Four things to know before flying Etihad Airways

Etihad Airlines is the second largest airline from the United Arab Emirates, behind Emirates.

The airline was voted sixth best in the world by and eighth best by SkyTrax's World airline awards.

Recently, I travelled on Etihad and compiled this list of things to know before you go.

'The Residence' on-board.
'The Residence' on-board. Photo credit: Etihad

They don't fly directly out of New Zealand

This is disappointing because more competition on long haul routes can only be a good thing for travellers. Instead, Kiwis have to fly into Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or - like I did - Brisbane. My pick is Sydney, simply because they have a dedicated lounge - which leads me to...

'The Lobby'
'The Lobby' Photo credit: Etihad

Their airport lounges are world class

If you are lucky enough to get into one, you really will be living the dream. Spacious, modern, and above all comfortable, they even have private showers which after a 13-and-a-half hour flight in economy really is the only way to feel normal again. In their hub of Abu Dhabi, you can get a spa treatment too. I scored a pass to get into the Sydney lounge a couple of years ago - the al la carte menu (which included lobster) was as good as anything you'd eat at top restaurants around town. That was only the business class lounge too - I can't imagine how well the dedicated first class lounge is fitted out. 

Etihad lounge at JFK Airport in New York.
Etihad lounge at JFK Airport in New York. Photo credit: Etihad

They have the most expensive seat in the sky

Well, it's not a seat, it's actually a 125 square foot apartment. There was much fanfare when it was announced in 2014, and with your own shower, double bed and butler it's not hard to see why. It's as close as you can get to flying on your own private jet, without actually having your own private jet. 

Unfortunately, I haven't even seen one, let alone got close to travelling in one. With a $20,000 starting price tag, you'll understand why. 

First Class on Etihad.
First Class on Etihad. Photo credit: Etihad

There's plenty to do in Abu Dhabi

As Etihad's home base, all flights to Europe, the UK and the rest of the Middle East go through the UAE's capital city. Even if you only have a few hours in transit, it's worth getting out of the airport with plenty to do and see close by. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is remarkable and rivals anything you'll find in Istanbul in terms of scale.

Ferrari World is definitely not just set up to celebrate the world famous car brand, with rollercoasters and interactive exhibits. It's more a theme park than a museum. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of 4WD desert tours, if you have a longer layover. 

Etihad fly to Abu Dhabi from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.