Etihad has a new cabin layout for some of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and, with this layout, First Class is eliminated in favor of a considerably larger Economy Class cabin.
The 3-class Etihad 787-9 Dreamliner is fitted with 8 First Class suites, 28 Business Class seats and 195 Economy Class seats while the newer, 2-class Dreamliner swaps the 8 First Class suites for a further 76 Economy Class seats. The 28 Business Class seats remain.
Up until recently we didn’t know what Etihad’s plans were for their newly configured aircraft but, thanks to a recent schedule update, things have become clearer.

Etihad 2-Class 787-9 Dreamliner Routes

New Dreamliner Routes

Abu Dhabi – Perth
From 1 June 2016
EY486 AUH 22:25 – 13:50+1 day PER
EY487 PER 15:40 – 23:10 AUH
Abu Dhabi – Istanbul
From 1 August 2016
EY97 AUH 09:05 – 13:10 IST
EY96 IST 14:25 – 20:00 AUH
Abu Dhabi – Shanghai
From 1 August 2016
EY862 AUH 22:00 – 11:10+1 day PVG
EY867 PVG 00:30 – 06:30 AUH
Abu Dhabi – Johannesburg
From 1 November 2016
EY604 AUH 10:00 – 16:40 JNB
EY603 JNB 19:40 – 06:00+ 1 day AUH

Existing Dreamliner Route Downgraded

Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf (currently served by a 3-class 787-9 Dreamliner)
From 1 May 2016
EY23 AUH 02:15 – 07:20 DUS
EY24 DUS 11:50 – 20:25 AUH

Etihad 2-Class 787-9 Dreamliner Cabins

While the absence of the First Class cabin may be a loss for some, I don’t see it as being that big of a deal. With awards costing more and more miles every year the value is definitely shifting in the direction of the Business Class cabins…so I’m not going to shed any tears for the loss of First Class.

The Business Class Cabin

The Etihad 787-9 Business Class cabin is equipped with Etihad’s “Business Studio” seats which I got to try out just last week on their Airbus A380 aircraft. The seats are excellent and should keep all but the fussiest of travelers happy.
Etihad Business Class A380Etihad Business Studio Seat
This comes with the proviso that you know which seat to select. From the look of the seat map on ExpertFlyer, the 787-9 Business Class cabin is laid out in exactly the same way as the Business Class cabin on the Etihad A380…
….and this means that some seats will be a lot more desirable than others.
All seats have direct aisle access but you still need to know which seats to select depending on your circumstances.
For Solo travelers – the best seats are the window seats in the even-numbered rows. They’re more private and are protected from the aisles.
For Couples – the best seats are the centre seats in the odd-numbered rows. The seats are closer together than those in the even-numbered rows and they’re more protected from the aisles.
Etihad Business Class A380The seats on the (like this one on the A380) can feel exposed – avoid these if you can.

The Economy Class Cabin

The Economy Class cabin in Etihad’s 787-9 Dreamliners is set out in a 3-3-3 formation and, with 9 seats in a row, there’s not going to be too much room.
Seat pitch is 32″ and the seat width is a tight 17.5″ – not as bad as some airlines but a lot worse than others too
Etihad has installed their “Economy Smart” seat in their 787-9’s which, they claim:
[P]rovides enhanced comfort with a unique, ergonomic ‘fixed wing’ headrest on each seat, a 32-inch seat pitch and a generous 6-inch recline. Guests can enjoy more than 750 hours of on demand entertainment on a large 11.1-inch HD screen with an intuitive interface and video touch screen handset.
etihad-economy-smart-seatEtihad Economy Smart Seat with “fixed wing” headrest

Bottom Line

I don’t mind the aircraft not having a First Class cabin (there are plenty of other First Class options out there) and, as long as the Business Class seats are the Business Studios that I like so much, I’d have no concerns flying up front on this aircraft.
The Economy cabin, however, is a different proposition. Etihad are claiming a 32″seat pitch while SeatGuru have it down at 31″ and, while normally I’d suspect SeatGuru was wrong, I’m just not sure this time…they’ve added a lot of seats and only removed 8 First Class seats to make room for them. It’s going to be tight in that cabin.
If I was considering flying on the Etihad 2-Class 787-9 (in Economy Class) I think I’d check out my other options first, just to make sure anther carrier didn’t give me more room.
Featured Image: Etihad 787-9 courtesy of Dxme via flickr
Source: www.traveling