Etihad Business Class Review, Madrid-Abu Dhabi

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There are many options to choose from when it comes to flying business class to Europe with a premium airline, but when I visit my family in Andalucia, Spain, I almost always travel with Etihad for a lineup of reasons.

  • The Flight/Route: EY76, Madrid to Abu Dhabi.
  • Duration: 7 hours 35 minutes, dep 10.10, arrive 1930.
  • The Aircraft: Boeing 787-9.
  • Cabin/Seat: Business Class, Seat 5C.
  • Baggage Allowance: 40kgs.
  • Frequent Flyer Program: Etihad Guest.
  • More Information: Visit The Etihad Website. 


On my last trip to Europe, I flew with Etihad from Brisbane via Sydney to Abu Dhabi and on to Madrid, with my final destination being Malaga in Andalucia, on Spain’s southern Mediterranean coast. Due to the departure time of my return home, I needed to travel to Madrid the day prior and spend the night at the airport. As a result, I was fresh for the first leg of a long journey back to the Gold Coast, and able to enjoy all the perks that flying business class had to offer, from priority check-in and lounge access, to priority boarding.

Check In/Lounge:

Etihad operates a separate check-in for Business Class guests at Madrid’s Barajas International, and it was quick and efficient. After the usual immigration and security clearance, I headed for the Cibeles Lounge in Terminal 1. Located airside on the 2nd floor, after passport control, the huge lounge is located between Gates B26 and B29, and can be found by following signs to 'Sala VIP’. You are allowed access up to three hours before your flight, and it offered a full lineup facilities including internet access and food. As I had enjoyed an early breakfast at the hotel in the executive lounge I wasn’t especially hungry, but upon checking out the offerings there was a good selection of breakfast foods including fresh fruits, pasties, orange juice and freshly made coffee.  

The Seat/Entertainment:

The B787 aircraft operating between Madrid and Abu Dhabi come in two versions; one with a First Class, and one without. My flight was the former, with eight fully enclosed First Class suites, and 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats with the new forward-rear facing configuration. My seat was in the first (bulkhead) row behind First Class and facing the rear, with the only downside for some being that it was missing a window. The seat is super comfortable with plenty of storage space, and if you wish to sleep, it converts into a two-metre fully-flat bed. As I was travelling by day to Abu Dhabi, and intended to sleep on the next leg from there back to Brisbane, I didn’t use the seat as a bed. Also no amenity kit was offered. Each seat has a personal video screen with Audio Video on Demand (AVOD), and 14 onboard radio channels, and you can browse an extensive CD library with more than 400 albums and create your own audio playlist should you wish, or you haven’t brought your own music with you. 

The Food:

My light breakfast at the airport hotel seemed like a long time ago when I boarded, and one of the great perks of travelling in Eithad Business Class is the option to eat at any time from an All Day menu. On the day I flew it included Spanish tapas, fresh fruits, and snacks including potato chips and cookies. On the a la carte menu, and more appealing, however, was a selection of three starters, four mains, a cheese plate and a selection of desserts. By the time we were airborne and a bit of time passed, I was ready for lunch, so I opted for Arabic mezzo, a tasty chicken biryani cooked with basmati rice and spices, and small tub of chocolate flavoured ice cream. I washed it all down with some sparking mineral water, a glass of Billecart-Salmon NV Brut champagne, and a McLaren Vale shiraz.

The Service:

On boarding the flight I was warmly welcomed, called by my full name and shown to my seat by a smiling flight attendant. The cabin was pristine in appearance and I was quickly offered a drink, which was sparkling mineral water, followed by a newspaper. Around 35 minutes later all guests were onboard so the aircraft door was closed, the captain made some announcements, and we were on our way. Overall, the crew quickly prepped the plane and passengers for the flight, and we left the gate on-time. Throughout the flight, the crew were friendly and polite, and on hand if you needed anything from an extra bottle of water to more food. Loves 

  • The seat, which is extremely comfortable and has massage options you can key in as you wish.
  • The cabin layout may seem a bit odd, especially if you are facing backwards, but it means that all business class guests have aisle access and more privacy.

Insider Tips  

  • This really isn't a long flight as long haul goes, so if you don’t need to sleep you should make use of the lineup of great new release movies which you can view in the comfort of your seat.
Joanna Hall


  • 5

    Posted by Freya on 17th Sep 2018

    I have flown Etihad to Europe in biz class about three times all up, mostly using points or points plus pay through Virgin. Loved every are made to feel like a vip from start to finish and every single flight left and arrived on time. It was nearly 50C once in Abu Dhabi though when transiting and even the airport was hot!