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Etihad’s A350 takes its first flight, unveiling its Club Suite-cloned business seat

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Etihad has had a rough time of it in the past few years. A major restructuring took place before covid and the airline decided to shift focus from trying to compete with Emirates in scale to becoming a mid-sized boutique airline.

That change meant it had more aircraft than it could ever hope to operate. This includes five A350s which have sat in storage since their delivery in 2019.

Etihad is ready to dust these birds off and start flying them. The first flight took place from Abu Dhabi to Paris this week, although this was a one-off and the aircraft will not be flying to Europe for a while. The first flights will be shorter hops to Mumbai and Delhi, extending to Chicago and New York in the Summer.

Etihad's new business seat

Introducing Etihad’s new business class suite

Inside the A350 is Etihad’s newest business class seat:

You may find it uncannily familiar. That is because it is the same seat as BA’s Club Suite, albeit with Etihad’s choice of colour scheme and fabrics.

It has the same door and same new tray table mechanism as Club Suite. Unlike British Airways, however, Etihad has chosen to install a beautiful little mood light in every suite which I always thought BA should have done. It softens the seat and gives it a bit more atmosphere.

Like British Airways, Etihad is not installing a First Class cabin on its A350s. First is now only available on five Boeing 787-9s, as the A380 fleet has been permanently retired. It looks increasingly likely that Etihad will move to a Malaysia Airlines style offering with ‘business plus’, although CEO Doug Thomas insists “it’s not the end of first class.”

I’m not complaining. The Collins Super Diamond design, which is what both Club Suite and Etihad’s new suite are based on, is my favourite ‘off the shelf’ business class seat. It manages to perfectly balance personal space, in flight entertainment and a flexible tray table. Early feedback is that the overall spec of the fixtures and fittings is higher than Club Suite.

We are talking to Etihad about a few ideas to coincide with their move back to Terminal 4 in July. Hopefully we can do a review of the new seat as soon as it starts flying to Europe on a regular basis.


How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards

How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (May 2022)

Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Etihad Guest miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

Cards earning Membership Rewards points include:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent).

Comments (30)

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  • BahrainLad says:

    Isn’t the most logical explanation for this new product ..
    – Etihad doesn’t need these aircraft, as it can’t afford them, and can’t fill them
    – It certainly doesn’t want to invest in developing new bespoke premium cabins (like it did for the 787s and A380s) so has just bought off the shelf with minimal extra ‘trim’
    – It also doesn’t want the cost of installing 8 or so F seats per aircraft
    – A standard J/Y fit will be more attractive when these aircraft inevitably end up being leased out (or even sold) to other operators?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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