Etihad upgrades its A320/A321 economy class experience


Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has announced a transformation program for its economy class cabins, which will begin with cabin upgrade and refurbishment work on 23 of its narrow-body Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. These aircraft are used mainly on Etihad’s short-haul regional services, and further afield to 38 Etihad gateways within five hours flying time from Abu Dhabi

The retrofit program includes installing ‘Extra-spatial Design’ seats supplied by UK-based aircraft seat manufacturer, Acro, which feature ergonomically shaped seatback and seat cushions designed to maintain comfortable ‘living space’ in the seat area and provide increased knee room. The seat design, a customized version of the Acro Series 6 which is also flying on Air New Zealand’s A320 and A321 fleet, also features a wider middle seat, making this often unpopular seat position a little more inviting. In-seat living space has also been increased by moving the recline button to the base of the seat.

The seat design brings passengers’ digital devices into the experience through features such as fast-charging USB points and an adjustable phone and tablet holder – features that will be complemented by Etihad’s new personalized wireless streaming entertainment system for smartphone and tablet devices, which is scheduled for completion in August this year.

The seatback includes fast-charging USB points and an adjustable phone and tablet holder for optimal viewing. Etihad is also refreshing the onboard soft products on these aircraft, including new blankets, pillows and headrest covers

The only downside for some travelers is that the streaming entertainment system is in place of the previous embedded seatback IFE displays. However, guests need only log on and connect via their device browser to wirelessly stream more than 300 hours of free entertainment through Etihad’s onboard Panasonic eXW system. If guests download the new E-Box Stream app prior to travel, they can use it to view a wider range of entertainment programming, including more Hollywood blockbusters, international movies, and premium TV programming such as HBO and Universal shows.

Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group said, “Etihad has always been a challenger brand, shaping the future of travel as the market constantly changes. We are bringing the leadership and innovation to Economy travel which we have long established in our award-winning Business, First and The Residence cabins.”

All-new economy dining experience

Etihad is also launching a redesigned and enhanced complimentary dining concept, which will be available on the A320 and A321 fleet, as well as the wider fleet. On journeys longer than three hours, the main course will be a contemporary bistro-style meal, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination-focused choices.

Complementing Etihad’s recent plastic-free flight for Earth Day, the new base plate is made from recycled materials with a curved triangular design that reflects the heritage of Abu Dhabi, together with new cutlery that is 85% lighter than the current items, reducing aircraft weight and fuel burn. Each year, the airline will also remove 27 million plastic lids, and other containers, supporting its drive towards greater sustainability and to reduce the use of single-use plastics by 80% by 2022.

Dessert items will be served separately with the after-meal coffee and tea service, reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal. On shorter flights, dessert will be served with the main meal.

In addition, the expanded ‘Sweet or Salty’ retail menu complements the core dining service with offerings including a tapas box, hot dishes, and premium sweet and savory snacks, all available for purchase. The selection also includes options for children. The retail service is also being expanded, through partnerships with leading brands such as Bateel, Starbucks, Thorntons, Cawston Press, Heavenly, Perrier and Barebells.

Etihad’s new contemporary bistro-style meals in economy class will have a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination-focused choices

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About Author


Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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