Etihad business class review aboard the Airbus A350


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Quick take: Stylish seats, high-end amenities, on-demand gourmet meals and excellent service all set Etihad business class apart from the pack.


  • Closing doors make Etihad’s latest business-class seats seem ultraprivate.
  • High-tech touches include wireless charging pads and Bluetooth connectivity.
  • They provide sophisticated services and amenities like on-demand dining, Armani Casa serviceware and Acqua di Parma amenity kits.


  • Business class is in a single, large cabin, so service in the back rows might take noticeably longer.
  • The airline’s U.S. preclearance lounge in Abu Dhabi could use some updates.
  • No pajamas are provided, so bring your own.

Joining the growing group of airlines that have adopted suite-style business-class seats with closing doors, Etihad unveiled its latest business-class seats aboard the Airbus A350-1000 back in March 2022.

The airline began operating A350 flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in July of that year, giving U.S.-based travelers yet another excellent option for transiting to various corners of the globe via the Middle East. Since then, Etihad has begun flying its A350s to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) as well.

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While sliding doors provide passengers with an extra level of inflight privacy, the suites also feature high-tech features like entertainment systems with Bluetooth connectivity and wireless charging pads. Chic finishes like stylized sconce lighting, faux marble surfaces and Acqua di Parma amenities and Armani Casa serviceware also elevate the experience.

I redeemed American Airlines AAdvantage miles to fly from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai (BOM) to Chicago via Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) in September so I could test out Etihad business class for myself. Here’s everything you need to know to book Etihad business class and how to make the most of the experience on board.

How much does it cost to book Etihad business class?

How much it costs to book Etihad business class will depend on your origin and destination, as well as whether you’re flying one-way or round-trip.

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Round-trip tickets from the various U.S. airports where Etihad operates — which are just O’Hare, JFK and Dulles International Airport (IAD) at the moment — to Abu Dhabi start at around $5,600 over the next several months. If you’re flying via Abu Dhabi to another destination, the airfare can fluctuate even further. For instance, I was traveling between Mumbai and Chicago, and airfares on that route start at around $4,200 round-trip over the next several months.


Etihad is partners with American Airlines, so you can redeem AAdvantage miles for award tickets on Etihad flights. Award tickets in business class on Etihad from the U.S. to either the Middle East or the Indian subcontinent start at 70,000 miles each way, which TPG values at about $1,050, plus taxes and fees.

Looking just at the route I was on between Chicago and Mumbai, here’s how much you can expect to pay in either cash or miles for a round-trip ticket on Etihad.

Class Economy Business class
Airfare $1,019-$2,879 $4,171-$6,921
American AAdvantage miles 80,000 + $71 taxes/fees 140,000 miles + $71 taxes/fees

If you’re looking to stock up on American Airlines AAdvantage miles, you might want to consider the following credit cards:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, American Airlines AAdvanatge MileUp, AAdvantage Aviator Red and the AAdvantage Aviator Business cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Etihad business-class passengers can select seats for free, though if you book an award through a partner program like American AAdvantage, you might have to call Etihad directly to select or change seats. Although I had my Etihad confirmation number, for instance, I could not change my seats online and had to call.

The airline provides a handy baggage allowance calculator on its website, but business-class passengers on the airline’s long-haul flights between India or the Middle East and the U.S. can bring a personal item of up to 5 kilograms (11 pounds), a carry-on bag of up to 12 kilograms (26 pounds) and two checked bags of up to 32 kilograms (70 pounds).

Checking in to and boarding Etihad business class

Etihad business-class passengers can take advantage of the following priority services at the airport.

Priority check-in Yes
Lounge access Yes, Etihad and partner lounges
Does the airline participate in TSA PreCheck? Yes
Priority boarding Yes, in Group 1 after preboarding

My Etihad business-class experience comprised two flights. The first was from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi, departing at 9:55 p.m. and arriving in Abu Dhabi two hours, 55 minutes later at 11:20 p.m. My second flight from Abu Dhabi to Chicago departed at 2:45 a.m. and arrived in Chicago 14 hours, 55 minutes later, at 8:40 a.m.


At the airport in Mumbai, I had access to the business-class check-in desks, and there were no other passengers waiting, so within about 90 seconds, I got my boarding pass and a pass to the Adani Business Lounge, which is Etihad’s partner facility at the airport.

After immigration and security, an airport escort took me directly to the lounge, where I was greeted by name and escorted to a seating area of my choosing — there were various living room-style vignettes, a cafe-style area with a buffet, a high-top bar and a quiet zone for relaxation.

I was treated to a complimentary 30-minute foot massage with a view of the lounge’s living wall (they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis) before taking a meeting on Zoom using the free Wi-Fi. Because I had not one but two flights in store, I abstained from a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne.

I also skipped the buffet, which included both cold and hot dishes such as various finger sandwiches and cakes, cold cuts and cheese, bread and Middle Eastern dips and some Indian specialties, though they looked delicious.

About 45 minutes before my flight, my escort was back at the lounge entrance to take me, via electric cart, to my gate, where boarding was about to commence.

I’ll skip ahead to my Abu Dhabi flight to talk about the experience there before detailing what awaited me on board.

Despite my late-night arrival and early-morning departure in Abu Dhabi, the airport was bustling. I made my way to the U.S. preclearance facility, where my Global Entry came in handy for skipping a short line and getting through customs and immigration quickly. I love the fact that you can preclear customs here rather than having to do so after landing in the U.S. since it meant I could make a fast connection time in Chicago.

The dedicated lounge facility in this part of the airport is on the way to the gates, so I popped in for a quick look around. The lounge is on the small side, but has a buffet with plastic-wrapped items like chicken masala and grilled vegetable sandwiches, beef chimichurri with baby potato salad, fruit bowls and croissants, as well as a full bar and self-serve espresso machines.

About 50 minutes before departure, I made my way to the gate area so I could be among the first to board.

On a side note, Abu Dhabi has since opened its Midfield Terminal A with plans to move most operations there, where Etihad also has new lounges. It’s not yet clear whether the U.S. preclearance facility will also migrate over there.


How comfortable was Etihad business class?

Etihad’s Airbus A350-1000s have 44 business-class pods arranged in 11 rows of four seats across in a 1-2-1 pattern.

All the seats are in a single, large cabin. While some might feel this creates a less exclusive ambience, I appreciated the open and airy feel of the cabin, which was heightened thanks to the lack of overhead bins running down the middle of the cabin (there was still plenty of space for everyone’s carry-on bags).


As for the seats themselves, here are the layout and dimensions.

Number of seats 44
Cabin layout 1-2-1 
Seat recline 79 inches, fully flat
Seat width 22 inches (27 with the armrest down)
Screen size 18 1/2 inches

These seats are customized Collins Aerospace Super Diamond models, which might look familiar because it’s the same framework British Airways selected for its Club Suites. Etihad is also installing suite-style business-class seats on a batch of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, though those are slightly different.


Etihad’s A350-1000 business-class seats are arranged in a reverse-herringbone pattern, so the seats on the sides are angled toward the windows while the pairs in the middle are angled toward one another.

That makes the side seats great for solo travelers, while those flying with a companion might opt for middle seats, which also have privacy dividers in case you need some alone time.

Best seats for solo travelers A and K seats
Best seats for couples D and G seats

The seats have stylish touches like brown upholstery and leather headrests as well as faux-marble finishes on their side consoles.

Stylized sconce lights have gold-toned fretwork shells whose patterns are meant to evoke Abu Dhabi’s swaying palms. Next to the lamp, there is a kind of clip holding the menu for the flight and a knob for hanging headphones, and then next to that is a small flip-out reading light.

Seats have a shoulder strap that flight attendants instruct passengers to hook into the seat belt for safety during takeoff and landing, but during flight, you can just use the waist belt portion.


Thanks to the A350’s next-generation LED lighting, the cabin illumination is set in a sequence to help lessen jet lag, dimming gradually as passengers drift off to sleep, for instance, and brightening subtly like a desert sunrise before the pre-descent meal is served so that passengers wake up more gently.


Each seat is 22 inches wide between armrests, though you can lower the aisle-side one to be level with the seat cushion, giving you 5 extra inches (it also contained a bottle of water).


The distance between the seatback and the entertainment screen is 39 inches, which creates a sense of space but still makes it easy to control the system as a touchscreen without having to lean too far.

The seat controls are located along the side console in the form of a touchscreen that allows you to lower and raise both the leg rest and the backrest of the seat for your own personal ideal position. There are also three preset position buttons: upright for takeoff and landing, lounge mode relaxing and lie-flat.


There is also a button to control the seat’s lighting and another to extinguish it altogether. The seat has both ambient lighting and overhead lighting if you want something a little brighter to work or read with, and you can control those with the handheld remote docked in one of the console cubbies, as well as use it to call the flight attendants.


Beneath the controls was a narrow leather armrest that did not move but was comfortable to lean on.

As mentioned, one of the special features of these pods is the fact that they have doors for privacy that slide out from the side of their shells. There is a 5-inch gap between the ground and the bottom of the door, and the door itself is 36 inches high, so it doesn’t get anywhere near the cabin ceiling, but it still provides a sense of seclusion when shut. For even more privacy, you can engage a do-not-disturb indicator via the entertainment screen or remote.

The flight attendants lock the doors into their open position for takeoff and landing, then come through the cabin at cruising altitude to unlock them so passengers can open and close them on their own. These were very easy to use, sliding open and shutting smoothly.

When opened, there is a space of 17 inches between the armrest and the preceding seat’s shell through which you can enter or exit the seat, which makes it easy to access the aisle.


On the opposite side of the seat (along the window in the side seats and in the middle for center seats) is a console with a faux-marble finish that’s 10 inches at its widest.


At the end closest to the entertainment is a wireless charging pad that worked fine with my iPhone 13, if slowly, juicing up my battery at about 1% every three minutes.


Next to that, you can pop open two compartments. One is small and shallow and good for small items like a wallet or glasses. The other is slightly deeper and contains the touchscreen remote for the IFE system, a headphone jack and a universal AC plug.

Both USB-A and USB-C ports are embedded in a leg-side compartment, which can make them a little hard to find, but it does help keep stray wires out of the way and it’s nice to have both port types.


A bi-fold table in dark wood grain slides out from under the entertainment screen and measures 17 1/2 inches wide and 16 1/2 inches long, so it’s a very large surface with plenty of room for a laptop. Since the table is on a track, it’s also convenient to roll it forward or back so that it’s easier to get in and out of the seat.

The seat reclines to a fully flat bed that’s 79 inches long, and the footwell at the end is 16 inches wide, 12 inches high and 5 inches deep (though in reality, it’s deeper since the chair connects to it in lie-flat mode). While I was comfortable shifting from one side to the other, those with large feet might feel slightly restricted. The seat’s cushioning was thick and soft, which made it very comfortable, and the pillow-turned-mattress pad meant it was nice not having to sleep directly on the seat’s surface.

Overall Etihad’s A350 business-class seats feel upscale and sleek, but still snug. I just wish they had more storage compartments for things like a laptop or small electronic device so you didn’t have to keep yours in the overhead. Although the cabin does not have individual air nozzles over passengers’ seats, the crews on both my flights kept the temperature comfortably cool throughout.


Etihad’s A350-1000s have four lavatories for business-class passengers, two at the front of the cabin near the jet’s smaller galley and two at the back of the cabin near the galley that separates business class from economy. That amounts to an 11:1 passenger-to-lavatory ratio, which is pretty low, but economy passengers nip into the back ones, so you might find a wait at certain times, like after takeoff or before landing. That said, the flight attendants kept them all spotless throughout the flight.

Etihad’s lavatories are very sharp, with mosaic-style tiling on the floor and backsplash, black countertops, dark wood-grain drawers and dramatic lighting. I especially appreciated the no-touch sink and toilet flush as well as the hand sanitizer and Acqua di Parma lotion provided.

Amenities in Etihad business class

The amenities on board my two flights varied slightly as the first from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi was just under three hours, while the one from Abu Dhabi to Chicago was one of the airline’s longer routes.

On the first flight, I boarded to see seats stocked with medium-size geometrically patterned pillows and gray Armani Casa blankets that were cottony on one side and fleece on the other. Menus were waiting in the seat-side clip, but flight attendants came through passing out headphones to those who wanted them. No amenity kits were offered.

On my second, longer flight, seats were provisioned with patterned lumbar pillows, which turned into mattress pads, and larger, soft pillows for sleeping as well as larger gray Armani Casa duvets without a fleece surface.


I also spotted a slim yellow Acqua di Parma amenity kit.


It contained:

  • Acqua di Parma hand cream
  • A sampler of Acqua di Parma “Futura” cologne
  • A dental kit
  • Sanitizing hand wipes
  • Socks
  • Eye mask
  • Hand sanitizer

I found the headphones in the armrest with the bottle of water, and flight attendants offered foam earplugs to those who wanted them.


Unfortunately, the airline does not offer passengers pajamas, so I had brought my own clothes to sleep in. There are no slippers, either, which means you have to put your shoes on to go to the lavatory and then take them back off again. Not onerous by any means, but something the airline might consider adding.

The seats’ entertainment screens are 18 1/2 inches across diagonally and ultracrisp. You can control them either with the remote or as touchscreens themselves.


The content was very up to date, with new releases like “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” There was also a large selection of television series, including a special section for HBO Max releases, plus music albums sorted by genre and a smattering of live TV channels like CNN and BBC News.

The entertainment system was well stocked and easy to navigate, and I appreciated the top bar showing the flight progress in case I lost track of the time. While the noise-canceling headphones the airline offers are basic, passengers can link their own Bluetooth headsets to the system and use them instead.


Etihad offers various Wi-Fi packages. On my longer flight, you could purchase a text-only pass for $4.99 or a full-flight “Surfing” pass with unlimited data for $19.99. I selected the latter, was able to connect quickly and found decent speeds of over 14Mbps download and 2.57Mbps upload; good enough to email, browse the web and even upload some photos, albeit slowly.

Pro tip: Create an account when you’re purchasing your Wi-Fi pass so that you can easily switch service between devices.

How was the food in Etihad business class?

Etihad offers dine-on-demand service in business class. However, my first flight was short and departed just after local dinner time, so the menu was titled “After Take-Off” and everyone was served at once.

Before that happened, though, flight attendants came through the cabin offering passengers a choice of Champagne or juice and brought me a glass of sparkling water when I requested one.

Once the plane door was closed, they came through to take everyone’s order for a post-departure beverage and the meal.

The menu choices included:

  • A starter of dahi bhaila creamy dip with mint and chutney
  • Tandoori raan (lamb) with gravy, sukha bhutta palak curry and butter naan
  • Zaffrani paneer tikka with green pea pulao, sukha bhatta palak, tandoori broccoli and dal makhani lentils
  • Sweet boondi with saffron and cardamom malai for dessert

The wine choices included:

  • Devaux Grande Reserve Brut non-vintage Champagne
  • Escudo Rojo Reserva Chardonnay from Chile
  • Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand
  • Chateau des Landes Merlot from Bordeaux
  • Two Hands “Gnarly Dudes” Shiraz from Australia

There was also a wide selection of other beverages including both sparkling and still waters, four types of fruit juice, Coca-Cola, Sprite and other soft drinks, a full coffee and tea menu plus plenty of spirits including Chivas Regal 18-year-old whisky, The Botanist gin and Grey Goose vodka.

The crew brought beverages and warmed nuts out about 20 minutes after takeoff, and passed through the cabin refilling drinks one more time before the meal service, which started 40 minutes after that.

Everything came on a single tray, and I was served a plate with roti and butter along with the rest of the meal and a glass of the Bordeaux.


Although simple, the presentation was beautiful thanks to the Armani Casa plates, cutlery and glasses, all of which had a very contemporary and sleek look, and the lamb was tender and flavorful.


I finished in about 20 minutes and my tray was cleared immediately so I could get a little nap in before landing.

On my longer flight to Chicago, flight attendants passed through the cabin at regular intervals offering passengers predeparture beverages including Champagne, water, orange juice and lemon-mint juice.

During taxi, the crew also came to ask each passenger if they’d like to dine after takeoff or go right to sleep. Most passengers seemed to want to stay up, as did I, though they could dine anytime they wanted thanks to the airline’s policy.

The menu on this flight was more extensive, including both “all-day” and “a la carte” sections, which I took to mean snacks and a light pre-landing meal for the former and a heartier post-departure meal for the latter.


The a la carte menu included the following choices:

  • Arabic mezze
  • Poached salmon tartar with cranberry relish and fried capers over rye crostini
  • Red pepper soup with sweet corn salsa and tarragon oil
  • Braised beef shortribs with carrot puree, roasted celeriac and balsamic-glazed pearl onions
  • Seared sea bream filet with white bean and walnut over kale with orange butter
  • Savory chicken foga over rice with mint yogurt and dakous tomato sauce
  • Paneer mutter with quinoa kofta as the vegetarian dish
  • A cheese plate
  • Warm almond and cherry pudding in vanilla sauce
  • Marble cheesecake with strawberries
  • A fruit plate
  • Haagen-Dazs ice cream

The all-day menu included:

  • Various pastries
  • Cereal
  • Muesli with yogurt and berries
  • Vanilla pancakes with caramelized banana and strawberry
  • A steak sandwich with Emmental cheese and red onion chutney
  • A cheddar-cheese omelet with herb chicken sausages, halloumi and asparagus rosti
  • Assorted samosa
  • Snacks like chips, cookies and baklava

The wine list on this flight included the same options as my first one plus a few extras like:

  • Ken Forrester “Terre Noire” Chenin Blanc from South Africa
  • Alto Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa
  • DeBortoli “Noble One” fortified Semillon from Australia
  • Graham’s 10-year-old Tawny Port

I selected the mezze along with the Chenin Blanc for my starter and it was served with a small, fresh side salad and a variety of bread, both rolls and pita. For my main, I had the chicken with the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a nice, spicy pairing.


And then I tried the almond-cherry pudding for dessert, which was warm and fluffy but not overly sweet.


The entire meal service took just over two hours into the flight, which could have gone quicker. But given the length of time we were in the air, it was a good way to pass some time and stay awake.

After dinner, I got a solid nine hours of sleep (it had been a long travel day), then ordered a cappuccino before asking for the omelet, which was delicious and served with warm pastries including a pain au chocolat.


I had plenty of time to freshen up and get dressed again before landing in Chicago.


As for the service — on both my flights, the crew was simply exemplary. Not only were there two dedicated flight attendants per aisle, but the cabin managers and pursers regularly came through to help with service, have warm, casual conversations with passengers and generally ensure that folks had anything they needed.

For example, the passenger sitting in front of me on my long-haul flight seemed to be having a health issue with long bouts of very loud coughing, and the flight attendant who was looking after me asked if I would like to move to a quieter empty seat toward the back of the cabin after my meal for a more peaceful rest. I really appreciated that gesture and took him up on it, which meant a long, uninterrupted snooze and a much more pleasant flight.

The ground staff in Abu Dhabi, including airline representatives and lounge attendants I spoke with were equally solicitous and helpful, making for an easy-to-manage transfer experience and a pleasant time in the lounge between flights.

Would you recommend Etihad business class?

Etihad offers one of the world’s best business-class experiences, especially with the new suite-style pods on its A350-1000s. The seats are sleek and private thanks to closing doors, and the Armani Casa blankets and serviceware give the experience a chic feeling.


Given the airline’s all-day, all-night flight scheduling, letting passengers dine on demand is an excellent amenity, as are affordable Wi-Fi packages and high-tech entertainment systems. Although I wish Etihad would offer better-stocked amenity kits and extra touches like pajamas, the service, high-caliber cuisine and comfortable seats make up for those shortcomings, and I’d be eager to fly the airline again soon.

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