In this trip report, I review a flight in Business Class or “Pearl Business” on Etihad Airways Airbus A330 from Brussels to Male (Maldives) via Abu Dhabi. Both flight legs were operated by an Airbus A330-200, which we have previously reviewed on a trip from Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi, although the previous “Etihad” flight was disappointingly on a dated Air Seychelles plane cabin-staffed by Etihad. Both flights in this review were thankfully on Etihad planes.
Etihad has 26 A330-200’s in its fleet, mainly used for medium-range flights to secondary European cities and Asian getaways. Seats are in a staggered layout with a good entertainment selection and delicious food. The Business Class product on all of Etihad’s wide-body aircraft (Airbus A330, Airbus A340, Boeing 777) is identical to the one described in this trip report, although Business Class on Etihad’s Airbus A380 and their Dreamliner offers more luxury. As you can read in this review, First Class on the Etihad A380 is even better with onboard showers! Etihad Airways features in our top 10 best airlines for long-haul Business Class.
The pre-flight airport lounges for this trip were the Star Alliance Lounge At Pier B, Brussels Airport and the Etihad Airways Premium Lounge in Abu Dhabi Airport.
Business Class Cabin
In Etihad’s A330-200, 22 Business Class seats are located at the front of the plane. The seats’ layout is staggered (1-2-1), which means that all seats face forward and that every passenger has access to the aisle without having to climb over their neighbor.
The Business Class Seat
Pearl Business Class seat has a generous pitch of 72 inches (183 cm). The seat width is 19.1 inches (48,5 cm), which can feel slightly narrow for larger passengers. Each seat comes with storage space, an in-seat power supply, and a large table to dine or work. The lie-flat bed is 6 foot one inch (186 cm), including the footrest. No duvet is provided to enhance sleeping comfort on these medium-haul flights, which is a shame. Etihad only provides turndown service (including a mattress, cotton pajamas, and slippers) on longer flights. Emirates and Qatar Airways do offer turndown service on both medium- and long-haul flights.
Each Pearl Business Class Seat is equipped with a personal 15 inch (38 cm) LCD screen with plug and play features that allow passengers to upload their own games and create personalized music playlists. In-flight telephony and Wi-Fi is also available on newer aircraft. Etihad offers more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment (so-called E-box) with a wide selection of films, TV shows, live TV channels, audio programs, and CDs.
Each seat also comes with an extremely comfortable blanket (my favorite airline blanket in the skies!), a decently sized pillow, and a noise-canceling headphone.
What are the best seats on Etihad’s A330-200?
The window seats in row 7 (7A and 7K) are furthest away from the kitchens and toilets. They’re also the longer version of the seats if you’re taller. The other four window seats (9A, 9K, 5A, 5K) in the cabin are a good bet if you can’t get the ones in row 7.
What are the worst seats on Etihad’s A330-200?
Avoid seat 5K as it is right net to the toilet. Some passengers dislike seats 10E and 10F because they’re alone at the back of the cabin, right in front of the waiting area where economy passengers wait to use the toilets.
Before takeoff, an amenity kit was offered to all Business Class passengers (only during the Brussels to Abu Dhabi flight). The amenity kit came small bag and contained a range of skin products, including hand lotion and lip balm, as well as essentials like socks, eyeshades, earplugs, and a dental kit (pictured below).
Upon boarding in Brussels, I was offered the choice between a glass of water, orange juice, or Champagne. I also received a refreshing hot towel. Soon after takeoff from Brussels, dinner was served. As a starter, I choose the Arabic mezze, a selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetizers, followed by a mushroom soup.
As the main course, I choose the poached cod, prawns and grilled scallops, potato stomp, mushroom, asparagus, and dill cream sauce. It was delicious, but there was no trace of cod on the platter, which was kind of odd. As a dessert, I choose the lemon tart with crème anglaise. Overall, the food was excellent, despite the missing cod.
About 60 minutes before landing in Abu Dhabi, I requested a light breakfast: passionfruit smoothie, yogurt with granola, and stewed apple.
On the second flight from Abu Dhabi to Male, brunch was served shortly after takeoff. I choose the seasonal fresh fruit as a starter, followed by the Arabic breakfast, which comprised lamb kofta, scrambled eggs, chickpeas, roasted tomato, zataar, onion, and potato cubes. It all tasted very well.
One of the great things about flying Business (or First) class with Etihad is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 24 hours before your flight.
Review by our friends at Luxury Travel Expert