Flight Review: Etihad 787-9 Economy – Mostly Worth It

As part of a journey from Kuwait to Brussels, I boarded Etihad’s Boeing 787-9 between Abu Dhabi and Rome. This was the longest flight in my journey – one of three flights in total to get to my destination. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of product onboard this flight. Here is a review of my experience.

Unfortunately, boarding was done via remote stand at Abu Dhabi International. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Getting to the aircraft

I got on this aircraft after transferring off of an Etihad A320 from Kuwait. The terminal was busy with morning and holiday passenger traffic but I managed to get enough time at the airport’s two lounges. Reviews will come soon!

Unfortunately, this flight was boarded via bus and remote stand. In this particular situation, I didn’t care as much as my SkyTeam-SkyPriority status wasn’t recognized and I would not be able to board early (to get a clean/empty shot of the cabin).

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Note: Priority boarding of an aircraft at a remote stand is a total joke as it only means you get to board the bus first. After boarding the bus, it’s a total guess as to which side of the bus will open up to the aircraft.

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Space and seating

The cabin looks alright. The darker brown makes it look a little bit dated in my opinion. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
The side-headrests are something I’ve never seen before. I think it’s a fantastic feature for passengers trying to sleep. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Upon entering the Dreamliner, the economy cabin felt spacious and inviting. The decor is on the brighter side with a light brown color. The most interesting and unique aspect of the seating is the side headrest feature on every seat. this allows passengers to firmly rest their head sideways when trying to sleep.

As the aircraft is a 787, the economy cabin was in its most common configuration of 3-3-3. This tends to feel squished in terms of width. This flight was no exception. Thankfully, however, there was no one in the middle seat and I had plenty of elbow room. Down below for my legs, I was able to stretch out as much as I wanted. At almost six feet, there was no problem with legroom at all. Unknowingly, without an extra purchase, I had been placed in the “Economy Space” section – which offers extra legroom over regular Economy.

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Legroom was great. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Inflight entertainment

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The inflight entertainment definitely stood out above other Middle Eastern airlines I had recently flown. Not only is there a beautiful large screen for viewing movies and television, but there is also an easily-accessible, full-size, international electrical outlet in every seat.

Furthermore, rather than irritating the passenger in front of you with jabs to the screen, you can navigate the system via remote control – which has a touchscreen of its own. And there’s even a little springloaded coat-hook.

The remote control complete with touchscreen. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Etihad’s 787 IFE seems quite robust with plenty of options. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

As far as the entertainment content is concerned, I thought there was a lot to choose from. Everything ranging from new Hollywood blockbusters to the old classics was available. There was also a large selection of foreign film titles from all around the world.

Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

One thing I didn’t care for was the advertisements that interrupted the start of my films – and everyone else as well. This was to promote Etihad’s new food-for-purchase menu in economy class. I had heard about this earlier and thought it was going to replace the inflight complimentary meal. However, I was relieved to hear it was an additional option and there was still a complimentary meal.

The ad was an annoying interruption – but also entertaining and well done as far as unwelcome interruptions go. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Additional paid options include inflight WiFi and a premium food menu. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Food and beverage

The morning flight began with a simple snack and beverage service. The ‘savory snack’ consisted of mini breadstick/wheat crisps. I opted to drink from my water bottle instead of using a plastic cup for a beverage that would accompany the snack.

The initial snack service. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

The main lunchtime meal was probably the highlight of the flight for me. I went with the chicken option and it didn’t disappoint at all. In my opinion, the dish is beautifully presented and comes with sides of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Accompanying the hot-main was butter, a bread roll, as well as a small wedge of soft cheese, and crackers. Dessert was a mango and passionfruit mousse. While nicely presented as a branded item – it lacked the texture expected of a mousse (light and airy)… as if the item had spent too much time sitting in storage. It was certainly more on the liquidy side.

The main meal was delicious. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Conclusion

Considering my itinerary consisted of a total of five flights (with one particularly long layover) for a return journey, I don’t think the price I paid was amazing. However, if I were traveling from Abu Dhabi to Rome direct, I would be quite satisfied with this service.

The flight attendants were courteous and helpful and I thought their service was at a very respectable standard. The food looked and tasted amazing. The IFE offers a good amount of entertainment too. And on this particular day, the flight was on-time and we even arrived early. As far as economy class is concerned, I would recommend this service – especially over Etihad’s older aircraft such as the Boeing 777.

One notable disappointment is the fact that there was no free minimum WiFi service like what is offered with Air France and Saudia. Many airlines now have a free messaging-only WiFi option that allows you to use messaging apps. This was not present with Etihad.

Have you flown on Etihad’s 787 Dreamliners? Let us know if this was an accurate review by leaving a comment!

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Alexis

You flew economy space. economy space is basically economy for tall people and people who want more leg room. The only difference between economy space and economy is the distance between the seats which means more leg room. The rest seems to be the same.

David C

The reason the 787 economy cabin feels “ squished “ is because it is . The 787 offers the least amount of cabin width of any aircraft configured in a 3-3-3 arrangement .

Jayne Gernon

Etihad 787 Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
Very tightly squashed and uncomfortable for a 14 hour flight.
Food was good. Just a shame I was so uncomfortable all the way ….