Trip Report: Etihad Airways (B787-9) Business Studio AUH-MLE

The Details

  • Flight: EY278
  • Aircraft: B787-9
  • Class: Business Studio
  • Seats: 6A and 8A
  • Route: Abu Dhabi International (AUH)-Male Velana International (MLE)
  • Distance: 1,929 miles
  • Flight time: 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Departure: 1:33AM
  • Arrival: 5:29AM

The Preflight

After arriving from Chicago onboard EY150, my significant other and I had about an eight hour layover. We spent the majority of the time in the transit hotel but with two hours until boarding, we made our way to the Etihad Business Class Lounge.

Due to COVID-19, Etihad has significantly cutback their route network and limited the number of flights. Therefore, the lounge was eerily deserted when we were there.

Roughly half of the seats were blocked with signs to promote social distancing.

While all of the buffets have been closed, there was still an open bar staffed with masked bartenders.

There was also a barista staffed espresso machine.

Due to COVID-19, Etihad has removed all of the buffets in the lounge. Instead, there was an area were a selection of food was available to pick out. Lounge staff would retrieve the food we selected and then plate it on a tray for us.

Cold options included yogurt, fruit salad, cheese, Arabic Mezzeh, lettuce salad, orzo and bean salad, and tuna salad. Dessert choices included sbrisolona, Arabic sweets, and chocolate cake. There was also a variety of packaged bread.

Hot food choices included saag paneer, fish mandi, stir fried noodles, lamb boukari, and pan fried chicken. The two soups were harirra soup and chicken barley soup.

I had the Arabic Mezzeh with the lamb boukari and a cheese plate. The food was excellent and very flavorful. My significant other had the mixed fruit and chicken barley soup which she enjoyed.

At 12:20AM we left the lounge and made our way to the gate area. Our B787-9 carrying us down to the Maldives today, registration A6-BLK, was leased from BBAM by Etihad and delivered brand new in January 2017. She was painted in the “Choose Japan” livery.

Boarding began promptly at 12:40AM and was done via door 2L.

The Seat

Etihad currently has two cabin configurations onboard their B787-9s. One configuration offers a first class cabin in addition to a business class and economy class cabin. The other configuration only has business and economy class. Our Dreamliner today was one of the latter with 28 business and 271 economy seats. The 28 business class seats were all located in a single cabin between doors 1 and 2.

Unlike on our previous flight, this time my significant other and I opted to select window seats so that we could get some views of the Maldives upon landing. The Business Studio seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration that alternate between forward and rear facing.

The even numbered window seats are closer to the windows and forward facing while the odd numbered seats are closer to the aisle and rear facing.

Designed by Zodiac and Stelia, the Business Studio seats are 22 inches wide and offer 73 inches of pitch.

There was a ton of space at the seat for me to stretch out.

The inflight entertainment screen was large, fast, and responsive.

Below the screen was the large footwell which had the bedding and a menu.

I personally love the Business Studio footwell which is massive. The length of the footwell was more than enough to accommodate my five foot ten inches frame. The height of the footwell was also more than enough to fit my size 11 feet.

Below the footwell was a small storage space perfect for shoes.

I appreciated how the seat was designed and all of the seat features were in convenient locations.

Directly adjacent to the IFE screen was a coat hook. Below was where the tray table was stowed.

The tray table was a large sturdy single leaflet which could be pushed forward and pulled backwards.

There was a large tabletop space to the right of the seat. This was also where the seat controls, IFE remote, and two USB ports were located.

The seat control monitor was touchscreen and had options to adjust recline, lumbar support, firmness, and forward/backward movement. The window shade could also be adjusted from this screen.

The IFE remote also doubled as a second screen.

Below the tabletop were buttons that controlled two pre-set seat positions, the reading light, and cushion firmness.

I found the entrance to the seat a bit narrow but still easy to enter and exit the seat. One thing I found to be lacking was any sort of privacy divider to shield me from other passengers. If I turned my head, I could see all the way down the row to other other side of the aircraft.

Right next to the seat was a stylish mood lamp.

At the top was the reading light.

The armrest doubled as the top of a storage bin. There was also a literature pocket in front of the bin. Directly below the armrest was the headphone hack and a small bin which I used to store my glasses.

Within the storage bin was a deep bin, shallow bin, and a thin deep bin.

On the floor was the universal power outlet.

The Flight

Immediately upon boarding, we were greeted by our super friendly flight attendant who offered us either water, orange juice, lemon mint juice, or champagne. I had the super refreshing lemon mint juice.

Once the predeparture beverages were served, our flight attendant came by with a bottle of water.

Five minutes later another flight attendant came through the cabin with a tray of headphones, Wellness kits, and menus.

These headphones were identical to the ones we had on our previous flight. I found them to be comfortable for the short four hour flight down do Male.

No amenity kits were distributed on this flight. However, each passenger was given a Wellness Kit which included a face mask, gloves, snood, and sanitizing gel.

The pillow and blanket came in a sealed plastic bag.

The pillow was fairly basic but comfortable.

The blanket was warm and comfortable as well. No mattress pads were provided.

Once we were settled into the seats, our flight attendant came by to take our breakfast orders.

Boarding was completed just 20 minutes after we got on the plane as the aircraft was probably only 30% full. The doors were closed but then we sat at the gate for about 10 minutes. Our captain then came over the intercom to announce that our departure was delayed due to paperwork. Finally at 1:33AM, we pushed back and taxied towards runway 31L.

The taxi took about 10 minutes and at 1:44AM we were on our way towards the Maldives.

Forty minutes after takeoff, the table was set for breakfast. The food was all served on one tray along with my cappuccino.

I went with the delicious foul medames with manakish, sumac labneh, and halloumi. It was served with a side of fresh fruit, mango yogurt, and a warm croissant.

My significant other had the cheese omelet with mushrooms and potatoes. She asked that the flight attendant prepare her breakfast without the chicken sausage.

She also had pancakes topped with a tasty berry syrup.

Once we finished breakfast, I watched the air show as we passed over the tip of Oman and made our way into the Arabian Sea.

There were two forward lavatories on the Etihad B787-9 and they were kept immaculate by the flight attendants.

Amenities included some sanitizing gel and Acqua di Parma branded soap.

Since Etihad Airways does not offer turndown service, I made my own bed before trying to take a nap.

I also turned on the “Do Not Disturb” light which highlighted my seat number.

I tossed and turned for an hour and a half before giving up and deciding to watch the stunning sunrise over the Indian Ocean.

Just as we began our initial descent into Male, I had an Americano to enjoy with the view of the ocean.

It was served with a small chocolate cookie.

As we neared Male, the various atolls and islands came into view.

The cabin was prepped for landing about 45 minutes out and we began our final descent at around 5:18AM local time.

I had a great view of downtown Male just as we touched down on runway 36.

After landing we had a six minute taxi to the remote stands. Deplaning was done via air stairs and there was a dedicated air conditioned bus for business class passengers.

Thanks for the ride!

Once we pulled into the immigration building, all passengers received a temperature scan. Prior to departing Abu Dhabi we had filled out the Health Declaration Form which also required us to upload a copy of our negative COVID-19 PCR tests. This greatly facilitated the immigration process since the officer simply scanned our passports and stamped them immediately before letting us enter the Maldives.

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