Assessment: Etihad Enterprise Class Airbus A321 (JED-AUH)

To proceed my lengthy journey to Abu Dhabi, I flew Etihad Airways’ Airbus A321 enterprise class from Jeddah to Abu Dhabi. As a lot as flying with Gulf carriers might be enjoyable, there’s not an entire lot of glamor to a flight that’s simply over two hours in the course of the night time.

That being stated, Etihad delivered a nice expertise on its slender physique jets, with scrumptious meals and drinks, pleasant service, and nice bedding. The one actual detrimental consideration is that Etihad’s slender physique plane pale compared to the provider’s huge physique plane, which additionally function this route (and which the competitors largely flies between Saudi Arabia and the UAE). Anyway, let’s get into the overview…

How I booked my Etihad enterprise class ticket

I booked my complete journey from Jeddah to Chicago (through Abu Dhabi and London) as a single award utilizing American AAdvantage miles. Particularly, I booked the next for 115,000 American AAdvantage miles plus $323.73 in taxes and charges (with the Jeddah to Abu Dhabi section in enterprise class, and the Abu Dhabi to London to Chicago segments in top quality):

12/04 EY330 Jeddah to Abu Dhabi departing 2:35AM arriving 6:20AM
12/04 EY17 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:05PM arriving 6:10PM
12/05 BA295 London to Chicago departing 11:00AM arriving 1:55PM

That’s a reasonably nice use of American AAdvantage miles, if you happen to ask me. Moreover, whereas there have been provider imposed surcharges on this award, they had been less expensive than if you happen to had been solely reserving an award on British Airways throughout the Atlantic.

Etihad enterprise class lounge & boarding

Etihad departs from Terminal 1 at Jeddah Airport, which is by far the airport’s nicest terminal. I booked the Aerotel Jeddah Airport for my layover, to attempt to get some relaxation. Etihad sends its enterprise class passengers to the Wellcome Lounge (sure, that’s the proper spelling), which is the contract lounge and Precedence Move lounge within the terminal.

I didn’t have a lot time to go to the lounge, nevertheless it wasn’t spectacular — the Wi-Fi wasn’t functioning, and it was packed (with a refrain of coughing), so I shortly left. My flight was departing from gate A23. Whereas boarding was scheduled for 2AM, it truly began 20 minutes forward of schedule, at 1:40AM. Enterprise class passengers had been invited to board first.

Etihad A321 enterprise class cabin & seats

Etihad’s Airbus A321s characteristic simply eight enterprise class seats, unfold throughout two rows in a 2-2 configuration. It’s an intimate cabin, and surprisingly small for a Gulf provider. Etihad’s A321s have recliner seats in enterprise class, so consider them as being just like home top quality in america, fairly than something like Etihad’s lengthy haul enterprise class product.

Etihad enterprise class cabin A321

I had assigned myself seat 1A, as that was the one window seat remaining on the time of reserving. For that matter, I truly assume I want the bulkhead on this case, because it’s simple to climb over the individual within the aisle whereas they’re sleeping. Thankfully Etihad has beneficiant legroom within the bulkhead row.

Etihad enterprise class seat A321

Whereas Etihad has been flying its A321s for a few years, they’ve been up to date not too long ago. Whereas Etihad eliminated leisure screens from financial system, the airline additionally reupholstered seats, improved the charging ports in enterprise class, added greater definition TVs in enterprise class, and so on.

Beneath the middle console was the headphone jack, in addition to AC and USB-A charging ports.

Etihad enterprise class seat retailers A321

All of the seat controls had been positioned on a panel to the aspect of the seat.

Etihad enterprise class seat controls A321

The tray desk folded out from the far armrest, and could possibly be folded over in half, relying on how massive of a floor you wished.

Etihad enterprise class seat tray desk A321

In the meantime the leisure monitor folded out from the middle armrest, which is type of old fashioned, although not less than it’s fairly excessive definition.

Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321

Whereas the monitor was touchscreen, there was additionally an leisure controller, do you have to want to browse the choices that approach.

Etihad enterprise class leisure controller A321

The overhead console had each studying lights and particular person air nozzles, which is appreciated.

Etihad overhead console A321

Whereas a flat mattress would after all be most popular, this can be a strong slender physique enterprise class product, particularly for such a brief flight.

Etihad enterprise class facilities

Ready at every seat upon boarding was a superb pillow and blanket. I really like Etihad’s bedding, because the pillow was thick and substantial, whereas the blanket was cozy.

Etihad enterprise class pillow
Etihad enterprise class blanket

There was additionally a pair of headphones at every seat, which weren’t notably top quality, however did the trick.

Etihad enterprise class headphones

Every enterprise class passenger was additionally provided a bottle of water.

Etihad enterprise class bottled water

Throughout the boarding course of, pre-departure drinks had been served. The alternatives included water, orange juice, or lemon mint juice (Etihad doesn’t serve alcohol on Saudi Arabia flights). I selected the lemon mint juice, which was refreshing.

Etihad enterprise class pre-departure drink

Later within the boarding course of, Arabic espresso and dates had been served.

Etihad enterprise class Arabic espresso & date

Etihad A321 enterprise class leisure

These days Etihad’s A321s simply have private displays in enterprise class, and never in financial system. I appreciated how the monitor was excessive definition. The leisure choice was fairly good, with an enormous number of films and TV reveals.

Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321
Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321
Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321
Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321

The inflight leisure additionally had a map characteristic, which I take pleasure in maintaining a tally of.

Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321
Etihad enterprise class leisure system A321

Sadly Etihad’s A321s don’t have any Wi-Fi, so there’s no method to keep linked whereas inflight. There may be streaming leisure for individuals who worth that, however no Wi-Fi.

Etihad A321 departure from Jeddah

Often boarding on Gulf carriers is a reasonably civilized expertise, not less than if you happen to’re in a premium cabin. That’s a lot much less the case on the A321, when everybody boards proper previous you. The crew did a implausible job greeting every passenger whereas nonetheless serving enterprise class in the course of the time.

This was a full flight — each seat was taken — and it was an advanced crowd, with numerous language limitations, requests, confusion, and so on.

At 2:10AM boarding was full, at which level the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 2hr20min, and our cruising altitude of 2hr20min.

We then waited for a while, presumably as a result of we had been to this point forward of schedule. quarter-hour later, at 2:25AM, a guide security video was carried out. Then at 2:30AM we started our pushback.

We had a ridiculously quick pushback and taxi, and had been airborne from runway 34C at 2:35AM. I don’t assume I’ve ever gone from beginning pushback to being off the bottom in round 5 minutes. We had a easy climb out into the early morning sky, and the seatbelt signal was turned off 5 minutes after takeoff.

Etihad enterprise class meal service

Etihad doesn’t have menus on these quick flights, however on the bottom the crew took meal orders. There have been two decisions for the meal, described as rigatoni or shrimp with rice.

I discovered the selection to serve a dinner-type meal to be fascinating, provided that the flight took off at 2:35AM and arrived at 6:20AM. In my expertise, Emirates serves extra of a breakfast-type meal on these flights. I don’t have a powerful desire a method or one other, it’s simply not what I used to be anticipating.

Anyway, the crew was fast to begin service after takeoff. First a spherical of drinks was served with heat blended nuts. I ordered one other lemon mint juice, plus a cappuccino, and that was all served on a tray. I like how Etihad presents its drinks on trays, as not many airways do this.

Etihad enterprise class drinks & nuts

The crew served meals about half-hour after takeoff, and all the meal was on one tray. I used to be impressed by the standard of the meal. The primary course consisted of shrimp with rice and a purple sauce. Then there was a aspect salad (with inexperienced peppers, purple peppers, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes), and a wealthy chocolate tart for dessert. Final however not least, there was a small loaf of bread.

Etihad enterprise class meal

This was a filling meal, and all you possibly can ask for on a flight like this. After the tray was cleared, I ordered a cup of espresso, which was as soon as once more served on a tray, and got here with a Godiva chocolate.

Etihad enterprise class espresso

Whereas I labored for many of the flight, everybody else within the cabin appeared to sleep the entire approach. I used to be the one non-Saudi enterprise class passenger, finest I might inform, they usually had been an fascinating crowd. For instance, the older girl seated instantly behind me wanted to rise up and use the toilet, however the man seated subsequent to me was reclined, making it exhausting for her to get out.

So to wake him up, she mainly simply began clubbing him together with her bag. I don’t understand how else to explain it. I assume that’s one method to be woken up…

Etihad A321 enterprise class bathroom

There was a bathroom on the entrance of the Etihad A321 enterprise class cabin. Whereas fairly no frills, it was not less than clear, because the crew enforced using the curtain between enterprise class and financial system.

Etihad enterprise class bathroom A321
Etihad enterprise class bathroom A321

Etihad enterprise class service

The Etihad crew working this flight had been pleasant and really skilled. Whereas there’s some glamor to working for Gulf carriers, these midnight direct flip itineraries are tough on anybody, and I can’t think about they take pleasure in them very a lot. Regardless of that, they had been in good spirits, and really responsive.

Etihad A321 arrival in Abu Dhabi

At round 5:15AM Abu Dhabi time, we had been flying over the border between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and shortly thereafter began our descent.

Map enroute to Abu Dhabi

At round 5:30AM, the primary officer was on the PA to announce that we’d be touchdown in about quarter-hour. The seatbelt signal was turned on 5 minutes after that.

Certain sufficient, we had a easy landing in Abu Dhabi at precisely 5:45AM. From there we had a brief 5 minute taxi to Abu Dhabi’s new Terminal A. The proximity of the brand new terminal to the runway is the primary superior change to Etihad’s transfer!

Taxiing Abu Dhabi Airport

I bid farewell to the crew, handed via transit safety, and was then excited to discover Terminal A, the Etihad First Class Lounge, and the Etihad Enterprise Class Lounge, previous to my Etihad A380 top quality flight to London.

Backside line

Etihad gives a wonderfully nice expertise in enterprise class on its Airbus A321s. Etihad has pleasant service, scrumptious meals and drinks, and a comfy pillow and blanket. For a flight of simply over two hours, this was completely good. The one factor to remember is that there are additionally numerous flights in markets like this operated by huge physique jets with flat beds, so after all that’s preferable, when you’ve got the selection.

What’s your tackle Etihad’s A321 enterprise class?

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