Blind-less windows that can be dimmed at the touch of a button, seats made of the same Poltrona Frau leather that features in Ferrari cars – and even an on-board nanny to help keep travel-weary tots entertained.
Welcome to Etihad’s new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which will fly four times a week between Dublin and Abu Dhabi during the summer months.
Stepping on-board and turning left into a Business Class cabin is certainly not the norm for many travellers, myself included.
However, for a day, I got to try out the experience passengers can enjoy on some of the 11 weekly Etihad flights from Dublin to Abu Dhabi during the busy holiday period (the service has been reduced from 14 since last year).
The extra daily flight on the Dreamliner will depart in the evenings, with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft catering for Etihad’s morning departures.
Etihad’s Dreamliner has 28 Business “Studios” – so-called, we’re told, because the airline benchmarks itself off some of the finest hotels in the world.
This certainly seems true in terms of layout. The word “cramped” doesn’t enter into this affair – there is plenty of legroom, a seat that converts into a flat bed 80.5 inches long, and a built-in massage system for when you kick back and enjoy one of the 750 hours of film and TV shows on the 18.5-inch touch-screen TV.
The décor is plush – soft beiges and browns that are easy on the eye and adjustable mood-lighting. And if you’d rather not converse with any other passengers, you can request a neighbour-less seat.
If you want steak for breakfast, you can order that, and there’s no drinking Coke and vodka from battered plastic cups – drinks and bubbly are complementary.
The Dreamliner is configured with two classes, with 277 seats in Economy – and while the rear cabins look not so far removed from your regular flying experience, obvious additional space stands out again – the overhead lockers, for example, are the largest you will find in the aeronautical industry.
The on-board nanny is a part of the cabin crew, with some flights offering face painting for the children and a number of games to keep them amused.
For mums travelling alone with babies, the resident Mary Poppins is someone they can turn to for assistance too.
While other companies have operated Dreamliners out of Dublin, including Ethiopian, Norwegian and United (which recently added a Boeing 787-10 to its Newark route), this particular plane was only on its second journey to Europe with its arrival yesterday.
“These aircraft are quickly becoming the backbone of the Etihad fleet,” says Robin Kamark, Chief Commercial Officer with the Etihad Aviation Group.
The Dreamliner definitely has all the bells and whistles of a hotel – just add wings.
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