Airlines

The Complete Guide to Flying Etihad Airways

By
Rebecca Holland
|
Freelance Writer
Etihad Airways plane.
March 28, 2022
|
6 min read

One of two flagship airlines in the UAE, Etihad Airways has an extensive network of flights across Europe, Africa, and Asia, and four services to North America. It is known as a luxury airline with good service and somewhat expensive flights. 

What’s Etihad Airways?

Established in 2003 by royal decree, Etihad is one of the UAE’s state owned national airlines. It has a fleet of 93 aircraft offering economy seating as well as some of the most luxurious flight experiences in the world. Etihad serves 66 destinations across Asia and the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America, and Australia. 

What we love about Etihad: 

  • Very good onboard customers service
  • Excellent food
  • Amenity kits for all passengers 
  • Huge movie selection
  • Free stopovers in Abu Dhabi
  • Wide flight network, including to destinations across South Asia and the Middle East many other airlines don’t fly to

What we don’t love about it:

  • Etihad tends to be more expensive than other airlines (though SCF still finds good deals)
  • Though in-person service is very good, TripAdvisor users have numerous complaints about online and phone customer service 
  • Refunds can be slow 

Examples of previous deals Scott's Cheap Flights has found on Etihad Airways

About Etihad Airways

  • Founded in: Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Hub cities: Abu Dhabi, UAE
  • Fleet: 93 aircraft
  • Subsidiaries: Air Arabia Abu Dhabi
  • CEO: Tony Douglas 
  • Alliance: Etihad is not a member of an alliance, but does partner with airlines around the world on codeshare agreements
  • Nonstop routes: 2 domestic, 66 international
  • Safety rating: 7/7 in general; 7/7 Covid-19 rating
  • On time rating: 87%
  • Nationality: United Arab Emirates
  • International classes of service: Etihad Economy, Etihad First Class Suites; Etihad Business Studio; Etihad Residence
  • Airline code: 607/EY
  • Covid policy: Guests who are fully vaccinated or under 16 years of age, and traveling with Etihad Airways to Abu Dhabi do not need a PCR test before their flight. Guests who are departing or transiting through Abu Dhabi also do not need a PCR test, unless it is a requirement of their end destination. Vaccination certificates must have a QR code. Passengers traveling to Abu Dhabi as their end destination will receive a free-of-charge PCR test on arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport. No further tests are required once in Abu Dhabi.
  • Customer service
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A brief history of Etihad 

Etihad was founded in Abu Dhabi in 2003, when Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a royal decree establishing it. The airline launched with services to Beirut, Lebanon, before expanding to Geneva, Brussels and Toronto, across the rest of the Middle East and eventually to Asia, Africa, and North America. In 2004, the airline ordered six Boeing 777-300ERs and 24 Airbus aircraft, and in 2008 it made the largest order in airline history at the Farnborough Airshow, when it ordered up to 205 aircraft. Etihad also holds stake in Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia, Jat Airways, Air Serbia, and several Indian carriers. 

Where Etihad Airways flies

Etihad does not currently fly any domestic routes, but divides its routes by regional and international. It serves 70 destinations in 43 countries, including three US cities and 20 European destinations. You can fly from Abu Dhabi direct to the destinations below:

  • North America: Chicago, New York, Toronto, New York, Washington, D.C.
  • Europe: Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), France (Paris), Germany (Frankfurt, Munich), Greece (Athens, Heraklion-Crete, Santorini), Ireland (Dublin), Italy (Milan, Rome), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Spain (Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga), Switzerland (Geneva, Zurich), United Kingdom (London, Manchester), Russia (Moscow)
  • Regional-Middle East: Bahrain (Bahrain Island), Israel (Tel Aviv), Jordan (Amman), Kuwait (Kuwait City), Lebanon (Beirut), Oman (Muscat), Qatar (Doha), Saudi Arabia (Dammam, Jeddah, Medina, Riyadh), Turkey (Istanbul)
  • Asia: Bangladesh (Dhaka), China (Beijing-two airports, Shanghai), India (Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram), Indonesia (Jakarta), Japan (Nagoya, Tokyo), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Maldives (Male), Pakistan (Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore), Philippines (Manila), Seychelles (Mahe), Singapore (Singapore), South Korea (Seoul), Sri Lanka (Colombo), Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket)
  • Africa: Egypt (Cairo), Morocco (Casablanca, Rabat), South Africa (Johannesburg)
  • Australia: Melbourne, Sydney

For summer 2022, Etihad also flies special routes to Nice, Crete, Malaga, Santorini, and Zanzibar. 

Etihad’s hubs

Abu Dhabi International Airport

Tips for booking an Etihad flight

Find the cheapest fare

Etihad doesn’t have a “flexible dates” option when booking, but after you enter your travel dates and click “search,” it will show you a calendar with fares for the rest of the week or month. If your travel dates are flexible, try several dates until you find the lowest fare. 

Plan ahead

Certain routes on Etihad only fly on specific days of the week. Once you enter your dates, Etihad will show you a fare calendar with highlighted days that it flies your route, and prices for the month. 

Shop the sales

Click on the Travel Deals and Offers tab on the Etihad website to find seasonal sales or deals, like 20% off business class when you fly between specific dates, or 10% off for students. Of course, the best deals tend to be unadvertised, so sign up for Scott's Cheap Flights to be alerted when prices drop. If you have a specific route in mind you. can also sent price alerts on sites like Google Flights.

Consider a “hand baggage only” fare

Etihad offers lower fares for customers who don’t need to check baggage. On these flights, you can take a cabin bag weighing up to 7kg, as well as a personal item such as a handbag or laptop that can fit in the seat in front of you. 

Etihad fare types

For regional travel, guests can fly Economy or Business with Etihad Airways on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner or Airbus A320/A321 fleet. For international travel, you can choose to fly Economy or Business with Etihad Airways with its two class Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, with First also available on the three class Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Economy and Hand Baggage Only flights 

On the A320 and A321 you will receive complimentary meals and beverages, an amenity kit, and  in-flight entertainment streamed to a personal device.

Etihad economy flights on its 787 Dreamliner recline and have adjustable headrests, pillows and blankets. You will receive complimentary meals and beverages and an amenity kit. Seats feature wide touch-screen TVs showing hundreds of films, box-sets, music and games, as well as seven live TV sports and news channels. Wi-Fi and mobile services are available on board, as well as USB and power ports at every seat.

Business

Regional business class seats on the A320 and A321 include a generous recline and adjustable headrests and footrests. You can choose from Etihad’s à la carte menu and enjoy entertainment via E-BOX Stream, where you can stream movies, TV shows and music. Business class seats also have in-seat screens and passengers receive free Wifi.  

Business seats on the 787 Dreamliner fleet recline to a fully-flat bed, and also feature in-seat massages. You will receive a luxury amenity kit, meals and beverages from the à la carte menu, in-seat screens and streaming entertainment. 

First

In Etihad first class, you will have your own private suite on board. You can hang up your jacket on the coat hangers and your clothes in the personal wardrobe, make a drink at the personal bar, relax in leather chairs, and sleep in a fully-flat bed complete with turndown service, a duvet and a full-size pillow.  The crew can personalize your dining experience on board and is available throughout the flight for dining, beverage and other needs. 

Baggage fees on Etihad

Etihad allows one personal item and one cabin bag free of charge for all fares (except hand baggage only fares). The airline also checks strollers for free at the gate, and customers can bring a set of golf clubs for free. 

Customers flying on all fares except the “cabin baggage only” fares also receive checked bags. Restrictions and weights are as follows:

  • Economy: 23kg / 50lbs 
  • Economy Saver: 30kg / 66lb
  • Economy Flex: 35kg / 77lb
  • Business Class: 40kg / 88lb
  • First Class: 50kg / 110
  • The Residence: Four 32kg / 70.5lb bags allowed

There are some exceptions. Customers flying from Abu Dhabi to the US or Canada can take two checked bags up to 23kg for free (at the same weights as the above fare classes). 

There are fees for extra baggage, depending on where you are flying to and from. See a full baggage cost chart here. Prices are the same whether you book ahead or at check-in. 

Seat selection fees on Etihad

Etihad automatically assigns seats depending on your fare class, though you have the option of reserving a specific seat. Reservation fees for economy Standard seats start from $10 to $30 depending on the route. You can book an Economy Standard seat up to one hour before you fly. You can also pay to reserve a seat in Economy Space for extra legroom, ranging from $30 to $180 depending on the route and flight. You can also place bids to keep up to three neighboring seats free.

Fees on Etihad: 

  • Carryon bag: Free
  • Checked bag: Free up to a certain weight 
  • Seat selection: Ranges from $10-$30 for a standard seat; $30-$180 for extra legroom
  • Food: Meals included on all international flights
  • Wifi: $5.95 for 50MB

How to book a free stopover on Etihad

If your destination is not the UAE but you would like to make a stopover, simply book a multi-city flight with a stop in Abu Dhabi. US citizens can enter the UAE visa free. 

booking a stopover on Etihad.

Etihad also offers stopover packages. With Etihad’s Best of Abu Dhabi stopover package, you can get up to 40% off four and five-star hotels for up to six nights. Or choose a free one or two-night stopover in selected three and four-star hotels. 

To redeem the deal, book a multi-city flight with a stop in Abu Dhabi, then pick a hotel on the stopover page of the Etihad website

adding a stopover to Etihad booking.

During a stopover, your boarding pass gains you access to discounts at restaurants, theme parks, beach clubs and spas. 

What it’s like flying on Etihad Airways

Checking in

Online check-in opens 30 hours before departure and is available online or through the Etihad app up to one hour before you fly. Currently, in order to download a boarding pass you must be “Verified to Fly.” You can verify yourself by uploading any needed Covid-19 test results or vaccine information online or via the app. If you do not upload the information, you can check in at the Etihad desk at the airport. 

If you download your boarding pass ahead of time, you can head straight to baggage drop. If you check in at the desk, the agent will take your bag for you. 

Lounge access

All Etihad Business and First guests flying to destinations across Etihad’s network receive complimentary access to Etihad’s lounges in Abu Dhabi Airport or partner lounges around the world. Khaas, Exclusive, Platinum and Gold members of the airline's Etihad Guest frequent flyer program are also eligible for access. 

In Abu Dhabi, Etihad maintains an Arrivals Lounge (with showers and a space to wait for the Etihad chauffeur), First Class Lounge, Business Class Lounge, and Business Class US Premium Lounge for customers flying to the US. 

Passengers who do not automatically receive lounge access can purchase passes. The Arrivals Lounge costs $40 for eight hours of use, the Business Class lounge costs $120, and the First Class Lounge costs $150. 

Outside of Abu Dhabi, Etihad has lounges in Europe in Dublin, London Heathrow,  Manchester and Paris. In the US in Los Angeles, New York and  Washington, D.C., and in Australia in Melbourne and Sydney.  In Asia, it has lounges in Chennai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo. 

If you are flying in Business or First class from an airport where the Etihad lounge is closed (lounges have been closed on and off during the Covid-19 pandemic), or if you’re a Gold or Platinum member flying from an airport where the lounge is closed, you will automatically receive 3,000 bonus Etihad Guest Miles. 

Boarding

The Etihad boarding process is straightforward, starting with First Class passengers and moving down the fare classes. Once you’ve checked in, flight attendants are unlikely to look at your baggage size unless it is very obviously over the limit. Priority Boarding costs $40 and includes early boarding as well as priority baggage – your bags will be the first on the baggage belt. In our experience, the Etihad boarding process is fairly quick and simple, making priority boarding convenient if you’re in a rush to pick up your baggage, but otherwise not necessary. On most flights, once boarded you will receive a warm welcome towel and hand sanitizer, and can start watching in-flight entertainment while waiting for the rest of the passengers to board. 

Flying Etihad in economy class

economy passenger eating meal on Etihad Airways.

Flying Etihad is generally a comfortable, enjoyable experience, but is especially nice on long haul flights. Economy seats recline six inches and have adjustable headrests and about 30-33 inches of legroom. This is comparable with long haul flights on most other major airlines, including Turkish Airlines, United, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, though significantly more than some domestic flights in the US. Etihad Space, select seats in economy with more space, offer 36 inches of legroom. On longer flights, you will receive a pillow and fleece blanket. Amenity kits include ear plugs, an eye mask, dental kit and socks. Most long flights feature in-seat entertainment, with hundreds of movies in English, Arabic, Hindi and other languages. On short, regional flights personal device entertainment is available. Noise canceling headphones are available and there are power outlets and USB ports at every seat. 

When it comes time to dine, you can choose from three main meal choices and select complimentary beverages from the bar cart, which features wine, beer, spirits and non-alcoholic options. All meals served on Etihad are Halal. Etihad’s food is known as being pretty good for airline food, and in recent years the airline has started working with farms in the UAE to provide vegetables for salads and other local ingredients. A small, nice touch is that every passenger receives a printed menu. 

Flying Etihad in business class

couple in business class on Etihad.

The Etihad Business Class experience starts before you get on the plane. Business Class customers can book a chauffeur service Mercedes-Benz to pick them up from their home or hotel (if flying from Abu Dhabi), relax in the lounge and receive priority check-in and boarding. Don’t miss the fresh dates and Arabic coffee near the lounge entrances! 

Once seated, you’ll be greeted with a hot towel and choice of champagne or fresh juice. Shortly after take-off, you’ll be offered another beverage and warm nuts. 

Seats are staggered, which creates more space and increases privacy. While seats don’t have sliding doors for complete privacy, like some other airlines, they have barriers that help you feel like you’re in a bubble. Seats on long flights lie-flat and have an adjustable firmness feature, and also have adjustable headrests and footrests. The shoe cubby is spacious enough for shoes and a small bag, or can be used as a footrest. Through the in-seat entertainment you can watch hundreds of movies and shows, as well as live sports. Business passengers receive 90 MB of free WiFi. If you prefer to read, there are top lights and adjustable reading lights over your shoulder. 

Aside from a full-size pillow, blanket, duvet and noise canceling headphones, Business Class passengers receive luxury amenity kits with an eye mask, socks, ear plugs, and Acqua di Parma lotion and fragrance. The kit itself is in a leather Acqua di Parma bag. 

Dining in business isn’t limited to meal times, but available anytime through the a la carte menu. Meals range from mezzes to Indian dishes, sushi, pasta, salads, fresh-baked rolls and more. All meals are served from the galley (not from a cart) and include real plates and cutlery. You can also get drinks in “The Lobby,” a socializing area on the upper deck of A380 planes. 

On arrival, take a shower and grab some coffee in the arrivals lounge while you wait for your transportation. 

Flying Etihad in first class

Flying First Class on Etihad takes everything from Business Class and bumps it up several notches. 

First Class customers flying from Abu Dhabi receive complimentary chauffeur service and access to the First Class Lounge. The lounge offers complimentary Six Senses spa service and has a full-service fitness center, a bar, an ironing service and gourmet food. Check-in is a breeze with priority check-in and boarding. Flight attendants make it a point to welcome first class guests by name. 

On board, different aircraft have different First Class options. There are private suites or First Class Apartments. The main difference is that suites feature an armchair that can be converted into a bed, while the apartments include an armchair and a separate bed. Apartments also have a full-length mirror. In the suites, crew will recline the chair into a fully-flat bed and provide turn-down service. The suites are spacious, but the apartments are huge, at 39-square-feet. If you’re traveling with a friend, you can book adjoining apartments and lower the partition to create one giant room. 

Once seated, the staff typically comes to introduce themselves and offer champagne, a warm towel, fresh dates and coffee. You’ll also be given pajamas and a choice of newspapers and magazines, and your Acqua di parma amenity kit, with Colonia lip balm, body lotion, cologne, an eye mask, socks and a dental kit. f you haven’t already, hang your clothes in the full-length wardrobe and check out the personal minibar (not that you really need it, as the first class staff is very attentive). 

After takeoff the crew serves warm nuts, olives and cocktails, followed by a la carte meals whenever you want them. There are about a dozen meal options, or the chef can create you something with the ingredients on board. All meals are served in fine dishware. 

TVs in first class are 24 inches, compared to 18 inches in other classes. They feature hundreds of movies and TV shows, and you’ll also get noise canceling headphones and free WiFi. 

There are two first class designated bathrooms with showers, which you can schedule in advance. When it’s time for your shower, the crew will lay out towels for you. 

Tips for flying Etihad

How to use a credit/voucher on Etihad

Etihad stores credits and vouchers in a Travel Bank, where you can store multiple credits in one account to use on future flights. When booking a flight, select Travel Bank as your form of payment and choose how much of your Travel Bank balance you would like to use. 

How to change your flight on Etihad

You can change flights on Etihad using the Manage my Booking page, where you can make changes up to two hours before any flight. There are change fees on certain fares, and some fares are nonrefundable. If you’ve booked a flight with a connection to another airline, changes to that portion of the flight need to be made through the partner airline. 

How to get a refund on Etihad 

If you booked a refundable ticket, you can cancel your flight for a refund through Etihad’s Manage my Booking page, or call customer service. Customers in the US who book at least seven days in advance of their flight can receive a full refund if they cancel within 24 hours of purchasing the ticket. 

What if Etihad changes your flight day or time? 

If the rescheduled flight date or time doesn’t fit your schedule, you can call customer service and ask for an alternative flight. If the change is announced more than 14 days before your departure, the same policy applies as if Etihad had canceled your flight. 

What if Etihad cancels your flight?

If Etihad cancels your flight less than two weeks before departure, you are entitled to $400 for flights less than 2,100 miles, or $600 for flights more than 2,100 miles. The compensation will be reduced by 50% if Etihad is able to offer you re-routing on an alternative flight with an arrival time within three hours of original flights less than 2,100 miles, or within four hours of flights more than 2,100 miles. There are exceptions, such as if Etihad can prove a flight was canceled due to extraordinary circumstances, such as weather, labor disputes or political instability. 

How can I contact Etihad? 

The fastest way to contact Etihad is through the online chat system. For flights within 48 hours, customers in the US can call +1 877 690 0767. 

Quick Notes

  • Customer Service - Online at https://www.etihad.com/en-us/help/contact-us
  • Phone Number - +1 877 690 0767
  • Flight Status - https://www.etihad.com/en-us/manage/flight-tracker
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Frequently asked questions about flying Etihad Airways

Is Etihad a good airline?

Yes, Etihad is considered a good airline. SkyTrax rates it 4-star for quality, product and staff service. In our experience, Etihad has always been a solid airline, providing a higher-end level of service.

Is Etihad a safe airline?

Yes. Airline Ratings gives it a 7/7 for safety.

How strict is Etihad with carry-on sizes?

Etihad’s baggage allowance is fairly generous. Carry on baggage is not typically weighed unless it looks significantly larger than the carry-on allowance. If it is larger, guests receive a free checked bag on all international flights (the only flights Etihad currently operates).

What is Etihad’s business class like?

Etihad’s business class is known as being one of the nicest in the airline world. Seating is comfortable and spacious, with lie-flat seats, in-seat entertainment, lounge access and excellent dining options.

Do seats in Etihad business class lie flat?

Yes, seats in Etihad business class lie flat.

Can you change an Etihad flight for free?

Flights can be changed for free depending on the route, fare class and days before departure.

What’s the average legroom on Etihad?

Most economy class seats on Etihad have 30-33 inches of legroom.

Where does Etihad Airways fly?

Etihad Airways flies to 70 destinations in 43 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and North America.

Last Updated 
March 28, 2022
The Complete Guide to Flying Etihad Airways
Rebecca Holland
Freelance Writer

Rebecca is a freelance travel and food writer who has lived around the Middle East for the past decade, in Jordan, Iraq, and now Dubai. She wants everyone to visit this part of the world for the history, hospitality, and especially the food! She writes for AFAR, Food & Wine, The Guardian, and more, and is the founder of Curiosity Magazine.

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