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


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:

We had booked this ticket through Etihad Guest for 6,000 miles per person for the short one hour flight from Oman to the United Arab Emirates. It was much easier than sorting out all the driving and immigration processes had we traveled by car between the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Etihad Airlines
Business Class
MCT-AUH (Muscat International Airport, Oman – Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 )
EY383 – Pearl Business Class (I)
April 25, 2014
11:10 AM – 12:15 PM
Booked: Airbus 320
Flown: Airbus 320

We left from the Plaza Premium Lounge Muscat and proceeded to the gate. A flight delay of 1 hour was announced. We ended up returning to the lounge to wait out the delay. 

Returning to the gate, we eventually boarded a bus to get out to the plane. The Pearl Business Class fliers boarded last. We were also held in the bus until all the passengers had boarded to prevent standing in the scorching heat on the outdoor stairs.

Muscat Boarding Gates
Boarding Etihad EY 383 MCT – AUH

On Board Etihad Pearl Business:

As usual, Etihad had their boarding music playing while we boarded the aircraft. 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 again, we settled into the cool green Recaro designed, Etihad Pearl Business class seats. The cabin today was 5 out of 16 occupied.

Etihad Pearl Business Seats A320
Etihad Pearl Business Seating Leg Room
Bulkhead Pearl Business Seats

Pre Departure Services:

A lemon and mint pre departure beverage cooled the stomach today, along with a towel service on a tray.

Settling In to a Short Flight
Pre-Departure Beverage: Lemon and Mint & A Water

A short prayer before takeoff as we left Muscat departing from Runway 26 R

Islamic Prayer before Take Off

Views on the Climb to Cruising Altitude:

There was some interesting aircraft at the airport, which appeared to be shared with the military. We had some interesting views as we climbed to altitude.

Oman Boeing C5 or C17
Oman Fighter Jets on the Apron

We had great views on the climb out. The terrain is so different from the usual greens I typically see in the Pacific Northwest of North America.

Views of Oman Industrial Areas on the Climb to Altitude

In Flight Entertainment & Internet Connectivity:

Like our earlier flight, the in flight entertainment is in a monitor stowed in the arm rest.

In Flight Entertainment: Showing a Desert Flight Map

Today’s flight featured an in flight wifi hot spot. Prices were reasonable for a longer flight. The connectivity was advertised both via SMS text message and upon signing into the wifi network.

A Newer Airbus 320 with internet connectivity

If the internet wasn’t your thing, there was also the Aspire inflight magazine.

Aspire In Flight Magazine

The Meal: Light Arabic Snacks

Today’s catering were various Arabic snacks. Given the continued delicate condition, I regretfully wasn’t in a position to enjoy much of them. Still, they were pleasantly presented and I nibbled on them with a glass of champagne.

Arabic Snacks

At the conclusion of the meal services, Fast Track cards were distributed. I really appreciate this feature. Fortunately, we’ve never experienced long immigration lines at Abu Dhabi as we’ve always arrived on short haul jets.

Etihad Fast Track Cards

Views on the Descent to Abu Dhabi:

On approach to the landing, we had to do a “go around” on the landing. This added about 15 minutes.

As always, the terrain is so interesting to look at in this part of the world, including full subdivisions mapped out on the approach into Abu Dhabi that have not been constructed yet.

Interesting Pre-Development Landscapes approaching Abu Dhabi
Selective Development outside Abu Dhabi
Approaching on the Runway at AUH

Upon parking at the gate, the jet bridge was broken and had to be reset. Etihad dealt with the issues professionally and empathetically. It’s amazing how a simple apology or empathy can color your impression of an airline.

On landing, we got to see another crazy construction project with the new infield terminal of the Abu Dhabi airport being built. Despite being a small terminal, Abu Dhabi Terminal 3 still has a great décor and appearance upon arrival with arriving passengers and departing passengers mixed together on the same floor. 

Abu Dhabi Control Tower
New Abu Dhabi International Airport being constructed
Abu Dhabi International’s Airport Terminal 3

Using Etihad Chauffeur Drive:

After clearing immigration, we collected our bags and headed to the Etihad Chauffeur desk. With the counter, there were no issues waiting to get picked up or what have you. Our reservation was located without incident. 

Etihad Chauffeur Drive Counters

We were led out to a row of cars and I was asked if I wanted a white Toyota Previa Van or a black Audi A6 today. By passing the family van, we opted for the A6. Our bags were loaded up, including one on the front passenger seat and we were in Dubai before we knew it (1hr of travel time).

Etihad Chauffeur Drive – Audi A6
Etihad Chauffeur Drive – With an Air Canada Altitude 75K Tagged Bag in the front seat

We had a pleasant one hour drive up to Dubai, where we headed off to The Four Points by Sheraton on Sheikh Zayed Road for the night, prior to heading onto Poland the next day.

My Last Thoughts on Etihad Pearl Business Class:

Overall, Etihad is a pleasant way to get around the Middle East. Their BA Avios style distance reward chart also makes it quite lucrative for your short flights between the GCC countries. We would fly them again without question. The value of having the Etihad Chauffeur Drive added to these tickets was tremendous and we’d be sad to take another business class flight without it in the future.

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