After an amazing visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai on our way home from the Maldives, we flew Etihad Airways in Business Class. True to our luxury for less M.O., we flew nearly free by redeeming American Airlines miles (you still have to pay airfare taxes). After flying (by redeeming Alaska Airlnes miles) Emirates First Class on their impressive A380 Airbus NYC to Milan and then Emirates First Class Boeing 777 Milan to Dubai, we figured our return flight would pale in comparison, but Etihad Business Class pleasantly surprised us. First of all, Etihad provided complimentary transportation by a private chauffeur from our hotel Park Hyatt Dubai, to the airport in Abu Dhabi. The complimentary transportation is provided for Business and First Class customers, even those redeeming miles, in 40 cities Etihad serves and within a 72 mile radius. The private chauffeur to the airport saved us a lot of taxi money traveling from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, as well as made us feel like VIP’s from the get go. Etihad also provides complimentary transportation home from the airport, so once again we enjoyed a free ride home and were excited to see our private chauffeur holding a sign with our names on it when we landed in DC. We made sure to tip our chauffeurs well.
Once at the airport in Abu Dhabi, we breezed right through a smooth check-in that feels very personal with seats across from the ticketing desk allowing you to begin your journey much more relaxed and comfortable.
Our Business Class tickets allowed us to fast track through the security gates at the airport, which again felt like VIP treatment and saved us a lot of time and hassle. Then we enjoyed the Etihad Premium Lounge prior to take-off, where we each enjoyed a complimentary 15 minute massage, drinks, and some light snacks since we wanted to save our appetites for the onboard dining. We left the lounge feeling like a million bucks before we even set foot on the airplane with its spa, salon, and wonderful food and drinks. After the lounge, we went through US Customs and Immigration in Abu Dhabi, which was something we’ve never experienced before abroad. Since we have Global Entry, it was a quick and easy process. Etihad has a second smaller lounge where we waited until we were able to board the flight, and had the chance to try a few more snacks and drinks.
Once boarding the flight, we were greeted with champagne from friendly flight attendants dressed in beautiful stylish suits. The Business Class cabin has large suites that felt luxurious enough to be First Class. Bertaut and I were seated next to each other with a wall that could be raised in between us if we got sick of each other. 😉 The seats fully recline to allow the perfect night’s sleep and plenty of leg room even for giants like Bertaut. Each seat has its own TV screen with many options for in-flight entertainment. Bertaut enjoyed a Bollywood film while I worked on articles for the blog.
We received cotton pajama sets, slippers, and travel bags full of goodies to make the flight more comfortable, such as ear plugs, lip balm, socks, and lotion.
Before take-off, we were given menus and explained that their Dine Anytime menu allows you to eat on our own schedule, not when they decide to feed you, which is another huge perk for us. It’s so disappointing when you drift off to sleep on the airplane only to wake up realizing you missed dinner or you start to get sleepy but then have to stay awake because you don’t want to miss the meal. There’s no need to worry about that when you can dine anytime, and can even have more than one dinner, which we did during the long flight home. The all day menu included breads, pastries, yogurt, cereal, BBQ beef sandwich, omelette, and vegetable upma. We enjoyed some delicious meals onboard as well as some excellent wine and champagne. Check out photos below of the menus as well as what we enjoyed during our flight, starting with some Jacquart champagne and nuts. We enjoyed between the two of us during the course of our flight: a delicious Arabic mezze starter, a seafood starter with crab, shrimp, avocado and red pepper, Arabic spiced grouper with Egyptian rice and sautéed vegetables, pulled barbecue beef sandwich with turkey rashers, cheese and grilled baby marrow, an Indian dish called vegetable upma, rawa idli and medu vada with moolangi sambar, Bannoffee pie with toffee sauce, strawberry ice cream, and a chive omelette with cumberland sausage, hash browns and tomato for breakfast. Each meal (except breakfast, although we could have asked for mimosas if we had wanted them) was paired perfectly with wine, based on recommendations from the Food and Beverage Manager David, who was extremely personable and friendly throughout the entire flight. The service was excellent. The flight attendant to guest ratio is not as favorable in Business Class as in First Class, so you don’t quite feel like royalty but definitely feel like a VIP.
The service from the flight crew was outstanding. They took such good care of us that we felt like we were traveling First Class instead of Business Class. The food was excellent and we were able to get some decent sleep in the comfortable chairs that our flight crew converted to beds for us. We enjoyed speaking with our Food and Beverage Manager David so much that we have even stayed in touch after the flight, and he’s given us recommendations for our travels. We haven’t flown First Class on Etihad Airways yet to compare it to Business Class, but given how wonderful we were treated in Business Class, I can only imagine how exceptional First Class must be. We are dreaming of traveling in one of their unparalleled Residences or First Class Apartments. That is definitely on our bucket list. We have a friend who booked his on points and raved about how amazing it was, so hopefully we will be able to share that experience with you in the next few years. Until then, we will be trying out and reviewing other airlines (like Lufthansa First Class coming soon) and enjoying traveling like millionaires. If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to our RSS feed and email newsletter to get more tips to travel like a millionaire for less.