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Emirates vs Etihad : Choosing the Best One

When it comes to choosing an airline for your travel needs, the decision often boils down to various factors including comfort, service quality, destinations, and value for money. Two of the most prestige giants in the aviation industry, Emirates and Etihad Airlines, both hailing from the United Arab Emirates, have established themselves as top choices for international travelers.

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By Eglė

Published: Jan 29, 20246 min read

Emirates vs Etihad : Choosing the Best One

Hubs & Destinations

Emirates Airlines. This Dubai-based airline is a big deal in the airline world. It flies to 133 destinations  in 85 countries, making it the biggest airline in the Middle East. People love Emirates for its fancy services, especially if you're flying First or Business Class. We're talking about private suites, showers in the sky, and even lounges on the plane. Their Airbus A380 is like the superstar of luxury flying. But it's not just about the fancy stuff – even if you're flying Economy with Emirates, you get a comfy seat, loads of movies and TV shows to watch, and really good food.

Now, let's talk about Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi. It's a bit younger and smaller compared to Emirates, but don't let that fool you. Etihad's making a name for itself with some really cool ideas in flying. They're all about giving you a great experience. Have you heard of The Residence? It's like a mini apartment in the sky, only on their Airbus A380s. And if you're in Business Class, expect some top-notch comfort and service that's all about you. Etihad might fly to fewer places – about 100 destinations – but they focus on making each route special.

Emirates vs Etihad : Choosing the Best One - cabin and classes

Cabins & Classes

Emirates really steps up the game when it comes to flying. They've decked out their Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 planes, which fly internationally, with four different cabin types: economy, premium economy, business class, and first class. Flying business class with Emirates?  Sinking into a comfy lie-flat seat, surrounded by soft leather, and enjoying some seriously good gourmet meals - that’s how it feels! And if you're on the A380 in a premium cabin, you've got to check out the onboard cocktail lounge – it's perfect for a drink or two.

Now, first class with Emirates is an even better upgrade. We're talking about a private suite that's totally enclosed, available on both types of planes. They serve fine dining whenever you want, offer vintage Champagne, and get this – there's even a shower spa. Plus, you get to lounge around at a bar 40,000 feet in the air. And the cherry on top? A chauffeur service to whisk you between flights. If you're looking to treat yourself, Emirates first class is where it's at.

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Etihad is definitely in the same league when it comes to luxury in the skies. They've got The Residence and The First Class Apartment suites, which are just out of this world. The Residence on an A380 is like a flying three-room suite for two people. It's super exclusive, complete with a private chauffeur from your hotel in Abu Dhabi, someone to smooth out your airport experience, and your own lounge suite at the airport. Plus, a dedicated team is there just for you. Once you're on board, expect gourmet meals, a double bed with plush bedding, your own shower in the suite, and top-notch service all flight long.

Emirates vs Etihad : Choosing the Best One - emirates louge

The Apartment, though a bit smaller at 39 square feet and just one bedroom, doesn't skimp on luxury. It includes a chauffeur service, access to Etihad's First Class Lounge, fancy à la carte dining on demand, and even showers during your flight.


So, if you're flying through Abu Dhabi or Dubai, you'll find that both of their airports are pretty nice for travelers. Now, if you're flying economy with either Emirates or Etihad, you won't get lounge access unless you're a top-tier frequent flyer with them. But don't worry, both airports have some solid pay-per-use lounges you can check out.

Dubai International Airport, or DXB, is the bigger one of the two. It's kind of a hub for tons of airlines, so you've got a lot of options for connecting flights to different parts of the world. On the other hand, Abu Dhabi International Airport, or AUH, might be showing its age a bit, but if you're flying Etihad, you'll find that getting around for connecting flights is pretty quick. So, each airport has its ups and downs, especially if you're flying economy.

In-Flights Entertainment

First up, Emirates. Their entertainment system has been voted the best for 13 years straight at the Skytrax awards. Why? Well, it's packed with stuff – we're talking about 4,000 'channels' with movies, TV, music, games, podcasts, radio shows, stuff for kids, live sports, and news. The screens in economy are a nice 13.3 inches, and there are power outlets at most seats to keep your devices charged.

Etihad's got a similar setup with the latest movies and TV shows on demand. Their range isn't as vast as Emirates', but if you're mostly into the latest flicks, it's still pretty good. The screens are a bit smaller at 11.8 inches and are slightly slanted.

Now, about WiFi. Emirates offers it for the whole flight, ranging from $9.99 to $19.99, based on how long you're flying. They have cheaper options for just messaging services, and if you're an elite frequent flyer, you get a special deal. The WiFi's pretty reliable, although not always the fastest.

On Etihad, economy passengers who aren't elite can pay for WiFi, which goes from $5.95 for 50MB to $29.95 for 300MB. That's a bit pricey for what you get. But they recently introduced a free 'Chat' package for all Etihad Guest members, so you can stay connected with messaging services on their widebody planes. So, in general, both airlines have solid entertainment options, but Emirates usually has the edge when it comes to inflight entertainment.

I’ll try to sum up the differences:Emirates, with its larger fleet and extensive global network, offers a luxurious flying experience, featuring a renowned entertainment system and amenities like onboard lounges in its upper classes. Etihad, while smaller, focuses on personalized service and innovative offerings such as The Residence suite, providing a tailored and high-quality experience. Both airlines excel in comfort and luxury, with Emirates leading in network size and in-flight entertainment, while Etihad stands out for its unique, passenger-centric luxury offerings.

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