Trip Review: Etihad Boeing 777 Business Class Abu Dhabi To Rome

Etihad Airways is a struggling Middle Eastern airline which has been trying to turn around its business. However, they have not had much success recently, so when an opportunity arose to fly with Etihad, I decided to go for it just to see what the experience is like. After a relatively pleasant flight on the Airbus A330, I looked forward to trying the 777. Unfortunately, the 777 did not impress.

Etihad 777
Etihad Airways failed to impress on their 777. Photo: Paul Spijkers via Wikimedia Commons

Booking

I booked this flight through Alitalia. Out of Nairobi, on plenty of dates in late July, Alitalia offered one-way business class tickets to Los Angeles for around $1,000. Aside from being the cheapest one-way fare, this itinerary would also help me renew my Gold Medallion status with Delta. Although, the Etihad flights do not count for mileage on Delta.

Airport experience

I visited the Etihad business lounge in Abu Dhabi. One of the biggest things the lounge needs to improve is power access, as there were only a few places to charge devices.

With a departure time of 2:15 AM, passengers were ready to get on board. Boarding started a few minutes late and, overall, we pushed back a little late from the gate. Business class passengers boarded first and it seemed to go smoothly.

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The seat

Upon stepping onboard, I noticed that the cabin had the same layout as the Airbus A330 I flew in on.

Etihad 777 J Cabin
Etihad’s cabin on the 777 was similar to the Airbus A330. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Compared to the Airbus A330, however, the 777 was quite outdated. The wall light had a space-age flair to it.

Wall light
The wall light had a space-age theme to it. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

This was not the only outdated part of the seat. The remote control had a very old feel to it. It was clear that this plane had not received an update in several years.

Etihad Remote Control
The remote control was a bit old. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The seat controls were similarly outdated. However, they did the job quite well.

Etihad seat controls
The seat controls were similarly outdated. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The monitor, footrest, and tray table were similarly positioned as on the Airbus A330. It really does feel like the tray table was more of an afterthought. And then, I realized something else.

Table, monitor, footrest
The table, monitor, and footrest were similarly positioned. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The Airbus A330 had a side console to place things or the pre-departure service. The seats on the 777 instead have this shallow tray that is not much good for anything.

Etihad seats
There were no side consoles on the 777 like on the A330. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

There was this strange gap between the seat and the walls. Etihad really should have added some storage consoles.

Gap
Etihad really could have set up some storage consoles for passengers. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Amenities

Unlike my last flight, this flight offered a swanky amenity kit.

Etihad amenity kit
Etihad’s amenity kit. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The best part about the kit was the case itself. It was stylish and had several pockets that could be useful after the flight. The headphones were exactly the same as on my previous flight from Nairobi.

Etihad headphones
Etihad business class headphones. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Inflight entertainment

The E-BOX inflight entertainment system was similarly well-stocked. Unfortunately, the outdated nature of the seat extended to the screen. The quality was subpar.

Etihad monitor
The monitor felt incredibly outdated. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Compared to the A330, the system on the 777 was arranged in a more outdated fashion.

E-BOX on the 777. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Meals

I received a pre-departure glass of champagne. Due to the lack of a console, the flight attendant had to unlatch the large and somewhat bulky tray table.

Etihad business class predeparture
Etihad’s pre-departure champagne. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Shortly thereafter, I received a hot towel.

Etihad hot towel
Etihad hot towel service. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Then, came the menu and wine list for the flight.

Etihad menu

There was no meal just after takeoff. Instead, a light snack was served. I went with a cup of tea and some Arabic baklava.

Etihad
Tea and Arabic baklava on Etihad. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

The baklava was different than any kind of baklava I’ve had before. Even then, the snack was small and fine for this departure time.

After a few hours of sleep, I had the breakfast service.

Etihad breakfast
Breakfast service on the flight. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

I had ordered the vanilla pancakes before going to bed. This was delivered just over an hour before landing. I also went with a cappuccino for an early morning wakeup. For an airplane, the cappuccino was nice. The pancakes, meanwhile, were a bit too soggy, and the fruit seemed out of place with this meal.

Compared to the last flight, I was disappointed with the meal. That being said, I usually am not a breakfast person on planes. With breakfast as the main meal on this flight, I probably would opt for a later departure next time.

Cabin crew

This crew was very efficient. They helped maximize sleeping time and completed service quickly. Within minutes of settling in, I had an amenity kit, menu, and pre-departure service. Furthermore, the service during meals was quick. My tray table was cleared of the snack as soon as I was done. And, when it was time for breakfast service, the crew did not wake me up until my meal was plated and ready.

For such an early flight, the crew were fantastic and knew exactly how to maximize the use of a lie-flat seat.

Overall

The seat was outdated and the meal service was not the best, but overall, the flight was not bad. I definitely would prefer a flight on the A330. For the price, however, the experience was just fine.

Have you flown on an Etihad 777? Let us know in the comments!

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