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Etihad Airways review: Sydney to Manchester (via Abu Dhabi)

We took the 5-star carrier for a spin to see if it's earned it's ranking.

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Heading over to the UK and Ireland for a combination of working remotely, a road trip and a friend's wedding, I was keen to give one of the big three Middle Eastern carriers a try, so I booked myself onto Etihad flights into Manchester and out of Dublin.

Between Etihad, Emirates and Qatar Airways, I found these fares to be the most reasonable and had the most favourable flight times, departing late in the afternoon on a Friday and arriving early enough into Sydney on the day of my return that I didn't need to take an extra day of annual leave.

That said, how did I actually find the flights?

Etihad Airways details

Route: Sydney to Manchester (via Abu Dhabi) / Dublin to Sydney (via Abu Dhabi)
Duration: 21h outgoing / 21h 15m incoming
Flight Number(s): EY451 and EY15 / EY48 and EY450
Aircraft Type: Airbus A380-800, Boeing 777 300, Airbus A330-200
Dates Travelled: 28 September 2018 to 21 October 2018
Class: Economy
Frequent Flyer Program: Velocity
Points earned: 5,556 points, 140 status credits

Alex's Etihad rating

★★★☆☆

  • Favourable flight times
  • Decent entertainment options
  • Newer planes
  • Bland food
  • Limited leg room

What did I like?

  • Entertainment: There was a decent enough selection of movies, TV shows and games available that I didn't need to watch my back-up downloaded Netflix content on my phone.
  • New outgoing planes: The A380-800 I flew in from Sydney to Abu Dhabi seemed to be quite new, with some of the nicest looking airplane bathrooms I've come across. (Unfortunately, the planes on my return flight seemed to show a bit more aging.)
  • Flight times: I don't like using up annual leave days when I don't have to and these flights departed Sydney in the late afternoon (allowing me to get almost a full day's work in), depart the day after my friend's wedding in the evening (allowing enough post-party recovery time) and arrive into Sydney early enough in the morning that I could go home, shower and still be in the office for 9am. The stopover times were also minimal, with just two hours on the way there and three hours on the way back.

What didn't I like?

  • Limited leg room: I'm rather short and felt my return flight had very limited leg room (pictured). I'd imagine anyone who's above average height would struggle in these seats.
  • Bland food: Now I know airplane food isn't exactly fine dining, but I was expecting more from Etihad. I found the food to be bland and flavourless to the point I didn't finish any meal and wish I had snacks with me.
  • Check-in process: I don't believe I've ever come across a slower check-in process for a flight. While I understand there are more people boarding a A330 and a Boeing737, the pace at which the line moved was barely even a crawl. I stood in line for an hour and a half.

Would I use Etihad Airways again?

If Etihad was much cheaper than either Emirates or Qatar, then yes. However, if they were similarly priced, I'd likely go with another carrier.

Etihad flight deals and sales:

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

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Available on flights until 30 November 2021. Destinations include Dubai, Paris, Beirut and more. Sample fare is Sydney-London. T&Cs apply.

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Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Up to 10% off flights + extra checked baggage

Available on flights until 30 September 2021 exclusive for students. Destinations include Dublin, Paris, Ireland, Abu Dhabi and more. T&Cs apply.

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