Recently finished traveling with Etihad Airways on their Boeing 787-900 in their new first class suite. This review will include information on the seat only, further flight details will follow later.
First Suite Layout
The first class suite on the B787 encloses 8 cabins with fully closable doors, in two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. A novelty of this cabin is that the seats across each row alternate between forward facing and rearward facing to ensure maximum privacy even when the cabin doors are open (necessary for takeoff and landing). Suites in the center of the aircraft have a partition between them which can be raised or lowered. Passengers traveling together can have the partition easily lowered to share the inflight experience, while passengers traveling independently and have been unlucky in securing the outboard seats will be ensured complete privacy with the partitions up.
First Suite Description
The first suite comes with a mini wardrobe to hang coats and other clothing items, complete with hangers. Incidentally the cabin crew did not offer to hang coats or other clothing items as I have experienced on other carriers. The first suite also offers a kind of minibar next to your seat which in my case contained two bottles of Al Ain branded still water (low sodium), a can of Coca-Cola and a can of Sprite, all contents suitably chilled. There is also another stowage area under the armrest which contains noise cancelling headphones, inflight magazines and other reading material.
The headphones were more of business class quality however did the job, while not projecting a decidedly first class feel.
This is also where you can plug in smartphones and other devices for usb charging. The headphone jack is also located here and easily attaches magnetically. Other blogs have commented that the magnetic jack was not strong enough to hold the headphones securely, I never had an issue with it.
There are no overhead stowage bins in the first class cabin, this really opens up the cabin and gives a feeling of openness and space. Travelers with hand luggage need not worry, there is a large stowage area under the ottoman to stow luggage with easy access throughout the flight (except when in bed mode). There are restrictions in place with two pieces of hand luggage with a weight of up to 12kg permitted onboard. Cabin crew will stow large items that do not fit under the ottoman.
Other features of the first suite are an air vent, spot light and a lamp that has several dimming settings. All in all perfect to harmonize the environment to your liking. The controls are conveniently located on a touch screen next to your seat for easy reach and adjustment.
The first suite includes a large table and ottoman complete with independent seatbelt. Two passengers traveling together can easily dine together in comfort. Cabin crew proactively asked if my traveling companion and I would like to dine together. As this is a rare opportunity, I took them up on their offer. The space is adequate and similar in terms of space to dining in a regular restaurant.
The HD TV
There is a large high quality television (24 inch) at the opposite end of the first suite, with a remote control located in the arm rest of the suite, all very easy to use. The screen is of high quality and made for easy viewing.
There is a large range of movies and tv shows available in several languages, while not the best selection out there (such as Singapore Airlines – Kris World or Emirates – ICE), you can easily pass time before sleep on a night flight. There are also several Live channels showing sports and news which are great for keeping up to date on longer flights.
The seat is covered with Poltrona Frau leather which gives a very luxurious look and feel. In the takeoff setting it feels rather like sitting in a spacious and comfortable armchair. The seat has several settings for eating, relaxing and sleeping, all very comfortable. In bed more the seat stretches out to a completely flat 6ft 8 inches of space on the 787, which is more than enough room to stretch out and rest, with the cabin doors closed you will find yourself in your own private piece of heaven in the sky! Once the cabin crew are aware that you are ready to sleep, they will place additional padding (Coco Mat Mattress), sleeping pillows and duvet on the bed with lightning speed. The suite is very comfortable for sleeping and I managed more than 7 hours of un-interrupted sleep on both flights, a first for me so gets a thumbs up in that regard. Once awake the cabin crew quickly return the suite to its original settings, remove the bedding and prepare for the next meal service.
All in all I think Etihad Airways gets top marks for the First suite in terms of space, visual appeal and functionality. While not as luxurious as the first apartments on the A380, absolutely a great space to spend a long flight and arrive at your destination completely refreshed! The only thing missing is the shower!