Review: Etihad A350 Business Class, Chicago to Abu Dhabi

by Anshul
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a row of seats in a plane

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Introduction – Etihad A350 Business Class

Etihad’s A350 aircraft is state-of-the-art and has played a significant role in the Etihad Airways fleet since its introduction in 2019. Etihad A350 Business Class boasts spacious cabins, oversized windows, and enhanced lighting, offering passengers a superior level of comfort with the right amount of Bling. I was elated to be on the Chicago to Abu Dhabi segment, which clocked in over 13 hours on this beautiful aircraft.

EY 150 (Etihad Airways)
Airbus A350-1000
Chicago to Abu Dhabi (ORD – AUH)
Duration: 13h 25m
Seat: 6D and 6G

Etihad A350-1000

Etihad A350-1000 at ORD Terminal 5

This flight review is part of a series covering my recent trip to Australia;

Review – Etihad A350 Business Class from Chicago to Abu Dhabi
Review – Grand Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Review – Ritz-Carlton Melbourne
Review – Qantas Business Lounge Melbourne (Domestic)
Review – Qantas A330 Business Class from Melbourne to Sydney
Review – Park Hyatt Sydney
ANA Business Class Meal Extravaganza: A 22-Hour Culinary Journey

Booking – Etihad A350 Business Class

This flight was part of my one-way itinerary from Ottawa (YOW) to Melbourne (MEL), and I used 105,000 Aeroplan points and $166 in taxes to book the ticket. A one-way flight from ORD-AUH on Etihad business class would typically cost 90,000 Aeroplan points. However, for an additional 15,000 points, I booked the entire route from Ottawa (YOW) to Melbourne (MEL) with a 23-hour layover in AUH.

Cabin and Seat – Etihad A350 Business Class

Etihad Airways contracts the SAS business class lounge in Terminal-5 for its passengers, and the lounge does a disservice to the overall Etihad experience. The SAS lounge was small and crowded, the food options were boring, and the washrooms were a short walk outside the lounge. The boarding announcement for EY 150 was music to my ears, and I made my way through to the well-appointed self-boarding eGates. The Etihad A350 cabin offered a luxurious space through its sophisticated design. Configured in a 1-2-1 layout, each seat offered direct aisle access and ample room to stretch out.

Etihad A350 Business Class

Etihad A350 Business Class Cabin

The crew placed the Armani/Casa pillow and an Aqua di Parma amenity kit on the seat and the duvet tucked into the footwell. The gold trims around the seats offered the perfect touch of luxury. The seat included a massage function, an adjustable headrest, back support and cushion firmness functions. The seats also came equipped with sliding doors locked before take-off, but The beautiful table lamp added warmth and coziness once the daylight faded.

Travelling as a couple, I intentionally picked the middle seats, which offer easy interaction with a seatmate and an enclosed space once the doors shut (almost).

a seat in a plane

Seats 6D and 6G

 

a seat and a television on the back of a plane

Window Seat 6A

The window seat is perfect for solo travellers and offers two full windows to soak in the sunset/rise views. Regardless of window or middle, the console provided impressive storage without compromising elbow room.

a black and white object with a plastic bag inside of it

Seat storage

The in-flight entertainment system included a large HD touchscreen display, noise-cancelling headphones, and an extensive library of movies, TV shows, and games. Live TV, news, sports broadcasts, and in-flight WiFi offered various ways to connect with the outside world.

a device in a box

Power Plugs and IFE controls

The seats also offered the traditional USB-A and the more modern USB-C connectors, located under the seat, above the safety instructions card holder.

The Acqua di Parma amenity kit included a lip balm, body lotion, comfortable socks, a dental kit, and sanitizing material.

Acqua di Parma

Etihad amenity kits, by Aqua di Parma

The crew saw me busy taking pictures and allowed me to settle in before coming over to say hello, and offering the welcome drink options of Orange Juice, Lemon-Mint, or Champagne. I picked the iconic Lemon-mint drink to kickstart the journey. Oh-so-good!

a screen on a table with a drink in it

Welcome drink – Lemon Mint

Thanks to a slight delay in pushback, I got the chance at round 2 of the drink, for which I picked the Champagne (Devaux Grande Reserve Brut). I must say, I enjoyed the Champagne quite a lot as it hit the right balance between sweet and dry.

a glass of champagne on a table

Welcome drink (Part-2) – Champagne

 

a menu with black text

Etihad Business Class – Drinks Menu

Shortly after the welcome drinks, the cabin crew came around to take the order for the lunch course, which was to be served soon after take-off. Etihad business class service features an on-demand dining service for passengers who prefer to skip the scheduled lunch service and eat when ready. Between the two of us, we also had a pre-order of a Vegan Meal, which was served beautifully throughout our journey.

I went with the Arabic Mezze for my starter course, and for my mains, I requested the lamb Machbous. The crew confirmed running low on the lamb option since almost everyone before me had picked the same. The crew promised to do their best to serve my first choice and also took down the Cajun Prawns as my backup order πŸ™‚

a menu on a table

Etihad Business Class – à la carte menu

Etihad A350 Business Class – Meal Service

The meal service kickstarted shortly after take-off once the aircraft hit cruising altitude. Once again, I chose the Champagne, served in the beautiful Armani/Casa flute with warm nuts.

a glass of wine and a bowl of nuts

Drinks Service – Champagne with warm nuts

The Arabic Mezze was beautifully presented, with Hummus, Tabouleh, stuffed Grapevine, Cheese Fatayer, and olives. Oddly, the pita bread was served in the packaging. The wheatberry and mung bean salad, with olive oil, was also delicious.

Etihad A350 Business Class Meal

Starters – Arabic Mezze

 

a plate of food on a table

While I was happy to eat the cajun shrimp for lunch, the crew surprised me with my first choice of lamb machbous served with mint yogurt. So glad I picked the lamb, as it was delicious and lived up to its reputation.

a plate of food with a fork and knife

Mains – Lamb Machbous

Unfortunately, I was too full to indulge in a dessert course, so we shared a fruit plate to close out our fantastic meal service.

a plate of fruit on a table

Dessert – Fruit Plate

Etihad A350 Business Class – WiFi

Belly full, I wanted to finish some work before I tucked myself away for a few hours of rest. Etihad offered onboard WiFi packages, starting at $1.99 for chat/messaging. We bought the 6-hour package on each of our devices and got a good amount of work done. An hour into it, I was starting to feel tired, so I slept for a couple of hours and continued work afterward. Unfortunately, I could never reconnect after my initial session was closed off. The system kept expecting me to re-purchase a new package and would not recognize my previously bought package. It was a bit frustrating then, but I understand these things happen, so I “resigned” to sleeping some more instead.

a screenshot of a phone

 

a screenshot of a phone

 

a close up of a pillow

Armani/Casa Duvet and pillow

Speaking of sleep, the seats offered a good amount of width to sleep straight. Side sleepers may struggle with the tight space in the footwell. It was nice to slide the door close; however, they did not close completely, as shown in the picture below. The doors’ height is barely chest high when standing up, so it did not provide complete privacy, especially if someone hoped to nap while the cabin service was still on. Given the high ceiling of the A350, the seat felt pretty open even with the door “closed,” and I appreciated not feeling claustrophobic in a closed-off space.

a person lying in a bed with a tv on the back of the bed

Etihad A350 Business Class Seat, with closed doors

 

a tray with a cup and a packet of tea

Mid-flight snack and tea

After 5 hours of sleep, I opted for tea and a baklava snack. The cabin was quiet and dark for all passengers to sleep before the pre-landing service began—a perfect time to visit the washroom – which was surprisingly small. The black vanity and the well-lit mirror gave the toilet its ‘business-worthy’ aesthetics.

a man taking a selfie in a bathroom

Etihad A350 – Washroom

Still full from my lunch course, I also skipped the breakfast meal service offered before landing, opting to sneak in another couple hours of sleep right up to hear the thud of the plane landing in Abu Dhabi.

Etihad A350 Business Class – Criticism

As beautiful as the cabin was and as wonderful as the overall Etihad service was, it was not all a bed of roses. A close  inspection of the seat revealed some appealing cleanliness (or lack thereof). The pic ures below indicate that some parts of the aircraft had not been cleaned in weeks or months beyond the superficial eyes.

A little surprising, to be honest, as Etihad maintains a very high standard of quality assurance in their cabins.

a close up of a metal bar

a close up of a white surface

Etihad A350 Business Class – Take Away

Minor cleanliness issues aside, Etihad Business Class on the A350-1000 is an excellent use of points for a luxurious 13-hour ride from Chicago to Abu Dhabi. The overall Etihad s rvice and the hard product deserve the fan following and justify the aspirational travel opportunity that it is. Great use of Aeropla  points as well!

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