Etihad vs Cathay Pacific: 5-star airlines compared | finder.com.au

Etihad vs Cathay Pacific

We look at how flying with Cathay Pacific compares with Etihad to help you choose the right airline for your trip.

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Etihad and Cathay Pacific are two of just 10 airlines awarded a 5-star airline rating from airline review and rating site Skytrax, and as such are considered very high-quality carriers. However, this can make choosing between them complicated.

We’ve simplified your decision making by comparing a range of features for both airlines, including their destinations, aircraft types, booking systems, special deals, in-flight entertainment, Wi-Fi connectivity, baggage policies and ticket inclusions.

Read on to see which airline is the best choice for your next journey.

Etihad vs Cathay Pacific

FeatureEtihadCathay PacificVerdict
Where does it fly to?
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Middle East
  • Europe
  • North America
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Middle East
  • Europe
  • United States
  • Latin America
  • Canada
Cathay Pacific flies to more destinations.
What is the star rating?5-star5-starBoth airlines have a 5-star rating.
What classes are available?Economy, business and first classEconomy, premium economy, business and first classCathay Pacific offers more classes.
Where can I fly from in Australia?Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, PerthAdelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Sydney, PerthCathay Pacific flies from more locations in Australia.
What is the in-flight entertainment like?Etihad’s E-BOX in-flight entertainment system features movies, TV shows, music, games and live TV on selected flights.In-flight entertainment includes films, TV shows, music, games and language learning.Etihad and Cathay Pacific both provide excellent in-flight entertainment.
Can I make changes or cancellations?Yes. Cancellations, refunds and changes to your flight can all be made online, depending on your ticket type. Fees may apply.Yes. Refunds are given for certain ticket types, and changes to dates and times can be made online. Fees apply.Both airlines allow changes, cancellations, and in some cases, refunds.
What type of plane will I fly on? Is there an A380?Etihad flies the Boeing 787-9 and 777, and Airbus A380, A320 and A330.Cathay Pacific flies Boeing 777 and 747 as well as Airbus A350 aircraft.Etihad has a wider range of aircraft. It also uses the A380 where Cathay does not.
Which frequent flyer program is it aligned with?Etihad Guest allows members to earn miles by flying with Etihad and its partner airlines.Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club awards points for flights with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and all oneworld member airlines.Both offer in-house programs that allow you to fly and earn with partner airlines.
Is there Wi-Fi?Yes. Most aircraft have Wi-Fi.Yes. Cathay Dragon A320 flights feature a Wi-Fi entertainment system.More Etihad aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi.
Can I price match?YesYesBoth airlines will price match.
Is alcohol served?YesYesBoth airlines serve alcohol.
Is there online chat?NoYesCathay Pacific has an online chat service.
Is there a charge for infants?Yes. Infants are charged 10% of the adult fare if sitting on an adult’s lap.Yes. Children under the age of 2 require an infant ticket, charged at 10% of the adult fare if sitting on an adult's lap, depending on the route.Both airlines charge for infants.
Are pets allowed to fly?Yes. All pets must travel as cargo. Guide dogs fly free of charge as cargo.Yes. Service animals can be brought into the cabin, but other pets travel in the hold. Prices are calculated by weight.Etihad and Cathay Pacific both allow pets to fly.
What are the payment options?
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Bank transfer
  • eWallet
  • Offline payment
  • Credit card
  • Mastercard
  • Visa debit
  • PayPal
  • Union Pay
Both airlines offer similar payment options.
Can I book round-the-world fares?YesYesRound-the-world fares are available with both airlines.
Can I book multi-city fares?YesYesBoth airlines offer multi-city fares.
BookEtihad Cathay Pacific

Which airline offers the best price?

Both Etihad and Cathay Pacific will price match, so whichever you choose, you know you’re getting the lowest fare by booking directly with the airline.

Etihad does not price match so you're not guaranteed the cheapest fare online when booking direct with the airline. Cathay Pacific on the other hand has a Price Promise that guarantees a refund of the difference on any identical fare type available at a lower price, as long as it was found on an Australian website.

The verdict

With Cathay Pacific's price-match you're pretty set knowing that if you find a better available price, Cathay Pacific will match it. But price guarantees are only valid against the airline itself - so how do Etihad and Cathay stack up against each other in a price war?

We searched for flights for the same date and route on both airlines’ websites and found that Etihad’s lowest fare was around $800 cheaper than Cathay Pacific’s lowest fare.

Prices will change depending on when you search, and can be affected by number of sales and seat availability.

Are these good airlines to fly with?

Etihad and Cathay Pacific are two of just 10 airlines to have achieved Skytrax’s 5-star airline rating. The prestige associated with this rating suggests that both are excellent airlines.

Cathay Pacific’s flights are all rated either 4.5 or 5 stars, while Etihad rates 4 stars for economy flights, 4.5 stars for business and 5 stars for first class.

Cathay Pacific again emerges slightly ahead on Skytrax's review site Airline Quality, where customer reviews give it 7/10, as opposed to Etihad’s score of 5/10.

Cathay Pacific also scores better ratings on Airline Quality for its in-flight entertainment, seat comfort, staff service and value for money.

The verdict

Both airlines are highly recommended, but Cathay Pacific edges out Etihad as the better of the two.


Are there any other differences worth noting?

Alongside its regular ticket classes, Etihad also offers The Residence on its A380 aircraft. This is a three-room suite designed for two people travelling together, and includes VIP treatment.

Cathay Pacific employs a comprehensive sustainability strategy, which will appeal to travellers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes using recycled and sustainably sourced materials for many onboard products, donating surplus food to Hong Kong community groups, and increasing fuel efficiency.


What sort of deals do they offer?

Etihad’s special offers cover Europe, Australia and the Middle East. Recent deals have included return flights from Perth to Rome for $1,908, from Sydney to Paris for $2,265 and from Melbourne to Madrid for $2,306.

Cathay Pacific’s deals include flights to Europe, Asia, Australia, the Middle East and North America. There are constant sales to Hong Kong and Europe, and flights to the UK and Ireland have been known to drop down to as little as $999 return.

The verdict

Cathay Pacific has a much larger selection of special offers, including many in the Asia-Pacific region.

Latest flight deals from Etihad and Cathay Pacific

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Up to 50% off flight seats

Book your seat in advance and get 50% off discount. Available on flights until 10 May 2021. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Up to 15% off lounge access

Get 15% off access to Abu Dhabi airport lounges when you book flights travelling until 10 May 2021. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Up to 25% off cabin upgrades

Get 25% off when you upgrade your flight to First and Business class. Available for travel until 10 May 2021. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Get complimentary stopover in Abu Dhabi on flights

Get free stopover in Abu Dhabi for up to two consecutive nights or complimentary access to T1 Business Lounge when you book flights to India or Pakistan travelling until 31 December 2021. T&Cs apply

Last verified

Deal ends

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Up to 10% off flights + extra checked baggage

Available on flights until 30 June 2022 exclusive for students. Destinations include Dublin, Paris, Ireland, Abu Dhabi and more. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Coupon code ends

Etihad AirwaysEtihad Airways

Worldwide fights from $1,401 each way

Available on flights until 30 November 2021 to London, Beirut, Dublin, India, Turkey and more. Sample fare is Sydney-Abu Dhabi. T&Cs apply.

Last verified

Deal ends


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