Etihad Airways is one of the new Aeroplan partners. So you can use your Aeroplan points to travel on any Etihad flight, such as between North America and Abu Dhabi, or as I did here between Abu Dhabi and Europe.
At the end of 2018, I had the opportunity to test the Etihad Airways First Class on board B777 and the A380 (a diametrically different experience between the two aircraft), and both lounges at Paris Charles De Gaulle and Abu Dhabi (including the private suite reserved for passengers travelling in Etihad Residence).
A very different time today following COVID-19: A380s have been removed indefinitely from the Etihad Airways fleet, and a handful of aircraft operate flights with a First Class cabin.
For this 7 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt (allowing me to catch a connection on Lufthansa to Nice), I chose to try the Etihad Airways Business Class called Business Studio.
Booking with Aeroplan
A 7-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Europe (Frankfurt, Paris, Geneva, etc.) costs :
- 25,000 Aeroplan points in Economy
- 45,000 Aeroplan points in Business Class
- 65,000 Aeroplan points in First Class
And approximately $80 in taxes (including the Aeroplan partner booking fee).
And the cash cost of that same flight? $3,125. Of course, I wouldn’t have paid that price, but it gives you an idea of how much value you can get from your Aeroplan points in that scenario.
Here I get a value of : ($3,125(flight cost) – $81(taxes paid)) / 45,000 points = 6.8 cents per point. That’s more than triple my Aeroplan point evaluation at 2 cents per point.
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Etihad Airways - Abu Dhabi Business Lounge
Arriving at dawn at Abu Dhabi International Airport to catch this flight to Frankfurt, I head straight to the Etihad Airways Business lounge.
The latter is still not very busy, and the social distancing measures are fully in force.
For example, it is impossible to help yourself to the buffet: it is necessary to place an order with the staff. Since I was going to have lunch on the plane, I only asked for one (or two) glasses of champagne!
Etihad Airways - Business Studio
Finally, after two glasses of champagne and a mimosa, I arrived at my boarding gate. Few people for this flight to Frankfurt. In fact, I will be the only Business Class passenger on this flight (which does not contain First Class). Besides having the entire Business Cabin to myself, I am taken to the plane by a fully privatized bus.
The social distancing measures are well respected!
At some time of the year, taking an early morning flight in the middle of the desert is always an incredible experience, with the mist enveloping the entire airport. Here I am at the foot of the Boeing 787-10 that will take me to Europe.
On board, I am spoilt for choice for my seat. Two more passengers will finally join me, probably upgraded at the last minute.
The cabin layout of this aircraft allows all passengers to have access to the aisle. However, half of the seats are in the opposite direction of the aircraft’s flight. I recommend choosing these seats only if you have a long night flight (it is easier to sleep lying down in this direction because of the horizontal degree of the aircraft, which always flies with the nose higher than the tail).
For this daytime flight, I prefer a window seat in the direction of travel. Anyway, with only 3 passengers on board, I’ve set up my desk two rows back, my bed one row back, and my dining seat will be this one (you’ll note that this seat is missing a window – a lack of judgment due to lack of sleep no doubt) :
For passengers travelling as a couple, I obviously recommend the middle seats of the cabin (be careful to choose the ones that are stuck together):
The other middle seats are distanced from each other and more exposed on the aisle (i.e. the “worst” seats of this business class).
And for those travelling with a baby – I’ve been there – you should know that it is possible to install a bassinette between those two business class seats, between both parents (or between you and another passenger who will be
more than happy to assist you if you are travelling alone).
The seat has a USB socket, an electrical socket, the electric controls for the seat, the remote control for the television and some storage space. The table is large, and it is easy to place a laptop.
Shortly before take-off, health kits are distributed to help control the spread of COVID-19.
Then the business class kits will be distributed as well as pillows and duvet.
Finally, the menu of the day will be brought to order before take-off.
Would you like a glass of champagne, Mr. Voisine?
I like to make the French wine industry work 🙂
Now we take off with a beautiful view of Abu Dhabi, still misty.
Shortly after take-off, lunch will be served.
After this excellent meal, it’s time for me to work while enjoying the Wi-Fi. Indeed, Etihad Airways offers an excellent Wi-Fi network for a fee.
However, HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® credit cardholders have free and unlimited access to the Boingo Wi-Fi networks that Etihad Airways is partnered with (along with Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore Airlines, etc).
I mainly use my HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® abroad because of the no FX-fee (2.5% savings on each transaction). In addition, it comes with a $100 annual travel credit.
After two hours of work, I decided to take a nap to counteract the effects of waking up at 4 am and one too many
mimosa orange juice.
Legroom is reasonable without being huge. Being 5’8″ tall, it’s enough for me. But a taller person might find the space cramped.
After two hours of nap, a small turn to the toilets to refresh myself.
Shortly before landing, a snack is served (an excellent Steak Sandwich), accompanied by a glass of champagne (and a double espresso).
I enjoy the beautiful views of Europe on this sunny day.
We land on time at Frankfurt International Airport in Germany with a sad picture: the entire Lufthansa A380 fleet grounded due to COVID-19.
Etihad Airways may not offer the best business class around the world, but this product is solid. Being able to get a 7-hour flight under these conditions for only 45,000 Aeroplan points is a real bargain that I encourage you to try at least once!