Review: Etihad Airways Pearl Business Class A320-2, Abu Dhabi – Muscat


Our flight with Etihad was like our earlier flights. It really set the stage for excellent flights throughout the Gulf Region. The on board product and catering were excellent. Our ability to access great business class inventory by transferring points into Etihad Guest frequent flier program made for great value redemptions.

This post is one chapter on our second Round the World trip via Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Poland. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) loyalty programs. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Etihad Airways Pearl Business Class A320-2, Abu-Dhabi – Muscat

Booking the Flight:

As I had indicated earlier, after failing to put together a driving trip through the Gulf Region, I settled for a short flight instead. We ended up using the convenient Etihad Guest program in order to travel in a little bit of style.  

As Etihad has a distance based reward chart, we were able to secure 2 tickets in business class, including the complimentary Eithad Chauffeur drive, for a reasonable 12,000 miles and 85 AED ($37 USD) taxes and fees per person round trip (that’s 6,000 miles per segment). Indeed with a few clicks of the mouse our flights were instantly booked. It was much easier than sorting out all the driving and immigration processes.

Etihad Airlines
Business Class
AUH-MCT (Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 – Muscat International Airport, Oman)
EY382 – Pearl Business Class (I)
April 21, 2014
9:05 AM – 10:10 AM
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown: Airbus 320-200

We left from the Etihad Pearl Business Lounge and proceeded to the gate. We arrived to gate 47 as the Pearl Business Class boarding commenced. Business class got a separate bus today, which left from the gate promptly. 

Gate 47 at Abu Dhabi

A short ride out to remote stand where most of Etihad’s short haul aircraft were lined up under the hot sun.

A View of Gulf Air and Etihad Airframes on the bus ride
Stairs to Decadence Await
Etihad A320 on the Ramp

There’s always a great chance to see some interesting aircraft at airports around the world. I wasn’t really sure why this Thai Airways Airbus 380 was here since Abu Dhabi isn’t a normal A380 route for Thai. It was parked at a non operational position near a hangar. Maintenance perhaps?

A Thai Airways A380 seen visiting at Abu Dhabi

On Board Etihad Pearl Business:

The first thing you notice stepping on board Etihad Aircraft regardless of cabin, is the cabin pre-boarding music that they play. It is a nice contemporary piece and is among my all time favourites for airplane boarding music. It’s hard not to have a relaxing smile listening to this to set the mood at the start of an Etihad flight.

Etihad Boarding Music

On board, the Pearl Business Cabin on the Airbus 320 features a pleasant light green barca lounger style chair designed by Recaro. The seats are now showing a little bit of wear given their light colors.

Recaro Seats -Etihad Short Haul Pearl Business
Etihad Pearl Business Seating
Bulkhead Pearl Business Seats
Etihad Bulkhead Business Row Seat Room
Etihad Regular Business Cabin Seat Room
Views from the Seat

The in flight entertainment is in a monitor stowed in the arm rest.

In Flight Entertainment: Showing a Desert Flight Map

Pre Departure Services:

Once settled into our seats, we were offered a pre-departure beverage choice of water, orange juice or lemon and mint. I had the lemon and mint which was delicious. We were taken care of by Carly, the Etihad Service Director on this short one hour trip. 

Pre-Departure Beverage: Lemon and Mint

We were also offered hot towel on a tray. This was a nice touch as it was a short flight. The towel services are usually saved for the longer business flights.

Hot Towels

It was a quick boarding process thanks to the non gate position. We were underway in no time. We were able to spot the the cool Abu Dhabi air traffic control tower on our way to runway 15.

Abu Dhabi Air Traffic Control Tower

The Meal: A Light Breakfast

We were served the usual assortment of baked goods hot and cold. It was served along with a glass of champagne. It was fabulous catering for such a short flight and North American Carriers could take note of the stark differences in product.

Light Pastries with Champagne
Bakery Rolls

Views on the Descent:

Flying in this part of the world always offers super interesting scenary. The approach into Muscat, Oman looked like flying into Tatooine – the fictional desert planet featured in the first Star Wars film (Episode IV) where Luke Skywalker discovers the hidden message inside R2D2. It’s okay if you didn’t know where Tatooine was – I had to ask my 10 year old son what the Star Wars island was called in the movie in order to compare it to the landscapes of Oman. 

From the Wing Views of Oman’s Mountains
Desert Mountains
Approaching Civilization
The Light Colored Houses of Oman

We had a quick touch down at Oman International Airport and parked at a non gate position. We had an Airbus from neighbouring Qatar next to us on the apron. We boarded a very short bus ride to the terminal. 

On the Apron at Muscat, Oman

Arriving into Oman:

Oman offered visa on arrival, with no ability to obtain a visa in advance for tourist purposes at an Omani Embassy or Consulate. We lined up to get the visa, conveniently located at the Currency Exchange Desk, and was asked if we came from Dubai this morning? Staying at the Grosvenor, we said yes. Apparently, being in the neighbouring Emirate state exempted us from needed a visa for the stay. We joined the passport immirgration line, and was partially processed, when we were advised we actually did need the visa as we flown out of Abu Dhabi. A bit of a mix up, we re-attended the currency exchange counter and got a visa. Duty free on arrival was also available. 

We collected the bags which were off the belt by this point as we were the last ones and headed for the exit and X-Ray Screening. Customs asked us in queue how many bottles of liquor we had. We had 4 bottles (1 vodka and three wine) but I believe the X-Ray picked up MrsWT73’s empty metal vodka bottle packed in her suitcase. This didn’t lead to further questioning and after a few back and forth questions in English with the line building up behind us, we were waved on and out into the general arrivals hall at Muscat.

Muscat Arrivals Hall

My Thoughts on Etihad Pearl Business Class:

Like our earlier flights, Etihad Pearl Business Class was quite impressive. The seating was comfortable and the catering was miles ahead of what we would typically expect for a short haul flight in the Americas. The catering continued to remain pleasant and the ability to add the Ethiad Chauffeur Drive to our tickets added even more value on an already discounted ticket. I would continue to highly recommend them for short flights around the Gulf.

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