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Review: Etihad Business Class San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

In December, a ton of Etihad business class seats became available from San Francisco to Jeddah, just in time for my Umrah trip. Etihad has a great business class product, but I was really just relieved to be able to get our entire group on the same flight. The fact that it turned out to be in business class was a nice bonus. 

At check-in, I inquired about paid upgrades for my aunt and cousin. I was told, “We’re running a special, so it’s only $1800 one-way.” That’s about how much the ticket cost, we passed on the upgrade. While it was unfortunate that we were separated, the SFO Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge agent allowed all of us to enter the lounge when it was determined that my mom was an AAdvantage Gold member. She randomly got a trial offer in the mail that I filled out for her and it ended up working well on this trip because she not only got two additional guests into the lounge, she got upgraded to First Class on the Qatar Airways flight from Medina to Doha.

Etihad Airways Business Class Seats

After a brief visit to the lounge, we boarded our flight to Abu Dhabi. Etihad’s business class cabin was as gorgeous as pictured:

Etihad Business Class Cabin 777-200 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Cabin 777-200 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Shortly after we sat down, a flight attendant offered everyone orange and carrot juice, followed by towels and newspapers. I was seated in 1K, but switched with my grandmother so she could be near my mom. The foot cubby was pretty cramped, which I pointed out to here since she’d recently undergone knee surgery and might have found it uncomfortable, but she was fine with it. 

Etihad Airways Business Class Seat 1K on the 777-200 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Seat 1K on the 777-200 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways Business Class Seat 1K on flight 182 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Seat 1K on flight 182 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

If you want more legroom and space, the aisle seats are the way to go. I moved to seat 14G but then switched to window seat 14K across the way when it was clear it would not be occupied. Both seats were good, except the window by 14K was slightly obstructed. 

Etihad Airways Business Class Seat 14G on the 777-200 SFO to AUH

Etihad Business Class Seat 14G

Etihad Airways Business Class Seat 14K on 777-200 SFO to AUH

Etihad Business Class Seat 14K

Etihad’s business class seats are equipped with power outlets as well as USB ports. The USB port didn’t work, but the power outlet was sufficient because I was able to charge my phone on my laptop. The gap between the seat and window was also perfect for storing things within close reach. 

Etihad Business Class In-Seat Power Outlet and USB Port

Etihad Business Class In-Seat Power Outlet and USB Port

The seat was fairly comfortable for sleeping, though there was a slight bump on the headrest that was slightly bothersome. That said, I’ll never complain about a flatbed business class seat – especially after I spent the 16-hour return flight in economy class.

Etihad Business Class Amenity Kit and Pajamas

The amenity kit was well stocked with Scaramouche + Fandango products, which I later found out are actually for men. 

Etihad Business Class Amenity Kit on flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Amenity Kit on my flight from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

I had read in another review that Etihad Airways provided pajamas in Business Class. When I didn’t see any at my seat, I asked the flight attendant who confirmed that they did hand these out to passengers who asked. Throughout the flight, I noticed that my family and I were the only people wearing the pajamas – so they didn’t even bother to offer them to other passengers. The pajamas, while designed for someone with the body type of Spongebob Squarepants, were comfortable. 

Etihad Business Class Meal Service

Etihad Airways has an on-demand meal service in business class, meaning passengers can order whatever they want off the menu, any time they want. The flight attendants came by before takeoff to explain this to everyone, while offering to take meal orders. 

Etihad Business Class Menu on flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Menu San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Drink Menu on flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Business Class Drink Menu from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

I ordered breakfast, which was delivered almost two hours later. The Eggs were a bit runny, but the sausage and potatoes were good. 

Etihad Airways Business Class Breakfast Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Baked Beans

Etihad Business Class Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs with Sausage and Baked Beans

After dozing off for four hours, I ordered the Arabic mezze along with the Chicken Machboos.  The Arabic mezze was brought out 10 minutes later and the chicken followed 20 minutes later

Etihad Airways Business Class Arabic Mezze Appetizer onboard flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Arabic Mezze onboard Etihad flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

The Arabic mezze was delicious – especially the stuffed vine leaves. The Chicken Machboos was tender and juicy with a nice, spicy kick. I wasn’t crazy about the warm soda or that it took almost 15 minutes before the flight attendant brought some ice.

Etihad Airways Chicken Machboos business class meal Flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Chicken Machboos onboard Etihad Flight 182 from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

When nobody showed up after 20 minutes to clear the table, I pressed the call button. The FA showed up about 15 minutes later, apologized for the delay, and explained that the crew had been on break. She took my tray and offered to bring me dessert, so I ordered a latte and the brioche bread pudding.

Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding and Latte, Etihad Airways Business Class SFO - AUH

Brioche Bread and Butter Pudding and Latte, Etihad Business Class SFO – AUH

While I didn’t care for the orange rinds, the bread pudding was pretty good overall. The latte was perfect – nice and strong!

Etihad Airways Onboard Wifi

Etihad Airways offers wifi at a rate of $21.95 for 24 hours, so I decided to put my annual wifi credit from the Discover It Miles Card to  use. 

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The wifi worked fine for a couple of hours and then got disconnected. When I tried to get back online a couple of hours later, I was instructed to pay for it again. Considering how shoddy the connection was, I passed.

Etihad Business Class In-flight Entertainment

Aside from the non-working USB cable, my seat had another small issue: The IFE remote didn’t come out of its shell. The movie selection on the IFE was also poor. I ended up watching Suicide Squad, which had a super confusing and messy plot line but ended up being entertaining (seriously, can we get a Joker/Harley Quinn movie next time?).

Etihad Airways Business Class In-flight Entertainment on the flight from SFO to AUH

Etihad Business Class In-flight Entertainment

Etihad Business Class Service

The service in business class a bit slow, though the flight attendants were generally friendly and accommodating. It just took forever to get anything. I suggest you order before you get hungry, because it always took at least 30 minutes to get served.

The male flight attendants were much more attentive and quick with service, though they mostly served the left side of the cabin while I was on the right. I was never consistently served by the same flight attendants and sometimes I’d have to flag one of them down to bring me something another had forgotten about (i.e. a bottle of water, gate info, etc).

My mom chatted up one of the flight attendants, who got a little too comfortable and proceeded to rant about a certain ethnic group and their tendency to be jerks. That said, the service was generally friendly and the crew was helpful when needed. They requested a wheelchair for my grandmother and eventually brought us cards with connecting gate information. 

Etihad Business Class Abu Dhabi to Jeddah 

At 2.5 hours, the Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah was way too short for me to do a full review on. The flight was operated by a 777-300 featuring a 2-cabin set-up. The business class seats were exactly the same flatbeds we had on our flight into Abu Dhabi. The crew passed out a 3-course menu, with two options for the main dish:

Etihad Airways Business Class Menu Abu Dhabi to Jeddah

Etihad Business Class Menu Abu Dhabi to Jeddah

The salmon and mango coconut mousse cake were quite good, though the bread and salad ended up being too much. 

Salmon dish served in business class onboard Etihad flight 311 from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah

Salmon dish served in business class onboard Etihad flight 311 from Abu Dhabi to Jeddah

I would recommend Etihad business class to anyone traveling to the Middle East. The flatbed seats are comfortable, the food is delicious, and while the service was slow, the flight attendants were friendly. Except on the return flight, when my mom caught one of them trashing her to a co-worker in the galley. But we’ll get to that later…

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Ariana Arghandewal

10 Comments

  1. I flew with them BOM-AUH-SIN on 787. We were not offered pajamas and I didn’t ask for it. I usually carry my own sleeping gear with me but pajamas would be nice. I slept through the whole flight but crew made sure to offer me food and coffee/Tea when they saw I got up. Overall I think 787 is a better product from 777 (from pics)

  2. It would be interesting to quantify with solid datapoints how many muslim sounding names get upgraded to first class versus how many non muslim sounding names, all else being equal.

    Whites have a hard time accepting white previlige exists, maybe Muslims have their heads in the sand too or conveniently deny it. Or perhaps it truly doesn’t exist. Only hats data in hands of a scientist can prove it.

    • You are really on a Muslim tear today, aren’t you? I’d like your take on what Muslim Privilege actually is: Is it when they’re illegally detained at airports? When their mosques are burned down? When their homes are raided without warrants? Or is it when they’re banned from entering the country and the President demands the creation of a registry to keep track of them all? Oh yeah, lots of privilege here.

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