AIR­LINES

Eti­had Air­ways B787 Dream­liner busi­ness class Abu Dhabi-Barcelona

Business Traveller (Middle East) - - Contents -

BACK­GROUND Eti­had Air­ways launched di­rect flights from Abu Dhabi to Barcelona in late No­vem­ber. The new ser­vice is ini­tially op­er­ated five times a week by a two-class A330-200, be­fore be­com­ing a daily op­er­a­tion at the end of March; for the in­au­gu­ral flight, Eti­had rolled out one of its shiny new B787-9s and the Dream­liner will op­er­ate the route from Fe­bru­ary 22 (it will fly daily from Fe­bru­ary 25-28 for the Mo­bile World Con­fer­ence). The even­ing re­cep­tion was held at Capella dels An­gels (pic­tured).

CHECK IN I ar­rived at Abu Dhabi In­ter­na­tional Air­port just af­ter mid­night for my 0220 de­par­ture on EY49. Eti­had is based at Ter­mi­nal 3, which is where you’ll find the ded­i­cated busi­ness class check-in area. It feels as though you’ve walked into a five-star ho­tel lobby, with slick ser­vice to match. Busi­ness class pas­sen­gers are en­ti­tled to 40kg of bag­gage, two cabin bags with a com­bined weight of 12kg, and one per­sonal item up to 5kg.

THE LOUNGE Busi­ness Class pas­sen­gers have ac­cess to the Eti­had Pre­mium Lounge, or you can up­grade to the First Class Lounge & Spa, start­ing from $200 for two hours. I was for­tu­nate enough to ex­pe­ri­ence the lat­ter op­tion. You’ll find plenty to help you pass the time in the ex­pan­sive lounge, which is lo­cated just af­ter se­cu­rity. You can book a spa treat­ment or mas­sage in the Six Senses Spa (guests are of­fered one com­pli­men­tary 15-minute treat­ment), work out in the fit­ness room, or or­der some­thing from the a la carte menu in the din­ing area. I had al­ready eaten, so I headed to the re­lax­ation room, where I sat back and zoned out in a squishy leather chair as sooth­ing light pat­terns were pro­jected on a wall.

BOARD­ING It was a bit of a trek to the gate, through a crowded air­port, but the board­ing process was fairly smooth. All pas­sen­gers were handed cer­tifi­cates to com­mem­o­rate the in­au­gu­ral ser­vice, which was a nice touch.

THESE ATE ti had’ s busi­ness stu­dio con­fig­u­ra­tion on the Dream­liner fea­tures both for­ward and rear-fac­ing seats, and I was seated in one of the lat­ter. It was my first ex­pe­ri­ence in a re­verse seat, and it wasn’t at all un­pleas­ant, de­spite the slightly odd sen­sa­tion on take­off and land­ing. The seat was cosy and co­coon-like, with a small di­vider for pri­vacy. The ot­toman was com­fort­ably wide, with a stor­age com­part­ment un­der­neath. An 18.5inch en­ter­tain­ment screen of­fered a sharp view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

THE FLIGHT We de­parted slightly late, at 0248, and I was ready for sleep. The ameni­ties bag fea­tured the usual sus­pects; socks, an eye mask, and a den­tal kit, as well as hand cream and a per­fume sam­ple from Ital­ian fra­grance brand Ac­qua di Parma. Ear plugs were avail­able on re­quest. I man­aged around five hours of shut-eye, in large part thanks to the won­der­fully soft quilted blan­ket pro­vided, which just about made up for the lack of py­ja­mas. It was too late for a full meal ser­vice, but if you’re hun­gry you can or­der from the all-day menu which has nib­bles such as a steak sand­wich, car­rot and fen­nel soup, and cheese and crack­ers. I de­cided to wait un­til break­fast, which was served around two hours be­fore land­ing. Ser­vice was ef­fi­cient but could have been a lit­tle warmer; for ex­am­ple, a cof­fee that I hadn’t asked for ap­peared on my break­fast tray, pre­sum­ably to save time (it went to waste as I don’t drink cof­fee).

AR­RIVAL We ar­rived slightly ahead of our sched­uled 0715 land­ing, touch­ing down at 0647 lo­cal time.

VER­DICT Eti­had’s busi­ness stu­dio is a cut above their stan­dard busi­ness class seat (which I ex­pe­ri­enced on the re­turn flight in the A330). A de­cent night’s sleep com­bined with the prac­ti­cal ar­rival time meant I had a full day in Barcelona. The de­ploy­ment of the Dream­liner in Fe­bru­ary will guar­an­tee prod­uct con­sis­tency and more con­ve­nient travel op­tions. Siob­han Downes

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