13-hour trip to Abu Dhabi proceeds comfortably
Efficiency in action from New York in Etihad business class
My Uber journey from the centre of Brooklyn to JFK airport took me through the broken-down, depressed and slightly scary looking suburb of Jamaica, so it was a relief to pull up to Terminal 4 and be greeted by a uniformed Etihad concierge with a luggage trolley.
It’s about three hours before the departure of my flight to Abu Dhabi, and I’m checked in quickly before proceeding to the dedicated TSA line. Because I’m travelling from the US, my laptop and Nikon camera are allowed on board as hand luggage, although my laptop is swabbed for explosives. Unfortunately, while the passport check is completed quickly, the business class security line has not yet opened, so I’m processed in the regular queue.
Just after security to the left is the Etihad-only first and business class lounge, where I work on my laptop before enjoying the a la carte dining and soothing atmosphere. The departure gate is an easy five-minute walk away, downstairs, and boarding commences early.
This is an A380 service, with the smaller top deck dedicated to business and first-class passengers, plus The Residence. The business cabin houses 70 seats across two sections in a 1-2-1 formation. The seats are “business studios”, which offer an enhanced business-class experience as you feel like you are in your own semi-private room. Seats can face in either direction but I prefer to be facing forward and I am next to the window on the right in the rear cabin. Because premium passengers board from a different level, there isn’t the usual waiting-behind-economy-passengers queue and neither do they even walk through the cabin, so the premium experience starts straight away.
Take-off is on-time at about 3.15pm. I order seared cod with celeriac puree and spinach, which was excellent, and cheese for dessert – tasty, fresh and, like the main course, attractively presented – before sleeping for a while. Unfortunately, there is quite a lot of minor turbulence and a sick child in a family to my left screams and shouts on and off for the whole flight, but with my earplugs in and a reasonable distance between us I can ignore it.
Between business and first class is a comfortable and softly lit bar area, which is a great place to have a change of scene during the flight and watch the news headlines on a muted TV screen. Landing in Abu Dhabi 13 hours later is on time.
The writer was a guest of the airline
Source: Fortune Magazine
Rosemary Behan expands on Etihad Airways’ direct Airbus A380 service between Abu Dhabi and New York
How are Etihad’s business studios on the A380 better than its other business class seats?
The fully-flat bed feels more luxurious than the airline’s other business-class seats as it is longer, squarer and more spacious, and can be adjusted to make it harder or softer. As a whole the studios offer 20 per cent more personal space, including three handy storage units for papers and other items, which you can access from the seat. Seats have direct aisle access but you feel more protected from the aisle. All guests are also offered comfortable pyjamas and mattress pads, and the usual Luxe Cityguide amenity kits. The E-Box headphones have a magnetic connection, offering better sound quality, and there are spare USB sockets.
How often does the A380 service operate?
Last month the single daily service was increased to two per day because of increased demand. The first A380 service on this route started in November 2015.
How long is the flight and how much do tickets cost?
The flight takes about 13 hours. Flights leave Abu Dhabi at 3.35am and JFK at 3.15pm. Timings for the additional flight are: leaving Abu Dhabi at 10.10am, and JFK at 10.45pm (this flight is currently operating with a 777). Return tickets cost from Dh4,300 return in economy and from Dh20,480 return in business class.