Customising Economy

June 19, 2019

Premium cabins get the glamour and much glory but now Etihad Airways is turning on the charm in Economy with customised choices, says Julie Baxter

Etihad has built its reputation on quality and style with its main focus on the high-end cabins. VP product & guest experience, Jamal Al Awadhi, admits: “We have focused on creating amazing premium product but we have always been a challenger brand and realised it was time to transform Economy too.”

A cabin upgrade and refurbishment of 23 narrow-body Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft gave the team the chance to renew the entire service. It is adding new blankets, pillows and headrest covers, personalised wireless streaming for IFE on smart devices, and transformed dining and retail concepts.

Al Awadhi adds: “We have rethought the entire F&B programme to make it a contemporary, bistro style offer – moving away from trays full of square products – and instead investing in quality produce and portion sizes that are up to 25% bigger.”

Meals are served on a new curved triangular base plate designed to reflect Abu Dhabi heritage and of recycled materials. New cutlery is 85% lighter, cutting fuel burn supporting Etihad’s drive to greater sustainability and to reduce the use of single-use plastics by 80% by 2022.

In addition, the airline has upped its retail game encouraging passengers to ‘Choose Well’ and customise their additional dining. The programme run with Retail inMotion includes a Tapas box, hot dishes, snacks, healthy kids’ treats, artisan beverages and products from well known partner brands.

Investment in technology is also expected to support future product enhancements. Al Awadhi concluded: “Our Choose Well brand platform aims to give guests greater control, choice and value by personalising their travel experiences. It is no longer good enough for airlines to say: ‘This is what you get, take it or leave it, we must adjust to offer them choices that suit them personally whatever their priorities may be.” •