Southeast Asia was fun – a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and even a side trip to Phuket, Thailand (HKT) flying the Thai A350-900 on its fourth day in service. Done that.  Now it was on to the Maldives.

To get to the Maldives from SGN I used American Airlines miles to book business-class flights on Etihad to Abu Dhabi (AUH) and then to Male, Maldives (MLE) on an Etihad A320..

Etihad Lounge SGN

At check in at SGN the Ethiad agent gave me a lounge pass.  The lounge Etihad uses at SGN is shared with multiple carriers.  It has reasonably comfortable seating in one large room. The lounge offers a good variety of food and beverage choices, free WiFi, newspapers and magazines.

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Seating Etihad lounge SGN

Food is served on several buffets at one end of the lounge.  Hot and cold western and Asian dishes, snacks and deserts are available.

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Buffet
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Bar for computer use (right) and alcohol and papers at rear

SGN-AUH Etihad A330-200

The flight to AUH was scheduled for six hours and 49 minutes to cover the 3,534 miles from SGN.

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Flight info to AUH

The Etihad A330-200 Business Class Cabin and Seat Features

This Etihad A330-200 was the remodeled version with all-aisle-access, lie-flat seats in business class in a 1-2-1 arrangement.  There are 22 Pearl business-class seats in one cabin between the forward galley and the mid galley.  The seats have 73 inches of pitch and are 20 inches wide.

Upon boarding I immediately observed that the Etihad A330-200 and the new Thai A350-900 have nearly identical business-class seats.

I had seat 7K, a window seat on the right side of the plane.  It was set up like my window seat on the Thai A3550-900.  I like the window seats that have the console on the aisle.  That provides separation from the movements in the aisle.

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Ethiad A330-200 seat 7K with fixed video screen and fold-down tray table like Thai A350-900.  Blanket and amenity kit below the screen.

Unfortunately, the middle seats also had the same set up as on the Thai A350-900.

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Business class center section seats together on Etihad A330-200

The middle seat rows alternate with the seats separated or close (smashed) together.  As shown in the photo above, when the middle seats are together and the consoles are on the outside, there is no separation whatsoever between seatmates.  As far as proximity to your seatmate, you might as well be in coach.

In the other rows, the consoles are between the seats.  That puts your seatmate at a comfortable distance.  But these seats place passengers directly on the aisle.

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Open foot well business class center section seat on the aisle

To underscore the exposed position this seat puts passengers in note that with these seats the foot well is open to the aisle.  It is quite unusual for a lie-flt business class seat to have an open foot well.  It appears that it would be all too easy for blankets and feet to spill into the aisle.

The controls for seat 7K, lighting and video remote are conveniently located at eye level on the console between the seat and the aisle.

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Seat controls and video remote are close at hand and easy to use

The tray table folds down and out from the back of the seat in front like on the Thai A350-900.

img_0763The tray table is non-adjustable unlike many other business-class seats.  The seat must be moved forward for working or eating on the tray table.

The electrical connections are located below the fold-down tray table in a somewhat awkward spot for access and stepping over to get to the aisle.

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USB and AC outlets

In short I find the seating arrangement in business class on the Etihad 330-200 to be as  unsatisfactory as on the Thai A350-900.

The Amenities

On this flight Ethihad provided its usual business-class quilt, pillow, amenity kit, noise-cancelling headsets,slippers, and bottled water.  No pajamas.

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Etihad amenity kit with special design
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Amenity kit contents including, eye shades, socks, dental kit, facial moisturizer and lip balm, ear plugs and a guide to Abu Dhabi

The Etihad amenity kits come with designs celebrating six of the cities it serves.  My kit had the Los Angeles design.

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Amenity kit designs.
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Noise-cancelling headphones

I travel with my own Bose noise-cancelling headsets (a must have for any flights in coach).  However when an airline provides headsets in business or first class, I gladly use those to save batteries and wear and tear on my own headsets.

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Bottled water and reading light.

In-flight Entertainment System

The IFE on this flight was pretty standard for international business class.  One neat feature was the exterior cameras that provided a great view of the takeoff from SGN.

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Exterior camera showing SGN takeoff.

The view from the window wasn’t bad either.

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Ho Chi Minh City shortly after departure

Service

The Ethiad crew provided a pre-departure beverage.  I had champagne.

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Pre-departure beverage

First Meal Service

Menus were also distributed.img_0751img_0752

 

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Etihad gave the option of choosing from the A La Carte or the All Day menu for the meal service.

After drinks dinner began about an hour into the flight.  I had the Nile perch for the main course.  It was moist and flaky and delicious.img_0780

Cheese, crackers, grapes and strawberry ice cream was desert.

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Throughout the flight the attendants were courteous and responsive.  One nice touch was that shortly before landing the FAs handed out a note to each passenger in business class with personalized information on the connecting gate for the next flight.img_0799

The flight was fairly uneventful although we skirted some thunderstorms along the way.  We did not receive any turbulence, but the lightning was a nice show.

Arrival at AUH was about 12:30.  The plane parked at a remote stand, and we were shuttled to the terminal by bus.  I found the Etihad business-class lounge and spent my eight-hour layover there.  That will be the next post about this trip.

Conclusions

I very much enjoyed my seat, food and service on this flight in business class on the Etihad A330-200.  Solo travelers and couples must be careful when selecting seats on this aircraft as getting the wrong seat could negatively affect your experience.

For anyone travelling alone, the window seats are the only desirable ones.  Window seats in the odd numbered rows are the most desirable.  For couples who want to sit close  together, the middle seats in rows with the consoles on the aisle work well.

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