Emirates First and Etihad First Class are two of the most sought-after first class products in the air. These two premier airlines deliver when it comes to amazing seats, great food, and excellent service while in the air. However, there is one that comes out slightly better.
If you’re curious which one is right for you, check out this Emirates First Class vs Etihad First Class comparison.
- Quick Glance: Emirates First Class vs Etihad Airways First Class
- The Details: Emirates First Class vs Etihad Airways First Class
- Emirates First Class
- Etihad Airways First Class
- Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
- Wrapping Up
Quick Glance: Emirates First Class vs Etihad Airways First Class
|Emirates First Class||Etihad Airways First Class|
|Ground Experience||Ground experience is amazing when flying out of the Emirates hub in Dubai since you can access the Emirates First Class Lounge in DXB (Dubai International), one of the best airport lounges in the world!||Like Emirates, flying on Etihad first class is more special when flying out of their hub in Abu Dhabi. They have priority check-in for First Class and Business Class guests and access to their Etihad Airways First Class Lounge.|
|Seat||Seats vary depending on the aircraft. The A380 has 14 first class seats arranged in a 1-2-1 layout on the upper deck. These are 23-inches wide with a seat pitch of 86-inches. Meanwhile, the 777 has 8 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.||Seats in Etihad first class on a Boeing 787-9 is 26 inches wide with a seat pitch of 80 inches. There are 8 seats arranged in a 1-2-1 cabin. Seats alternate between forward-facing and rear-facing.|
|Amenities||Exquisite amenity kit with Bvlgari products, pajamas, minibar, headphones, in-flight monitor, snack basket, leather notebook, multiple power outlets, shower suite, and more.||An overflowing array of first class amenity kits are provided for guests, starting with a black leather pouch filled with Acqua Di Parma products, a pajama and slipper set, and a hygiene kit.|
|Food and Beverage||Emirates First offers dine-on-demand so you can eat anything, anytime you want!||Fantastic! You are served a 3-course meal with a great selection of drinks and wines.|
|Entertainment||Aboard the A380, there’s a 27-inch IFE while on the 777, the IFE is 24-inches on the older planes and 32-inches on the newer Boeings. Both are preloaded with over 600+ movies and 200+ shows and series.||The Etihad in-flight entertainment system s provided by E-Box and consists of hundreds of movies and shows, even a few live channels.|
|Lavatories||First class suites on the A380 have access to two lavatories with shower spas while on the 777, there are two lavatories without showers.||Two lavatories are provided on the first class cabin.|
|Bed||Both seats lie flat, the 777 bed is 27-inches in width and up to 76-inches in length. Meanwhile, the A380 bed is 28-inches in width and 78-inches in length.||The bed lies flat on the 787. It’s padded with a thick mattress, thick blanket, and extra pillows for comfort.|
|Service||Fantastic! You get personalized service when flying Emirates First.||Great service. It’s personalized without impinging on the guest’s privacy.|
|Wi-Fi||Free Wi-Fi is available for Emirates First guests.||Complimentary 90 MB Wi-Fi for first class guests.|
The Details: Emirates First Class vs Etihad Airways First Class
Emirates First Class
Emirates First is the symbol of luxury in the air. Those who have flown in this class, rave about how it’s a premium first class experience from beginning to end. Let’s check out what Emirates has to offer.
An experience with Emirates First is more special if you happen to be flying out of their hub in Dubai. The reason? You receive privileged access to one of the best airport lounges in the world, the Emirates First Class Lounge.
The lounge is one of the most lavish and among the biggest worldwide. It’s so big, it has direct boarding gates to your flight inside the lounge, so you don’t have to step out to the main terminal at all. Make sure to dedicate at least an hour or two to explore the lounge before flying out.
However, if you’re flying out from another country, Emirates also offers first class guests access to partner airline lounges.
First class seats are known for offering more room and comfort compared to other classes. With Emirates, the experience is slightly different depending on which aircraft and quite a departure from their Emirates business class cabins.
A ride at the bigger Airbus A380 means you’ll head to the upper deck to experience the first class suite. This aircraft has 14 first suites with a 1-2-1 configuration. The honeymoon suites in the middle row are ideal for couples traveling together or if you’re traveling with a child. There’s a middle partition that can be raised in case you need privacy too.
Seats in first class are 23 inches wide with an 86-inch seat pitch. Fully flat, the bed is 78-inches long. There’s also a motorized door for transforming the seats into a quiet cocoon. This is perfect if you want to sleep or need to work without distraction.
On the other hand, if you happen to be taking the Boeing 777, there are 8 first class suites located at the front of the plane. Each seat is 20.5 inches wide with a 65-inch seat pitch. When transformed into a bed, guests can enjoy up to 76-inches of space. Like in the A380, these have motorized doors too. One advantage that the 777 has over the A380 suites though is that the doors are higher. This offers better privacy when sleeping.
You can read more about the experience flying on Emirates first class on the 777 by checking our comprehensive review.
Both versions of the seats feature seat controls to help recline or make the bed fully flat within reach. On the outside, the suite has a beautiful plaque indicating the seat number and a “Do Not Disturb” sign, the latter even lights up to indicate you don’t want to be bothered by staff.
Within the seat there’s an IFE, providing hundreds of movies and shows, a personalized air nozzle, a tablet controller for the monitor, a hidden pop-up vanity, a tray table, and a drawer. There’s even a minibar as well as a welcome snack basket. Various power outlets and USB sockets are within reach, together with various controls for the lights and seats.
One of the perks about flying in Emirates First aside from the amazing service is the brilliant amenities you get.
The actual amenity kit is composed of several premium products from luxury brands Bvlgari, Lynx, and Gentleman’s Tonic. It contains a deodorant, aftershave, lip balm, perfume, dental kit, lotion, and more. The contents are slightly different for female and male guests.
In addition to the main kit, guests are also handed a travel hygiene kit with face masks, gloves, wipes, and sanitizer inside. A separate pouch containing a sleek, comfy pajama made with Hydra Active material is offered. These are some of the most comfortable pajamas you’ll get and are worth keeping. Eye masks and matching slippers are offered too and these are equally comfortable to use.
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Food and Beverage
Experience gourmet dining in first class. While it stops short of having a private chef for you onboard, Emirates provides dine on demand for its premium guests. This means you can eat anything you want, anytime you want. Want to drink coffee at 2 a.m.? You can!
The food service starts the moment you board the plane. After settling in, staff will come out with the customary Arabian coffee, served in a decadent gold-tone pot called a dallah. It’s poured into a white ceramic handle-less glass which is also a traditional touch. Coffee is paired with sweet dates, another staple in the Middle East.
Menus are also handed out soon after so you have the chance to look through everything. One menu is dedicated to food and regular drinks while another menu is solely for wines.
About an hour after takeoff, the first meal service starts. By this time, you can indulge in champagne or any drink of your choice. If you do go for the bubbly, Emirates only serves top-notch, Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, or Veuve Clicquot in flight, depending on the route. Their wine selection is fantastic, consisting of vintages as well as limited editions. Let’s just say if you love your wines and spirits, you’ll be happy onboard Emirates.
The food is equally excellent and won’t leave you disappointed. Don’t forget to partake of the caviar service up in the air too. These are often paired with lightly toasted blinis and are perfect as an appetizer. There’s also a delicious heaping of desserts and a basket of bread to enjoy.
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Emirates has always offered a solid mix of choices with its ICE system. They’ve even partnered with HBO Max to provide guests with the latest shows and movies. Both the in-flight systems in the A380 and the 777 come pre-loaded with more than 600 movies and over 200 shows so you always have something to watch.
The only real difference is that the A380 has a 27-inch touchscreen monitor with matching tablet controls and an even smaller remote controller. It also has an airshow available where you can watch the plane take off or land thanks to built-in cameras in the nose and the rear of the plane.
On the other hand, the 777 comes fitted with a 32-inch monitor on the newer planes but the older planes still have the 24-inch monitor. They also have matching tablets for easy control.
For audio, Bowers & Wilkins headphones, one of the best noise-canceling headphones in the air, is provided for each guest as well.
Flying First means you don’t have to worry about paying for Wi-Fi as it comes complimentary with the ticket price. Emirates uses OnAir-Wifi for their planes, and while it’s not the fastest, it will help you get connected for emails, leisure surfing, or light work.
One major difference with the first class experience in Emirates is the lavatories, particularly if you’re on board the A380. It’s the only plane fitted with an extensive shower suite. Yes, you can shower while the plane cruises 40,000 feet in the air.
These two lavatories are spacious and come with a toilet, a small seating area, a large vanity mirror, a shower stall, and an assortment of toiletries from Byredo, Bvlgari, and Voya so you’ll never want for anything.
If you opt to take a shower, each guest can use it for 5-minutes to conserve the water. You can start and stop the shower timer anytime, thus saving your shower time. Meanwhile, the 777 lavatories are also great. They just don’t have a shower suite onboard.
The bed lays fully flat on both the A380 and the 777 seats. And true to Emirates service, these seats transform into comfortable beds when it’s time to sleep. Because the doors to the suites close, you can easily feel as if you’re back at home in your bed. Even better, Emirates also has a starry night effect inside the cabin.
Each bed is made up when you’re ready to tuck in. It’s prepped with a thick mattress pad, a comfortable full-sized pillow, and a duvet. Personal air nozzles can be pointed at you in case you want to sleep a little cooler at night.
Staff and Guest Services
Emirates attendants are known for their professional and world-class service, especially in first class cabins. Because there’s often a limited number of guests, the staff can create personalized service ensuring the guests are comfortable and happy during their flight.
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Who Is It For?
Anybody wanting to experience true luxury in the skies will love flying on Emirates First. The service is fantastic and the attention to detail is impeccable. If you want to be pampered up in the air, then a first class flight with Emirates could be just what you’re looking for.
Emirates First Class Gallery
Etihad Airways First Class
The Etihad Airways first class often gets mentioned in the same breath as that of Emirates First and Qatar Airways first class. If you’re curious about what they offer and how it fares against Emirates, here’s a rundown of what you can expect.
The Etihad Airways First Class Lounge is considered one of the best airport lounges in the Middle East so if you’re flying Etihad first class from their hub in Abu Dhabi, you receive complimentary access to this lounge. Premium passengers also have a private check-in so you don’t have to wait in long lines.
Etihad offers 8 first class cabin suites inside their 787 aircraft. The first thing you’ll notice when you walk through the cabin and approach the seats is the impeccable design and attention to detail. Each suite includes a black and bronze color palette with a striking diamond cutout detail.
The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout with the middle row being a great choice for partners traveling together. One unique detail is that because of the narrow body of the craft, Etihad made a unique design decision by placing backward-facing and forward-facing seats.
Forward-facing seats are 2A, 1G, 1D, and 2K. It’s also color-coded, the seats with the light brown upholstery are forward-facing while those with dark brown leather are backward-facing. All of the seats are upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather – the same one used by Ferrari.
A colorful throw pillow decorates the seat and on the opposite is a large ottoman. The ottoman can be used as another seat when you’re dining with a guest since it has a seatbelt.
The main cabin seat is 26-inches in width and has a seat pitch of 80-inches. On the side, is a minibar with cans of soda and bottled water. You’ll also find a seat remote for the in-flight monitor. There’s also another touchscreen control for the seats, allowing you to recline, manage the lights, or cushioning.
A large lamp lights up the suite and right near it is a personal air nozzle. It’s perfect for keeping you cool at night. For dining, there’s a hidden tray table and sliding doors to give you plenty of privacy in the cabin.
Each guest is provided with several amenity kits on board. The first is an Acqua Di Parma Italian black leather pouch. It contains a dental kit, a 40 ML Acqua Di Parma Colonia body lotion, and a lip balm. Eye masks and socks are also provided.
Another kit containing a beautiful and comfortable pajama set by the local brand, A Friend From Dubai is given to each guest along with matching slippers. A thick and plush blanket will be waiting for you on the ottoman as well.
Phitek noise-canceling headphones are used together with the in-flight monitor. They also provide a convenient hygiene kit containing a sanitizer and a face mask.
Food and Beverage
There’s no faulting Etihad’s food and beverage program at all! It’s one of the best in the air with premium offerings from beginning to end.
Guests are provided a dedicated menu for the food program while another menu lists all of the wines. Your food experience starts with pre-flight drinks and dates. In areas where they can offer champagne before takeoff, Etihad pours Charles Heidsieck 2006 Brut (which retails about $60 per bottle) or Charles Heidsieck 2006 Rosé (which costs around $80-$150 per bottle.)
On occasion, the traditional service of Arabic coffee is served but when the flight heads out at night, usually they offer champagne or orange juice.
The first meal service starts soon after takeoff. From the à la carte menu, you can start with a choice of appetizers including Arabic Mezze, Asparagus Soup, or Niçoise Salad. You can also opt for the caviar course.
It’s followed by a fantastic selection of main courses and dessert options. The meal service is finished about an hour and a half, providing a good chance for you to relax.
You can request breakfast service earlier than the usual 90 minutes if you’re feeling famished or simply want to take your time. The breakfast offer is equally generous while a bit more simple. Usually, a fruit platter is served. You can also opt for a cheese platter and coffee if you like.
For entertainment, each suite comes with a 24-inch monitor powered by E-Box. It contains hundreds of movies and shows. There’s also music, sports, and even a flight map. The movies are varied, going from classics, recent releases, and even regional shows.
While it’s one of the most robust in-flight entertainment systems in the air, it falls slightly short when compared to other Arab airlines like Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Etihad Wi-Fi is data-based and run by Wi-Fly. They do provide first class passengers with a 90 MB access card. If you do need more data than the free option, then you can choose to purchase from any of their offered packages. These options include Lite (50 MB) at $5.95, Flex (150 MB) at $15.95, and Premium (300 MB) at $29.95.
Two lavatories are dedicated for first class. While these are beautifully designed, it was rather bare. There were toiletries provided but only the essentials, definitely not as extensive as you would find in regular first class lavatories like in Emirates.
One of the best things about Etihad first class is the bed. It lies flat and is comfortable with a thick mattress topper, duvet/blanket, and pillows. The staff will perform a turndown service upon request or when it’s time for you to sleep or rest.
Staff and Guest Services
The service is amazing! All of the requests are immediately handled with the staff being proactive while making sure guests have their space. Small things like your drink never reaching half the glass before a refill is offered, just make the stay extra special.
Who Is It For?
First class in Etihad is quite an experience. It’s a must for anyone who loves flying long-haul first-class trips because every step of the way, you’re treated to world-class service.
Etihad Airways First Class Gallery
Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
|Winner||What Makes It Great|
|Best for Food||Emirates First Class||Although the food is excellent on Etihad, nothing beats the Emirates dine-on-demand service!|
|Best for Seats||Etihad First Class||Etihad edges out when it comes to design and spacious seats, but there’s no denying both seats are comfortable and will give you a great flying experience.|
|Best for Ground Experience||Tie||It’s a tie! Both the Emirates and Etihad hub lounges are fantastic.|
|Best For Comfort||Tie||Emirates and Etihad both know how to offer absolute comfort for guests.|
|Best for Families||Tie||Families can easily travel in first class on both these airlines.|
|Best for Couples||Tie||The honeymoon seats in the middle row for both airlines allow you to sit next to your partner or your child with ease.|
|Best for Service||Tie||Staff services would be about equal for both airlines. They are professional, friendly, and prompt at each step.|
|Most Exclusive||Etihad First Class||The smaller cabins in Etihad’s 787 provide more privacy and exclusivity. The same with those found in Emirates 777. The A380, while fantastic, is a bit bigger with 14 suites so there’s less exclusivity. It’s also among the best first class seats for social distancing.|
Experience only the finest first class product when flying either Emirates First or Etihad Airways First Class. Both airlines focus on providing exceptional service, ensuring you get your money’s (or points) worth when you fly in this class.
One factor to consider when choosing is that Emirates first class is bookable only with Emirates Skywards miles or Qantas Frequent Flyer points. On the other hand, Etihad Airways first class is bookable with Air Canada Aeroplan points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, or Etihad Guest miles.
Regardless of which airline you end up choosing, it’s going to be a thrilling experience.