The Complete Guide to Etihad Airways Business Class

Etihad Airways forms part of what the aviation industry calls the “Middle East 3”, a trifecta with Emirates and Qatar Airways, noted for their world-class service and product.

Understandably, people in the Miles & Points community aspire to experience Etihad Airways business class for themselves, making award seats especially coveted.

In this guide, we’ll guide you through booking Etihad Airways business class, so despite the demand, you can experience it for yourself as well.

The Etihad Business Class Experience

Ground Experience

A journey on Etihad Airways business class begins with the Etihad Chauffeur, which picks passengers up to and/or from Abu Dhabi Airport in style.

However, this service comes with a laundry list of conditions, among them excluding tickets issued by other airlines and their respective loyalty programs. Most redemption tickets issued through the Etihad Guest program are also excluded, unless booked by a Gold or Platinum member.

Even without the chauffeur service though, business class passengers are treated to a host of premium services. At Etihad’s Abu Dhabi base, business class passengers may use the separate priority check-in zone, and breeze through security and immigration formalities using a fast-track line.

Etihad Airways premium check-in, Abu Dhabi Airport

Then, it’s off to the Etihad Premium Lounge. While not as impressive as the flagship business class lounges of its competitors, such as Qatar Airways, it still reliably offers abundant seating, a respectable array of food and drink, a Champagne bar, as well as a cigar lounge.

Etihad Airways business class lounge, Abu Dhabi Airport

Plus, guests are treated to complimentary 15-minute treatments at the lounge’s in-house Six Senses Spa.


Seats on Etihad business class vary by aircraft type. However, given the composition of its fleet, chances are you’d be flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or the Boeing 777 on a long-haul flight. These two aircraft types, as well as the Airbus A380 that has since returned to service, are equipped with Etihad Business Studio seats.

Etihad Airways Business Studio seat

The Etihad Business Studio features an 18.5-inch touch-screen entertainment screen, as well as a lie-flat bed that comes with beddings you can make yourself as needed. Also waiting on the seat is an amenity kit by Acqua di Parma.

Etihad Airways business class – Amenity kit

Food and Drink

An exciting, recent development with Etihad Airways is its tie-in with Giorgio Armani’s Armani/Casa. Food and drink on business class are now presented on stylish dinnerware from the said fashion house.

Even before the Armani collab though, dining experience on Etihad has been noteworthy. Meal service on long-haul flights involve hefty three-course meals that you can have on demand, as well as lighter gourmet snacks.

For breakfast, you can savour dishes, such as foul medames with manakish, sumac labneh, and halloumi — a medley that departs from the typical omelette and sausages. For dinner, you can have lamb makdous, an Arabic dish of stuffed aubergines teeming with flavour and spice.

Etihad Airways business class – Meal

Then, you can enjoy your meal with flutes of Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut Champagne from a list of wines, spirits, aperitifs, liqueurs, and beers.

Etihad Business Class Cabin

Airbus A380

The snazziest among the Etihad fleet, the Airbus A380 features a lounge and showers. Four of these aircraft have recently made a comeback, mostly plying the Abu Dhabi to London route.

Etihad Airways Airbus A380 – Lounge

Marketed as the Etihad Business Studio, business class seats are located on the upper deck, spread across 19 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. A quirk of their staggered configuration is that seats on odd rows are facing the back, so those seats may cause issues for some.

Solo travellers will want to pick window seats on even rows, since their console puts them farther from the aisle, affording a fair bit of privacy.

Couples, on the other hand, will appreciate middle seats also on even rows, as they’re positioned near each other as “honeymoon” seats. The centre partition may be lowered fully, so couples can dine together.

Airbus A350

Five Airbus A350 aircraft are among the youngest members of Etihad’s fleet, with their average age being only three years.

Etihad Airways A350 business class – Seat

Spread across 11 rows, seats on this aircraft type are configured on a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone position, and the best part about them is that they’re all “suites” with a door.

With the uniform configuration, solo flyers should take any seat on either window rows. Couples may want to take the middle seats, but the centre partition only opens halfway.

Airbus A320/321

The Airbus A320 and A321 are equipped with recliner seats in a 2-2 configuration, similar to domestic business class in North America.

Etihad Airways A320 business class – Seat

The seats are obviously inferior to seats on Etihad’s business class products on widebody aircraft, but the good news is, they’re only used for short hops, especially within the Arabian Gulf.

Boeing 787 and Boeing 777

The business class configuration on the Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 is similar to the Airbus A380 — that is, seats are configured in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, with odd rows having seats facing the back. These aircraft also feature the Etihad Business Studio product.

Solo seats on even rows likewise feature more privacy due to the positioning of the console, and middle seats on even rows also transform into honeymoon seats for couples.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787 – Cabin

On the three-class version of both the Boeing 787 and Boeing 777, there’s a more private mini cabin with only two rows (5 and 6) of business class right behind First Class.

Meanwhile, the two-class version of the Boeing 777 also features a mini cabin with only three business class rows, this time at the back. However, note these are also where seats equipped with a bassinet are located.

Etihad Business Class Routes

Etihad Airways flies business class across its network. In North America, the airline flies from Abu Dhabi to Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

It has more destinations in Europe, where it flies to at least 20 cities, as well as Asia, where it flies to 14 destinations in the Indian Subcontinent alone.

Etihad deploys widebody aircraft with its state-of-the-art business class products on almost all routes. The exceptions are, as mentioned, nearby destinations within the Arabian Gulf, where they deploy narrow-body aircraft with recliner seats.

In other words, you can expect to fly the Airbus A380 Superjumbo or the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for a 7.5-hour flight from London to Abu Dhabi, then connect onto the Airbus A320 for a one-hour hop from Abu Dhabi to Muscat.

When booking, you may see which aircraft type will be operating the flight and access the seat map, but note there might be last-minute aircraft changes.

How to Redeem Points for Etihad Business Class

Etihad Guest is Etihad’s in-house frequent flyer program. Aside from flying the carrier’s own flights, miles can also be credited from flights of its partners, including Air Canada and American Airlines. Remember that Etihad Airways isn’t part of any airline alliance; hence, its list of partners is a mix of various airlines from across the world.

Etihad Guest miles may be accumulated by converting American Express Membership Rewards points from different countries.

For American Express Membership Rewards in Canada, the conversion rate is 1 MR point = 0.7 Etihad Guest mile, while for American Express US Membership Rewards, the rate is 1 MR point = 1 Etihad Guest mile.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

Likewise, Etihad Guest is among the many airline transfer partners of Marriott Bonvoy, which allows conversions of 3,000 Bonvoy points = 1,000 Etihad Guest miles. However, miles transfers aren’t the best use of Bonvoy points unless as a last resort — that is, as a top-up for a planned redemption.

Etihad doesn’t publish a redemption chart for its own flights. Rather, you’ll need to either use its miles calculator or the search engine directly to look up specific flights.

The miles calculator indicates the minimum number of miles needed for redemption, implying that dynamic pricing does apply for Etihad redemptions.

This is because, in theory, every available seat can be redeemed at the OpenSeats rate. OpenSeats rates reflect the prevailing standard fare for the flight, meaning factors like seasonality, and supply and demand affect the miles needed to redeem.

Unfortunately, with OpenSeats, the amounts can be eye-watering and therefore not good value for your miles or points. Making matters worse, Etihad tacks a fuel surcharge on redemptions.

For example, a Toronto to Abu Dhabi seat in the summer can cost as many as 438,000 miles plus $704 in taxes and fees. That means, you must transfer 625,000 Amex MR points from a Canadian-issued card to redeem, on top of what you’d be paying in cash.

The somewhat good news is that Etihad has GuestSeats, which are fixed-price redemptions at a reduced rate. Etihad claims that, though limited, GuestSeats are available on every flight for its program members.

To sum, while the easiest, redeeming an Etihad business class award through its own program isn’t the best way. That brings us to the two other programs below.

Air Canada Aeroplan

Etihad business class flights can be redeemed through Aeroplan as single flights or as part of multi-airline itineraries.

In Canada, Aeroplan points are the easiest to earn. Aeroplan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, and there’s a plethora of co-branded credit cards from different banks.

Aeroplan Credit Cards
Credit Card Best Offer Value
Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points† $1,068 Apply Now
Up to 50,000 Aeroplan points† $840 Apply Now
Up to 100,000 Aeroplan points $819 Apply Now
95,000 Aeroplan points $819 Apply Now
45,000 Aeroplan points $720 Apply Now
45,000 Aeroplan points $714 Apply Now
60,000 Aeroplan points $714 Apply Now
90,000 Aeroplan points $611 Apply Now
Up to 20,000 Aeroplan points† $434 Apply Now
10,000 Aeroplan points
$0 annual fee
10,000 Aeroplan points $210 Apply Now

With Etihad being a partner airline, Air Canada doesn’t impose dynamic pricing on Etihad redemptions; rather, the miles required to redeem depend on distance and geographic zone.

There are four geographic zones: North America, Atlantic, Pacific, and South America. Toronto is in the North America zone, while Abu Dhabi is in the Atlantic zone.

The great-circle distance between the two cities is approximately 6,924 miles, which falls under the 6,001-8,000 miles redemption band on the North America to Atlantic chart. This means that a redemption for an Etihad Airways business class seat between Toronto and Abu Dhabi requires 90,000 Aeroplan points.

On the other hand, an Etihad business class redemption from London to Abu Dhabi, with both cities in the Atlantic zone, costs only 45,000 points.

Keep in mind that Aeroplan doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on any of its redemptions. Assuming you find availability, this makes Aeroplan, in general, a better way to redeem Etihad business class than Etihad Guest itself. 

American Airlines AAdvantage

Another possible way to score Etihad business class award seats is through American Airlines AAdvantage, which is a transfer partner of RBC’s Avion program in Canada. You can transfer Avion points at a ratio of 1 Avion point = 0.7 AAdvantage mile.

RBC Avion Credit Cards
Credit Card Best Offer Value
55,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
55,000 RBC Avion points† $1,080 Apply Now
55,000 RBC Avion points†
$120 annual fee
55,000 RBC Avion points† $1,080 Apply Now
55,000 RBC Avion points† $826 Apply Now
25,000 RBC Avion points $325 Apply Now
20,000 RBC Avion points
$120 annual fee
20,000 RBC Avion points $280 Apply Now

American Airlines has separate redemption charts for its own flights and for flights of its partner airlines, such as Etihad. The chart for partner business class awards isn’t subject to dynamic pricing, unlike how redemptions involving American Airlines flights are.

The AAdvantage chart is divided into geographic zones. Canada is grouped with the 48 contiguous US states, while Abu Dhabi is under the Middle East zone. Here’s the redemption chart for flights from North America:

Assuming you find availability, you can redeem a one-way Toronto to Abu Dhabi business class seat for 70,000 AAdvantage miles.

Then, a one-way seat from London (Europe zone) to Abu Dhabi (Middle East zone) will cost you 42,500 AAdvantage miles.

On the surface, AAdvantage requires fewer miles than Aeroplan for the same routes, but with the varying points-to-miles conversion rates among programs, you should do your math carefully.

Etihad Business Class Award Availability

With Etihad Guest’s OpenSeats, you can virtually book any available seat in business class. However, it will cost you, as again, OpenSeats rates reflect prevailing ticket prices — dynamic pricing, in other words.

You’re better off searching one of the lower-priced GuestSeats, but you have to book these limited seats far ahead. As a rule, Etihad Guest opens up award bookings 335 days in advance.

Book ahead to score lower-priced GuestSeats on Etihad Guest

Frankly, Etihad Airways is also quite stingy in releasing business class awards to partners, and it’s not one to release last-minute seats, unlike some carriers.

Award seats to and from North America are more difficult to find than Europe and Asia, where Etihad Airways has more destinations and flights.

To help you with your search, you may also consider using tools, such as ExpertFlyer, which shows Etihad Airways availability.

Tips & Tricks for Etihad Airways Business Class

The #1 tip in redeeming Etihad Airways business class is, ironically, avoid booking with its own Etihad Guest directly. With the dynamic OpenSeats pricing, searches typically yield exorbitant amounts for redemption.

Etihad Airways claims there are redemptions at fixed-rate redemptions called GuestSeats, but those are few and far between. Besides, even the minimum miles needed to redeem aren’t enticing either. For example, you’ll need:

  • At least 100,000 miles for one-way business class from Toronto to Abu Dhabi
  • At least 62,500 miles for one-way business class from London to Abu Dhabi

To recall, the Amex MR conversion rate to Etihad Guest is 1 point = 0.7 mile in Canada, so you’re really better off redeeming through other partners like Aeroplan.

Book Etihad business class without dynamic pricing through partner programs

With Aeroplan, you can fly with Etihad Airways from London to Abu Dhabi in business class for only 45,000 points. The 1:1 Amex MR conversion with Aeroplan in Canada means you’d need fewer of your hard-earned points to fly this flagship route.

It’s true though that Etihad Airways releases fewer award space to its partners, but the beauty of Aeroplan is, you can mix and match airlines in one itinerary, provided that you’re willing to be flexible.

Say you can’t find a one-way business class award from Toronto to Abu Dhabi. You can first fly one of Aeroplan’s other partner carriers, such as Lufthansa or Swiss, to fly you across the Atlantic, then connect to Etihad Airways and pay the same number of points.

As mentioned, with more destinations and frequencies in Europe, you’re likelier to find a reward seat on one of Etihad’s flights from London than the once-a-day flight from Toronto.


Etihad Airways provides an excellent business class product; you can’t go wrong booking any of its flights. However, as discussed above, it’s not always easy to find award seats — not unless you’re willing to unload an exorbitant number of miles.

Thus, we suggest patience and a dedicated Miles & Points strategy, and you’ll find yourself on Etihad Airways business class soon enough.

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