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Flight Review: Etihad Business Class Abu Dhabi To Madrid

Joanna Hall

The premium airline, Etihad, is my preferred choice when it comes to visiting my family in Spain for a variety of reasons, with two of the key ones being the high level of service, along with a super comfortable lie-flat seat.

The Flight/Route: EY75, Abu Dhabi to Madrid.

Duration: 7 hours 25 minutes, dep 02.30, arrive 07.55.

The Aircraft: Boeing 787-900 

Cabin/Seat: Business Class, Seat 5C.

Baggage Allowance: 40 kgs.

Frequent Flyer Program: Etihad Guest.

More Information: Visit The Etihad Website.


On one of my last trips to Europe, I flew with Etihad from Brisbane via Sydney to Abu Dhabi and on to Madrid. My final destination was Malaga, located in the south of Spain in on the Mediterranean coast. This connecting flight from Abu Dhabi was after the long haul from Sydney, and with a 2.30am departure it brought new meaning to the much used flight term “red eye”. But with careful planning, and a terrific lie-flat seat, I not only managed to sleep my way through most of the flight, but also arrived in pretty good shape.  

Check In/Lounge: 

Etihad’s transfer process in Abu Dhabi is quick and efficient, but the key thing is heading for a lounge which is as close as possible to your next departure gate - especially when the airport is so busy. The one I was politely directed to offered a full lineup of facilities including internet access and food, including a full service buffet set in a restaurant style area. Although I had eaten several times on my flight from Sydney, I was planning to sleep my way to Madrid so opted to have an extremely late dinner (after midnight) in the lounge before boarding the plane. 

The Seat/Entertainment:

The B787 aircraft operating between Abu Dhabi and Madrid come in two types, with one sporting a First Class cabin and the other without. My flight was first type; the aircraft had eight First Class suites, and 28 fully lie-flat Business Class seats arranged in the updated forward-rear facing configuration. My seat was in the first row behind First Class and facing the rear without a window, but as it was an overnight flight I didn’t think that was especially important. Etihad’s business class seat is extremely comfortable and has plenty of storage space, and when you wish to sleep it converts easily into a two-metre fully-flat bed. As I was travelling overnight to Madrid, I put the seat into bed format as soon as possible after takeoff. No amenity kit was offered. Each seat has a personal video screen with Audio Video on Demand (AVOD), and a good selection of radio channels, and if you’re not sleeping you can browse a huge CD library featuring more than 400 albums. You can also use the system to create your own audio playlist. 

The Food:

Having eaten in the Etihad lounge before the flight, like everyone else in Business Class I opted to sleep immediately. One of the many perks of travelling in Etihad, however, is the option to eat at any time from an All Day menu. On the day I flew this menu offered a steak sandwich, a red pepper soup, fresh fruits, cheese and crackers, chips and cookies, and ice cream. The a la carte menu was there for breakfast on arrival into Madrid, with a selection of breads and pastries, yoghurt, breakfast cereals, and a selection of hot mains including a chive omelette, feta cheese baked eggs, and vanilla pancakes. I opted for something simple; scrambled eggs on toasted rye bread with mushrooms, and it was surprisingly good. 

The Service:

On boarding the flight, even though it was around 1.45am, I was warmly welcomed, addressed by my full name and shown quickly to my seat. As ever, the cabin was pristine in appearance. I was offered a drink, which was sparkling mineral water, and around 30 minutes later all guests were onboard we were ready to go. The crew were friendly and efficient, quickly prepping plane and passengers for the flight, and we departed on-time. Throughout the flight, the crew maintained their friendly and polite attitude, and were discreetly on hand if you needed anything. Bottles of water were distributed throughout the flight without the need to ask. Loves 

  • The seat - it is extremely comfortable and hard to beat for a red-eye flight. 
  • Facing backwards to fly may not suit everyone, but it means that all business class guests have aisle access and privacy.
  • The high level of service.

Insider Tips  

  • This isn't a long flight as long haul goes, but it departs at an ungodly hour. If you can’t sleep watch the new release movies or have something to eat from the anytime menu.

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  1. Posted by on 26th Feb 2019 Verified Customer

    Great Airline 5 Star Review

    When I fly long haul it's with Etihad. Love the airline can't be beaten in my book

  2. Posted by on 26th Feb 2019 Verified Customer

    Flying To Spain 4 Star Review

    I'm heading to Spain in September with my partner and he says we can go business class as he has enough points from work travel to cover us both. I am excited as I have never flown business before, only premium economy, and I have been dying to visit Spain for ages. (his family is from there, Madrid). Not sure about stopping halfway though in Abu it fun?