Etihad’s new Economy class seat, smaller meals and buy on board menu

Etihad Airways has been struggling financially for a few years now, on the back of their failed investments in various airlines.

As a consequence, Etihad has gone through some major passenger experience shifts, such as farming out their lounges to other operators, cutting down on chauffeur for passengers and knocking off the spa. Economy class passengers now have the option to buy Lounge Access, buy-on-board products such as First Class Pyjamas, bid for a neighbour-free Economy seat to name a few. They even made standard seat selection paid except for those who book Economy Flex. Last year, Etihad Airways launched Economy Space, their version of extra legroom Economy seat cabin.

Qatar Airways recently introduced a new Economy class seat for short-haul operations with their narrowbodies, along with a new dining experience. Etihad Airways, today launched a new Economy class product for their narrowbodies at the Arabian Travel Market.

Etihad removes seatback TVs and moves to bring your own device

Etihad Airways will refurbish all their 23 A320/321 aircraft with new extra-spatial design seats by UK based Acro. All of these aircraft will be reconfigured by August 2019. The slimline seats will have fast-charging USB ports as well as an adjustable phone and tablet holder.

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New Economy class seats on Etihad Airways A320/A321

Passengers can wirelessly stream more than 300 hours of free inflight entertainment through Etihad Airways’ onboard Panasonic eXW system. Widebody aircraft will continue to retain personal seatback screens.

Etihad’s new dining experience

Major changes are also coming to the soft product. Etihad Airways is introducing a new dining experience for economy class. While Etihad is advertising it as a redesigned and enhanced complimentary dining concept on all its flights, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Etihad Airways has introduced a new curved triangular base plate design made using recycled materials. The design is intended to reflect the heritage of Abu Dhabi.

According to Etihad Airways,

On journeys of over three hours, the main course of the core complimentary dining service is now a larger, contemporary bistro-style meal which is higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination-focused choices.

Judging by what Etihad Airways has put out in their YouTube video, the overall meal size is actually smaller but the main dish may be larger as promised. Etihad Airways will now serve just a two-course meal. There won’t be any salad or appetiser. The changes have been happening since the start of April 2019.

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Etihad’s new economy class meal

Etihad Airways has clarified that desserts will indeed be served but there will be a service change.

Delicious 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 to this, Etihad Airways will be expanding its buy onboard menu to include a Sweet or Salty menu. The menu will have a Tapas box, hot dishes, and premium sweet and savoury snacks, all available for purchase. Etihad has tied up with Bateel, Starbucks, Thorntons, Cawston Press, Heavenly, Perrier and Barbells for the buy onboard menu.

What is your take on the new Economy experience on Etihad Airways?


  1. The only reason to take Etihad at this point is to avoid the drive to Abu Dhabi if that is your destination. Otherwise Emirates is the better choice and in the future may be you only local carrier choice.

  2. I think it’s a good change, as EY is transforming itself. Passangers want cheaper flights more than premium service, this being the first time EY really thinks long term. Only time will tell. Keep it up Etihad 🙂

    • Klaus the problem is that the price of the flight stayed the same but the quality of the product is much worse. Is like today you are buying a burger with sauces, pickles, amazing salad and chips on a side and tomorrow for the same price you get only the bread bun

  3. I flew with them earlier this month. On the way there I was given the old service (full meal, metal cutlery etc) on the way back I got the new one. The hot meal box was the same size and quality as previous (so average as always). I missed the fresh bread roll and dessert as I often down few like much hot food well into a 14 hour flight.
    Instead I got an olive pasta and a packaged olive scroll (wtf – yuck)
    The dessert was replaced with a buttery packaged cake slice (that was a recurring theme across two flights of 22 hours duration).
    From average to below average

  4. Actually I kind of like the idea of not having a salad/starter in favor of a quality main course. Carriers like Qantas and Latam have started doing this in order to offer better quality meals and more choice. Given how bad the salads and cold starters are on most carriers in economy this may just be a blessing in disguise. Of course the lack of television screens is a deal breaker.
    In terms of the buy on board menu, again choice is a good thing. On a long 16 hour flight there are many who would love a hot snack having slept through a meal and having the flexibility even at a fee could be seen as an enhancement. Of course given Etihad’s financial situation only time will tell if this is a downgrade or a progressive and innovative evolution of the inflight experience or ideally a bit of both. It’s also important to note that a vast majority of Etihad passengers choose to fly it for its lower fares. AUH airport isn’t the best transfer experience and most of us would anyway favor a non stop flight particularly on flights under 10 hours. Perhaps this is them coming to terms with the market segment they are catering to versus trying to delude themselves that people would pay extra to fly through Abu Dhabi solely for the purpose of experiencing their superior service.
    The fact is that the carriers with the most premium demand include the likes of BA and United- determined by their respective hubs and definitely not their service. And this is the reality of the airline industry today.

  5. EY pays almost zero for ATF price still they run in loss. by doing all these changes they are only going to loose more passenger an they gonna be less lucrative. They should take cue from other successful airlines in Asia. An have long term plan ahead otherwise i dont see EY going far ahead in future. Thanks Have a good one.

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