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Transport : Airlines

I recently had the pleasure of sampling Etihad’s Business Class, or Business Studio offering on board the mighty A380 from London to Abu Dhabi. This route is familiar to me, having flown it on several occasions, and having already tried the earlier Etihad Business Class on an A340, so I was very excited to be on the superjumbo this time around.

The Business Studio
Etihad calls their Business Class on the A380, ‘Business Studio’. This is located on the upper deck, along with ‘The Residence’ and First Class, which meant I turned right to find my seat. I passed the bar and service area as well as the ‘The Lobby’, which is a circular lounge shared by First and Business Class passengers. Here you can relax with a drink or snack, and it comes complete with seatbelts and connectivity ports.

The passenger seat layout is a unique ‘dovetail’ design with forward and rear-facing seats, arranged in a 2-4-2 system that enables direct aisle access. This design means all the window seats are forward-facing, whilst the ones near the aisle are rear-facing and the same applies to the middle seats. If you’re travelling with a companion, as I was, the even-numbered rows are the best seats on the A380 aircraft as they are side-by-side whereas the odd numbered rows are near the aisle. I have a preference for facing the front too, especially at take-off and landing, so I was very happy with my seat.

If you don’t like being near the bar or near the service areas and toilets, then I wouldn’t recommend rows 8, 17 and 18. Business Class is split up into 3 areas: the front area contains 42 seats, the middle area, 22 seats and another little area after that which has just 4 seats. For those travelling with babies, rows 23 and 25 are bassinet seats.

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The Seat
I was thrilled to find that the A380 seats were considerably more spacious than on the A340. The seat pitch measures at 73 inches with a width of 20 inches. It unfolds into a fully-flat bed that measures at 73 inches in length also giving you ample room to stretch your legs, even if you’re 6ft tall. There are privacy screens between the middle seats should you need it.

The seat itself was very comfortable and reclines to various positions, all made possible by a touch of a button. There was also a fantastic in-seat massage function which was just what I needed pre-flight as I didn’t have enough time for one in the lounge.

Ample storage space and work surfaces in and around the area certainly added to the spacious feel. To my left were two such areas where I found the amenity kit and headphones, as well as a place to keep shoes located under the foot-rest.

The inflight entertainment system was impressive and I couldn’t wait to get settled and have a play. Powered by Panasonic’s EX3 platform, the touchscreen hand controller also doubled as a ‘second screen’. Noise-cancelling headphones completed the ‘home cinema’ experience.

When I was ready for sleep, I reclined the seat to its full, flat-bed position. I was supposed to get a ‘turndown service’ but no one came specifically to me. I noticed though, that some people were getting their beds made up with a thin mattress. I thought it was part of the general service, I didn’t know I had to request it – something to take note of for future flights. I was fine with the duvet and pillow already provided anyhow (and I was very tired) so I wasn’t too bothered. They did however, provide pyjamas and slippers which were very comfortable but hardly ‘luxury loungewear’ – more like your everyday, average sleepwear.

Dining
The dining experience was excellent overall. Etihad have a ‘Dine Anytime’ inflight menu, so you can dine on demand. For a starter, I had the tomato soup with crème fraiche which came with warm bread, butter and olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping. The soup was pleasing enough but it was the bread that got my attention. It reminded me of a muffin – so soft and fluffy!

I then moved on to the grilled poussin for the main, served with watercress and quinoa gremolata. I couldn’t really taste the gremolata (herb condiment) in the quinoa but the poussin was cooked splendidly with crispy skin and was well-seasoned.

Finally, for dessert, I ordered the rhubarb and custard pie. I have a real sweet tooth, so I thoroughly enjoyed this in the comfort of the lounge watching CNN on the plasma screen.

I’m not one for alcoholic beverages whilst flying long-haul (they really dehydrate me), but from what I could see on the menu, they have quite a good selection. The champagne is French ‘Brut Mosaique’, there’s a Brancott Estate 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and a 2013 Italian Primitivo (which is described as being ‘more well known by its alter-ego Zinfandel’) among others.

Verdict
On the whole, I really enjoyed this flight. The staff were attentive and pleasant and I was able to get a good several hours sleep. The inflight entertainment on the 18.5 inch touch screen provided some of the latest blockbuster films and endless hours of other on-demand entertainment. The distinct advantages of flying on an A380 meant less cabin noise and a smoother take-off and landing. After a few nights stay in Abu Dhabi, I was naturally delighted to find I was on the A380 again for my next flight to Sydney!

If you enjoyed this review you may be interested in my other airline reviews, airport lounge reviews and my review of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best Airline In The Middle East. You can also read all my other Etihad long haul Business Class flight reviews.

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