Etihad Airways‘ Business and First Class cabins are consistently ranked among the best, if not THE best in the world, over the last few years. So when we found and booked an amazing deal online six months prior for round trip flights from Manila to Brussels, Belgium for the 2017 winter holidays, we were all eagerly anticipating this trip. It was only a little less than USD 2,000 per head! Long haul Business Class flights like these normally cost at least USD 2,000-2,500. (The round trip flights between Manila and Abu Dhabi will be covered in a separate review in the future.) As an added bonus, our flights between Brussels and Manila had an almost 24-hour stopover in Abu Dhabi, so Etihad Airways set us up with a hotel for the night. And it wasn’t just any hotel – it was the luxurious Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Hotel that really took our breaths away.
Travelers normally only look forward to the destination of their trip, and often overlook being at the airport and boarding the aircraft because it can be so inefficient and exhausting. That is, if you’re flying economy class or worse, with a budget airline. But when you’re flying Business Class, you definitely have everything to look forward to: starting from a dedicated, priority business class check in counter where they sometimes literally roll out the red carpet, then expedited clearance into immigration and security, and finally having some relaxation and meals at the Business Class lounge before finally settling down at your spacious Business Class seat where the food is much better than the ones at the back and your flight attendants are extra courteous. (Sometimes they even address you personally by your name.)
Abu Dhabi to Brussels (Flight EY 57)
This review begins when we disembarked at Abu Dhabi Airport from our Manila flight, and we went through the transit process and headed to the Business Class lounge.
Etihad Airways’s hub is at Abu Dhabi Airport, but nonetheless we were surprised to find out they had multiple lounges across different terminals! We made the mistake of going to the one above when we should have gone to the one below:
The lounge was incredibly spacious and there were a LOT of people. I actually found it tiring to walk from our table to the buffet area or showers and back, because they were so far apart. Even though it wasn’t actually crowded, the number of people who were occupying such a spacious area made it almost feel like it wasn’t a lounge. With immaculately shiny white floors and ceilings, the interior looked clean and simple.
You can walk up to the bar and request for whatever drink they had available, but you simply have to try Etihad’s signature mint lemonade. These are also served on board the flight.
I don’t know why but pasta served in any lounge is always bad, and unfortunately there was no exception in this case. It tasted exactly the way it looked – bland. The rest of the food wasn’t particularly good either. It was no Michelin restaurant. If I’m being completely honest, it was quite disappointing. I do think this is always the case when you have to cater to hundreds of people at the same time.
There was no shortage of staff to assist guests.
On a positive note, the traditional Arabic desserts were really impressive!
…and so were the rest of the desserts.
Before we boarded, I made sure to use the shower at the lounge. I needed it after an 8-hour flight from Manila.
Finally, it was time to board!
To be honest, I found the space quite limited. You can probably tell I had a hard time taking a photo of my seat. This is because after flying Business Class with Oman Air 10 months earlier, my expectations of the seat space in a Business Class cabin were really high.
I found it quite surprising that there were no amenity kits given on the Manila to Abu Dhabi flight, and on this flight to Brussels the amenity kits were by request!
It’s obligatory to take a champagne photo in Business Class.
Although the lavatories were as cramped as the ones in economy class, they had branded toiletries – the same one they had in their amenity kits.
Since it was almost 3am, went to sleep immediately after take off so that my body could adjust accordingly.
On Etihad Airways, it’s dine on demand. This means that as opposed to a regular meal service for all guests at a scheduled time, you can inform your cabin crew when you would like to have your meal. In my case, I informed mine that I wanted to be woken up and have my meal in the morning before landing. I even remember liking the way the female flight attendant woke me up. I was sleeping when I slowly felt the pressure of a hand pressing down on my thigh, and I wasn’t startled when I awoke. The continental breakfast with yogurt and cookies I ordered before sleeping was served, and it was actually not bad.
I had another serving of an omelette with hash and sausages because I was feeling peckish after having just woken up.
Brussels to Abu Dhabi (Flight EY 58)
From Brussels Airport, Etihad Airways Business Class guests get to use the Brussels Airlines Business Class lounge.
The lounge comes with its own business center and computers.
There was an abundance of lounge chairs and a good view of the runway.
There were also dedicated seats for those who intend to work on their laptops.
The quiet room
Reading materials were plentiful
The buffet area reminded me of a kitchen… It must’ve been the lighting. Finally, it was time to board.
Taking a photo of my newly-purchased hand carry luggage on my seat.
My sister and I had aisle seats from across each other.
“Look at all this space! How fancy!” exclaimed her eyes.
The January 2018 edition of Etihad’s in flight magazine featured the best island in the world: Palawan in the Philippines
It was quite easy to customize the recline of your seat.
Our flight left in the morning, so I opted to have my dine on demand service immediately after take off. I began breakfast with some soup, which was actually quite tasty.
I noticed a strand of hair in the napkin… Anyway, I spent most of my time awake catching up on TV series and movies. I had to stay awake, because it would be night time when we arrive back in Abu Dhabi, until it was time to have dinner.
I had the salmon fillet, which I recall to be REALLY GOOD. Based on my experience, salmon on flights and in airport lounges is always a good idea!
Some cookies for carbs.
I noticed the lavatory was more spacious than usual.
The cabin crew gave out fast track passes for immigration in Abu Dhabi. Eventually, we landed.
The Fast Track lane at Abu Dhabi’s immigration literally had a red carpet! What’s great about flying Premium with Etihad and landing at Abu Dhabi Airport is getting to use Etihad Airways’ Arrival Lounge. This was the first time I knew that there was such a thing, and I was thoroughly impressed!
Similar to Etihad’s lounges at the boarding gates, their arrival lounge also had unlimited refreshments although there were no meals.
I had some light Arabic snacks and of course, some mint lemonade I can’t get enough of.
We left after using the washrooms and took a cab to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and eventually the Shangri-La Qaryat Al Beri Hotel, where we were completely blown away by its opulence.
(End of Review. Note: This is an independent and NOT a sponsored/paid review.)
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