Etihad 787 First Class In 10 Pictures

Filed Under: Etihad, Travel

Update: Read my full Etihad First Class 787 Washington To Abu Dhabi review.

Hello from Abu Dhabi! I just took Etihad’s 13 hour flight from Washington Dulles to Abu Dhabi in first class. I’ve flown the airline in first class on the A380777, and A340, and wanted to see how the 787 compared. I also wondered how Etihad’s product was holding up with all the cost cutting.

Etihad’s 787 first class cabin has eight suites with doors, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats alternate between facing forwards and backwards. I’m still not sure I get why that’s the case or if there are any space savings to be had (I get the space savings in business class, where the footwell for one seat goes underneath the next seat, but it’s more confusing here).

The seat was more spacious than I was expecting, given that the 787 isn’t that wide of an aircraft. The seat was in reasonably good condition, except the cord wouldn’t retract for my controller, so it was all over the place from the moment I boarded.

The ottoman at the seat is massive, and since there are no overhead bins throughout the cabin, there’s a storage compartment underneath the ottoman. This is big enough for a personal item, but not for a carry-on — those need to be stored in the closet.

I was expecting the soft product to have gotten worse, but overall I didn’t find that to be the case. The amenity kit and pajamas were better than the old ones, in my opinion.

The menu had the same format, though it seemed to be smaller than in the past. On the plus side, they didn’t run out of any my choices.

I had dinner after takeoff. To start I ordered the spinach and lentil Arabic soup.

Then I had the Arabic mezze.

For the main course I had seabass with potato gnocchi, peas, and a lemon butter cream sauce.

Lastly, for dessert I had vanilla sponge cake with berries and mascarpone.

After that i went to sleep — while the seat is plenty large, it’s not well padded, and the comforter isn’t very thick, so I had a hard time getting really comfortable.

Entertainment was excellent, except Etihad has frustratingly worsened their Wi-Fi offering. First class passengers get 90MB of free wifi, and then they now charge based on data usage rather than time. You used to be able to get a pass for the entire flight for $20, while now it’s $20 for 180MB. Even with turning off things in the background, I ran through a couple of those passes over the course of the flight.

Lastly, the service. Etihad has obviously had a rough couple of years, and I can’t help but feel like that’s reflected in their staff. Everyone just sort of seems a little dead inside and unenthusiastic. It’s not that different than American (see Doug Parker, your airlines have more in common than you thought, subsidies and all). 😉

The flight attendants were perfectly alright — they did everything they had to, they occasionally smiled, etc. — but the service wasn’t attentive or enthusiastic. I’m curious to see how service continues to evolve at this airline over the coming years with all the changes going on.

If you’ve flown Etihad’s 787 first class, what was your experience like?

  1. Had bad flight attendants when I flew Etihad business. It’s a shame what has happened at the airline, they don’t seem to be coping well, but at least their standards haven’t dropped to the level of TAAG Angola for example. I hope they get out of the mess they are in.

  2. Perhaps it´s just your camera distorting the picture, but it looks like the suites are wider at the seat, and then taper off towards the displays at the bulkhead? That would explain the alternate seating.

  3. The reason for Etihad having alternating rear and forward facing seats in First Class is similar to as in bussiness. This is probably why the seat was wider than you were expecting, The design alternates wider seats with narrower foot areas.

  4. @lucky spot on about Etihad service in F. They do what they have to, but little enthusiasm or engagement. I have met amazing flight attendants on Etihad though, and even made a good friend from one flight.

  5. I flew Etihad first a couple years ago prior to all of the cut-backs, booked through AAdvantage. The lounge was great, but the on-board experience was lacking. Note this was my first time every flying a true international first or business class. While I thought the staff were really trying hard, the food and maintenance were a let down, the food was flavorless and dry despite a dedicated chef coming by my seat to customize it. I’d flown economy a few months before and the food was better then even in that class. The bathroom was downright gross 10 hours into the flight. Since then I’ve been able to do CX, SQ, and QA in premium cabins. SQ first (non-suite) blew everyone out of the water.

  6. Huh, I’ve had only excellent cabin crew in economy on Etihad, and I mean it.
    Maybe it’s time to switch cabins? 🙂

  7. I’ve flown iad-auh and back many times in EY F. I love the cabin and think it’s confortable. Service has varied every time I’ve taken it over the past 5 years. Some stones- like the last time- it was excellent. Great engaged crew, and a chef who had fun preparing a delicious meal for me. Other times I’ve had horrible indifferent service. Most times it’s just fine. So- inconsistent, like the vast majority of airline experiences out there

  8. I think it’s so absurd to not have overhead bins on these planes. Yes, I know it pretends to give the impression of more space. But it’s not actually space that you use. The act of having to store your stuff away from you in a closet (accessible to others out of sight!) is IMO far more obnoxious than having some extra ceiling space for the 0.0000001% of the flight where it would make a difference.

  9. I wondered also why Row 2 was backward facing. May be to give a more uniformly curved aisle?
    Because the seat part of the suite is wider than the foot, it would otherwise give a serrated/ xmas tree effect to the aisle..
    Could that be?

  10. Also, re: the 787 not being that wide an aircraft, it’s only marginally narrower than the A350/777
    and wider than the A330/340. Also the 787 is less tapered than the A350 so there may be more width in the nose / F class section.

  11. We were in the Apartments last month JFK-AUH, first time on EY. I had been a little worried based on all the info about cutbacks, etc. While I thought the ground experience at JFK left a *lot* to be desired, we could not have had a better crew. Friendly, engaging, helpful, and a total pleasure the entire flight. I’ve honestly never had a better crew on any other airline, even EK, SQ, CX, JL. Of course you can’t generalize on one experience, but for us it was a great experience.

  12. @Lucky – The seats alternates because the suite is wider by the seat area (for more width) and smaller by the tv screen. That makes the suite impede into the aisle so they curved the aisle by alternating the seats.

  13. That is quite strange
    I flew on an Etihad flight, same length, same plane, and the service was excellent, even got a tour if the plane, this was after the cutbacks had happened so…
    Maybe it’s just a bad apple

  14. I have AUH-IAD booked in business in April. How much would you (Lucky and others) value the upgrade to F at? The bidding option starts at $1,000 or I think I can do it for 65,000 miles or something. The J product looks really good to — is it worth $1000/65,000 miles for F?

  15. James K, I don’t think it’s worth the upgrade, just IMHO, biz on EY looks pretty solid and I don’t think the food is going to be much different.

  16. Seems to me that on those 787 (8 or 9?) would feel very claustrophobic with the doors closed. The dark coloured upholstery is a bad choice which only heightens the impression.

  17. Note the curvature of the aisle. The reason the cabin as 1/2 the seats rear facing is to maintain seat width. The 1st row has the rear facing seats at the windows, and the 2nd row has the rear facing seats in the center. The 787 is too narrow to accommodate the F seat width without making the foot section narrower. Hence the curved aisle in F such that the center section has the seat backs for row and 1 and row 2 back to back.

    6 of us Flyertalker’s flew this flight 2 years ago, when EY released lots of F reward seats (we got 6 of the 8 total seats as rewards).

    EY Lounge at IAD is great (I would say best lounge at IAD). It has at table dining plus a buffet. Both F and J use the same lounge and H gets table dining as well. Not sure why no mention of the EY lounge, here.

    No – it is not confining with the door closed. The door height is not that high – just about seat back height.

  18. The lack of overhead in F cabin usually means they have crew rest above. Not sure if the 787 is big enough for the rest area but CX has crew rest area above F on the 77W and the first row or two of J on the 350-1000.

  19. I flew F on BA’s 787-9. The suite was fine (I know Lucky has reviewed it on here before) and had a much greater sense of space than the F product on their 747’s or 777’s. What I found claustrophobic though was how narrow the aisles were. A ‘larger’ person would literally struggle to get down it.

  20. Have flown EY C class between Australia and Europe 4 times a year for the last 3 years. Notable decrease of service and food quality over time. Now avoiding it. Recently did a paid upgrade to F at airport from ZHR-AUH on 787. Upgrade was printed on my boarding pass which annoyed me as I had paid $600 for it. Service subsequently suffered. Totally agree with author’s comment of staff lacking enthusiasm and adequate customer attention. Agree with F seats being too hard and thin bedding. Requested 2 starters and was flippantly told that I had to wait until all customers had chosen their starters ( I totally agree with the principle but it’s the way to respond that is important). I ended up gettting the second starter but after my dessert. In C class have often to ask twice for something simple, such as water or drinks refresher. Skimping on amenity kits and pyjamas on day flights is also now common practice. Lounges in AUH are really bad especially the food offering. Food on board has gotten worse. I used to opt for EY over EK when living in Dubai as I’m one of those weirdos that think EK is overrated, but now really disappointed EY has fallen behind. JAL and ANA still my favorite F class product even though they don’t have the suites. SQ not my favorite either. Again, I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t agree with prevailing trends.

  21. I’ve flown this route 3x, the latest in January during RTW18 (after spending time in the Residence Lounge @ AUH – see other OMAT post on this 🙂 )

    Lars is correct as others have commented.

    On my latest flight I had the best steak ever on a plane served by the cutest chef 🙂

    Can’t wait to fly again in May for RTW19 Part 2. IAD-AUH-SYD-SIN-HRD/NRT-IAD.

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