What makes Etihad so special?

They say that Etihad is “Flying Reimagined”. I agree, and would even go as far as saying that Etihad may be the finest airline in the skies right now. Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi operates more than 1,000 flights per week to destinations on all inhabited continents, with a fleet of around 105 aircraft. Only in operation since 2003, Etihad is the second most well-known airline in the United Arab Emirates, after Dubai’s Emirates. Etihad are one of the few airlines in the world to incorporate both the B787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380 in its fleet, with 69 of the former on order, and 9 of the latter.

Where Etihad flies (map courtesy of Avis28)
Click to enlarge to see where Etihad flies (map courtesy of Avis28)

Looking at Etihad’s route network, you can see by the red colourings which countries they serve. I would like to see Etihad focus more on Africa, and this is a weak point for them, as well as Europe. When you compare them to Qatar Airways or Turkish Airlines, Etihad are quite low in presence in Africa.

Etihad's ground staff are always smiling
Etihad’s ground staff are always smiling
An Etihad stewardess
An Etihad stewardess

In all my flying experience with Etihad I have been left extremely impressed with every part of their operation. From the ground staff and boarding process, to the inflight entertainment and catering, as well as the friendliness of the stewardesses and the cleanliness of the cabin itself. Even Etihad’s home at Abu Dhabi International Airport is among the finest in the world.

Etihad B777 economy class cabin on a flight from London to Abu Dhabi
Etihad B777 economy class cabin on a flight from London to Abu Dhabi

Recently Etihad’s economy class cabin was voted the best in the sky, and I would go along with that. Live TV is now a big thing onboard, and I always feel at home when I can watch BBC World during a flight, and Etihad offer this service even in their much-vaunted economy class cabins (Singapore Airlines, you next?). Read all about an economy class trip with Etihad from Jacob Pfleger.

etihadlounge

The lounge at London Heathrow
The lounge at London Heathrow

Before and after your flight with Etihad, you can be sure of some amazing treatment. In many premium lounges, including at London Heathrow in the photo above, there is even a Six Senses Spa to get you pampered before your flight (Emirates actually have this service onboard their A380 – you decide if it’s better before or during the flight), and there is always a good selection of meals and drinks available for those premium passengers.

Inside the Etihad A380 Suites
Inside the Etihad A380 Suites

Late in 2014, Etihad introduced the newest aircraft in its fleet – the Airbus A380 – and unveiled a first class cabin, complete with apartments and a residence (complete with private butler!). The First Class Residence is probably the most expensive air ticket in the sky (£10,000 return between Abu Dhabi and London). The apartments are also sumptuous, the décor of which really blends in with the kind of professional image Etihad is trying to promote.

Etihad's new Dreamliner
Etihad’s new Dreamliner

I have already compared Etihad with the other Middle-East airlines (and Turkish Airlines) and it is clear to see that they do things much more consistently than the others, and with far fewer weaknesses. I have never had a bad flight with Etihad and would book with them again in an instant if I had the chance. With a modern fleet, well-priced fares, and a respected workforce, it is not difficult to see what makes Etihad so special – and they deserve all the praise they get!

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