Etihad A380 Business Class London-Abu Dhabi
A380 Business Class
CHECK-IN Etihad unveiled its all-new cabin products for its A380 and 787 last year. These include the Residence and First Apartments on the A380, First Suites on the 787, and Business Studios and Economy Smart seats on both.
I used Etihad’s free business class chauffeur pick-up service and arrived at Heathrow’s T4 at 6:30 AM for my 9:15 AM departure on EY12. There was no queue at either check-in or fast-track security, and I was in the Etihad lounge opposite Gate 10 within ten minutes.
BOARDING There was a separate jetway to the allpremium upper deck. Once I got aboard I was welcomed warmly.
THE SEAT The Business Studios are in a dove-tailed 1-2-1 layout, with seats labeled A-C, D-E-F-G, H-K (A,E, F and K face forward and the rest backward). Each of the semi-private cubicles has direct access to the aisle.
From my vantage point, I was struck by the generous space – my neighbor was about five feet away and while there was no screen between us, we each had a large table surface and an armrest more than 15 inches wide to separate us. A sliding panel offered some privacy from the aisle. A second fold-down table made it easy to work and eat at the same time. There was a large shelf under the ottoman in front of me and further open space to the side.
The 18-inch touchscreen was sharp, and there were two USB ports and a universal plug socket. The bed was comfortable with ample room to stretch out, although the curved footwell narrows towards the end. An amenity kit is provided, with slippers, sleep suits, comforters and turndown service added on“ultra long-haul”routes.
Window seats A and K feel slightly more private. Central seats E and F are good for couples as they are close together, with a dividing screen if you’re on your own. C and H have a window, but, like D and G, are nearer the aisle. Since the upper deck has only 70 business studios, nine first apartments and the Residence, it doesn’t seem to get hectic, even on an almost full flight such as this one.
THE FLIGHT After takeoff, I was told I could pre-order my meal and choose when to eat later. Before that I had a breakfast snack. Around lunchtime, I asked for my meal to be served. It took about 30 minutes. I had yellow pepper and lemongrass soup (tasty) and pan-seared lamb loin – nicely cooked and tender. Service was excellent – friendly and helpful – but with 70 seats in business, it’s not as instantaneous as in smaller business class cabins.
Logging on to the WiFi was a bit of a procedure, but crew members were on hand to help. I found it worked well for a while but seemed to stop operating during the second half of the flight. The lobby lounge has circular sofas around a coffee table, seating about six. Drinks are served but it didn’t get busy, and it’s a good spot to sit and chat.
ARRIVAL We disembarked through the upper-deck jetway and used the fast-track immigration lane.
VERDICT An impressive product and service, with a clever layout to create a feeling of space. The all- premium upper deck feels tranquil, even when it’s nearly full. Good food and drink, ease of working, comfy beds and excellent service make it an enjoyable, user-friendly experience. BT