A Complete Guide to Flying with Etihad Airways

It isn’t all that important, to pick a good quality airline, if you are only flying for a few hours. If you intend to fly halfway round the world however, it is vital that you travel in comfort.

So to help you make a good decision, here we use our industry inside knowledge to help you understand just how good Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways are and if you should fly with them.

Here is our comprehensive guide to flying with one of the world leading long-haul carriers, Etihad Airways.

Read More: Follow our epic Scotland to Australia trip, going overland and sea all the way. 


Etihad are rated as a 5-star airline currently by the independent Skytrax body. In the economy cabin every aspect rates between 4-5 out of 5.

On Tripadvisor however, the ratings are a little lower, with rating between 3.5-4 out of 5.

Tripadvisor Etihad Airways
Tripadvisor Etihad Airways

At the World Airline Awards in 2017, Etihad came in 8th position. They are currently locked in a battle against their local rival airlines, the excellent Qatar Airways or Emirates – they are slightly behind them both. Still, Etihad is one of the best airlines in the world for long-haul travel.


We would recommend booking directly here with Etihad, on their own website. It’s fine to use search engines to get a clearer picture of what’s out there, flight times and costs but I couldn’t recommend that you book that way. Using unknown web-based companies is a risk when I’m paying thousands of pounds for flights. It’s important to know where your money is going.

When you book direct with Etihad, you can go to the airline for customer service and help.
How does it feel to fly with the best ?
If you book through a third-party website, then you will be refered back to them if you need to ask questions, check info or discuss anything. They may not have any customer service staff or be based abroad. It’s better to deal direct.

Also, when you change flights or cancel your trip, you will pay more with third parties and travel agents, as they will add an administration cost. This is often a small charge, like £50 or so, but can go right up to thousands of pounds on business class flights.

Changes & Cancellations

Eithad have different rules for the different levels of tickets that they have. These are called Fare Choices. It can get quite complex but here is the low down.

Economy Deal for example, is the lowest cost economy ticket type. On this ticket you will have the most restrictive rules and the larger penalty fees. With this fare type the change fee is £140 if you book direct (compares to £215 change fee with Flight Centre for example) and the ticket is non-refundable in case of cancellations.

Etihad Fare Choices
Etihad Fare Choices Economy

Economy Classic however, has a slightly lower date change fee of £105 if booked direct (£180 through typical travel agent) and if you decided to cancel, a £110 penatly fee (compares to £235 through a typical travel agent).

Etihad Business Class has a similar structure through the Fare Choices system. For example, if you booked business Class Classic in W class, the change fee is £205 direct with Etihad Airways and the refund fee would be £410.

Etihad Fare Choices Business Class

Please let me know with a comment below if you would like further help with the cancellation and changes terms.


Etihad seats are good but don’t just take our word for it, take a look for yourself. Here is a short video with the seats, from First class, Business and Economy.

You may remember for the Tripadvisor rating above, that customers rated Etihad at 3.5/5 for their leg room and seat comfort. Most of those reviews will be about the economy cabin, which is above average but may be a little shorter on space by comparison to a few leading airlines. They still have a generous 32 inch seat pitch on average.

Seating for babies and children

Infants (below 2 years) may be carried on your lap and will be provided with special seatbelts. An infant fare is the most cost efficient ticket type for under 2 years old and they can be combined with lap-carrying or bassinets.

Every aircraft is fitted with baby bassinet positions where a specially designed carry-cot can be installed for use by an infant. They are designed to accommodate infants weighing less than 10kg.

They are available on a first-come, first-served basis in Economy Class and Business Class, so you will need to book early to reserve one.

Children over 6 months and up to 3 years old, may use certain approved car seats in conjunction with an aircraft seat, provided that the appropriate child fare has been purchased, not just an infant fare.

Read more: Check out our many airline guides, including for the excellent Qatar Airways, environmentally friendly airline Air France or Spain’s flag carriers Iberia. 


Etihad luggage allowances vary, depending on which route you are travelling. For example, here is the baggage from Europe to Australia (via AUH) or vice versa.

Etihad baggage Luggage Allowance

You can find a full list of destinations on the airlines baggage section.

Hand Luggage On-Board

  • Economy Class: 1 bag, up to 7kg
  • Business Class: 2 bags, up to 12kg in total
  • First Class: 2 bags, up to 12kg in total
  • Infants: 1 bag, up to 5kg

Music & Sport Equipment Baggage

Etihad Airways accepts any sporting equipment as checked baggage as part of the passenger’s free checked baggage allowance within your Fare Choice. Any sporting equipment which exceeds the free allowance is  subject to  excess baggage fees.

One set of golfing equipment consisting of a golf bag, weighing up to 15kg, is accepted as checked baggage free of charge. This is in addition to the Fare Choice checked baggage allowance.

Surfboards may be accepted free of charge if within the checked baggage allowance. Note that board cannot exceed 3 meters in length.

How does it feel to fly with the best ?
Musical instruments must be transported as checked baggage only. If the instrument is in excess of your weight allowance, you will be charged the applicable excess baggage rate. For guests who wish to carry their musical instruments in the cabin, an extra seat can be bought.


An array of dietary requirements can be catered for on-board including, vegetarians, vegans and those of religious beliefs. This can be arranged online in the ‘Manage My Booking’ section of the Etihad website, after you have booked.


Being realistic, you are unlikely to get an upgrade for free. One of the best value ways of getting an upgrade, is to book into the economy cabin from the Saver level upwards (not available on Deal level) and make a bid for an upgrade, if there are seats left over.

You can do this with your booking reference, once you have booked on this page.

Business Class

The Etihad business class features 6 foot 8 inch fully flat beds in a modern suite. Seat and aisle dividers offer privacy and each seat has aisle access, meaning you don’t have to jump over someone as they sleep.

Dining in business class, you will have the option to Dine Anytime, with their flexible menu service. On-board you’ll find ‘food and beverage managers’, specifically trained in this part of the service.

Business class flights also come with premium airport lounge access, priority check in, increased baggage allowances and lots of other details, too many to mention.

In-flight Entertainment

Etihad take their entertainment seriously and even produce their own regularly updated entertainment magazine called E-Box – read it here.

  • E-Box MagazineOver 140 movies inc the latest blockbusters, your favourites and timeless classics
  • Hollywood, Arabic, European, Indian and Asian Cinema
  • Multiple language tracks and subtitles
  • More than 350 popular TV Shows inc Top-rated entertainment shows and must-see comedies
  • Full box sets of your favourite Dramas
  • 7 Live TV channels showing the latest news and live sport
  • LIVE sporting action on Sport 24 Channel
  • Extensive CD library
  • 16 Radio Channels
  • Up to 60 interactive games

And Finally… The Residence

And finally, we thought it might be a nice note to end on to show your Etihad‘s pièce de résistance – The Residence.

This special first class cabin is Etihad’s attempt to provide something unique to very exclusive clients, as an alternative to booking a private jet.

Thanks for reading our guide. If you book Etihad Airways on our referral link here, we earn a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you. Think of it as a thanks from you to us, for producing this guide for you. We hope you found it useful.


10 thoughts on “A Complete Guide to Flying with Etihad Airways

Add yours

  1. I mainly fly domestic, so like you said choosing an airline isn’t as big of a deal. Now, if I were rich or REALLY good at travel hacking, I’d love to experience Etihad’s Residence option. I can’t imagine how relaxing that would be to sit and hang out in that kind of comfort during a long flight!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always wanted to fly on Eithiad since I am huge on gaining airline points for travel. Great extensive review on such a great airline! I am going to have to figure out when I will fly with them.


  3. I found Etihad’s change of flight charges to be deceptive and misleading. Although only one of five flight sectors needed to be changed at the check-in advice, charges of $9,500 AUD were incurred as the airline argued all flights had to be rebooked. We boarded the same flights and sat in the five month prior pre-allocated seats. The airline gives no quantum on their website and no prior warning. Complaints to guest services did not acknowledge this.


    1. That’s frustrating Liz but all airlines rebooking policies are the same in that way. When you rebook you step up onto the sale price from that moment and lose any advance purchase discounts if they are no longer available.


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