Review: Etihad Business Class A330 Paris To Seychelles

Filed Under: Etihad

Before I get into this review, I just wanted to clarify that this flight was supposed to be operated by Air Seychelles. However, shortly after we booked, Air Seychelles announced a major restructuring, which would include them canceling their Paris to Mahe flight. We were supposed to fly them just a couple of weeks before they discontinued service.

However, Air Seychelles ended up returning their A330s to the leasing company early, so for the last several weeks of the service, Etihad operated an A330 on the route on Air Seychelles’ behalf, given that they have a stake in the airline. I had no clue what to expect in terms of the onboard experience, whether we’d have an Etihad crew or an Air Seychelles crew, and what the amenities would be like.

Air Seychelles 17
Paris (CDG) – Mahe (SEZ)
Saturday, April 14
Depart: 9:55PM
Arrive: 10:10AM (+1 day)
Duration: 10hr15min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
Seat: 7F (Business Class)

We boarded through door L2, where we were greeted by one Air Seychelles flight attendant and one Etihad flight attendant. As it turned out, the Air Seychelles flight attendant at the door was the only representative from the airline onboard, and everyone else was from Etihad. We turned left into the business class cabin, which featured 22 seats in a staggered layout (these seats were spread across six rows).

Etihad A330 business class cabin

Etihad A330 business class cabin

This configuration has a few different types of seats. Along the windows the seats alternate in each row, with seats either being closer to the windows or closer to the aisle. The seats closer to the aisle feel quite exposed, so I’d highly recommend choosing one of the seats closer to the windows.

Etihad business class seats A330

Etihad business class seats A330

Unfortunately when the aircraft swap happened, we didn’t have a choice of seats. We were placed in seats 7E & 7F, which are commonly referred to as “honeymoon seats.” That’s because they’re really close to one another, and often preferred by couples traveling together. Personally I don’t love these seats. Even if I’m traveling with someone, I still value personal space on a plane, and these seats are nearly as close to one another as economy seats. Over the course of the flight these seats sort of grew on me, though.

Etihad business class seats A330

Etihad business class seats A330

To the side of my seat by the aisle was a console, which had a reading light, a bottle holder, and a small area where you could place a phone.

Etihad business class seat console

Underneath that and to the side of the seat were the entertainment and seat controllers.

Etihad business class seat & entertainment controls

Underneath that was a small compartment with headphones.

Etihad business class seat storage

The tray table was located on the back of the seat in front, meaning it was to the side of my seat. You could simply unlatch the tray and then pull it down, so it was easy to use.

Etihad business class seat tray table

The literature pocket and power outlets (110v and USB) were located underneath that.

Etihad business class seat literature pocket & power outlets

Etihad business class seat tray table

When you recline the seat into bed mode there’s a footwell, and it’s on the tight side. I found it tough to get really comfortable when reclining my seat, since I had to angle my feet in order for them to be able to fit. Underneath the ottoman is an open area that’s big enough to store shoes or a laptop.

Etihad business class seat footwell

The one other thing I’d note about the cabin is that it feels really dense. In general this was one of the tighter staggered configurations I’ve flown in, as they really pile in the seats here. The seats in row one were basically in the galley across from the emergency exit doors.

Etihad business class cabin A330

While the crew onboard was mostly from Etihad, the rest of the soft product was from Air Seychelles. That included the amenity kit, which was in a pouch and had a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, lip balm, and lotion. While the kit was Air Seychelles branded, you can certainly tell their connection to Etihad, because Etihad’s kits are a similar style.

Air Seychelles amenity kit contents

The back of the kit said “Flying the Creole Spirit” on it, which was cute.

Air Seychelles amenity kit

While not industry-leading, the pillow and blanket were good. The pillow was large, while the blanket was light and plush. I’m almost happy the bedding wasn’t more elaborate, since I found the seat to be so snug that I would have probably not had enough room for it.

Air Seychelles business class pillow & blanket

Also waiting at the seat on boarding were the menu, wine list, and a special cocktail list highlighting their Takamaka cocktails. Takamaka is a brand of rum in the Seychelles.

Air Seychelles menu & wine list

There were also a pair of low quality headphones.

Air Seychelles business class headphones

There were three flight attendants working business class, and they were all excellent. I’ve had inconsistent experiences with the service on Etihad, but all three flight attendants working business class were so friendly, genuine, and hard-working.

Once settled in a flight attendant named Erika came by to introduce herself and welcome us aboard. The first thing I had to ask them about is what exactly their arrangement is with this flight, since they’re based in Abu Dhabi and working a flight between Paris and Mahe.

As I understood it, they operate flights from Abu Dhabi to Paris to Mahe to Paris to Mahe to Paris to Abu Dhabi, meaning it’s a long trip for them, and then they get a few days off before doing it all over again. They must have been tired!

We were offered pre-departure drinks, with the choice between champagne, water, and orange juice. I had some champagne (Air Seychelles serves Nicolas Feuillatte), and was offered a warm towel as well.

Etihad business class pre-departure champagne & warm towel

Business class filled up completely within about 10 minutes, and we seemed to be the only non-French people in the cabin. Just about everyone else was French couples and/or families, presumably headed on vacation.

While the inflight entertainment couldn’t be viewed on the ground, they did play ads for all kinds of things, including how you can enjoy a private space in their business class lounge for $50, or how you can buy first class pajamas when flying in economy (clearly these were intended for actual Etihad flights, rather than one being operated on behalf of Air Seychelles).

Etihad IFE advertisements

Etihad IFE advertisements

At 9:35PM it was announced that boarding was complete, and five minutes later our dinner order was taken. We were asked what appetizer and starter we wanted, what we wanted to drink after takeoff, whether we wanted still or sparkling water, if we wanted a different drink with the main course, and if we wanted to be woken up for breakfast.

Around this time the captain added his welcome aboard “Etihad flight number 17… I mean Air Seychelles flight number 17.” He advised us the flight time would be 9hr30min, and that we’d be cruising at 39,000 feet.

After that the cabin manager, Tatiana, added her welcome aboard “Etihad 17… excuse me… Air Seychelles 17.” As you might guess, this was a common theme throughout the flight. 😉

During her welcome aboard announcement she was clearly reading the Air Seychelles script, and said “Air Seychelles proudly has the best business class in the Indian Ocean according to World Travel Awards.” That’s pretty ironic, given that the airplane that the nomination was based on doesn’t belong to their fleet anymore.

At 10:05PM the door closed, and a minute later we began our pushback, at which point the typical Etihad prayer and safety video were screened. During this time the cabin was also sprayed.

Our taxi was very quick, and by 10:15PM we were cleared for takeoff. As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. The number of movies and shows was impressive, though I found the screen to be really low resolution.

Etihad entertainment selection

Etihad entertainment selection

Etihad entertainment selection

For most of the flight I just kept the airshow on, as you pass some interesting airspace flying over East Africa.

Etihad airshow

Etihad airshow

Etihad airshow

Etihad airshow

Etihad’s A330s also typically have wifi, though I couldn’t get it to work on this plane.

About 25 minutes after takeoff the dinner service began. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

I love when an airline infuses some of the products from their home country into their experience, and in Air Seychelles’ case, they did that with Takamaka rum. While I’d almost never otherwise order this, I decided to order the “Bloody Maria” cocktail, which was nice and spicy. It was served with some banana chips.

Etihad business class dinner — bloody maria & banana chips

The starter was brought out about 40 minutes after takeoff. I ordered the smoked salmon tartare quenelles, which was excellent. It was served with a side of bread (no choice) and some Beurre d’Isigny butter. To drink I had a sparkling water and some sauvignon blanc.

Etihad business class dinner — smoked salmon tartare quenelles appetizer

Ford had the mozzarella and tomato salad as an appetizer, which he enjoyed.

Etihad business class dinner — mozzarella and tomato salad appetizer

I was quite underwhelmed by the main course options. We’re flying the national airline of a small island nation, and their options are beef, chicken, or pasta? No fish?

So I ordered the beef fillet served with sautéed vitelotte potatoes, marinated tomatoes, french beans, and beef jus. As far as business class beef dishes go (which I usually avoid), this one was fairly good, though not amazing.

Etihad business class dinner — beef fillet main course

Ford ordered the grilled chicken breast with chasseur sauce, herbed rice, grilled zucchini, and and buttered baby carrots.

Etihad business class dinner — grilled chicken breast main course

For dessert there was the option between a cheese plate and an opera cake with fresh raspberries. We ordered one of each to share. The opera cake was excellent, while the cheese plate was fairly basic.

Etihad business class dinner — dessert & cheese plate

To finish off the meal I ordered a cappuccino, which was served with a chocolate and was very good. I’m always impressed when airlines offer proper cappuccinos in business class.

Etihad business class dinner — cappuccino

At the conclusion of the meal we were presented with bottled water from the Seychelles.

Air Seychelles business class bottled water

This was a great meal all around, and I was also impressed by the pace at which it was served. The meal service was done 75 minutes after takeoff, which is ideal on a quick overnight flight. The crew also really hustled. They were attentive and efficient, and performed the service with a smile.

After dinner I checked out the lavatory at the front of the cabin, which was tiny. It was right behind the cockpit and I could barely stand up fully due to the curvature of the fuselage.

Etihad A330 business class lavatory

By the time I was ready to sleep we were passing over the Adriatic Sea, just near Podgorica (which brought back fond memories of Aman Sveti Stefan).

Airshow to Mahe

Airshow to Mahe

Airshow to Mahe

As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, I wasn’t looking forward to these “honeymoon seats,” as I find that they’re far too close together. However, over the course of the flight they grew on me. During the meal I liked being able to sit so close to Ford, if for no other reason than the ability to easily photograph the pictures of his food. 😉

Etihad business class “honeymoon seats”

Then when it came time to sleep, there was a partition that could be raised. I do still think these seats are a bit tight if you’re sitting next to a stranger, but ultimately I preferred this to one of the seats closer to the aisle.

Etihad business class “honeymoon seats”

I fell asleep pretty quickly and then managed to get solid sleep for a few hours, and then I think I tossed and turned a bit for a few hours. While it’s nice to have a seat with direct aisle access, these are among the tighter staggered seats out there. That’s probably largely because the A330’s cabin is quite narrow.

My other big issue is that the padding in these seats is terrible. Etihad really needs to refresh their business class seats, as they feel worn at this point.

Eventually I woke up just over 90 minutes before landing, as we were just leaving Somalia and starting to fly over the Indian Ocean.

Airshow to Mahe

Airshow to Mahe

Airshow to Mahe

Within a couple of minutes of waking up the crew was at my seat to ask if I had a nice rest, and what I wanted for breakfast. I was impressed that unlike most airlines they didn’t turn up the cabin lights and force everyone to have breakfast at once, but rather they offered each individual person breakfast as they woke up, and in some cases they even still served a full meal as we started our descent.

The breakfast menu read as follows:

For breakfast I selected with the sweet option, so that we could try one of each. I ordered the pear and chocolate pancakes with maple syrup and double cream (#HealthyLiving). They were ridiculously delicious, but so rich. With breakfast I was offered two croissants and a small fruit plate. I also ordered a coffee, and was proactively served orange juice.

Etihad business class breakfast — pear and chocolate pancakes

Ford had the cheese omelette with lyonnaise potatoes, chicken sausage, and creamy spinach.

Etihad business class breakfast — cheese omelette

About 45 minutes before landing warm towels and landing forms for the Seychelles were distributed.

Seychelles landing card and warm towel

35 minutes before landing the captain announced that we’d start our decent in about 10 minutes, and that we’d be landing at 9:45AM.

Airshow approaching Seychelles

At that point the crew started preparing the cabin for landing. We had a smooth descent, and the seatbelt sign was turned on only five minutes before landing. The plane has a nose camera, though it was so low resolution that it almost wasn’t worth bothering. I was bummed that I didn’t have a window seat, given how beautiful the views looked.

Nose camera Etihad A330

Nose camera Etihad A330

We touched down on runway 13 at 9:50AM.

Touchdown Mahe Airport

We rolled down to the end of the runway, and then had to back taxi to get to the main terminal area, where we arrived at 9:55AM.

Arrival gate Mahe Airport

We parked next to an Air Austral 737, and deplaned via stairs. While the weather looked nice when we landed, it started pouring the second we got off the plane, though that lasted for only a couple of minutes. That turned out to be a common theme in the Seychelles.

Etihad A330 upon arrival in the Seychelles

The immigration hall was in a cute building, and we had to wait for about 10 minutes, as I guess the Air Austral plane had just arrived shortly before us.

Mahe Airport terminal

Mahe Airport terminal

Then we found ourselves landside, where our car rental adventure started.

Mahe Airport terminal

Etihad A330 business class bottom line

While I was disappointed that I didn’t have the chance to experience Air Seychelles’ A330 business class, this was a solid flight. The service was excellent and the food and soft product generally quite good, though not amazing. Etihad’s seats are definitely starting to show their age, and I think it’s time Etihad think of installing new seats, or at a minimum, reupholstering the existing ones (though something tells me that’s not happening anytime soon).

  1. I had the same flight 1 year ago with Air Seychelles economy and connecting to Mumbai

  2. You started your post indicating seat 7F as first class. Did you purchase first class on Air Seychelles and your Etihad flight was a downgrade?

  3. Lucky,

    I have flown the same product about a month ago and I enjoyed HM quite a bit.

    In any case, can I ask you a question? How do you keep fit flying so much? I fly transatlantic for work once or twice a month and it really takes a toll on me in terms of over eating, over drinking, and messing up my workout schedule.

    Jetsetting (in premium cabin) is fantastic, but often people do not realize how hard that might be on one’s body and routine.

    Thanks Ben!

  4. Same hard product and soft product as previously reviewed e.g. 6/21/2016 (A340).

  5. Etihad has a very nice Business seats in the new 787 following the new design of the company.

  6. Totally full business class on a schedule that is being axed but etihad cant fill a plane to the US. Go figure

  7. How boring are these reviews? Same stuff – same Airlines, the usual nonsense about the bread and the “I ordered” instead of “ I had” and “I had assigned myself” instead of “ I was in”. And the snobby “ never have beef in business” – you don’t say! We get it – you big spender ( not really – when did anyone on This blog ever pay for First?). Yawn

  8. How boring are these reviews? Same stuff – same Airlines, the usual nonsense about the bread and the “I ordered” instead of “ I had” and “I had assigned myself” instead of “ I was in”. And the snobby “ never have beef in business” – you don’t say! We get it – you big spender ( not really – when did anyone on This blog ever pay for First?). Yawn

  9. @Dr wow, you must be a hoot at parties.

    Here’s an idea – don’t read the reviews if you don’t like it (instead of criticising for the sake of criticising).

    Keep up the good work Ben!

  10. @Dr – if you don’t like it; then what are you doing here? Says more about you than anything else…

  11. @Dr. And how boring your complaints are! If you don’t like the blog, don’t read it. Or write your own.

    Ben, I’d be interested in reading a post addressing @Airways and Travels’ query, as I’ve often wondered that myself.

  12. @ Niklas and @ Peter – dont just be fanboys dude. Its an open blog and the comment section open for just that – opinions and comments. Not just for fawning by fanboys – Jeez.

  13. @ Dr +1. Getting pretty pedestrian. Polished service, privacy , foot wells. After reading James these reviews are less and less interesting and more and more repetitive. Your criticism is constructive and appreciated . Fanboys be fanboys.

  14. @ Dr @ BigG – Opinions aside, this was originally a brand new airline for Lucky, but under the airline’s financial circumstances he was scheduled to fly here instead. I found the review of the Air Seychelles soft product quite valuable, and as you see quite a few commenters agree, among thousands of other readers. So obviously he’s not writing them for nothing.

    Being a fanboy is one thing, being a hater is another. Blank criticism doesn’t do anyone any favours either.

  15. And @ Dr – not to mention that he didn’t even assign himself his seat, rather he was placed there by the airline after the equipment swap.

  16. @Dr: my problem with your comment was not that it was critical but rather the snarky tone. You could have made your point more effectively by sticking to substantive points. The fact that you caustically retort to criticism of your own posts with lame ad hominen attacks (“fanboys”) further suggests that you are less interested in making constructive criticism and more in being a jerk.

    I agree that there is a degree of repetition in Lucky’s reviews (the point on air nozzles for instance) but I just accept that considering that there is only so much variation in a long-haul business class product. If you read restaurant, film, car, hotel etc. etc. reviews from a single author, you will generally find repetition over time. Besides, the biggest value add to me of a flight review is less the prose and more the photos, and in this I find Lucky’s reviews excellent.

  17. @Dr: How can these reviews NOT be repetitious — the very point is to compare the same hard and soft product features across multiple airlines. Seat-food-service, what else is there? Also, the fact that Lucky is upfront about what he likes and doesn’t like is actually helpful, since I can read the review accordingly in relation to my like and dislikes. Example — I also really like individual air nozzles and would always prefer a product with them to one without them, so it’s great to me that he notes that consistently. Opposite example — I don’t drink alcohol at all so I’m totally indifferent to what wines are offered, what temperature they’re served at, etc. But if I were blogging I’d be telling everyone how often my water glass was refilled, and that would be part of my “persona” which folks could either agree or disagree with. Finally, I don’t understand why it’s somehow snobby to say I never have beef in business class. It’s almost never properly prepared if you like it medium or medium rare, and business class is a premium product so why shouldn’t I have some standards for what I’m getting in exchange for the fare (or the gobs of miles for a free ticket, for that matter)?

  18. Well, it would be interesting to know what fitness regime the husbands-to-be follow and perhaps the suggestion above that this be covered in an article is apt.
    At the current rate of consumption it could be anticipated that they will turn into porkers with a decade, with more than a passing resemblance to the Great Leader. I’m guessing they hit the gym daily to compensate as the calorie intake appears grossly excessive.

  19. “The meal service was done 75 minutes after takeoff, which is ideal on a quick overnight flight.”

    I quibble with this being a “quick” flight by any stretch but very much enjoyed the review – kind of fun to see you going into something with no idea what to expect.

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