Wednesday, Oct. 5th, Dusseldorf Airport. If you want to catch an Etihad 787 flight out of Germany, you have to fly out of DUS. Dusseldorf was the first 787 destination in Etihad`s network and so far only Dreamliner and A380 fleets feature Etihad`s latest "Business Studio" product.
Etihad`s 787-9 A6-BLF, a six months young Dreamliner, will operate the EY24 service to Abu Dhabi today. Etihad ordered the stretch in two cabin layouts with and without a First Class. Lima Foxtrott spares eight private First Class suites in favor of a larger Economy cabin with 271 instead of 195 seats.
Business Class accomodates 28 passengers in either cabin configuration. Rows are arranged 1-2-1 and some seats fly rear-facing. Etihad`s A380 First Class keeps the Business Class at bay with separate beds and showers. On the 787-9 the difference between premium and extra premium is more of a blurred line.
This might not be the only reason why most C-passengers of today`s flight board early and skip the lounge. Etihad uses DUS facilities of its financially drained partner Air Berlin and the lounge experience is quite unspectacular, with some furniture a tad 1990s-infused.
Cabin is a stark contrast to lounge - modern but cozy indeed. My aisle seat 8K is rear-facing, a concept many airlines embrace, but some travellers still scrutinize. To be quite frank, I did not realize any difference compared to travelling in flight direction. This might be well owed to the captivating "Business Studio" environment.
The product`s name keeps its promise. This is not a mere seat, it`s a little place of your own: semi-private, not claustrophobic, with heaps of space around you.
Its 22 inch width brings the Business Studio seat on equal terms with Etihad`s current First Class product on the A330. Seats in "Business Studio" are two inches wider than their "Pearl Business Class" peers.
Still, it is the suite concept that establishes the actual difference between old and new: Business Class is fully booked today. I do not realize this until I leave my studio for the lavs two hours in flight.
A day flight keeps cabin crew busy. Etihad really puts a lot effort into training its staff and service is seamless, attentive and friendly. A food and beverage manager takes everybody`s orders and preferred lunch times right before takeoff.
My day started early and without a breakfast. Lucky me, Etihad is quick to serve a steak sandwich - one of four snacks available anytime throughout flight. The menu is as choiceful with three starter, four main course and even five dessert options. Everything is served on signature tableware. Neat touch.
I go for an Arab starter plate, chicken biryani - it`s competing with a sirloin steak, grilled salmon and baked pumpkin on the menu - and some fruit. This is the kind of airline food that really appeals to me - simple and well prepared dishes always proof to offer a more satisfying culinary experience than convoluted chef creations.
Even though the Dreamliner (bleed-air free!) a/c establishes very agreeable cabin air quality and humidity, drinking lots of water during flight remains paramount to avoid dehydration. Coffee is not an option today anyway as a faulty coffee maker thwarted my plans to test Ethiad`s renowned barrista service.
No worries about that - another glass of the excellent Duval Leroy bubbly over-compensates for the missed in-flight latte.
We are in the middle of our 5 hour and 45 minute flight to AUH now and it`s time for me to acquaint myself with the IFE. WiFi connects all passenger PEDs to the internet - this works as well and fast as one would expect. A choice of quality movies and TV series and the 18.5 inch screen provide some in-flight diversion.
The setup for the next hours: a seat in half-recline (the firmness grade of the seat cushion is adjustable), a fluffy signature blanket, a cup of tea and some classic episodes of "Friends" (the Air Berlin lounge left me in 90s nostalgia, after all).
Some hot towels come in handy right before landing and if you are not in transit and have some time to spare go visit Etihad`s AUH arrival lounge at the airport exit to top off an awesome flight experience.
The 787-9`s range would cover a nonstop flight from Dusseldorf to Perth. I am in any time for such ultra long haul travel in the Business Studio. This product is a harbinger of passenger-centric travel and establishes benchmarks for new business class cabins in the 2017 pipelines of United, Qantas and Qatar Airways.
© PaxEx.com, Dennis Dahlenburg | Abb.: Etihad Airways | Nov 18, 2016 11:17