Review

Etihad Airways A330/A340/777 Diamond First Class Overview

Etihad's 'standard' long-haul First Class product offers an excellent seat, and for my flight, great service

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I flew back from Europe with Etihad in First Class as part of a one-way redemption using Velocity Points, initially departing from Geneva, with a stop in Abu Dhabi for 12 hours, and then connecting onward to Sydney.

I’ve already covered the Abu Dhabi to Sydney leg in Etihad A380 First Class Apartments, however, before that I enjoyed Etihad’s First Class service in one of their Airbus A330s from Geneva to Abu Dhabi.

For this particular redemption, I used 203,000 Velocity Points plus $875 AUD in taxes and fees – a high-cost redemption, for sure but one I was really excited to try out.

Etihad Airways’ A330 Fleet & Routes

Etihad operates six Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a three-class configuration with 8 Diamond First, 32 Pearl Business and 191 Coral Economy Class seats.

As of April 2017, it services medium- to long-haul routes of 3-9 hours, including:

  • Casablanca
  • Frankfurt
  • Geneva
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Islamabad
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Milan
  • Munich

You’ll find the same Diamond First Class product on routes serviced by Airbus A340 and Boeing 777-300ER and -200LR aircraft.

The Airbus A330-300 is gradually being replaced by Boeing 787 and Airbus A340 aircraft.

How to redeem points for Etihad Airways A330 First Class

There are three key primary loyalty programs whose points can be used for Etihad redemptions:

  • Velocity Frequent Flyer
  • Etihad Guest
  • American Airlines AAdvantage

Here’s how the pricing in terms of points stacks up:

Route (one way, First Class)Velocity pointsEtihad Guest milesAAdvantage miles
Perth - Munich152,500224,971100,000 + 62,500^
Brisbane - Casablanca203,000193,630100,000 + 80,000^
Sydney - Geneva203,000207,351100,000 + 62,500^

^AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad flights between two different regions, e.g. South Pacific and Europe, require booking two separate awards.

Velocity and Etihad Guest are both flybuys points transfer partners. Velocity, of course, has many, many points earning options in Australia, including all major banks and a number of Velocity-branded or -linked credit cards.

Etihad Guest has less visibility in the market but Etihad Guest Miles are transferrable from American Express Membership Rewards or Citi Rewards as a Citi Prestige cardholder, and flybuys, as mentioned before.

There’s no AAdvantage-linked credit card in the market in Australia but AAdvantage miles can be earned via cards linked to both Membership Rewards and Diners Club Rewards – for American Express Membership Rewards, you can transfer to AAdvantage via Starwood Preferred Guest.

AAdvantage will usually always win when it comes to taxes and fees – they should be minimal. Etihad Guest charges substantial fees but without the additional surcharge imposed by Velocity. Velocity’s Etihad surcharges are very high, and increase for each additional sector you add into your itinerary, making one-stop return itineraries to Europe expensive in terms of out-of-pocket costs.

The Cabin and First Class seats

First things first: the Diamond First offering on the A330, A340 and 777 differs from the superior First Apartments found on A380 flights, which offers an onboard shower and bar.

However, it’s still a really appealing cabin, and offers eight closed suites in a 1-2-1 configuration:

The privacy screen between the centre seats can be raised or lower depending on if you are travelling with a companion:

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

There’s a 30-inch wide seat which can be fully enclosed with sliding doors for total privacy, with an abundance of beige and cream leather all around.

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

You can hang any clothing you like in the close in next to the suite door, and it’s large enough for your shoes too.

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Etihad’s A330s have some great mood lighting, helping me settle in for a short red-eye of about six hours to Abu Dhabi from Geneva.

Immediately after dinner I asked for my seat to be made into a bed.

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

At which point I shut my doors and enjoyed a solid few hours of rest.

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Controls for your seat and suite lighting are on a large touchscreen found next to your seat.

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Etihad A330 First Class Cabin and Seats

Seat Choice & Seatmap

If you are travelling with a companion, you’ll probably want to take the centre seats, which are 1D and 1G, or 2D and 2G.

If you are travelling solo, one of the window seats (1A, 1K, 2A or 2K) will afford you better views of outside.

In terms of noise, you’ve got a decision to make: if you’re seated in row 1, you’ll experience more foot traffic to and from the galley and the two bathrooms in front; if you’re seated in row 2, you’re cushioned from noise from the Business Class galley by two rows of Business Class being located directly behind you but do note that there are two baby bassinets behind 2D and 2G, which could or could not be being used.

You could always change your seat assignment at check-in, in the lounge or at the gate with regards to the information the agents have about other passengers (subject to availability, of course).

Inflight Entertainment

Etihad’s Diamond First Class offers a 23-inch personal television screen with Etihad’s excellent selection of movies and TV.

Etihad A330 First Class inflight entertainment

Your remote is found in a small storage nook under your armrest – also useful for stowing all pocket gear.

Etihad A330 First Class inflight entertainment

Etihad A330 First Class inflight entertainment

There is complimentary wifi for First Class passengers on (some) wifi-equipped Airbus 330-300 aircraft.

Service – Food & Drink

Here’s the menu on offer for my flight from Geneva:

And the wine list:

I took a glass of champagne on boarding, along with some Arabic dates, although I declined the coffee given my plan to get as much rest as possible.

Etihad A330 First Class Food

Etihad A330 First Class Food

I was also served some welcome snacks.

Etihad A330 First Class Food

As soon we were up in the air, we got down to business with dinner.

Etihad A330 First Class Food

I opted for a the lamb biryani, which was pretty tasty but nothing too extraordinary.

Etihad A330 First Class Food

Inflight Amenities and Bathroom

At your seat, you should find a comfortable blanket, and pyjamas are offered on all of Etihad’s First Class flights.

Etihad A330 First Class Amenities

I’m a fan of the black pyjamas provided by Christian Lacroix:

Etihad A330 First Class Amenities

There are two lavatories located at the front of the First Class cabin, with the right-hand-side one closer to the cabin slightly larger than the one further up on the left-hand side:

Etihad A330 First Class Amenities

Toiletries are provided by Hungarian skincare brand Omorovicza:

Etihad A330 First Class Amenities

Etihad Premium Lounge Access

In Sydney, Melbourne, New York JFK, London Heathrow and Paris CDG, you’ll gain access to the Etihad Airways First & Business Class Lounge.

In Abu Dhabi, Terminal 3 hosts both a First Class Lounge & Spa and an Arrivals Lounge.

Our Other Reviews

Summing up – Why choose this flight?

I chose Etihad from Geneva to Sydney thanks to their relationship with Velocity. Velocity points are not too hard to earn and, despite the high taxes and fees, I was keen to travel with Etihad again thanks to great experiences in Business Class in the past.

Etihad’s Diamond First Class seat and service were really solid. The crew on my flight were especially attentive, kind and pleasant to interact with. I felt sad to leave, to be honest, possibly more so than on my next flight to Sydney from Abu Dhabi.

The bed was exceptionally comfortable and spacious, and the doors creating ultimate privacy with the Diamond Suite allow for even better rest with more privacy.

I wouldn’t hesitate to flight Etihad again thanks to my recent experiences with them, especially if using Etihad Guest miles or Velocity points.

Comments Expand Comments

  1. GottaFly

    I am a VA Plat jetting between Syd and Gva often so I have been looking for a review of this flight. Thanks! I have many ujusednpoints so I will be keeping an eye out for a redemption.

  2. platy

    Sounds like a great trip!

    IIRC AAdvantage prices Etihad flights to Europe as two sectors: SYD or PER-AUH // AUH-GVA.

    First class comes out around 160,000 pts.

    Please check your 115,00 pt figures.

    If think you need to get the QF1 / QF2 direct to LHR or route via Asia to get AA first class redemption at the 115,000 pt rate for Australia to Europe: you cannot route through Middle East

    (If I’m wrong…great…EY here I come!)

    • You’re right! AAdvantage redemptions on Etihad flights between two different regions, e.g. South Pacific and Europe, require booking two separate awards. This and our other Etihad reviews have been updated. Thank you.

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