Etihad B787-9 Business Class!
Etihad Airways is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and is surely a fast growing airline. The airline is based at Abu Dhabi and operates a fleet from the A320 family, the A330/A340 family, the A380, the B777, and the B787.
The airline operates to numerous destinations across six continents. In 2014, the airline took delivery of the A380 Super Jumbo and the B787-9 Dreamliner. As of 2017, the airline operates the A380 to New York JFK, London Heathrow, Mumbai, Sydney, and Melbourne. Whereas the B787-9 currently flies to Washington, Dusseldorf, Zurich, Riyadh, Johannesburg, Singapore, Tokyo Narita, Perth, and Brisbane.
In mid December 2016, I got to experience the new business class on the B787-9 from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf. The airline currently operates five daily flights into Germany, two to Munich, another two to Frankfurt, and a single daily flight to Dusseldorf.
I arrived at the airport at 11:00PM for my 2:10AM flight to Dusseldorf. Etihad first and business class passengers have a dedicated check in area which is fairly nice. Check in took about ten minutes and within a few minutes we were in the departures area. I headed to the business class lounge towards the center of Terminal 3.
The airlines that operate out of Terminal 3 include Etihad Airways, Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, and Virgin Australia. After spending about an hour in the lounge, we decided to head to the gate as we figured it will be busy. Numerous Etihad flights depart at that time including flights to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, London, Paris, Munich, and much more. As you might expect, the flight was in fact departing from a remote stand, works for me as there is nothing like seeing the aircraft you’re flying up close!
Boarding was scheduled at 1:10AM, a full hour before departure. Thankfully, there was a dedicated business class bus though about four economy class passengers managed to hop in. The bus ride took about five minutes, as we pulled next to the aircraft, I noticed how beautiful the B787-9 actually is.
Etihad operates the B787-9 in both the 3-Class and 2-Class Configurations. The 3-Class Version has eight first class suites, 28 business class studios, and 235 economy class seats. The 3-Class B787-9 presently flies to Washington, Zurich, Riyadh, Singapore, Tokyo Narita, and Brisbane. However, the 2-Class B787-9 is configured with only 28 business class studios and 272 economy class seats and flies to Dusseldorf, Johannesburg, and Perth.
At the aircraft door, we were welcomed onboard by the cabin manager Brigitta and Monica, one of the business class flight attendants. The business class cabin is exclusively located between doors L1 and L2, so the cabin felt really private. The business class studios are configured in the 1-2-1 configuration with forward and rear facing seats of which all feature direct aisle access. Odd numbered window seats and even numbered center seats are rear facing. However, even numbered window seats and odd numbered center seats are forward facing. If you’re traveling with someone, I’d recommend selecting seats 5E/5F, 7E/7F, 9E/9F, or 11E/11F. If you’re traveling alone and needed privacy, I’d recommend choosing seats numbers ending with either A or K.
For this flight, I selected seat 11H, a window seat closer to the aisle on the last row business class. Your can already guess how stylish the cabin looks.
Here are the center seats as well, which I think will be great if you have a travel companion but if a stranger is seated next to you, you can easily rise the privacy shield between seats to maximize privacy.
Moments after settling in, the cabin manager, Brigitta welcomed me onboard with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and presented me the menu of today’s flight. A few minutes later the Food and Beverage Manager, Fu explained to me that I could have my meal whenever I wanted and also gave me a hot towel. I requested to have the snack right after take off, and my breakfast almost an hour before landing.
At 2:00AM, Captain Ashtrul came on the PA and added his announcement, he explained that today’s flight will take six hours and forty minutes and that we’ll be initially cruising to 34,000 feet and to 39,000 later in the flight.
There were four crew members serving business class. Cabin Manager Brigitta, the Food and Beverage Manager Fu, Monica, and another crew member working in the galley.
At 2:05AM, boarding was complete and we started our pushback. Five minutes later we started our ten minute taxi to RWY 31L. As we made it to the runway, we were immediately cleared for take off, and after a sixty second take off roll, we were airborne and on our way to Dusseldorf. Five minutes after takeoff, the seatbelt sign was turned off the curtains between the cabins were closed. Since this was an overnight flight, everyone onboard seemed to sleep right after take off.
Ten minutes later, Monica came to my seat with my snack. For the snack service I had the Steak Sandwich and the Potato Crisps on the side. The Steak Sandwich was extremely delicious and flavorful.
After having my snack, I decided to sleep as much as I can since it was already a long day. The pillows on Etihad are pretty plush, I also appreciated how comfortable and soft the blanket was. It was actually one of my best overnight flights as I slept for almost five hours.
About 90 minutes before our scheduled arrival, everyone in the business class cabin started to wake up in preparation for the breakfast service. Breakfast was served 75 minutes before landing, I had the selection of bread and pastries on the side which included a plain croissant, a chocolate croissant, and a Cinnabon roll. Everything was delicious.
For the main course, I had the chive omelette with beef sausage, tomato, and hash brow. For my drink, I had a hot chocolate. Again, the meal was top notch.
Forty five minutes before arrival, the Captain came back on the PA announcing that the weather at Dusseldorf is five degrees celsius and that we’ll be touching down at 6:00AM sharp.
The seat belt sign was turned on 10 minutes before arrival, and at exactly at 6:00AM the B787-9 made an extremely hard touchdown on Dusseldorf’s RWY 23L, exactly 30 minutes ahead of schedule. From there it was a five minute taxi to gate C1 in Terminal C. As the doors opened, I was the first passenger to disembark the aircraft ready for a much needed vacation.
The crew on the flight were engaging, the one that stood up the most for me was Monica, she was extremely professional in what she’s doing.
Aircraft Information: Etihad Airways Two Class B787-9, A6-BLF, nine months old.
Flight Information: EY 23, Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf.
Load: 100% full.
In conclusion, this was an extremely pleasant flight with Etihad Airways. I got to experience their new business class hard product. Unfortunately, I have noticed that their soft product is not as it used to be.