Etihad Airways embarks on economy class transformation

Etihad Airways has unveiled a major economy transformation programme, starting with the cabin upgrade and refurbishment of 23 narrow-body Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

The retrofit programme, which includes new personalised wireless streaming entertainment to smartphone and tablet devices, is scheduled for completion in August this year.

Etihad has been progressively upgrading the economy cabins of its narrow-body fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft, used mainly on shorthaul regional services, and further afield to 38 Etihad gateways within five hours of flight from Abu Dhabi.

The airline is installing modern and refreshed cabins featuring ergonomic Extra-spatial Design seats, which will provide increased knee room and add fast-charging USB points and an adjustable phone and tablet holder.

This adds to the first stage of enhancements to Etihad’s economy class that began in 2017 and introduced new seat options such as Neighbour-Free Seats, Economy Space, and Preferred Seats in the wide-body fleet.

The airline is also introducing a new economy dining concept on all its flights as part of a wider programme of enhancements to its inflight catering.

On journeys of over three hours, the main course of the core complimentary dining service is now a larger, contemporary bistro-style meal said to be “higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination focused choices”.

For longer flights, dessert will be served separately with the after-meal coffee and tea service, reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal.

The airline is also touting more eco-friendly and lightweight cutlery.

In addition, the expanded ‘Sweet or Salty’ retail menu complements the core dining service with offerings including a Tapas box, hot dishes, and premium sweet and savoury snacks, all available for purchase. The retail service is enhanced by partnerships with brands such as Bateel, Starbucks, Thorntons, Cawston Press, Heavenly, Perrier and Barebells.

These upgrades were unveiled at Arabian Travel Market, together with a new advertising campaign, ‘Go Your Own Way’. As part of the airline’s overall ‘Choose Well’ brand platform, the campaign is meant to drive awareness of the airline’s greater commitment to giving passengers more control and options for personalisation.

Tony Douglas, group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “As part of our ‘Choose Well’ promise, we are empowering our guests with more control of their travel experiences, through onboard digital transformation, improved choice and redesigned cabins and products.”

Meanwhile, inflight entertainment systems have been upgraded on narrow-body aircraft. Guests will be able to log on and connect via browser to wirelessly stream more than 300 hours of free inflight entertainment through Etihad’s Panasonic eXW system directly to their own devices.

For a wider range of entertainment programming, including more Hollywood blockbusters, international movies, and premium TV programming such as HBO and Universal shows, guests can download the new E-bot Stream app prior to travel.

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