where we were flying over. I found that pretty cool.
Etihad A350 Business Class Airshow
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Service
Crewmembers on this flight were eager to please. On this flight I slept quite a fair bit and didn’t have a multi-course meal service, and only around half the cabin was eating. I found the place relaxed, perhaps a bit too much so for a flight of this length at this time of day, though nothing to complain about.
Etihad’s A350 Business Class Pre-Landing Meal Service
I slept well for 4-5 hours on this flight, before waking up to some pretty sunrise mood lighting around two hours before arrival.
Etihad A350 Business Class Pretty Mood Lighting
I will say that I found the cabin lights to be turned on a tad too early – 90 minutes would’ve been my personal preference, though I get that different airlines serve cabins at a different pace.
Since I was awake, I spotted a crewmember and asked if I could have some breakfast. I ordered a shakshuka and an iced americano. The shakshuka was served with a spiced croissant and poppyseed bread roll, as well as some fruit and jam.
The shakshuka itself featured scrambled eggs (as opposed to poached). The dish felt a little dry for my liking, especially the tomato sauce, though still tasted good. It’s also super cool that Etihad offers iced espresso-based beverages in business class, as that’s quite rare.
Etihad A350 Business Class Breakfast – Shakshuka
Breakfast is super hard to do well on a plane, so I was pretty happy with what I was offered.
A Breathtaking Landing into Heathrow Airport
Around 30 minutes before landing, the captain came onto the PA to announce our imminent landing into Heathrow Airport. He explained a southwesterly windspeed of 6 knots, a local temperature of 14°C, and scattered clouds.
Shortly after we were distributed fast track cards. I don’t know why we were – Heathrow Airport’s arrivals hall annoyingly isn’t allowing fast track access at the moment, so these were completely redundant.
Etihad A350 Business Class Landing Cards
While the seatbelt sign wasn’t put on until about 10 minutes before landing, cabin crew came around to do checks around 15 minutes before landing, which is when my suite door was locked in the “open” position and I was asked to adjust my seat to its upright position.
It was such a beautiful morning arriving into London, and we had some really great views upon approach.
Views upon Landing into Heathrow Airport
These views only got better as we flew over on final approach into Heathrow Airport, as we flew right over Central London west into Heathrow Airport.
Stunning Morning Landing into Heathrow Airport
We landed into Heathrow Airport at around 6:15 AM, where we had a short taxi to our gate at Terminal 4. We passed a beautiful Qantas A380 on the way, having just arrived from Singapore.
Traffic at Heathrow Airport
I was quite surprised to see a Qatar Airways A340 at Heathrow Airport. I learned soon after that this was a Qatar Amiri A340, used to fly Qatari government officials in and out of Doha. Cool!
Qatar Airways A340 at Heathrow Airport
As we approached Heathrow’s Terminal 4, we saw a Qatar Airways A350, Air Mauritius A330neo, as well as a Malaysia Airlines A350, before eventually pulling into gate 10 next to a Saudia 777.
Terminal 4 Traffic at Heathrow Airport
I bid farewell to the crew, and was sure to grab a glimpse of the beautiful Etihad A350 in broad daylight, given how hard it was to get a good look in the dark at Abu Dhabi!
Etihad A350 at Heathrow Airport
Immigration was shockingly quick this time, and before I knew it I was on the Piccadilly line home.
Conclusion: Etihad’s A350 Business Class
Etihad’s A350 business class is a treat – you get a business class suite with a door (and stunning cabin finishes), good WiFi, and really creative beverages, especially non-alcoholic beverages. It’s probably not the fairest to judge Etihad’s food and beverage offering based on what I experienced on this short redeye flight, though do take note that short redeye flights don’t usually have the most creative food offerings.
I don’t have a strong preference of this seat over that of which I experienced on the Etihad 787 – I probably just prefer it marginally, as the extra privacy comes at the cost of a little bit of bed space. However, this configuration has going for it that all seats are equal, whereas some seats on the Etihad 787 are more private than others.
It’s time for a comparison post between Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad, and Turkish Airlines’ business class products. I’ll think more then about how Etihad compares to the competition then. However, for now, on first impression, they have a super strong business class product.
Have you flown Etihad’s A350 business class before? How was your experience?