Review: Etihad A380 Business Class Studios from LHR to AUH

by Anshul
1 comment
a seat in an airplane

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Etihad A380 Business Class – Introduction

In July 2023, Etihad reintroduced the A380 back in service on the Abu Dhabi (AUH) route to London Heathrow (LHR). And that remains the same even in February 2024. For summer 2024, Etihad has announced daily flights between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and New York (JFK) on the A380.

My experience on Etihad A380 in August 2023 was the second leg of our three-leg journey from New York (EWR) to Mumbai (BOM). My Business Class route to Mumbai was YOW-EWR-LHR-AUH-BOM, on a combination of Air Canada, United and Etihad Airways. The itinerary was booked using Aeroplan points priced at 106,000 + $73.

EY 12
Airbus A380-800
London (LHR) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Duration: 6h 55m
Seat: 10A and 12A

an airplane on a runway

EY 12 – A380 from London to Abu Dhabi

Other reviews from this trip:

Review: United Polaris Lounge Newark (EWR)

Review: United Polaris Business Class from Newark (EWR) to London (LHR)

Review: Etihad Business Class Lounge in London Heathrow (LHR)

Etihad A380 Business Class – Boarding and Cabin

A short walk from the Etihad Lounge in LHR, we made our way to the gate area well in advance to soak in the views of the aircraft. I don’t consider myself an AvGeek, but the sheer scale of the A380 commands instant awe with its majestic double-decker structure and the elegant sweep of its wings. Witnessing it up close, I couldn’t help but feel a part of something special.

Etihad A380 features a distinctive seat layout across its two decks – the upper deck is dedicated to premium cabins, while the lower deck is an all-economy affair.

an airplane at an airport

Ey 12 – three dedicated jet bridges for the A380

We boarded the aircraft using the dedicated jetbridge to the upper deck and turned right for the Business Class Studios. The cabin had a 1-2-1 layout with alternating front-facing and rear-facing seats. Even numbered rows were front-facing, while the odd-numbered rows were rear-facing seats. I had picked aisle seats 10A and 12A for our 7-hour journey.

an airplane with rows of seats and monitors

Etihad A380 Business Class Studios

Etihad A380 Business Class – Seats

Business Class Studios featured direct aisle access, a fully flat bed, an in-seat massage function and an 18-inch personal entertainment screen. Particularly impressive was the amount of storage space available in the studios. The double-panel storage compartments were a standout feature. These closed panels were perfect for smaller items you might want to access frequently during the flight, such as smartphones, glasses, or reading materials. The compartment offered a larger storage space, ideal for laptops or small bags. Beyond the window-side compartments, Business Class Studios offered an array of storage options around the seats – a dedicated space for footwear and a side console beside the seat perfect for personal items.

The business class studio also came with the iconic Armani/Casa matching pillow and duvet along with a memory foam mattress to make the fully lie-flat seat even plusher. The Aqua di parma amenity kit and the menu were nicely laid out by the side, which was a welcome sight to the overall look and feel of the studio.

a seat in a plane

Seat 10A – Etihad Business Class Studios

a seat in an airplane

Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

a screen on the side of a plane

Legroom in the Studios

a screen on the side of a plane

Impressive in-seat storage space

a beige arm rest with a blue pillow

More Storage – Seat 10A

a safety instructions on a screen

Etihad A380 Safety Instructions

a wallet and a glass of juice on a table

Aqua di parma amenity kit and Lemon mint drink

Etihad A380 First Class – Sneak peek

Just as we settled into our seats and the crew members introduced themselves, I checked in with the service director to see if I would have the opportunity to sneak peek at the first-class cabin on the flight. To my delight, I was ushered to the front of the Upper deck right away and given a few minutes to take pictures as the cabin was empty, with just the Residence being off-limits (occupied by a passenger). The front of the Upper deck on Etihad A380 is equipped with two distinct layouts;

  • The Residence: An exclusive 3-room suite at the front, offering a living room, bedroom, and private bathroom, designed for up to two passengers.
  • First Class Apartments: Spacious suites with a separate reclining lounge seat and full-length bed, a personal vanity unit, and a swivelling large-screen TV.
a row of seats in an airplane

Etihad A380 First Class cabin

a seat in a plane

Etihad A380 First Class Apartments

a seat and a tv in an airplane

Etihad First Class Apartments – Seat

Etihad A380 Business Class – Meal Service

Back in the Business Class Studios, the crew members came around with welcome drinks and collected our preferred meal, which would be served shortly after reaching cruising altitude. Etihad combines the best of both worlds by offering a Dine Anytime service from their A La Carte menu and the All Day menu options for those who would prefer to indulge a bit more (or replace regular meal service) with substantial snack options. Whether craving a midnight snack or a full-course meal at an unconventional hour,  passengers can choose from an extensive menu.

a menu with text on it

Menu on EY 12 – LHR to AUH

Having just flown in from North America, we prioritized sleep over a full meal service – I opted to skip starters and go straight to a Lamb Biryani as my Main, following another round of the Lemon Mint drink, of course. The biryani was beautiful, presented on Armani/Casa cutlery, accompanied by a small salad and bred options. I capped off the meal service with coffee and baklava.

a plate of rice and salad

Lamb Biryani

I requested some traditional Middle Eastern coffee and was told it was typically meant for First Class passengers (unlike Oman Air Business Class). Still, they served me one nonetheless (a bigger portion in a regular coffee glass). And it was every bit delicious. I thanked the cabin crew for going above and beyond when they brought me a top-up – yum!

a cup of coffee on a tray

Baklava and Traditional Coffee

Etihad A380 Business Class – Seat Malfunction

Two hours into the flight, I settled into my favourite activity inflight – a proper stretch on a fully lie-flat bed. Some discomfort woke me up, only to realize that my seat cushioning had deflated entirely, and I was lying on a rigid surface. Seats in premium cabins can include adjustable air-filled cushions that allow passengers to customize the firmness according to their preferences. However, this innovative feature can sometimes encounter issues like deflation, which leads to a less comfortable seating experience. For such instances, cabin crew are trained to reset the seat cushions’ inflation mechanism manually. After I informed the cabin director of the mishap, they quickly jumped into action with another crew member to fix the issue. In the meantime, I was invited to the lounge onboard, as the process would take a few minutes to reset.

The Etihad A380 features an onboard bar and a small lounge area exclusive to its First and Business Class passengers. Central to this area is a well-stocked bar serving premium beverages and snacks. While an excellent area to stretch legs or enjoy a short ‘change of scenery,’ I found the onboard bar a bit of a letdown. The design is almost an afterthought, with most of it dedicated to cramped seating space, with shelf space to showcase a few bottles of liquor.

a small round table in a room with a round table

Etihad A380 – Onboard lounge and bar

a seat with two seats on it

Etihad onboard bar options

a seat with a light in the back

Onboard bar seat connectivity

Within 10-15 minutes, I was informed that my seat cushioning had been restored. With 3 hours still to go, I returned to my seat and tried to sleep again. Unfortunately, I was woken up by the pre-landing announcement only to realize that the seat had again deflated. Sigh. This time, I decided to fold up the seat mattress and sit on it for the last 30 minutes of the flight. The technical snafu had significantly dented the overall experience of an otherwise enjoyable flight. To my surprise, the service director did not proactively offer any compensation or assurance of a report to be filed for the issue. And quite honestly, I was not well rested to take it up as an issue. I just wanted to be in a proper bed.

Etihad A380 Business Class – Takeaway

Despite the issue with the seat cushioning, my overall experience on Etihad A380 Business Class was pleasant. I love the onboard service, including the meals, cutlery, presentation, and cabin aesthetics. If I had to rank the Middle-East carriers for overall comfort and service in their respective A380 Business Class products, it would be;

  1. Etihad (Studios are the most spacious, incredible food and overall soft service)
  2. Emirates (crammed seats, inconsistent service standards)
  3. Qatar (A380 business class pods are average, and service tends to be impersonal/mechanical)
a screen with an airplane in the sky

Etihad A380 tail camera view

Related Reading: 

Etihad A350 Business Class, Chicago to Abu Dhabi

First Class Whirlwind – 5 First Class flights in 11 days

1 comment

Pradeep February 17, 2024 - 4:25 pm

I agree with EY, it’s my favourite gulf carrier. When I have to go to the middle east or Africa or India I will do Etihad > Qatar > Emirates > Air France > Royal Jordanian > Turkish > Lufthansa > British Airways > KLM from Canada. My employer tends to prefer AC of course and it’s always an uphill battle when I have to do my own research and find better priced J tickets than AC and Air India…


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