Etihad Airways offers a solid business class product for such a short flight. I would not consider it industry leading, but it did make me feel like it was better than some carriers out there. We all have heard that Etihad Airways is in financial difficulties, but at least their premium product still stands out (although less than before).
The Good: Affordable fares from Kuwait to Colombo.
The Bad: The meal was honestly not very good, I was very underwhelmed.
The Noteworthy: The cabin was 3/12 full, so yikes.
Checking in at KWI was a breeze. It took me less time than I expected to go through security, as there was literally no one in the Etihad Airways line. As soon as I had my boarding pass ready, I proceeded through and went to the Etihad contract lounge at KWI. It was a meh lounge, but I did have some food in order to wake up a bit.
The inbound flight from AUH was about 30 minutes delayed, which would mean our flight would be delayed as well. Once the gate was posted on the departures monitor, I proceeded to the gate. They checked our bags and made sure our electronics turned on (something I had not experienced before). After this, I waited a short time in the gate area as the inbound passengers deplaned and they readied the aircraft for our flight. Once boarding was called, it was fairly orderly, as the gate agents strongly enforced the boarding group order.
Airline: Etihad Airways
Cabin Class: Business Class
Flight Number: EY 306
On Time: Yes
As soon as I boarded, I was greeted by very kind flight attendants who pointed me to my seat. The business cabin onboard the Etihad A320 is configured in a typical 2×2 layout, with a total of three rows (12 seats). Each seat had a pillow with the “Facets of Abu Dhabi” motiff.
The seat itself is very comfortable, I would describe it as a deep recline seat, with motorized recline and footrests. The seats do recline back, and invade the passenger behind you’s space. It’s not much of an issue, since there is ample space between each seat. However, if the person next to you is fully reclined, as is the person in front of him, reaching the aisle requires acrobatic skills.
The seats were sand colored, with accents of dark and light brown. Next to the seat was the IFE remote, a fairly new remote too, similar to the ones you would find on the A380. On the same side of the IFE control, there are the motorized seat controls. There are individual controls for the headrest as well.
Like I mentioned, each seat has a pretty deep recline, and are comfortable for short flights, but beware them for flights longer than 3-4 hours. There are power outlets and USB outlets for every seat.
Each seat is equipped with an IFE screen that pops out from the center console. They have the full range of E-Box entertainment options. The screens are touch sensitive, and have an extra USB outlet. Every seat in the business class cabin also comes with a set of noise reducing headphones, which I found bulky and uncomfortable.
Departure and Take-Off
Business class ended up being 3/12 full, and economy I would say about 75% full. As soon as everyone was on board, the captain came on the PA to introduce himself and give some information for our flight. He expected a bit of turbulence on our initial climb, but after clearing 10,000 feet he expected things to smooth out. The flight attendants played the safety demonstration video, and soon enough we were in the air. There was some turbulence after take off, but nothing more than the usual, and after that it was a perfectly smooth flight.
Food onboard this Etihad flight was excellent. There was a printed menu, as well as a full complement breakfast on this 1h25m flight.
The Meal started with a hot towel, as well as requesting drink orders. The tray table in the armrest and its is quite heavy, much heavier than the usual ones on A320s.
I ordered the Arabic selection for breakfast, and it was delicious. It had a bit of everything, from cheese, to cold cuts, to kibbeh. The meal came with yoghurt and a warm croissant.
To drink, I ordered a latte, which came in a latte glass, with full foam and everything.
Seat Recline and Relax Mode
The seat has deep recline, but is not the most comfortable for sleeping. Since it was a very short flight, I did not mind, but anything above 5 hours, or a red-eye flight, it would not be the most comfortable seat out there. This is not a competitive advantage knowing that some airlines, such as Emirates and Qatar, offer lie flats on short routes.
Notes on Service
The flight attendants were very complacent, but in order to get them to come through the cabin you needed to press the call button. My meal tray remained in my seat for a solid 15 minutes after I was done eating because the business class FA did not walk by. I think they were well intentioned, but not proactive at all.
Sunrise, Landing and Arrival
During the flight, we got some amazing views of the sunrise, and a chance to have the airplane glisten with the morning light. The sky was clear and no turbulence during the approach. As we prepared to land, I got a chance to see some of Abu Dhabi’s awesome architecture from the sky. One of the palaces (or Mosques) caught my eye.
When we landed, I saw the new terminal at Abu Dhabi. It is still under construction and I am unsure when it will open, especially considering Etihad’s current financial situation. On the ground there was a Nordwind 777 (which was probably there for maintenance as they don’t fly to AUH) and many EY aircraft.
We arrived at the gate on time, and I headed out to explore the city before my connection to CMB.
Abu Dhabi offers a solid product for short haul flights. The seat was comfortable and the food was good. I feel that the flight attendants were not as attentive as they could have been, however. Overall a good flight, and I would score it as an 8.5/10.