This is the third post in an Etihad to Abu Dhabi trip report.
- Etihad To Abu Dhabi – Introduction
- Review: Etihad Business Class Lounge Heathrow T4
- Review: Etihad Business Class A380 (LHR-AUH) – Part 1
- Review: Etihad Business Class A380 (LHR-AUH) – Part 2
- Review: Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal
- Review: Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi T3
- Review: Etihad Business Class 777-300 (AUH-LHR)
While I’ve lost count of the number of Boeing 777 flights I’ve been on, the Airbus A380 is still a relatively novel aircraft to me. My most recent A380 experience was in British Airways’ Business Club World cabin flying from Los Angeles to London and, because I didn’t think very much of that experience, I was interested to see what Etihad had done with the same aircraft.
The Etihad Business Class cabin is on the top deck of the A380 and is laid out in a 1-2-1 staggered seating formation across the aircraft.
Before booking this flight I’d made sure to do my research and to try and figure out what the best seat choices were for this particular cabin on this particular aircraft. The recurring advice, for someone flying alone, was to select a window seat in an even-numbered row and, luckily, I grabbed the very last such seat – 16A
I couldn’t help but notice that, while all the seats in even rows were selected a month before departure, all the seats in odd-numbered rows were still available. The odd-numbered rows all have seats facing backwards (like on British Airways) but that couldn’t be the reason why people weren’t selecting them could it?
The reason for the unpopularity of the odd-numbered rows became apparent when I got onboard.
My seat (16A) was a window seat on the port side of the aircraft and, like all the window seats in even-numbered rows, was very private – I could see why this product is what Etihad calls their “Business Studio”.
The seat feels like it’s in a cocoon without feeling claustrophobic and you get a definite feeling of being in your own private space.
The odd-numbered window seats suffer from the same flaw as the aisle seats in British Airways Club World – they’re exposed to the aisle and aren’t nearly as private:
If you look a the seats from the aisle you can see the difference quite easily
Here’s a seat in an even-numbered row, away from the aisle, close to the window with privacy:
Here’s a seat in an odd-numbered row, on the aisle, away from the window with limited privacy:
I should say that, having sat in one for a few minutes as the cabin filled up, the Etihad aisle seats are not as bad as the British Airways Club World aisle seats but they’re a lot less desirable than the seat I was sat in.
The even-numbered rows also have better seats for people traveling as part of a couple. The two seats in the center of an even-numbered row are protected from the aisle (like the window seats in the same row) and they’re very close together:
There is a divider that can be raised between the two seats (in case you end up in one of those seats and have no idea who the person next to you is) but you can keep it down for the whole flight if you’re traveling with the person next to you.
I didn’t mange to snap a good shot of the center seats in odd-numbered rows but, if you take a look a the picture below, you should be able to see how the seats facing the camera (odd-numbered rows) are much closer to the aisle than their counterparts in the even-numbered rows.
Back to my seat in row 16….
I loved this seat. For my needs it was absolutely perfect.
There was a lot of storage around the seat with multiple “lockers” along the windows:
…and another cubby hole on the wall to the right of the seat which is where the amenity bag and headphones were stored:
If that wasn’t enough, there was a large table slightly ahead of the seat and to the right:
It’s a combination of this table and the cubby hole (above) that protects these seats from the aisle and gives them such a sense of privacy. The design of the seat works very well indeed.
This was a daytime flight so there was no real need for me to do very much with the seat but, with the controls just ahead of me and positioned in such a way that all I had to do was reach out a hand…..
….I played around with it a little:
My 6ft tall frame had plenty of room when the seat was in fully extended in bed mode and there was room to spare (it looks a lot tighter in the picture than it actually was).
The control panel next to the seat could seemingly do just about everything you could want it to do:
Control the window shades:
Control all the lights around the seat:
Control the firmness of the cushions:
And it did a whole host of other things too…..as well as being the first control panel that I’ve noticed on a plane with a “do not disturb” option…
I want one of those for my armchair at home 🙂
The last thing to point out about the seat area and the storage is the table…which slides out of the wall.
It’s a very good-sized table and, almost as importantly, is extremely sturdy…which helps when you’re constantly leaning on it while doing some work:
To give you an idea of the size of the table, that’s an 11″ MacBook Air in the picture above.
As I’ve already said, I absolutely loved this seat. I thought I loved the Business Class seat on American’s 777-300s but this was in a different league. I can’t overstate just how private it feels without making you feel like you’ve got no room to move (a feeling the window seats in BA Club World give me).
If I had one gripe (and I really had to look hard for this) it was that the storage lockers along the windows have a tendency to open when you lean on them…and it’s very easy to lean on them when you’re relaxing.
In part 2 of this review I’ll take a look a the entertainment options onboard, the connectivity, the service and, of course, the food and drinks that were offered.
Featured Image: Peter Russell via Flickr