Etihad Economy Class Flight Review
A few years ago, I flew Etihad Economy Class for the first time. It all started while searching for the cheapest flights to Australia. As usual, before making an online flight booking, I check out my favourite platforms for flights comparisons like Skyscanner and Google Flights.
Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates are my favourite airlines for Australia because they serve Europe with a broad range of cheap airfares to Australia from all major European airports.
I was looking for a reasonable flight price, in economy class, and I was lucky enough to stumble upon a return flight ticket for 835 Euro. This is rare, even in the low season. If you consider this aspect, for a cheap return flight to Australia, in economy class, you will not find anything below 1000 Euro.
And I never happened to pay less than 1000 Euro in 10 years of travels. Before going into details of my Etihad economy class flight here are a few tips on how to snap at a cheap airfare to Australia.
How to find good Australia airfare deals
If you want to get a cheap flight to Australia, start searching 3-4 months ahead and check out Skyscanner and Google flights.
You can then make a cross-search with a few shortlisted airlines flying to Australia, like Emirates, Etihad, Qantas, Qatar Airways, to name a few. Bear in mind that these Australia airfare deals don’t last long, sometimes one day or just a few hours, so be constant with your flight search online. Do a daily online flight search for 10-15 days.
Etihad Flight Booking
After seizing my flight deal on Skyscanner, a redirect link opened to the Etihad Airways website, where I could complete m Etihad flight booking in economy class. Before doing so, I double-checked other flight options and noticed that the same flight was available with different flight amendment fees. For changing flight dates Etihad charges between 100 and 200 Euro depending on the type of class for the economy flight ticket, you have booked.
So my flight offer was the cheapest airfare, with a 200 Euro fee for changing flight dates. If you calculate that 200 Euro on top of the basic airfare would make the flight ticket to 1000 Euro, which is the average airfare to Australia from Europe, I believe I still have grabbed a good deal. So I was happy to go ahead with the booking of my Etihad Flight in Economy Class.
The process of online flight booking with Etihad was smooth up to the payment, where unexpectedly the site crashed just after entering my credit card details and clicking on “submit”. While it’s unusual to experience this type of inconvenience, there is no need to panic, and it may happen if the site server is overloaded with bookings.
I would first get hold of the customer service and double-check with them. I did this with the help of the customer service I could activate my booking on the phone. I found the helpline customer service very efficient, friendly and helpful with their response. From Europ,e the service is available 24 hours, seven days a week.
Etihad Online Check-in
After my online economy flight booking went through, I received an email notification with the invite to sign up for the Etihad frequent flyer card, and I did so. You can then create your own account to retrieve your flight details, submit changes, check baggage allowances, set meal preferences and use much more functionality.
However, for the Etihad online check-in, you need to access it from the Etihad home page and not from your account, because your statement is not connected to the check-in. I found this somewhat weird because I am used to the Emirates website to manage everything from your own account (online check-in included).
Etihad Airport Check-in and baggage drop off.
I got to the airport Milano Malpensa early in the morning, around 8.00 as my flight was scheduled to depart at 11.15. in the morning. All international flights are called to gate 1 hour before departure, and they start boarding 45 minutes. Eithad baggage allowance is 30k for checked baggage and 8 kg for cabin baggage. The airport crew at the check-in wasn’t really that friendly and helpful as expected though.
Etihad Economy Class – Seats Comfort and Entertainment
The Etihad economy class seats are not as large as those from Emirates, are dated, and lack ergonomic. I flew with an Etihad Airbus from Milan to Abu-Dhabi Airport with a 2-4-2 configuration and a B777 from Abu-Dhabi to Melbourne Airport with the 3-4-3 configuration. While the leg space feels the same as on Emirates, the economy class seat comfort could improve by renewing the seats. As for general economy class comfort in the cabin, the blankets are good quality fleece, soft and warm.
The seat pillow turns into a neck pillow, after tearing off the velcro strap. I found this handy and more comfortable than small pads offered on other airlines economy class flights.
Etihad Economy Class – Seats Electronics and Entertainment
Like the Emirate ICE, the Etihad E-Box entertainment is good quality, with a wide-screen, a great selection of films and music programs. The seat electronics is good. All seats are equipped with regular plugs and USB-ports to plug in mobile phones, that’s good if you want to work at your laptop or iPad, you can plug in your device and keep it charged, without worrying running out of battery.
The only negative factor of entertainment is the announcements. You get an overdose of it, not only before taking off and landing but also whenever you select a program from the Etihad in-flight e-box entertainment.
What I didn’t like of my Etihad Flight
No matter what you do, when selecting a film, if you change your mind and want to start over again with a new one, you are bound to listen to a ton a row of ads for about 10-13 minutes each time. There is no way to skip them. Unfortunately, you have got to watch them. As my seat was just next to the toilet, whenever I had accidentally picked a film and then stopped it to start a new one, before letting the announcements start
I found something else to do, to kill 10 minutes. Another thumb down goes for collecting the headphones 30 minutes before landing. This is something I have already experienced with Emirates. The reason behind, (I assume), is because a lot of them got stolen. So either you have your own headsets—the best thing plan to watch your movie to end at least 30 minutes before the landing.
Etihad Economy Meals and Drinks
While you cannot expect food in an economy class flight to be fantastic, I found food with Etihad much better than Emirates’ food. I always pick a vegetarian meal on economy class flights, as I prefer a light dinner. Portions are big enough not to go hungry soon after the meal and the quality are average. Etihad offers “Bites” in-between meals, sort of small snacks like crackers or spreads. I had a veggie pie and fruit salad which was a good refreshment.
I haven’t seen the crew going around with glasses of water after meals. Some airlines offer this on long-haul flights. So be prepared, bring your own empty bottle of water and ask to have it refilled by the cabin crew. The good thing about Etihad is that they serve meals and drinks at the same time. So no long waiting for a glass of wine to drink with your meal.
Etihad Crew Service
Right at the boarding gate,e there has been an issue with the customs. Although we were on a transfer flight, the big surprise was they asked me to drink my bottled water. How can I possibly drink 1 litre of water in a couple of minutes? I tried to drink as much as I could. This is a rule on all o Australian flights that have been introduced on transfer flights too.
It was a hard loss because I need to drink lots of water when flying and like to keep my empty bottle to refill on the plane. While I manifested my concern, the chief stewardess from the Etihad business class showed her empathy and kindly handed over a water bottle to me.
It seemed to be my lucky day, as the flight was only half full, which meant plenty of free seats in the Etihad economy class and many in a row of 3-4 seats too. After moving to three different places and letting first families and kids be accommodated, I finally found my position with a stewardess’s help.
I got a seat in a row of 4, just behind the business class and the first set of toilets of the economy class cabin. All in all, I found cabin crew on Etihad professional, efficient, with a friendly and helpful approach which cannot be taken for granted on economy class flights nowadays.
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First published in 2017, last updated in Jan 2021
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