13 hours of Business Class on Etihad’s A380 Abu Dhabi - Sydney

Business class bliss for 99,999 Etihad Guest Miles, Etihad’s A380 is hands-down the best way to get from the Middle East to Australia. I haven't found a business class experience better than this yet. 

I took this 13 and a half hour Etihad flight November 2017. This leg of my journey began at 9am local time in Abu Dhabi, after having arrived in from Europe a few hours prior. The EY450 flight arrived into Sydney first thing in the morning (local time). 

  • Route: Abu Dhabi – Sydney
  • Airline: Etihad
  • Cabin: Business Class
  • Points Used: 99,999 Etihad Guest Miles plus taxes for a one-way trip

How to book seats on Etihad

  • Pay cash of course
  • Buy a flex or saver economy ticket then use Etihad points to upgrade
  • Buy a flex or saver economy ticket then bid $$$ to upgrade
  • Redeem Etihad Guest Miles for an awards seat.

Let's talk points. The 2018 Etihad devaluation takes the shine off the redemption value and makes loyal flyers reconsider their loyalty. No doubt about it. 

Other than flying a lot with Etihad, the only way left in Australia to earn big quantities of Etihad Guest Miles is to earn American Express Membership Reward points. Then allow 5 business days before you need to book your flight to transfer your American Express Membership Reward points across to Etihad Guest program. And for that, you'll need the right Amex credit cards and charge cards.

75,000 bonus Qantas Points*
and $200 back when you make one eligible purchase in the first 3 months.
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75,000 bonus Qantas Points and $200 back when you make one eligible purchase in the first 3 months.

Earn 1 Qantas Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases up to $7,500 per statement period.

Use your ANZ Frequent Flyer Black card to purchase your Qantas Club Membership and save up to $475 in your first year of membership.

Relax in luxury while you wait for departure with two Qantas Club lounge access invitations per year.

Complimentary access to participating airport lounges through Veloce.

A range of complimentary insurances for travel and purchase.

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Promotion. Credit criteria, fees and charges apply. Read the terms and conditions before making a decision.

Ready to board the A380

Separate walkway up to the upper flight deck
Separate walkway up to the upper flight deck

Just take a look at the size of the A380. The entire top deck of the Etihad A380 is occupied by business and first class cabins. Economy and Premium Economy is downstairs. The Business class section stretches on and on and is comprised of 70 Business Class seats in total. There are 9 fully enclosed first class suites but none of the impressive Residence suites on this specific route.

The walk on gives you a sense of just how big these aircraft are
The walk on gives you a sense of just how big these aircraft are
A380 massive engine size is still impressive
A380 massive engine size is still impressive
The view of the wing at Abu Dhabi airport
The view of the wing at Abu Dhabi airport

The seat

The seats the fully reclining 180-degree seats which make for very comfortable long haul experience. But something you will start to notice 5 hours into your flight is that the seats are not overly soft or padded compared to other aircraft. And the seats are a tad skinny width-wise compared to business class on Qantas, AA, Cathay Pacific, Emirates or Qatar.

Why so serious sister?
2nd leg of the journey with my sister. Looking a bit serious in this photo!
Time to stretch out on my very comfortable lay flat seat.
Time to stretch out on my very comfortable lay flat seat.
Eithad IFE has plenty of screen size
Eithad IFE has plenty of screen size
The obligatory mimosa just before take off
The mimosa cocktail, one part orange juice and one part champagne.
Centre divider down the two seat layout ideal for travelling with someone
Centre divider down the two seat layout ideal for travelling with someone
All that room to yourself
The empty window seat next to me
Mood lighting business cabin
Mood lighting business cabin
Apologies for the pitch black photo
Don’t be shy about using the bar and lounge area.

Sometimes, in a somewhat “formal” business or first class setting you can feel like you should only do what other people are doing – especially if you’re not used to being there. But just because nobody is using the lounge doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t or can’t. In fact, flight crew always love the genuine interaction with passengers who make the effort to have a chat.

Reading the Financial Times in the business class bar & lounge
Reading the Financial Times in the business class bar & lounge

How to spend 13.5 hours on a flight

Traveling with my sister, we tried to stay awake as long as possible on this flight before sleeping so that when we arrived in Australia we wouldn't be too out of whack. 

Stay awake for an hour or so. Read, do some work or watch movies. 

Eat some food, watch a movie. Go hang out at the in-flight bar area located between business and first. It wasn't heavily visited at any point in my flight.

Go change into the comfortable stylish pajama’s.

And if I can't sleep on a long haul flight I like to pop a herbal sleeping tablet (valerian) to help get off to sleep. Needless to say, check with your doctor before taking any sleeping tablets. It works safely for me. But for you, you should check for yourself.

The starter mezze plate of food
The starter mezze plate of food
The business class cabin
The business class cabin
Mood lighting in the cabin
I counted only 10 empty seats dotted around the business cabin

Approaching Sydney

Mood lit ambience early morning before we land in Sydney
Mood lit ambience early morning before we land in Sydney
Approaching the landing at Sydney on a gloomy morning
Approaching the landing at Sydney on a gloomy morning
The Qantas A380 landed into Sydney just minutes after us.
The Qantas A380 landed into Sydney just minutes after us.

Would I fly Etihad again?

Right now, Abu Dhabi airport somehow squeezes 84 million passengers through its cramped buildings with its low ceilings. It is nowhere near as good as say The Qatar hub in Doha and Emirates in Dubai. Construction on the new mega terminal is due for completion late 2019. When that is complete, Etihad flights which connect to Abu Dhabi will be greatly enhanced.

But once you get onto the Etihad plane the in-flight experience is absolutely fantastic. 

The international cabin crew was top notch. Friendly, attentive and pleasant. They did an excellent job throughout the flight. I was very impressed.

The food and drinks were also very good.

Toilets are compact but well designed and very tastefully decorated and well maintained. No shower on this A380. You need to fly Emirates for that level of in-flight luxury.

If like me, you fly the Australia to Middle East or Europe route once or twice every year or so then this is an amazing way to do it. It was fantastic. I think I’ve been spoilt. I’d fly Etihad business class again on the A380 any time. Etihad: Take my points, maybe even my money too.

Off it goes again

The Etihad A380 taxiing out at Sydney Airport
The Etihad A380 taxiing out at Sydney Airport