Review: Etihad Business Class A380 (LHR-AUH) – Part 1

Etihad Business Class A380
Image courtesy of Peter Russell via Flickr

This is the third post in an Etihad to Abu Dhabi trip report.


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.

etihad-business-class-A380-seating-chart

The Cabin

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

etihad-a380-seat-chartEtihad Business Class A380 Upper Deck

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?

It wasn’t.

The reason for the unpopularity of the odd-numbered rows became apparent when I got onboard.

The Seats

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”.

etihad-business-class-a380 - 5Etihad Business Class A380 – Window seat, even-numbered row

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 6Etihad Business Class A380 – Window seat, odd-numbered row

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 2Etihad Business Class A380 – Window seat, even-numbered row

Here’s a seat in an odd-numbered row, on the aisle, away from the window with limited privacy:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 3Etihad Business Class A380 – Window seat, odd-numbered row

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 10Etihad Business Class A380 – Center seats, even-numbered row

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.

etihad-business-class-a380 - 1Etihad Business Class A380 – Center seats, even-numbered row

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.

etihad-business-class-a380 - 4Etihad Business Class A380 – Center seats

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 016Etihad Business Class A380 – storage by windows

…and another cubby hole on the wall to the right of the seat which is where the amenity bag and headphones were stored:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 11Etihad Business Class A380 – storage by aisle

If that wasn’t enough, there was a large table slightly ahead of the seat and to the right:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 31Etihad Business Class A380 – table by aisle

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…..

etihad-business-class-a380 - 12Etihad Business Class A380 – Control panel

….I played around with it a little:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 7Etihad Business Class A380 – Seat reclined

etihad-business-class-a380 - 8Etihad Business Class A380 – Seat in bed mode

etihad-business-class-a380 - 9Etihad Business Class A380 – Seat in bed mode

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 13Etihad Business Class A380 – Control panel

Control all the lights around the seat:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 14Etihad Business Class A380 – Control panel

Control the firmness of the cushions:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 15Etihad Business Class A380 – Control panel

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…

etihad-business-class-a380 - 16Etihad Business Class A380 – Control panel

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:

etihad-business-class-a380 - 11.1Etihad Business Class A380 – table

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

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