THE FLIGHT: Flight EY18 from London Heathrow Terminal 4 to Abu Dhabi in Pearl Business Class on an A330-300 aircraft.
THE CHECK-IN: Very courteous greeting at the entrance of the dedicated business class check-in and a quick and efficient process. The First & Business class lounge opposite Gate 10 is a fantastic facility, with extensive eating, drinking and relaxing opportunities such as the Six Senses Spa. The buffet and a la carte offering was very good.
THE BOARDING PROCESS: Boarded at 8.15pm for the 8.40pm flight and the back cabins had all been seated. We pulled away early but then promptly stopped for a while before taking-off at 8.55pm.
THE SEAT: A large business class cabin of 48 seats is configured 1-2-1 with very narrow aisles inbetween to maximise the seat cubicles, which are compact with a narrow foot rest area staggered alongside the seat in front. The tray table folds down from the seat in front which is easier than fiddling with it from an arm rest and there is good lighting from either a spotlight or wall light. A bottle of water was already placed for use. The seat had easy touch controls with three positions – Upright, Relax and Bed (lie-flat), plus a ‘spot’ or ‘wave’ massage button – and there were fancy Salvatori Ferragamo amenities, an eye mask and blanket. Easy touch controls for the impressive E-Box entertainment system.
THE SERVICE: The pre-take off drink was prompt but from there on in the service was disappointing, from the long wait post take-off for a drink (35 minutes) to the non-arrival of some magazines I had requested. Service on the return 8.30am leg was much the same with a two-hour wait for a breakfast bagel. Despite this, there was an extensive menu with a mouth-watering line up of three starters, four mains and five desserts, plus a 'Kitchen Anytime' of snacks.
THE ARRIVAL: We landed on time and disembarkation was relatively quick. A helpful touch was an announcement of the carousel number that luggage would be on.
THE DETAILS: Etihad flies 21 services a week from London Heathrow to its home hub of Abu Dhabi, and seven flights per week from Manchester. Return fares from London start from £1,573 in Pearl Business, including taxes. Tel: 0800 731 9384.