Hi Frugalistas! I’ve reviewed Etihad Airways multiple times. Sometimes it is very good, sometimes it is excellent. On my recent trip to Paris, I was fortunate to travel Etihad Airways First Class, courtesy of a free upgrade offer. So, how is Etihad travelling? Read on for my Etihad First Class review 2015 edition…..
Etihad Airways First Class on the ground
On my way to Paris I join Etihad in Bangkok, connecting my flight on Singapore Airlines A380 Business Class. Etihad uses the Thai Airways First Class Lounge in Bangkok, which is almost deserted. So much so I’m offered use of a private room, with my own TV and couch. Luxury!
I’ll be writing about the lounge in Abu Dhabi in more detail in an upcoming post. There is still no separate First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi, so First Class guests are offered a separate area of the new Business Class Lounge, which is roped off and quite private. I’m thrilled to see a new grooming salon opened, and suffice to say I do make good use of it on both the outbound and return trip.
Checking in in Paris is a breeze, and I’m offered the usual express lane pass for Immigration. The Etihad lounge in Paris is very nice. Well staffed, and consistently branded with the Abu Dhabi and Sydney lounges I’m familiar with. There are plenty of food options on offer, but after my epic Le Meurice afternoon tea, I stick to water to hydrate.
Etihad Airways First Class in flight
On all four legs of my trip I’m somewhat disappointed to be travelling in the “old” First Class, rather than the new Nicole Kidman-approved upgraded First Class apartments. The only obvious nod to the “new” First Class are new cushions and blankets.
But there some subtle changes in flight……
What I am pleased to see is the upgrading of the champagne to Bollinger Vintage (2005 to be precise). A welcome tray of hot towel, dates (a traditional Arabic welcome offering) and a letter of welcome from the Flight Services Manager is presented prior to take off.
There are new amenity kits. Same Le Labo contents, but a much better quality toilet bag that is definitely worth keeping. There are also new pyjamas. I always liked the “old” pyjamas with their satin bindings and crystal bling on the ladies’ version. The new ones are unisex, but still smart and good quality, with a more “minimalist” finish.
What hasn’t changed in Etihad First Class is the service. Unwaveringly smiling, polite and courteous, nothing is too much trouble. I had ordered some Duty Free on line prior to my flight from Paris to Abu Dhabi, but managed to over sleep (waking only half hour out of Abu Dhabi). Despite the Duty Free being closed and reconciled, the Flight Services Manager enabled me to complete my order, and then apologised for needing to do a manual credit card payment. She could have said the Duty Free was closed. But she didn’t……and I was impressed (and I ordered it on the Paris to Abu Dhabi leg just in case something went wrong with the order, so I could buy an alternate gift in Abu Dhabi).
While there is always plenty of room in the First Class Suites, I continue to think other airlines do storage better. But when it comes time to sleep, the lie flat bed, duvet and pillows are genuinely without peer. I sleep very, very well on every leg. Every time I wake, my bedding is whisked away without my asking. I feel like an honoured guest whose every need is anticipated.
Eating and drinking on Etihad Airways First Class
I always love the food and wine on Etihad. For me it sets a standard that other premium airlines (such as Emirates and Singapore) can learn from. This trip is no different. From the onboard chef to advise you on meal and drink options, or make you a little something that isn’t exactly on the menu, to the choice of meals and any time dining options, everything I try is a great success.
I see the new china (presumably another part of the “new” First Class) as another example of how and why Etihad really does lead the way in food service. Very, very smart indeed. As is the new way of setting the table. Just like in a fine dining restaurant.
Etihad First Class Review 2015 in Summary
While I was genuinely disappointed to not manage a single flight on the new Etihad First Class, I’ve seen enough of the little tweaks in the old First Class to make me think it’s going to be excellent when I do get there.
Etihad really does continue to set the pace for me when it comes to food, service and comfort – even if the storage and entertainment could do with a little improvement!
If you are interested in exploring Etihad First Class further, why not jump on the advertisement in the sidebar? If you make a booking via this link in any class, I do earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Author’s note: I paid for my own flights on this trip
Lily travella says
Wow! Talk about dream travel! Unfortunately I’ll never be a first class traveller but it looks amazing! Heard lots of good things about Etihad too.
Our friend works for Etihad, managing and preparing the menus so will be delighted to know the food is tip top. I’ve personally never flown business (or first class). But await that elusive upgrade one day….
I’ve been able to travel business class with various airlines, I have yet to try first class. Even though it was not the “new” first class, I guess the old version still does the job of travelling in style, especially with an airline like Etihad 🙂
Have been lucky enough to fly Etihad first class a number of times. The food is excellent, and I love that there is an on board chef that can make a meal to order (within reason). I wish other airlines were as good. I agree with you on the lack of storage and entertainment, it’s good, but could be better.
I’ve have never flown business or even first class either, hopefully one day. The breakfast tasting plate that Etihad gives look delicious however. I like that they reverted back to the old Arabic offering of dates!
I am not an Etihad person. By sheer accident of finding the best price on a long haul flight years ago, I became a Qatar junkie. It maybe not as fancy as Etihad in terms of first class opulence, but quite satisfying on its own terms. Thanks to your article, it was interesting to compare these two airlines. It seems that non-Nicole Kidman first class of Etihad is comparable to Qatar’s one. Curiously, Qatar also upgraded their amenity kits not long time ago. Sadly, the internet is not advanced enough yet to taste (or, at least, sniff) food. In any case, as every airline knows, changing the allegiance after accumulating a considerable amount of points/miles/benefits is too heartbreaking.
It certainly was Lily. Etihad Economy gets mixed reviews but I’ve never flown it
Etihad are reasonably generous with the upgrades if you have high tier status – do pass on my compliments to your friend!
Oh, yes, the “old” first class was fine, but because I never know when I’ll be getting the privilege of first class I definitely like to make the most of it!
Yes, it really is the food and service that sets it apart.
All the food is really lovely, particularly in first class. I like the dates – it’s a lovely touch.
Yep, I agree, once you have a lot of points or status credits changing airlines is very tough. I’ve heard good things about Qatar. They are just about to start flying into Sydney so I’m interested in giving them a try
It looks stunning! I’ve still never flown business class, let alone first class, so will cross my fingers that I get there one day.
It is stunning Shandos – keep hoarding those frequent flyer points!
This looks fab! We took Etihad economy to Oman from London – it was OK, nothing special. Well, better than any of the American airlines but about the same as BA economy. I’ve only ever flown first on American Airlines on an internal USA flight and it really was nothing special.
I can only dream to fly first class now with kids… BUT one day we will be:) hehhe
Yes, leave the kids behind – then you can really enjoy it!
Don’t even get me started on first class US airline travel, pathetic – this looks like heaven. The dining service – par excellence.
The meal service really is like a restaurant. Best I’ve every experienced – in fact I’ve eaten in far worse restaurants!
Great review, the first class product especially the service and food definitely looks like a market leader. What amazes me is their attention to detail – the table setting looks like a 5 star restaurant.
I have flown their (old) business class product a few times long-haul and was extremely impressed, comparable to many other airline’s first class products. I’m booked to fly in their new ‘business studios’ later this year so will be interesting to see the differences, no doubt a step up from an already superior product.
Looking forward to reading a review of their new first class ‘residence’! 😉
Thanks again for posting.
Thanks Adam. I’m still waiting for a chance to try the new business studios – not holding my breathe for the residence anytime soon unfortunately.