Being the second flag carrier of the U.A.E. doesn’t mean Etihad is any less amazing than Emirates when providing a luxurious business and first class experience. In fact, Etihad stands toe-to-toe with Emirates in its first class offering.
Over the decades, things have changed with their hard and soft products in both their premium cabins. If you want to know what they have to offer, let’s dive deeper and find out what you can expect in this Etihad First Class vs. Etihad Business Class comparison.
- Quick Glance: Etihad First Class vs. Etihad Business Class
- The Details: Etihad First Class vs. Etihad Business Class
- Etihad First Class
- Etihad Business Class
- Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
- Wrapping Up
Quick Glance: Etihad First Class vs. Etihad Business Class
|Etihad First Class||Etihad Business Class|
|Ground Experience||Flying or arriving at their hub in Abu Dhabi means you get chauffeur service upon arrival or if you’re leaving. There’s a dedicated security check-in before you’re ushered into the stunning Etihad First Class Lounge in Terminal 3 where there’s restaurant-quality dining, spa treatments, a cigar lounge, and more.||All of Etihad’s lounges including Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Business Class Lounge are open so you can access this during your flight. You’re also entitled to priority check-in and security. There’s priority luggage and depending on the airport, you get free chauffeur service.|
|Seat||Right now, Etihad First is only found on their B787 Dreamliner aircraft with the suspension of their A380 fleet. On its 787, there are 8 first class suites spread in a 1-2-1 fashion. These are 80 inches in pitch and 26-inches in width. It comes with storage, a huge IFE screen, an ottoman, a minibar, and more.||Business class cabins on the 787 feature alternating forward and rear-facing seats in a 1-2-1 layout. It has a pitch of 73 inches and a width of 22 inches. The latest business class seats are aboard the A350. This has a 79-inch pitch in a 1-2-1 layout.|
|Amenities||Each guest receives an Acqua di Parma amenity kit containing body lotion and cream, cologne, an eye mask, lip balm, and a dental kit. Guests on long-haul flights are also given pajamas from A Friend of Mine with plush slippers. Noise-canceling headphones for the IFE monitor are given as well.||Acqua di Parma also provides the amenity kit for business class guests and its contents are similar. The only difference is the housing, this one is in a mustard yellow zip pouch instead of the sleek black leather in First. It has a full-sized hand lotion, dental kit, socks, and eye mask.|
|Food and Beverage||Food and drink service starts after you settle on your seat. Expect pre-flight drinks, a choice of Charles Heidsieck 2006 Rosé or Brut usually paired with canapes or nuts. Dine-on-demand is a highlight in this cabin. Tables are set meticulously so you can indulge in a 4-course meal including delicious caviar service. All these come with excellent wine pairings, noticeably more well-curated than what you would find in business class.||Guests in business receive a special à la carte menu. These are handed shortly after takeoff and the staff notes your order. Etihad serves a 3 or 5-course meal in business complete with a white tablecloth, although everything is presented on a tray. After the appetizer, it’s swapped for the main course, then everything is taken before dessert is served. For longer flights, they have dine-on-demand for business guests.|
|Entertainment||Each suite has a 24-inch monitor by E-Box. You can browse through hundreds of shows, movies, and several live channels to catch up on the latest news.||Each seat has an 18.5-inch HD touchscreen monitor aboard the A350. Choose from hundreds of TV shows, movies, and a few live channels. There’s a remote control provided as well as noise-canceling headphones.|
|Lavatories||There are two lavatories for first class guests aboard the B787. While these are spotless, it’s bare with only standard amenities.||On the A350 and 787 Dreamliner, there are two lavatories for business guests.|
|Bed||Turndown service is ready anytime you need it. Each bed has a mattress topper, a blanket, and three pillows. There’s a nozzle to keep you cozy through the night. Once you close the doors, the space feels even more intimate for sleep.||All the beds lie fully flat. They have a mattress topper, blanket, and pillows. The Etihad Business Studio aboard the 787 has a 73-inch pitch and 22-inch width. For the A350, the bed measures 78-inches in pitch.|
|Service||Extraordinary! Attendants are incredibly professional and prompt. They’re also attentive, ensuring your requests are promptly followed through.||Great service. Although business class attendants are friendly, they can be less personal compared to that in the first class cabin.|
|Wi-Fi||This is an area where there could be room for improvement. First class guests only receive a complimentary 200 MB data voucher, if you need more than that, you will need to top up. However, it’s worth noting Wi-Fi can be spotty depending on the area.||Wi-Fi on the A350 starts at $1.99 for 20MB or messages only. For an hour, it’s $6.99 (100 MB), for six hours $15.99 (200 MB), and finally for 24 hours $29.99 (350 MB).
The Details: Etihad First Class vs. Etihad Business Class
Etihad First Class
Over the years, Etihad has been streamlining its services. During the pandemic, they further annexed a majority of their first class routes and have done away with the A380 indefinitely.
However, this doesn’t mean they’re giving up on their first class cabins. It’s currently offered on certain routes only including Abu Dhabi, Washington, London, Geneva, and Casablanca aboard their B787 Dreamliner.
Etihad takes pride in providing a well-rounded ground experience to guests, especially when flying from their hub in Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH). First class guests can book a chauffeur service from their hotel to the airport, but they can also avail themselves of the chauffeur service when they arrive.
There’s a dedicated security check-in and priority luggage for first class guests. Access to the Etihad First Class Lounge is also provided. Inside, you can splurge on a complimentary spa treatment, restaurant-quality dining experience, premium drinks, and cocktails, a fitness room, and a Relax and Recline room where you can experience a combination of soothing sounds and imagery.
Other amenities to expect in one of the best airport lounges in the world include a playroom, sleeping area, cigar lounge, show kitchen, coffee station, and more.
Etihad’s first class cabins are currently only available on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner since they’ve shelved their A380 at the start of the pandemic with no immediate sign of their return.
Aboard the 787-9, seats are in a 1-2-1 layout with only 8 private suites available. These seats are arranged between forward and rear-facing, but it doesn’t make much of a difference since the cabin is so small. The seats display gorgeous brown leather upholstery with a striking multi-colored pillow for contrast. Center seats include a large privacy divider that can be opened and closed.
First class suites contain awesome storage space including one for hanging coats and blazers hidden by the suite doors. Underneath the ottoman opposite the seat is another storage for a backpack, camera bag, or other carry-on items.
Both sides of the armrest offer a repository too including one with a minibar. There’s a lamp, an individual air nozzle, a touchscreen panel for seat controls and lighting – there’s even a button for massages. You’ll also find charging ports and of course, tall sliding doors to transform these seats into a private oasis for your ultimate comfort.
Just a note, the window seats are ideal if you’re traveling alone. You even get three windows all to yourself.
If you want a detailed breakdown of what it’s like to fly Etihad First Class, check out our review of this amazing cabin!
The moment you sit down you’ll find a thick blanket perched on top of the huge ottoman opposite your seat. You’re then presented after takeoff with an Acqua di Parma amenity kit housed in a premium black leather pouch containing a 40 ml body lotion, cologne, dental kit, eye mask, and lip balm.
During long-haul flights, first class guests also receive comfortable pajamas and slippers created by Emirati brand A Friend of Mine. These are comfortable pajamas that guests often rave about.
Finally, passengers receive a blanket, several pillows, and a mattress topper for sleeping. Noise-canceling headphones and headphone sockets are in the seats too.
One trick to booking luxury travel is by using your points at the right time. To do that, all you need is a points consultant! Get the lowdown on how to maximize the value of your points so you don’t end up wasting all your money and effort.
Food and Beverage
The food service is where Etihad First Class truly shines! It starts with pre-departure drinks of your choice, Etihad carries premium bubbly like Charles Heidsieck 2006 Brut or Rosé served with delicious canapes or dates. Menus are given out shortly so you can go through them and decide what to eat for your main meals.
Etihad offers dine-on-demand on first class so you can eat anytime you want, whenever you want. Once you’re ready to dine, the table is set up like you’re in a restaurant with a pristine white tablecloth, beautiful silverware, and chic crystal. Meals begin with fresh bread as a starter but you can opt for the caviar service if you fancy.
The Russian Oscietra caviar is served with blinis, crème fraiche, lemon wedges, and more. Before the main course is served, you’ll be offered a lemon sorbet as a palette cleanser. Everything is completed with a delicious dessert like passion fruit bavarois or date and fig pudding.
Matching this extensive service is a selection of fantastic wines and champagnes. Of course, you can also order Moroccan mint tea and snacks in case you get hungry throughout the night. Breakfast is served shortly before landing. The menu isn’t as extensive but it’s every bit flavorful.
Credit card bonuses change all the time. If you’re curious which cards offer excellent points value right now, we got all the best travel credit cards on this list just for you!
You get a beautiful 24-inch HD touchscreen monitor which comes pre-filled with hundreds of movies and shows to enjoy. It’s not as extensive as what Emirates offers but you get a handful of Hollywood movies, classic films, and popular shows. There are a few live news channels like CNN, BBC, and NHK Premium, among others.
Etihad offers free Wi-Fi vouchers for first class passengers to use, but it’s limited to 200 MB of data so it’s not much. However, you can always top up if you need more browsing time.
There are two lavatories available in the first class cabin. The bathroom is sleek with gorgeous tiling and kept clean but it’s bare. This part is where Etihad falls short because they don’t provide any extra toiletries like mouthwash or extra toothbrushes to guests even on long-haul flights.
Sleeping is a joy inside the Etihad first class suites. Thanks to the doors, you can easily create a private cocoon for yourself when you’re ready to sleep. The crew will transform your seat into a lush bed complete with a mattress topper, blanket, and three comfy pillows.
The seat lies fully flat and measures about 80-inches in pitch and 26-inches in width. This is enough to accommodate a 6-foot 6-inch tall person comfortably.
Staff and Guest Services
Because there are only 8 private suites in first class, the service is remarkable and intensely attentive. The staff is proactive in assisting with every request. It’s also formal, with the crew always on top with the fine details to make your experience seamless and special.
Want to have someone hold your hand while you learn travel hacking? Check out The Points University for step-by-step guidance so you can earn points fast and efficiently.
Who Is It For?
Etihad First is for anyone who wants absolute luxury and fantastic food service. The hard product is beautiful with plush upholstery, stylish amenities, and great areas for storage. To top it off, the seats feature closing doors for privacy and a good night’s sleep.
Etihad First Class Gallery
Etihad Business Class
With the arrival of the A350, Etihad’s Business Studio is even better with fantastic seats, a stylish design, and fully-closing doors for utmost privacy.
As travel starts to perk up, Etihad has opened all of its business lounges to accommodate passengers. The Etihad Business Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) is a great place to start your journey. If you’re flying from this hub, you get priority check-in and security, plus, you can even avail of chauffeur service.
The lounge is designed with wood details and expansive seating. A selection of warm and cold dishes goes well with fancy drinks all found at the bar.
While it’s beautiful, it can get crowded and slightly dated compared to their newer lounges. Luckily, the airline makes up for it by spoiling you once you get on board.
Depending on the aircraft, you’ll get two types of business class seats on Etihad. On the B787, the Etihad Business Studio shows off a light brown upholstery with beige and gold touches. A patterned pillow is on the seat with the signature cylindrical wall light nearby to add mood lighting.
The seats are in a 1-2-1 configuration in a combination of forward and backward-facing designs. This gives each guest optimal privacy and aisle accessibility. Within reach are several storage areas including different plugs for your devices.
While there is a privacy door, on the B787, there’s a tiny gap with each door. Other things to note on the seat in the B787 are the big stowaway tray table, intuitive lighting, and seat controls, including ottoman storage.
Aboard the newer A350, the seats come with the same 1-2-1 layout with a lighter gold, cream, and beige colorway. These brand new seats are a modified version of the popular Collins Aerospace Super Diamond product. Unlike the 787, the A350 seats come with fully closing doors measuring 43-inches tall. It’s not that high but perfect for getting all the solitude you require.
Directly opposite the seat is an 18.5-inch touchscreen HD monitor and a wood grain bi-fold tray that tucks at the side. Seat controls and storage are fantastic, and it also lies fully flat measuring 79-inches in pitch.
There are a few things different with the A350 seat. It has USB-A and USB-C ports, Bluetooth wireless pairing, and a Qi wireless charger near the armrest. Of note is the lack of a private air nozzle in the seat which means it can get uncomfortable if the cabin gets warm.
The amenity kits in business class are also provided by Etihad partner, Acqua di Parma and the contents are similar too. The only thing different from what’s offered in first class is the pouch that it comes in.
Business class guests receive a beautiful cloth zippered pouch while first class passengers receive theirs in a chic leather one. One notable difference is that the pouch on business class could be different depending on the type of aircraft you’re flying in.
The contents are the same though: eye mask, dental kit, Acqua di Parma lotion, cologne, eye mask, and socks. Guests receive a sanitation and wellness kit as well.
Another thing you might find on your seat is a plush blanket. Pillows and a mattress topper will be provided once you’re ready to sleep.
Food and Beverage
While it’s not at the level of first class, Etihad has fantastic food service in their business class. With a curated menu, you can choose which dishes you want to have for your full-course meal. Dine on demand is offered during long-haul flights.
The food is exquisite with a great selection of dishes for guests to choose from. Everything is served on a white tablecloth on a tray with the main meals being swapped out after you finish each one. Everything is cleared and set up anew for dessert though.
Each dish is paired with a great selection of wines, bubbly, or coffee – depending on what you feel like having.
Aboard the A350, the IFE monitors have been upgraded to an 18.5-inch HD screen. These are pre-filled with shows, games, music, and movies so you have endless entertainment at your fingertips. For convenience, there’s a remote control hidden in one of the storage compartments so you don’t have to keep reaching for the screen.
Worth noting is that the IFE only works after takeoff so you can’t immediately browse what’s available from the moment you settle in your seat.
Noise-canceling headphones are given to business guests but with the built-in Bluetooth option in the A350, guests can use their wireless devices with ease.
Wi-Fi is available on the A350 for business class guests. These are on a paid basis and depend on the hours of usage. It starts at $2.99 for messenger and chats only with a data cap of 20 MB. If you need to surf for an hour, it’s $6.99 with a data cap of 100 MB.
For longer flights, you can avail of the 6-hour package for $15.99 with a data cap of 200 MB. Finally, for a 24-hour connection, it’s $29.99 with a 350 MB data cap. You can easily top-up in case you use up all of the data using your credit card or via Paypal.
You’ll find two lavatories designated for business class guests onboard the B787 and the A350.
All business class seats transform into a flat bed when you’re ready to sleep. Each bed has a mattress topper, a blanket, and pillows to ensure you sleep well. The A350 business seats have a slight advantage though because it also has fully closing doors, transforming the seat into a cabin just for you.
Staff and Guest Services
The service you get from business class is formal, dedicated, and professional. Because you’ll be inside a bigger cabin, don’t expect a fully personalized though.
Who Is It For?
Those who want to fly in comfort over longer-haul flights but don’t necessarily want to splurge in first class can opt for Etihad’s business product.
The seats on both the B787 and the newer A350 are similarly comfortable. You also get premium service and amenities including a fantastic curated meal experience, amazing drinks, a lovely amenity kit, and all the comforts you could ask for when flying in the sky.
Etihad Business Class Gallery
Best For: Which Airline Class Should You Book?
|Winner||What Makes It Great|
|Best for Food||Etihad First Class||The dine-on-demand option and the excellent fine dining experience, coupled with an extensive selection of fine wines and champagne make the Etihad First Class a clear winner when it comes to the food.|
|Best for Seats||Etihad First Class||The newer A350 now features a promising business product, but the first class cabin seats are still Etihad’s crowning glory.|
|Best for Ground Experience||Etihad First Class||The Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi is one of the best lounges in the world so there’s no doubt first class wins this one.|
|Best For Comfort||Tie||With the recent seat upgrades, Etihad ensures that regardless of which cabin you choose, you will receive the maximum comfort afforded to a prized guest.|
|Best for Families||Etihad Business Class||Because first class only has limited seating, families will likely enjoy business class better than staying in first class.|
|Best for Couples||Tie||Both business class and first class have honeymoon seats that couples can book if they want to sit by side.|
|Best for Service||Etihad First Class||Because of the limited number of passengers, the attendants can easily pour all their attention into you and your needs.|
|Most Exclusive||Etihad First Class||With only 8 suites, the first class cabin truly echoes exclusivity at its finest!|
Etihad’s First Class easily competes with some of the best offered right now so it’s no surprise it’s still a popular choice for luxury flyers between the U.A.E and overseas.
With comfortable seats, flawless in-flight dining and drinks, as well as outstanding service from the staff, it’s hard to fault the experience. Sure, the Wi-Fi could use improvement but it’s not a big con unless you badly need to be online throughout your flight.
On the other hand, the Etihad Business Class is also starting to step up. The Etihad Business Studio seats have always been good at delivering comfort.
But now, with the arrival of the newer A350 business cabin, it’s brought forward to the 21st century with fully closing doors transforming the seat into a private suite, Qi wireless charging, and Bluetooth wireless pairing for this device-laden modern world. The dining experience is also impeccable and one of the best you’ll find in a business product.
Deciding between these two luxury cabins boils down to personal choice. If you’re willing to splurge, go for the first class. With an intimate 8-cabin suite, you can experience indulgent luxury throughout your flight. However, if you can do without the extravagance but still want the comfort and pampering, go for business class instead.