Skip to main content
Etihad Airways flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Abu Dhabi

The specifics

Flight No: EY455

Date: 02 January 2023

Route: Sydney to Abu Dhabi

Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER

Seat: 26C 


Despite almost daily reports of chaos at Sydney Airport and queues snaking out the door and beyond, on this occasion the airport was rather quiet. 

This is my third trip with Etihad in the last year and after the long COVID hiatus, I learned beforehand that my recent somewhat frequent patronage of the Abu Dhabi airline qualifies me as a Gold member of Etihad Guest – the airline’s loyalty program. 

With my newly minted Gold status and Choice airfare, this also gifted me an incredibly generous 50 kilogram baggage allowance, access to Etihad’s lounges prior to my flights and priority baggage handling.

Etihad’s Boeing 777-300ER features 374 economy class seats in a 3-4-3 configuration.

Sydney Airport is starting to feel like it’s back to hosting a decent number of passengers, although my late evening departure on this occasion meant passport control and security was still quiet. Travelling with my daughter, her concerns were a little different – she was more disappointed that only one of the two McDonalds after security has reopened.

Etihad Airways discontinued operations of its own lounge in Sydney prior to the pandemic and now funnels eligible guests to The House, located near Gate 51, which on this occasion was extremely busy. 

Despite the crowds, we were able to find somewhere comfortable to sit, with easily accessible power sockets and a view of the airfield. There was a small selection of food and drinks – soup, biscuits and cheese, tagine and a selection of sweets. My daughter really enjoyed the soup which was chicken and vegetable. It’s nothing to call home about but was enough to keep us satisfied prior to boarding. 

Etihad’s daily flight to Abu Dhabi takes a little over 14 hours.

Etihad aims to begin boarding a full hour prior to take-off and on this occasion, it was bang on time. We were seated in the last row of the Economy Space cabin, with my daughter in 26A and myself in 26C. The price of the extra legroom was around US$150 for the flight and is available to pre-book when selecting your seat online. 

Economy Space features an increased seat pitch of up to 36 inches – five more than standard economy. At six-foot-two, this extra legroom is often something I will secure in advance. It’s worth every penny. 

By selecting both a window and an aisle seat, my daughter and I had craftily hoped for the spot in between to remain empty, but alas, this was a completely full flight. 

Instead, we had a nice Indian gentleman sitting between us who provided a bit of warmth by prompting falling asleep and gently leaning against me for most of the flight. 

At roughly 14 hours and 30 minutes, Etihad’s daily 12,000 kilometre service to Abu Dhabi varies in its departure time, taking off either just before 4pm or at 9:30pm and with different flight numbers (either EY451 or EY455). 

There’s plenty of time for a movie or two, a nap and two meal services before landing.

On this occasion, our night flight pushed back and headed for the sky right on time and we settled in with a movie and dinner before dozing off. 

Dinner was served about an hour into the flight with breakfast three hours before landing. I opted for a stir-fried chicken dish, with the alternative being lamb. Breakfast options were egg and sausage or pancakes, the latter tempting my palate, which was served with a tasty raspberry lemon compote. 

In between, crew distribute sandwich bags to those who are awake. There is also an area at the back of the economy section where you can help yourself to extra sandwiches, drinks and slices of cake. 

Each time, meal service was quick and efficient, with trays promptly cleared. There was no separate drinks service, just with the meal, so it’s wise to bring a bottle of water onboard with you.

Etihad’s punctual boarding and take-off in Sydney resulted in an early arrival into Abu Dhabi – 30 minutes early. 

Traveltalk’s Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.