Etihad Airways often lives in the shadows of Emirates, the official airline of neighbouring emirate Dubai, but the national carrier of the UAE is one of the most innovative and dynamic airlines in the world. With a drive to drastically cut emissions and be carbon neutral by 2050, Etihad Airways has announced many initiatives, including a new greener fleet, cutting back plastic, partnering with Environment Abu Dhabi and exploring sustainable fuel alternatives. Etihad recently removed the gass-guzzling Airbus A380s from its fleet, investing in the smaller, greener, more streamlined sister aircraft, the A350. The airline is doing so much, in fact, it’s recently been named Environmental Airline of the Year 2023 for the second year running in the prestigious Airline Ratings awards.
With a move to the new A350, Etihad also introduced a world-leading, state-of-the-art business class cabin, elevating the Etihad Airways business class experience to new heights with the likes of high-tech design and new privacy screens. The new A350 business class cabin is so superior, that the airline chose not to build a first-class, with the latest offering an experience rivalling first class on many major airlines. With the new A350 in full operation on flights from Abu Dhabi to New York‘s John F Kennedy International, Chicago’s O’Hare International, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport and London Heathrow, here’s a look inside the superior new A350 business class experience.
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Inside Etihad Airways business class on the new A350
The Etihad Airways business class cabin
Etihad Airways business class cabin on the A350 is spacious and airy, bright and elegant. Gone are the middle-upper luggage compartments, creating a pleasing sense of space, and each passenger has their own private booth with a lie-flat bed. The business class space has been expanded, with the A350 now accommodating 44 seats in the cabin in a 1-2-1 format. Each has a sliding privacy door high enough to avoid the gaze of aisle walkers and create a cosy feeling of being in an individual suite – on par with many first-class cabins. Unlike many competitor cabins, Etihad’s is swatched in soothing neutral hues with the occasional pop of its signature liquorice and gold foil in stylish wood-effect and faux marble.
Elevating its already premium business offering, Etihad’s new A350 business cabin comes with many new features to make flying more comfortable. For starters, all seats transform into fully-flat 79 inches beds, and there’s plenty of storage space in pop-open compartments, nooks and crannies. A bouncy, super fluffy pillow and delightfully weighty fleecy blanket, combined with Etihad’s signature Acqua di Parma amenities kit, make for a luxurious air travel experience.
That said, it’s hard to pull yourself away from the 18.5-inch television screen, which feels almost cinematic and comes with Bluetooth headset pairing so travellers can connect their own personal headphones. A new and incredibly convenient feature is the wireless charging port, charging mobile devices such as cellphones and wireless headphones by simply placing them on top – a much more efficient method than the usual fumble for a USB and search for the port.
As with all Etihad business class cabins, dining is an excellent experience on the A350. On its ultra-long-haul Abu Dhabi to JFK, the all-day menu provides constant sustenance, with dishes like pancakes, omelettes, yoghurt and granola, chicken quesadillas and steak sandwiches all featuring and available to order whenever you like. The main four-course à la carte menu is served once throughout the flight, at a time which suits the passenger best – another innovative feature for the on-demand generation.
The Airbus A350 is one of the most modern and efficient aircrafts in aviation right now. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, Etihad’s A350s produce 25% less fuel burn and CO2 emissions and are an impressive 50% quieter than other Airbus aircraft. The aircraft is also more than 1kg lighter per seat, increasing fuel efficiency. In economy, the aircraft is configured in a more spacious 3-3-3 formation, a contrast to the standard 3-4-3 and 45 ‘Economy Space’ seats have been enhanced with an additional four inches of legroom.