Flying at the pointy end

I’ve flown Etihad Airways to the UK a few times and although it’s a long flight, I’m more than happy with its economy service. However, when offered an upgrade to Business Class on check-in at Melbourne airport, I wasn’t about to say no, and suddenly the 14-hour flight to Abu Dhabi didn’t seem long enough.

Leaving my husband and son behind – fuming at my ridiculously good luck – I almost skip through security, full of intrigue at what lies ahead.

Etihad doesn’t yet have its own lounge at Melbourne airport but with a second daily flight now departing from Australia’s second-largest city, it may not be too long before one is available. Rather than being given access to Virgin Australia’s lounge, Etihad’s codeshare partner in Australia, I’m off to Air New Zealand’s business lounge to relax before the flight. However, it’s not long before the excitement gets the better of me and I’m heading to my allocated gate to board the flight.

Now, you may think one seat in Business is the same as the next – I certainly did – but on Etihad’s B777-300 aircraft, it pays to know a little about the layout of the cabin.  In Business you’ll find two sections – one to the left of entry and one to the right – with a total of 40 flatbeds on 10 rows of four. Upon entering the pane, you hope you’re turning left, into the section that is adjacent to the exclusive (and elusive) First Class. This section has only two rows of four flat beds – that’s right, eight seats in their own section. Not that you’d expect Business to get rowdy, but with fewer passengers, there are less distractions than in the second section at the other side of the galley.

If you’re travelling on your own and you’re able to choose your own seat, go for 5 or 6A or D. These seats are on their own, so you’re even more cocooned from the rest of your fellow travellers. Much to my delight, 5A has my name all over it.

As you would expect, there is the usual champagne on arrival, bottled water and magazines on hand, and a friendly welcome from the purser. As I get myself comfy, have a nose around the very nice amenities kit and fluff my quilt ready for take off, I can’t help but think life isn’t too shabby.  After I order a G’n’T for after take off a meal of fillet steak, medium rare if you please taken – I was even asked what time I wanted it – it was time to sit back and relax.

Normally, I have puffy ankles for days after a long-haul flight, but with my feet nicely elevated, the same discomfort is not going to befall me on this trip. I decide to get a movie under my belt, as I guess I’m going to be making the most of the flat bed and sleeping the entire journey.

And sleeping like a baby, I arrive in Abu Dhabi refreshed (well as refreshed as you can be after a 14-hour flight). I’ve just got time to take in the calmness (and a glass of bubbles) in Etihad’s new Abu Dhabi lounge, before my flight to Dublin is being called, so it’s back to economy class (and reality) for me.

When booking a Business Class fare, you will also receive a baggage allowance of 40 kg, a complimentary chauffer service, a dedicated check-in and access to Etihad Airways or partner lounges.

To find out more about flying Etihad from Australia, visit 

Debbie’s flights were at her own expense, but the upgrade was courtesy of Etihad Airways.

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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