Etihad, one of the UAE’s two flagship airlines, prides itself on being one of the highest-end airlines in the world, with an exceptional business class offering. The airline recently launched a new A350 route between Abu Dhabi and New York City and Chicago that offers brand new business class cabins. It also flies a 787 Dreamliner service between D.C. and New York. Etihad is a certified four-star airline by Skytrax, a testament to the quality of its offerings, including first class.
What to know about Etihad Airways business class
Etihad Airways’ business class offering is one of the best in the skies. You’ll have exclusive lounge access, a fully-flat bed, luxury amenities, personalized dining experience, and more. The airline recently launched its A350 business class offering, meaning seats on certain flights between Abu Dhabi and the U.S. are less than a year old and feel more modern than some other airlines’ business class cabins.
Etihad flies business class routes between Abu Dhabi and Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. in the United States.
Best routes for Etihad Airways business class
The A350 offers a slightly more luxurious business class experience. That route flies between Abu Dhabi and New York and Chicago.
Examples of deals we’ve found on Etihad from across the US:
- Maldives for $712 roundtrip in economy
- Oman for $2,843 roundtrip in business class
- Abu Dhabi for $2,957 in business class
- Muscat for $2,500 in business class
The Etihad Airways business class experience at the airport
Etihad Airways business class lounge
All business class tickets come with chauffeur service from your home or hotel to or from the airport in Abu Dhabi (this service is not available in other cities). Once at the airport, you can visit the Etihad Business Class lounge, where you’ll be greeted by a table of Arabic coffee and dates. The lounge has a dining area and a buffet with hot and cold options; a full bar that looks like a swanky hotel bar; premium cigars for sale; a business center; two lounging areas; a fitness center; a relaxation zone with recliners; nine shower rooms; and WiFi.
It does not have a dedicated, completely dark nap room like some other business class lounges. However, there is a Six Senses Spa, where you can choose from a range of 15-minute treatments including a facial renewal, foot detox, scalp massage, neck massage, and more.
In the U.S., Etihad offers entry into partner lounges. At Chicago O’Hare, business class passengers have access to the Swissport lounge, while at Dulles International Airport and JFK International Airport they have access to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.
Business class customers receive priority check-in at airports outside of the UAE. In Abu Dhabi, there is a dedicated check-in counter.
Business class customers can check two bags up to 32kg/70lbs each. A cabin bag of 12kg/26lb and a personal item bag are also allowed on board.
The Etihad Airways business class experience in the air
Etihad Airways business class seats
Etihad’s 44 business class seats on the A350 are designed to be elegant and evoke the desert. Think lots of cream, sand, and gold hues, as well as faux marble finishes and wood-grain tables and accents. The seats are all forward facing, in a 1-2-1 configuration, giving everyone direct aisle access, yet they also have tall sliding doors to create a pod and provide privacy. Each window seat has a full view, no wings or other obstructions in sight. The plush leather seats are 20-inches wide and recline to a fully-flat bed. Each seat has three storage areas––above the seat, under the side table, and under the arm rest. There is a full outlet accommodating EU, UK, and US devices, as well as a USB-C port. You can connect to the 18.5-inch entertainment screen with your own or the provided noise-canceling headphones. Bluetooth is available. Other details include a signature lamp, an 18-inch tray table, stylish tile-patterned pillows, a wireless charging pad, 100+ of entertainment options, and 350MB of complimentary WiFi.
The airline’s 787 flights offer 28 business class seats featuring a privacy shell, conversion into a fully-flat bed, and 15-inch screens. They have a similar neutral-tone color scheme, but without the faux marble accents. They are also laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access, though some seats face backwards unlike in the A350. The 787s offer a 110v universal outlet and a USB port, and one large storage compartment next to the seat (as well as overhead storage).
Aside from a full-size pillow, blanket, duvet and noise canceling headphones, business class passengers on both aircraft receive luxury amenity kits with an eye mask, socks, ear plugs, and Acqua di Parma lotion and fragrance. The kit itself is in a leather Acqua di Parma bag. Etihad does not give out pajamas or slippers, like some other airlines do in business class.
Etihad business class offers a high-end experience from check-in to landing. Seats are private feeling, spacious and comfortable, and come with high-end amenities like Acqua di Parma products, noise canceling headphones, a huge entertainment selection and more.
Meals are served on real dishes and are more customizable than in economy class, and also freshly made rather than pre-prepared. You can dine when you wish, order snacks and beverages when you wish, and most importantly feel like you’re sleeping in a real bed. The baggage allowance is much larger than in economy.
Customers are greeted with a welcome drink, Arabic coffee, dates and a warm towel. Long-haul flights include two three-course meals––often featuring an Arabic mezze, salad, choice of main dish and dessert––as well as snacks and drinks available throughout the flight. All meals are served on porcelain dishware with real glassware and cutlery.
Champagne (including refills) is served upon boarding, unless guests would prefer a different welcome drink. Etihad has a great wine list for an airline, serving about three white wines and three red options, as well as a rose, champagne and dessert wine. Most are from France and Italy. Aperitifs including Martini Bianco and Campari are available, as well as a short cocktail list, a mocktail list, several beers, port, cognac, Grand Marnier and Amarula Cream, and a selection of spirits including Hendricks Gin, Bacardi Rum, Jack Daniel’s, Glenlivet Master Distillers Reserve Single Malt and more.
Etihad Airways business class vs first class
Privacy and space are the main differences between business and first class on Etihad. Seats lie flat in both cabins, but first class seats also have an ottoman, more storage, and privacy walls that turn them into a suite. The meal and alcohol options are the same quality, though the menu is more customizable in first class, service is more attentive, and you’ll get more small treats throughout. First class has access to the first class lounge and priority check-in.
All that privacy doesn’t come cheap though, with first class tickets running around $8000 roundtrip, while typical business class fares are more like $5,000 (and Going often finds cheap flights under $2,500) .
How to book Etihad Airways business class
How much does it cost for a business class ticket on Etihad Airways?
Flights typically cost about $5,000. Going has found many deals in business class under $2,500.
How to upgrade to business class of Etihad Airways for free
Customers can bid for upgrades with miles or dollars up to 48 hours before their flight. You can also upgrade at the gate, though you could face more restrictions based on your original flight fare. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to upgrade to business class for free. In very rare cases if your flight is delayed or you have experienced other issues, or if a gate agent is feeling especially nice, or if you are a very loyal customer, it can happen, but it is not common.
How much does it cost to upgrade to business class on Etihad Airways?
Customers can bid for upgrades online 48 hours before their flight. The price varies depending on the flight. Once your bid is accepted you will receive an email that your flight is in “Live Auction” mode. You can track if you’ve been outbid, and update your bid if you wish. If your bid is successful, the airline will charge your credit card on file. If you miss the auction window, you can try to upgrade at the gate if seats are available. You can also call rather than bidding online.
How many miles to upgrade to Etihad Airways business class?
Customers can bid for upgrades online 24 hours before their flight. The number of miles needed to upgrade varies by flight. Once your bid is accepted you will receive an email that your flight is in “Live Auction” mode. You can track if you’ve been outbid, and update your bid if you wish. If you miss the auction window, you can try to upgrade at the gate if seats are available.
More business class and Etihad resources
- Lufthansa business class
- Delta One
- Air France business class
- Polaris business class
- Etihad airlines guide
Etihad business class seats are very comfortable, as private as most other business class offerings, and have great food and entertainment options. This is definitely a luxury airline experience.