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 Etihad 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.
Food is served on several buffets at one end of the lounge. Hot and cold western and Asian dishes, snacks and deserts are available.
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.
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 A350-900. I like the window seats that have the console on the aisle. That provides separation from the movements in the aisle.
Unfortunately, the middle seats also had the same set up as on the Thai A350-900.
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.
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.
The tray table folds down and out from the back of the seat in front like on the Thai A350-900.
The 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.
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.
On this flight Ethihad provided its usual business-class quilt, pillow, amenity kit, noise-cancelling headsets,slippers, and bottled water. No pajamas.
The Etihad amenity kits come with designs celebrating six of the cities it serves. My kit had the Los Angeles design.
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.
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.
The view from the window wasn’t bad either.
The Ethiad crew provided a pre-departure beverage. I had champagne.
First Meal Service
Menus were also distributed.
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.
Cheese, crackers, grapes and strawberry ice cream was desert.
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.
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.
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.