Etihad Airways introduces in 2012 a new upgrade program called Plusgrade, based on an auction system ; it allowed us to flew back to Paris in the awarded Etihad Airways Pearl Business Class, which was very convenient for a night journey. It was also the only remaining Business Class cabin we never experimented among the three Emirates companies, so perfect opportunity to review it!
Being upgraded from Economy to Business via Etihad Airways Plusgrade program is fine, but be aware that is doesn’t entitle you to access to the Business Class lounge or to enjoy the limousine service neither… And these are two very important points when you want to fly in premium classes! However, you are going to see that the A340 Etihad Airways Pearl Business Class cabin is good enough to justify by itself the upgrade and worth the extra value, especially for a 7-hour night flight.
First of all, it’s quite hard to say if we had the new or the old Business seat; indeed, the official Etihad website promote another cabin but the one we had looks far more modern and clean… Well, the most important is that it’s a nice 2-2-2 configuration with a large pitch and it allows couples a lot of privacy in the middle. It can be turned into a full flat bed at 180° with nearly a 2-meter size which is a very pleasant position to take advantage of the 10 inch screen ; at this moment we knew why it was a good idea to make an auction on Plusgrade! I recommend to book middle seats for couples and window ones for single passengers in the A340 aircraft; do not do the contrary otherwise your flight might be… disturbing. Then for sure materials are not as luxurious as First Class ones but seat fabric is good and the overall settings of each single seat are well-arranged, while the entertainment system provides plenty of recent movies. Etihad Airways Pearl Business Class is cheap by the price but certainly not by its onboard quality.
We took off from Abu Dhabi – Etihad Airways headquarter – for a long haul flight so I assume we experimented what the company has the best to offer in term of catering. Honestly it was not exceptional, a good a-la-carte dinner with a light omelet breakfast. I have to mention that we had an important delay at departure, so maybe it caused some issues with the catering because we were served some “meal tray like” food, which is something I couldn’t understand for such a premium company ; let’s say it was a no-luck problem… Fortunately, cabin crew is very professional and can enhance the overall experience. Customer service is always a key point in a luxury place, whether in a beach resort or in a plane at 10.000 meters high!
AUH to CDG, night flight on A340 in August 2014.