This Airline Is Adding New 'Dreamliner' 787s to Its Fleet, Bringing Its Business Class to the Next Level — With Lie-flat Seats and Suite Doors
Etihad will add the new planes to its fleet this year.
Airlines continue to up the ante with innovative business- and first-class cabins, and Etihad is the latest carrier to introduce an all-new seat for passengers flying up front on Boeing 787s. On newly delivered planes, travelers can expect a refreshed business class featuring cutting-edge onboard technology and fully lie-flat beds with suite doors. However, the rollout will be gradual as aircraft are delivered. While the Abu Dhabi–based carrier has 30 Boeing 787s on order, only three new “Dreamliners” will be entering Etihad’s fleet this year.
For travelers in the know, all of this may feel like déjà vu. In 2022, Etihad debuted a new business-class cabin on the Airbus A350 aircraft, with a door of its own. So you can think of this update for the Boeing 787 as essentially version 2.0. “The height of the suite has been further increased from the A350’s debut model, offering even greater privacy for guests,” says Eduardo Matos, director of customer care at Etihad, in an interview with Travel + Leisure.
There’s more to the seat than just a higher door, however. Manufactured by Collins Aerospace, the “Elements” suite on soon-to-be delivered Etihad 787s is all-new to the market. Taipei-based Starlux Airlines, an upstart luxury carrier that recently launched service to Los Angeles, is the only other airline with this seat type. It features a larger footwell, more storage, and additional tech compared to its predecessor, called the “Super Diamond.” That last-generation seat can be found on Etihad’s own Airbus A350s, as well as many other airlines’ business-class cabins, such as British Airways and its “Club Suite.”
On the technology front, expect 17.3-inch 4K monitors, Bluetooth headphone pairing, and multiple charging ports including wireless charging. Dreamliners are also outfitted with high-speed Wi-Fi from Viasat with streaming capabilities as well as live television, including news and sports channels. Bluetooth-equipped entertainment, with the ability to pair your own headphones to watch a movie, is a relatively new development in onboard technology. However, Matos says to expect the newest aircraft across the industry to come with this embedded feature. “In the next five to seven years, this functionality will be commonplace on our new fleet, though not all airlines may decide to retrofit their older fleet to add Bluetooth,” he adds.
On a recent Starlux flight from Los Angeles to Taipei, I was able to test out the Elements business-class seat for a 14-hour journey. The seat was not only one of the most spacious I’ve ever experienced — especially for my legs and feet — but all the latest tech was at my fingertips, including USB-C charging, a wireless charging pad, and the ability to connect my AirPods to watch a movie on board. Every passenger has all-aisle access and the aforementioned suite door, with a “halo” feature at the top of the pod for an increased sense of seclusion. Etihad’s version of the seat will be similar, albeit with its own distinct finishes.
The new suite complements Etihad's other recent premium cabin offerings. In late April, Etihad completed the rollout of its partnership with luxury brand Armani/Casa across all routes. Business-class passengers can now expect bespoke dining ware and a matching pillowcase and duvet set, with a signature turn-down experience.
On the downside, the routes of the new Dreamliner aircraft are not yet determined, and unfortunately, Etihad doesn’t have plans to retrofit its older planes with the business-class suite, including other Boeing 787 Dreamliners already in the fleet.
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