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Emirates v Etihad: Who has the fancier A380?

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It’s that all important decision isn’t it? Emirates or Etihad? Well, whichever one you fly on, the UAE is the real winner. But with Etihad now running its super new A380s for over ten months, and Emirates for seven years, which one is actually nicer to fly on?

Our secret flyers have been checking out both, and here is their verdict – based on flying business class between the UAE and London.

Price
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty straight away… depending when you book, the cheapest fares between Dubai/Abu Dhabi and London can be just over AED11k, rising up to AED18k. Usually both are almost exactly the same at any given time. But Emirates offers a chauffeur both ways on any business class trip, while Etihad only does it on specific fares. So when you take that into account, its one nil to Emirates.
Winner: Emirates.

Airport experience
Dubai has one of the biggest and best airports in the world, while Abu Dhabi is still building the mega Midfield Terminal. That said, the beauty of Abu Dhabi is that it’s so small, you can whizz through in just ten minutes. For the A380 from Dubai, you have to take a connecting train from Terminal 3 to the special concourse. That can add another 40 minutes to your journey.
Winner: Draw.

Seats
Both are super cool and much better than any other A380s in service. But thanks to the so-called “Business Studio” which becomes a fully flatbed up to 80.5 inches long, we give Etihad the edge here.
Winner: Etihad.

Entertainment
Again hard to separate, but Emirates is ICE system has been the world’s best for a decade, and we still think it is, especially for choice of music.
Winner: Emirates.

Service
A tricky one but we give Etihad the vote here – maybe because they are newer and fewer, they can do a slightly better job. It’s a very close call, but the attention to detail and response time seems a fraction faster on Etihad.
Winner: Etihad

Amenities
The inside of Etihad’s A380 upper deck looks fab. But it still doesn’t match the now legendary Emirates A380 bar at the back, where all the cool people seem to hang on. Like the ICE system, it will take some beating.
Winner: Emirates.

Food and drink
Right, the decider. This one very much depends on your personal taste. But our hard working flyers found the Etihad meal choice a little more exotic and prepared slightly, just very slightly, better… and washed down with a finer choice of beverages. Again, we should add a caveat here that it is individual choice and meals vary a lot with flight times, but we’re going to go with Etihad.
Winner: Etihad

Overall winner: Etihad.

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