Review: Etihad Business Class A320 Abu Dhabi To Ahmedabad

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Etihad 288
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Ahmedabad (AMD)
Friday, October 26
Depart: 11:00PM
Arrive: 3:40AM (+1 day)
Duration: 3hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 4F (Business Class)

At the forward door I was greeted by the cabin manager and pointed towards my seat, 4F. Etihad’s business class cabin on the A320 consists of a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2 configuration.


Etihad A320 business class cabin

For aircraft mostly operating regional flights, Etihad’s A320s have very good legroom in business class. Unfortunately the airline isn’t installing flat beds on their narrowbody aircraft (unlike Qatar Airways), but for a quick flight this is a solid product, and much more comfortable than what you’d find in the US.


Etihad A320 business class seats


Etihad business class seats A320

I like how the seatback pocket has several small pockets, so that you place your phone in one, laptop in the other, etc.


Etihad business class seats A320

The tray table can be released from the far armrest, and can be folded over in half.


Etihad business class tray table

Then between seats there’s a small drink tray, which is perfect for a pre-departure drink.


Etihad business class drink tray

The seat controls are located on the far sides of the seats, and are quite easy to use.


Etihad business class seat controls

Then to the sides of the center armrests were the entertainment controls.


Etihad business class entertainment controls

Underneath seats and in front are the headphone jacks as well as power outlets, with both a 110v and USB outlet.


Etihad business class power outlets and headphone jacks

Waiting at my seat upon boarding were an excellent pillow and blanket.

Etihad business class pillow & blanket

There were also some headphones.


Etihad business class headphones

Boarding was efficient, and was complete by 10:40PM, about 15 minutes after it started. Unfortunately the boarding process was pretty rough, and I think just about everyone in an aisle seat took several bags to the head. There was also a lot of pushing and shoving.

While economy was completely full, 14 of the 16 business class seats were occupied (and I got lucky, because one of the empty seats was next to me).

At 10:45PM Captain Marcello made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr45min, and our cruising altitude of 37,000 feet.

At 10:50PM the main cabin door was closed. Around this time pre-departure drinks were served, with the choice between water, orange juice, or lime-mint juice. I chose the lime-mint juice, which was refreshing.

Etihad business class pre-departure drinks

A moment later hot towels were distributed. Then a few minutes later meal orders were taken.


Etihad business class warm towel

At 10:55PM we began our pushback.

Remote stand Abu Dhabi

Parked a few stands over was a very cool PIA A320 in a retro livery.

Special livery PIA A320 Abu Dhabi Airport

As we pushed back the safety briefing was screened. I guess one advantage of having a remote stand so far from the terminal is that we had a really short taxi, and were airborne by 11PM from runway 31L.

View after takeoff from Abu Dhabi

As we climbed out I checked out the entertainment selection. The personal televisions are located underneath the center armrest.

Etihad A320 business class entertainment system

Etihad inflight entertainment selection

The selection was pretty good, and largely mirrored that on the previous flight from Washington.


Etihad inflight entertainment selection


Etihad inflight entertainment selection

I also checked out the airshow.

Airshow enroute to Ahmedabad

The meal service began about 40 minutes after takeoff. Since this was a late night flight, they didn’t first do a round of drinks with nuts, but rather went straight for serving the meal along with a drink.

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

My entire meal, including the appetizer, main course, dessert, and a breadbasket, were served on one tray. I just had a glass of water to drink.

Etihad business class meal

The mezze was good, though at this point it was my third mezze in less than 24 hours, so…


Etihad business class meal

The main course was exceptional (and spicy!), though frankly I’m a sucker for any Indian vegetarian food. The meal consisted of bhutta methi palak, with chakunder tikki, maa ki dal, and saffron rice.


Etihad business class meal

There was a nice bread selection to accompany that.


Etihad business class meal

For dessert there was a light mango coconut mousse cake.


Etihad business class meal

At the conclusion of the meal I ordered a cappuccino. I appreciate that they even offer these excellent cappuccinos on shorthaul flights.


Etihad business class cappuccino

Service was fairly friendly and efficient from the two flight attendants working business class, which is about all I could hope for on an overnight flight like this. This is a really not glamorous trip for the crew to work, as they fly to Ahmedabad and back overnight.

My meal was totally done about 75 minutes after takeoff. At that point I checked out the lavatory, located at the front of the cabin, which was in pristine condition.

Etihad A320 lavatory

The one other noteworthy thing about the flight is that around the middle of the flight a bag fell on the head of the guy across from me. They had overstuffed the overhead bins because of the number of carry-ons, so when a lady seated in the bulkhead economy row opened the overhead bin, a bag fell on the head of the guy in the last row of business class. Fortunately it wasn’t a huge bag, and the guy didn’t seem to be hurt.

When the flight attendant saw this happen she ran over.

“Are you okay, sir?”
“I want compensation.”
“How about another ginger ale, sir?”
“Okay.”

I spent the rest of the flight working (I was planning on sleeping upon arrival), and about an hour before landing immigration cards for India were distributed.

Landing card for India

Two hours after takeoff the captain announced that we’d be descending in about 15 minutes, and that we should be landing at 3:20AM (there’s a 90 minute time change between Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad).

At that point the crew prepared the cabin for landing. As I’ve often said, I find this to be so annoying on Etihad. At this point we had 45 minutes until landing, and the cabin lights were turned on all the way, everyone had to put their seat upright, etc.

We ended up landing in Ahmedabad around 3:15AM.

View approaching Ahmedabad

From there we had a 15 minute taxi to our arrival stand. That was my third remote stand of the day, though fortunately this time around it was just a very short drive (in a very old bus) to the terminal.

Immigration was quick, since we were the only flight arriving around this time.

Etihad A320 business class bottom line

Business class on regional flights to/from the Middle East certainly beats what you’d find in the US. I do think both Emirates and Qatar have a significant advantage over Etihad’s narrowbody aircraft.

Emirates at least has angled flat seats on all their planes, while Qatar has the best shorthaul service of any airline in the world, in my opinion.

Still, all things considered this was a pleasant flight.

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Comments

  1. @Lucky – Have you seen a PIA plane in the new livery yet? I saw one in August and I didn’t really like it. What’s your opinion on it?

  2. You’ve really planted the seed in my head to try a lot more Indian vegetarian food. Whatever that goop is looks delicious. Do you have any experience with Asian Vegetarian on any of the SkyTeam carriers?

  3. ***Emirates has angled flat on all their 777 with the exception of some 77Ls and the new 77W. On all 777s they are in a 2-3-2, except for two 77Ls. On the 380 their are staggered lie-flat in a 1-2-1.

  4. What you ate for dinner on this flight was corn, fenugreek and spinach cooked together, beetroot cutlets, Indian lentils with rice

  5. Still an unanswered mystery: FC – IAD to ABU, Business Class on to India.
    YES or NO: Access to FC lounge at ABU?

  6. The TV screen is fuzzy and hard to watch after seeing the same IFE on a large screen in longhaul J.

    The meze is much worse on shorthaul than on longhaul. In general the food in shorthaul is nothing to write home about, although of course Indian food always works well on planes because it doesn’t mind being reheated, it’s a mush to begin with.

    You can ask for your food to be served later.

    In the last 5 or so years I have not seen landing cards distributed. Indian citizens don’t need themand foreigners can get them after landing. I am amazed that they distributed them on the pane, and hope this will continue.

  7. Agree with Chuck Lesker about the landing cards. I have always been told they didn’t load them.

    Not surprised to read that people took bags in the face; happens all the time on trips to India. Also not surprised at the over-stuffing of bins in Business Class with bags from Economy Class passengers; you just know the passengers will mount a valiant attempt to get to the bags before the plane has come to a stop!

    Every trip into India on Etihad (and I am in India now), from embarking to disembarking, appears to be controlled chaos.

  8. @garrett: I love Indian vegetarian options and would always pick them but had a pretty bad experience on China Airlines (skyteam) with Asian vegetarian. Just bland and dry. I‘m not a picky eater at all, but could not eat that food.

  9. Wish more airlines would serve NZ sauv as a white choice – though would be interested to hear if any others (non Brits particularly) share this opinion!

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