There’s no denying that the Middle Eastern airlines (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways) have taken the global commercial aviation industry by storm, whether through massive aircraft orders, brand new mega airports or inflight offerings. Although our first experience booking Etihad business class did not go so well, this time we were determined to enjoy our experience. We flew Etihad business class from Dublin to Abu Dhabi, and then continued onto Kuala Lumpur.
Etihad Business Class Chauffeur Service in Dublin
Etihad offers a chauffeur service for first and business class passengers. This service isn’t offered in all cities and is restricted in the distance from the airport, usually 50-100 miles. Wanting to make the most of our business class experience, we ordered the car service the night before.
Because we are normally in Ireland visiting family in Limerick, any flight out of Dublin early in the day requires us to stay the night before in Dublin. We’ve made the trip this enough times that our routine is to catch the Dublin Coach from Limerick to just outside Dublin. This time we stayed the night at the Ibis hotel. The Ibis is conveniently located near the Dublin airport bus. Usually costing between 50-70 Euros, it serves it’s purpose.
The morning of our Etihad business class flight, the black Mercedes S Class sedan arrived at our Ibis hotel. The irony wasn’t lost on us that we were taking advantage of Etihad’s chauffeured sedan service from a budget hotel.
Etihad Business Class Lounge in Dublin
I’ve got to hand it to Etihad with their Dublin lounge. They secured one of the best lounge locations of any lounge we’ve been to. The proximity of the Etihad Business Class lounge to the tarmac at Dublin is incredibly close. For any #avgeek this is the place to enjoy their breakfast and watch the big beautiful Boeing 777-300ER glide into its gate.
The lounge offered a nice spread of cold and warm choices, including an a la carte menu. Amber and I decided to test out the a la carte option. Amber selected the crepes with maple syrup while I started the day with a nice omelet. The food quality was right there view the view: amazing.
Etihad’s Pearl Business Class Offering
The first time we saw Etihad’s Pearl Business Class was as a static display at the 2013 World Travel Market event in London. Knowing that we would be experiencing this amazing product first hand in a few weeks, or at least we thought we were, I felt like kid in a candy shop as I reclined fully in front of several expo attendees. Of course, during that trip, we flew a Jet Airways aircraft instead of Etihad business class. That’s one reason why we were so excited about this trip from Dublin.
Overall the seat was very comfortable, especially for somebody like me who stands 6’4” (1.95m). Every seat has access to the aisle. Amber and I were flying in the center seats, which include a privacy divider. Before take-off, one of the flight attendants came over to show us that we could lower the divider, but this was one of those times where each of us needed a little “me time” and the divider was quickly returned to its upright position.
Etihad Business Class Menu
Having flown a few different business classes, I have to give Etihad high marks for the quality of their food. Recently we flew Lufthansa’s A380 business class from Beijing to Frankfurt and would describe the food with one word: boring.
The creativity, flavoring, and execution of our Etihad business class meal service was the best we’ve experienced thus far. Etihad offers a “Dine Anytime” option on it’s flights giving passengers a chance to eat when they prefer. We didn’t take advantage of this our on our Dublin-Abu Dhabi flight but did on our connection out of Abu Dhabi.
The offerings during dinner service included an Arabic mezze, smoked trout, or pumpkin soup. We both chose the mezze.
For main course, we chose the Machboos spiced chicken breast with aromatic rice and traditional Arabic garnish. The other options included a beef tenderloin with vegetables and potatoes, a pan-seared salmon fillet, or a pappardelle pasta.
After dinner, we got a little greedy and enjoyed the cheese selection and an apple crumble cake with ice cream. There is something about having ice cream on an airplane that feels so decadent. Although, I do prefer a full sundae service, like United has on its United Global First service. Amber couldn’t grab a decent photo of the dessert options because they had already dimmed the cabin lights.
Breakfast before arrival included a selection of typical breakfast starters including fresh fruit, cereal, or yogurt. The main course selection included congee, scrambled eggs and beef sausage, a warm coconut waffle, or Arabic style scrambled eggs with lamb and potato.
Abu Dhabi International Airport Etihad Business Class Lounge
During our layover at Abu Dhabi International Airport, we continued to make sure we maximized our business class experience by grabbing a much need shower in the Six Sense Spa located in Etihad’s Premium Lounge. The showers are fully supplied with all we needed to clean up after a 7+ hour flight from Europe. And, we needed the shower after our free foot massage at the spa.
My only complaint about the Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi International is that it was crowded. We’ve only used this lounge a few times in our travels, and every time it’s crowded. Our flight from Dublin landed at 8pm with our next flight not leaving until 2am. Finding a seat wasn’t an easy task with many other travelers waiting for their flights. The room itself seemed to have been designed too small for the current amount of business class fliers. I’m not sure what Etihad is going to do to accommodate it’s growing number of premium passengers.
This experience was made possible by using our American Airlines miles. American and Etihad have a partnership, which allows AAdvantage members to redeem miles for flights on Etihad. Booking one way in Etihad Business Class from Dublin to Kuala Lumpur via Abu Dhabi cost us 55,000 miles each, plus tax. For over 14 hours of flying is was well worth it.
Our next experience with the Middle East Three will be flying Qatar Airways Business Class from Milan to Mumbai via Doha. Let’s see how they stack up.