Buisness Class: Etihad Instant Upgrade


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For my most recet trip I had planned to fly Business Class with Etihad. But unfortunately  I was not in a position to bid on all flights between between Bangkok and Dublin. But it should be enough to clear at least an upgrade for one sector. As the bidding had already ended I was looking for informations on upgrades at check-in. But as information is very rare to find I had to jump into the cold water and I asked at the check-in desk at Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK). Tough luck once again, all seats upfront were gone on the sector between Bangkok and Abu Dhabi. And customer service told me that I had to ask at transfer desk in Abu Dhabi for the sector to Dublin.

Seats with more legroom at check-in desk?

I already had my beloved seat 51H in the economy class section assigned. But I was so tired that I wanted to get an emergency exit row seat. With such a seat I would haven even more space for a nice sleep. Etihad sells to seat for an extra fee and only once all seats have been assigned you might get one of those for free (for the normal passenger). Therefore I was advised to get to the ticket counter to purchase an emergency exit row seat. The extra fee Etihad is asking for was 1985 Baht (about 45 Euro) and it seems that the price is relative to the demand. After purchasing the small comfort upgrade I went back to the check-in desk (I had left my luggage there). After presenting the receipt I was able to chose a seat I wanted.


Invoice for emergency exit row seat

Etihad’s invoice for a seat in the emergency exit row.

Whats the procedure for the business class upgrade at the counter?

After arriving in Abu Dhabi (once again terminal 1 for ma, as always!) I went straight to the Etihad’s transfer desk and asked if a paid upgrade (Etihad calls it Instant Upgrade) was avaiable for my flight to dublin. And how much it would cost. The answer was yes and the cost would be AED 2320 (630 USD). After checking the number for a second in my small brain I agreed and presented my Visa debit card to the friendly guy behind the desk. After payment was processed i received my freshly printed boarding card with my chosen seat 10A (left side, window). But also included was the reminder that business class lounge access was not included. That’s kind of a sad thing to be honest.  I remembered that as per a post on the Flyer Talk Forums that there would be no issue once entering the lounge. But my boarding pass was clearly marked with a big UPGI. I assume that this marks the instant upgrades. I had no time left anyway so I did not try to enter the lounge.

Etihad Airways business class boarding card

Boarding card for business class on a flight with Etihad Airways

Once I entered the airplane I the flight attendant directed my first to the economy section (maybe I should have bought my suit and tie for this). But a quick look  on the boarding pass convinced her that seat 10A is located in the better decorated cabin (Yeah, finally sitting upfront!). But then appeared a small proble. Another passenger claimed my seat with a boarding card that had 10A printed on it! His disgusted look told me more than he did. A flight attendant showed up, check both boarding cards and asked the other passenger to take another seat while she would be gone to sort the problem. As it appears the other fellow had arrived very shorty before his connectin flight to Abu Dhabi and therefore seat 10A was in the system as available when i inquired about the upgrade. Though luck for him and lucky for me than he has asked to take another seat and I could stay where I was. According to map available on the Seat Guru website 10A is an aisle seat. But I swear honest to god 10A is a window seat on the Etihad’s Boeing 777-300 (two class, no first class). I will post photos from the menue and from the amenity kit soon.

In total a nice experience that was worth the 476,25 Euros my bank charged me including all FX-fees.

short summary:

  • paid upgrade at checkin or transfer desk is possible
  • no access for business class lounge included, but should be possible
  • same treatment on the plane, including amenity kit, food and drinks
  • Chauffeur at arrival not included


Business class upgrade receipt

Receipt for paid upgrade at Etihads check-in/transfer desk.

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