Etihad first class is one of the world’s most luxurious tickets you can book. It offers a phenomenal experience from beginning to end, and it’s absolutely one of the classiest offerings in commercial aviation.
This particular award ticket was booked as a connecting itinerary from the Maldives to Washington D.C. And at the time, Etihad was offering just 2 routes with its first class-equipped 787-9 aircraft: Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Washington D.C. (IAD) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Paris (CDG).
We were incredibly fortunate to have another opportunity to savor the Etihad first class product — this time, it was on a true ultra-long-haul itinerary.
Etihad (EY) 131
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Washington D.C. (IAD)
Monday, Dec 27
Depart: 10:40 a.m.
Arrive: 4:35 p.m.
Duration: 14 hr 55 min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9
Suite: 1D and 1G
Miles Used: 130,000 Aeroplan points per person transferred from Amex Membership Rewards (MLE-AUH-IAD)
Taxes & Fees Paid: $127.21 per person
Typical Retail Cost: $9,687 per person
Typical Economy Cost: ~$601-$825 per person
Booking Etihad First Class
We booked this flight on July 28th, which was around 5 months before departure. We booked this ticket using Air Canada Aeroplan points transferred from Amex Membership Rewards. Since first class was not available on the short, 4-hour journey from Malé to Abu Dhabi, this was a mixed-cabin itinerary.
Nonetheless, we were thrilled to have an opportunity to enjoy Etihad’s incredible first class product.
In total, we spent around $127.21 in taxes and fees per person, saving us an unbelievable 99% off of our plane ticket. We achieved a redemption value of 7.5 cents per point — if we had booked this ticket through American Express Travel, we would’ve had to spend 5 times more points! Because of our travel hacking habits, we saved over a million points for 2 of these tickets.
We checked in for our flight in Malé, which was ultimately uneventful. If you were checked in at Abu Dhabi, you’d be directed to the dedicated first class check-in queue before making your way to the Etihad First Class Lounge.
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge at Abu Dhabi
Because we spent an overnight layover at the Aerotel Abu Dhabi, which is the transit hotel located in Terminal 1, we were less interested in visiting the first class lounge and more interested in maximizing sleep.
That being said, the Etihad Airways First Class Lounge offers one of the best ground experiences in the world, including a la carte dining with white tablecloth services, a cigar lounge with top-shelf products, 2 cocktail bars, a relaxation zone with recliner chairs, a kids’ room, a gym (!), a spa, shower suites, and much more!
We promptly boarded our flight on time, and we were joined by 1 other first class passenger, making for an incredibly intimate, private jet-esque experience.
When we were seated, our luggages were proactively stowed away by our cabin crew, and we were offered a welcome drink, warm towel, and traditional Arabic coffee and dates.
As we took our seats, we navigated around the cabin, noting that the first class cabin has 8 seats across 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Row 1 has forward-facing seats, while row 2 has rear-facing seats.
We were seated in 1D and 1G, the 2 middle seats in the first row.
Each of these lavish first class suites measured 26 inches wide and 80 inches in pitch. We had no problem getting comfortable and settling down in our home for the next 14 hours.
These middle seats have center dividers that can be raised or lowered, while the crisp in-flight entertainment screens boast home theater vibes.
Seat controls are found on both sides of the seat. There’s an in-flight remote that controls the monitor, as well as a touchscreen console for controlling the seat’s recline, position, and even massage functions!
One excellent feature of Etihad first class is that there’s a personal air vent, which really goes a long way in staying cool in-flight. There’s also a stylish reading lamp next to it.
On the other side of the seat is a personal minibar, which is stocked with 2 sodas and 2 bottles of water.
Charging ports are available at the front of the seat. There are also USB charging ports on the side of the seat.
The Etihad first class suite has incredible privacy, thanks to the tall sliding doors, which enclose the seat into your own private cocoon.
If you’re traveling solo, you should reserve window seats, which offer excellent privacy and 3 entire windows all to yourself.
We were showered with amenities as soon as we boarded. This included:
- A plush, velvet day blanket
- An Acqua di Parma amenity kit
- A FRIEND OF MINE Pajamas by Xpoze
The amenity kit contained body lotion, lip balm, cologne, slippers, an eye mask, and a dental kit.
Hygiene kits were also distributed, and they included hand sanitizer, a surgical face mask, disinfectant wipes, and an anti-microbial snood!
Lastly, we were provided with noise cancellation headphones, which were of high quality.
Food and Beverage
Shortly after takeoff, we were provided with menus for the food and beverage service. Etihad offers dine on demand, which essentially means you can order what you want when you want.
We started off with a glass of 2006 Charles Heidsieck Rosé Millésimé, which had fantastic flavor. This was served alongside canapes of warm nuts, olives, and pickles.
Etihad’s first class suites are equipped with a spacious ottoman, which can be used for buddy dining. We took full advantage of this to dine across from each other.
Our table setting was made, and fresh bread was distributed. Etihad does a fantastic job with its presentation throughout the entirety of the meal services.
We started with the quintessential Russian Oscietra caviar service, which was served alongside the traditional accompaniments of blinis, chopped egg yolks and whites, chives, lemon wedges, minced onions, and crème fraiche. There’s just something special about enjoying caviar on a plane!
We ordered the Arabic mezze, which was fantastic. We were especially big fans of the stuffed chicken drumsticks.
We also ordered a wonderful carrot and sweet potato soup, which was rich and soothing.
We added a lounge salad, which was appointed with goat cheese, beets, artichokes, pomegranate, pumpkin, and wild rice.
Next, we were offered a palate cleanser of lime sorbet before proceeding with our main courses.
We opted for the lamb thareed with ruqaq bread and the beef tenderloin with veal jus.
The dishes were plated beautifully and were absolutely sumptuous.
We finished with dessert, specifically a passion fruit bavarois and date and fig pudding. The date and fig pudding was unforgettable!
Of course, bottomless Champagne was on offer, specifically the 2006 Charles Heidsieck Brut.
In the morning, we were offered tea and pastries, which we absolutely could not resist.
The pastries, in particular, were freshly prepared, wonderfully crisp, and very fluffy.
Etihad offers a fantastic selection of in-flight entertainment, including Hollywood favorites, international options, classics, various TV shows, and much more.
They also offer live TV and news, which means you can seamlessly keep up with current events on the ground.
During the flight, we were offered a complimentary inflight Wi-Fi voucher good for 200 MB of data. This wasn’t much, but you could also top up your inflight Wi-Fi should you need more data.
After the meal service was finished, our flight attendant offered to make our beds, and this was arguably the most luxurious bed setup in the sky.
That’s because you get a whopping 3 pillows, a mattress topper, and a blanket here. Not having a duvet wasn’t a big deal because these cabins generally run a bit warm. The velvet blanket was more than enough.
It’s easy to get rest with sliding doors, comfortable bedding, and intimate cabin size.
Our first class flight attendants were extraordinary in how attentive they were. Service was prompt, polished, and professional.
Although Etihad Airways has a reputation for being hit-or-miss, even in first class, there’s no question that our experience was first class-esque this time around.
Etihad offers that boutique airline experience with an Arabian flair that makes it oh-so-unique.
Part of the fun was the fact that we were 2 of just 3 first class passengers on this ultra-long-haul flight, making it easier to offer personalized attention to us.
Etihad Airways first class is one of the best ways to fly. Currently only offered on select 787-9 aircraft, this is Etihad’s current flagship product in first class.
The amenities were expansive, ranging from soft pajamas to high-end bedding and toiletries.
The food quality was superb, and the options were thoughtfully created to be inclusive of different audiences.
While inflight Wi-Fi was limited to 200 MB, it was certainly better than nothing!
The privacy and service were almost unreal, and we would not hesitate to fly Etihad first class again with points.