Etihad to introduce Economy Space on their A380, B777 and B787 fleet

Etihad Airways for the last two years has been looking at ways to milk the cow so to speak in a bid to recoup costs and get themselves back in the black. The latest announcement will add a few more dollars Etihad’s way with the airline launching ‘Economy Space’. What is ‘Economy Space’ you ask?’ Some are claiming it’s their version of premium economy but it isn’t even close. It’s more akin to United’s Economy Plus, a seat simply with extra leg room.

By December this year, ‘Economy Space’ will be implemented onto 10 of their A380s. The seats will feature an increased pitch of up to 36 inches whilst bolstering the number of extra legroom seats they currently have in Economy from 20 to 80 on the A380. In the new year the airline will focus on redesigning 12 Boeing 777 and 21 Boeing 787 jets with a completion date slated for late 2019.

The airline says it has made the move due to an increase in demand for more space but without the hefty price tag of business or first class.

All ‘Economy Space’ seats will be sold at a premium to passengers. The airline is yet to release details on how much the seats will be priced at. In addition to ‘Economy Space’, Etihad will offer a Neighbour-Free seating option in Economy as well as a range of buy-on-board products.

ETIHAD DOWNGRADES SYD FROM A380 TO B777

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Ah Etihad Airways you’ve done it again! The Abu Dhabi based airline of late has been putting the knife into his product offerings, slowly killing off its ‘premium’ experience in a bid to fast track its way back to profitability after posting losses the last two years in a row.

What I thought was a cash cow for Etihad, the Sydney – Abu Dhabi leg, is not safe from its cost cutting measures. This month the airline announced it would remove the crowd favourite A380 with a downgrade to a B777 on one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights from October 2018 to late May 2019.

The flight affected is EY451 which departs Sydney 3pm and the returning EY450 leg back. The downgrade will take place 20 October 2018 to 4 December 2018, and then again from 7 February 2019 to 30 May 2019. Between the December-February dates listed above, EY451/EY450 will get a reprieve with the return of the A380.

The airline’s other daily service (EY454/455) will continue to feature the superjumbo, so if you are planning on flying the superjumbo note this before making a booking.

The change particularly isn’t great for passengers across the board with the B777 displaying the last gen seats for all classes. Moreover the B777 lacks the A380s lobby social lounge/bar area.

Etihad Airways announced that the change of aircraft was due to routine maintenance and has said  it’ll notify guests booked on these services of the changes.

Whilst disappointed by the news (I’m an avid A380 fanboy), it sadly isn’t unexpected. My concern is how much further or for that matter low can the airline go in order to cut costs?!

New Acqua Di Parma Amenity Kits for Etihad

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From August, Etihad will introduce a range of exclusive Acqua Di Parma amenity kits and toiletries for its customers travelling in The Residence on its Airbus A380 as well as on their long-haul First Class and Business Class services.

The new amenity kits feature the iconic yellow of the luxury Italian fragrance brand. First Class unisex kits will host an array of luxury items including a miniature bottle of Colonia, a 40ml body lotion and lip balm. whislt toiletries include Colonia hand wash and hand cream. Shower gel, body lotion, hair shampoo, and hair conditioner will also appear as part of the Colonia bathroom amenity kits.

It won’t be business as usual for Business Class with the premium cabin also set to get a flashy unisex wallet bag, which can be buttoned to create a stylish and useful valet tray. They will feature a Colonia sampler and hand cream, which will also be dispensed in the Business Class washrooms.

And the Acqua Di Parma doesn’t just stop on the plane, with the Italian brand also set to feature in the airline’s flagship First Class Lounge & Spa in Abu Dhabi.

The announcement comes after Etihad announced earlier this month the introduction of caviar and sleepwear to the First Class cabin. For an airline that’s been doing a lot of cut backs of late this announcement is a welcome change. I personally love the Acqua Di Parma brand. and view the new partnership between the airline and the Italian fragrance giant as a  huge step up on the current Luxe kits that are handed out in the Etihad cabin.

Like anything in life time will tell if the product matches the hype and look of the promo product that Etihad is spruiking.

ETIHAD REVIEWS PLANE ORDERS AS PART OF RESTRUCTURE

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Etihad has had a bit of a rough trot of late and is struggling due to a bad combination of failed investments in other airlines, poor strategy in building profitable network of routes as well as a lack of government investment.

As a result of the tough times that Etihad is facing the airline has had to make some strong cost cutting measures including cutting off Airberlin (my favourite European airline – still sad by their departure from the aviation world) and Altitalia as well as the passenger experience within the plane.

It has been reported that Etihad is considering canceling some of the 165 planes they have on order.  This would be in addition to the 110 they currently have in their fleet. The orders are astonishing (if overly ambitious) and include:

  • 8 Boeing 777-8s
  • 17 Boeing 777-9s
  • 22 Boeing 787-9s
  • 30 Boeing 787-10s
  • 26 Airbus A321neos
  • 40 Airbus A350-900s
  • 22 Airbus A350-1000s

The orders which were placed in 2013, were part of Etihads quick expansion plan (which wasn’t as time went on wasn’t really a plan at all). When you are trying to keep up with the Joneses (aka Emirates and Qatar), a quick fix as they say never solves anything and Etihad would have been best to build slowly. It seems only now after the airline conducted a company wide review that they have taken this on board.

With no details on numbers and what is being cancelled this is a watch and see story.

Having flown with them a number of times across all three classes I can say that the airline offers a great product and service offering and the thought of losing an airline that is quite forward thinking would be a major loss to the aviation industry. I only hope that Etihad makes the right decision in the end as I would like to see this great airline with a hell of a lot of potential continue to fly for years to come.

Thoughts

Have you heard anything else about the potential Etihad plane order cancellation that we haven’t covered? Which orders should they keep and cancel? Keen to hear your thoughts.

Etihad Business Class Studio A380 SYD- AUH: Review

Flight: EY455, Sydney-Abu Dhabi
Loyalty Scheme: Etihad Guest (a partner of Virgin Australia Velocity program)
Frequency: Daily
Duration:  14 hours and 45 minutes

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Etihad for some has come as a overnight success but it may surprise some travellers that Abu Dhabi’s home carrier is actually thirteen years old (still young when compared to airlines like Qantas and British Airways).

I have flown with Etihad numerous times; from First right down the back in Economy. The experiences were varied but the general feeling of quality is there. That said my preferred Etihad aircraft and best journeys have come from its A380. Having flown Business Class once in the A380 compared to its 777 (which I had flown a handful of times) I was keen to see if lightening could strike twice in terms of great service and product.

Seating

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Business Class, 10D. The Residence, First and Business Class cabins share the upper level of the aircraft. There are 70 flat business bed seats, all with a 73” pitch and 20” width, laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. I sat in 10D alongside my travel companion who was in 10G, in forward facing seats. The seats allowed privacy but were also close enough to properly converse over a meal as opposed to the rear facing seats which make flying with a companion difficult due to the space between each seat.

Entertain Me

There are two IFE touchscreens, with the secondary screen providing information about your flight or entertainment info. The primary 17” screen showcases Etihad’s E-BOX entertainment in all its colourful and audible glory, offering a decent movie and audio selection. In addition, Etihad offers inflight wi-fi but I did not trial it as the initial cost was around $25 (this is for the duration of the flight) and I had movies to catch up on.

The Bread and Butter (Food and drink)

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One of Etihad’s strengths is its food and drink menu and service. The airline offers a dine on demand service but I’m more a traditional flyer and like to enjoy the three-course meal service option.

Naturally I choose the Arabic Mezze for entrée and by far it surpasses the taste, variety and presentation of both Qatar and Emirates. For main I decide on the Beef Fillet and it is served deliciously medium rare. Dessert doesn’t disappoint with the Caramel Apple Pudding going down a treat.

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Later in the flight after getting some sleep some sleep (3 hours after watching my way through catch up cinema sessions) I ordered some breakfast. I took the warm option of poached eggs with spinach and tomatoes, coupled with warm pastries and a cappuccino. The result was delicious and a real pick me up when my body really did need someone to lift me up from my half sleepy slumber.

Drink selection throughout the flight were of a strong quality with French, German and even Australian wines popping up on the menu.

The only downside was the disparity in the service. Whilst my meals and service were prompt and attentive, my companion found that his meal service was spaced out too long, struggled to get attention of staff and even had an incorrect order come out. Again, each experience is different but it is interesting to see a different side to the experience I was enjoying.

Extras

The bar wedged between first and business class is a nice little break out spacer but underwhelming in comparison to Emirates and Qatar. I don’t know if it is the ambiance, the lack of space and lack of staff for that matter but it was not as unique and welcoming as it could have been. A missed opportunity considering how the other Middle Eastern airlines have utilised similar spaces on their aircraft. I found it often a struggle to get a drink in that bar with staff hard to get attention from.

That said the LUXE branded amenities kits are a nice touch and offer some lovely goodies to have you looking refreshed throughout the flight.

Verdict

The Etihad Business Class Studio is definitely class leading and a refined, understated product (thankfully not massive on bling). The food and drink service is a key ingredient that sells the airline well but the service at times can be patchy. I have flown with Etihad on this aircraft and seat a couple of times now and the experiences have been varied. Never poor but it does flag inconsistencies in service.

The bar/ breakout area is also a tad disappointing compared to its competitors but with the lack of space it is hard to see how they can best utilise this area.

That said the business class seat is comfortable, the inflight entertainment is strong and the general experience well worth the money. I would indeed be flying this barge again in the future.

Comments
Have you experienced the class of Etihad Business Class Studio? Did the service and product take off for you or was it grounded from the start? Love to hear your feedback on this.

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