Route: Abu Dhabi to Sydney | Seat: 23C | Flight time: 14 hours 15 minutes | Passenger: Madelin Tomelty
Etihad’s unique Business Studio on the wide-body A380 offers plenty of space thanks to a unique ‘dovetail’ seating design of both forward and rear facing seats set out in a 1-2-1 configuration. All passengers in the Business Studio have direct aisle access, increasing the sense of personal space. I had a window seat and felt I had both ample room and enough privacy.
As is standard on A380 aircrafts, Etihad’s Business Studios are on the Upper Deck along with First Class, and there is a chill-out space called The Lobby located halfway between the two classes. With seats for up to six guests, the intimate space was inspired by the cozy nooks found in boutique hotels, and is meant to offer an alternate space for guests to relax or socialise. I didn’t personally use the space, but I can imagine those travelling in a group would find it a handy space to catch up without disturbing other guests, and break up the long, 14-hour journey.
The design of the Business Studio is quite a bit heavier than many of the other carriers’ newer, and light and bright Business cabins, with Etihad’s signature dark brown, orange and deep purple design coming across a little dated, and atmospheric, lullaby-like Arabic music the pre-flight music of choice.
However, all A380s across all airlines are now looking quite tired after more than a decade in the skies, especially now that guests have the new Dreamliners to compare them too, and overall, Etihad’s interior is in good shape.
The seat and entertainment
As you would hope on a 14-hour flight, Etihad’s seats convert into fully-flat beds of up to 6 feet and 8 inches, and my when I scoot down under the big comforter I have plenty of room to stretch out, despite being nearly 6 feet tall. There is also a little divider that you can pull to close your ‘pod’ in further and create more privacy, which is useful when you want to get some Zzzz.
Storage-wose there is a space for everything, with lots of concealed storage as well as a large separate side table that you could put your laptop on to work, or your handbag or toiletries. The pillow supplied was firmer and more comfortable than some of the other airlines’ pillows I’ve slept on, as was the seat itself, made even comfier at bed time thanks to the mattress that lays over the top and creates a comfy little cocoon.
Unfortunately there were a few issues with some of the technology in my seat, so I couldn’t use the inbuilt massage feature, but thankfully there were no issues with my 18.5-inch touch-screen TV and I happily got through a handful of films throughout the flight. Etihad also supplies noise-cancelling headsets in the Business Studios if you don’t have your own on-board.
The service on-board was efficient and courteous, if not as friendly as some of the other airlines I’ve flown with.
Who doesn’t like to dine in style in the sky? As a foodie, meal time is my favourite time when I fly Business Class, and Etihad does not disappoint. On my journey from Abu Dhabi to Sydney I indulged in a delicious three-course meal with wine shortly after take-off, chosen from the a-la-carte menu. For passengers that don’t want to eat at the set meal times, or just for those wanting an extra something to nibble at in between the two main meals offered on this flight leg, there is also an all-day menu on offer.
I took advantage of the excellent beverage list prior to take-off and chose a glass of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut, which was, as expected, delicious. But it was the 2015 Drumheller Chardonnay from Columbia Valley in the USA that was my favourite tipple on board, so much so that I wrote it down to look into buying a bottle when I get home.
For dinner, I started with a refreshing tomato and ginger soup with crème fraiche that was excellent, followed by the beef tenderloin with herb potato mash, carrots, cherry tomatoes and peppercorn sauce. Unsurprisingly, this was the hottest ticket on board and on my flight they ran out of this meal choice, so some people had to resort to their second option (equally delicious, I’m sure). For dessert, there was the choice of warm caramel and apple pudding with vanilla sauce or red velvet cake with raspberry coulis, but I couldn’t pass up the cheese plate, which turned out to be a generous selection and size that I couldn’t finish.
All Business Studio guests receive an amenity kit with unisex Scaramouche + Fandango skincare products, as well as a LUXE City Guide, which was a lovely touch. The kit itself comes packaged up in various printed, limited edition zip-up LUXE cases, with each print representing a different city in the LUXE City Guide collection.
Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 Business Class Lounge
Every time I’ve been through this lounge it has been absolutely packed, and this journey was no exception. The highlight for me is the excellent Six Senses spa at the back of the lounge, where you can have a complimentary shower and freshen up (I recommend putting your name down as soon as you get to the lounge as there is often a wait), or if you have a few hours to spare, book in for one of the many spa treatments and get ready to zen out. Also make sure you log onto the free WiFi here as soon as you arrive, as Abu Dhabi is not included in many Australian phone carriers’ $5-a-day roaming deals, which could see you left with a nasty surprise on arrival back home.