Long considered an industry leader in the Middle East, Etihad Airways has been recognised with a series of top accolades by voters at the World Travel Awards.
But this was just the latest in a series of wins, with Breaking Travel News here examining what separates the carrier from its competitors in a number of categories.
First up, Etihad was honoured with the title of World’s Leading Airline Lounge – First Class this year, and it is easy to see why.
When visiting Abu Dhabi International Airport, guests visiting the first-class lounge can choose from dishes inspired by the Middle East and the destinations Etihad flies to.
There is also a chance to take a seat at the feature bar and enjoy a drink from the Etihad cellar.
For the more active, why not enjoy a refreshing workout in the fitness room before a flight?
For the truly elite, those flying in the Residence, a personal, exclusive, lounge is available within the wider first-class area.
With safety at the forefront of everybody’s mind in 2020, the carrier also recently launched ‘Etihad Wellness,’ an expanded and more comprehensive health and hygiene programme.
This builds on the stringent measures already put in place by the airline to deal with Covid-19.
The programme will be championed by the introduction of specially trained Wellness Ambassadors, a first in the industry, who will provide essential travel health information and care so guests can fly with greater peace of mind.
Etihad Wellness initiatives will be communicated through an easy-to-use online guide highlighting the high standards of cleanliness, health and hygiene being applied at every stage of the customer journey.
This includes culinary hygiene at the airline’s catering facilities and food testing laboratory, aircraft cabin deep-cleaning, check-in, health screening, boarding, inflight experience and product, crew interaction, arrival, and ground transportation.
Comprehensive information on these travel health and hygiene measures is available here.
All Wellness Ambassadors will undergo special training at the training facilities in Abu Dhabi, and online.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Providing for our guests, and their wellbeing, is one of Etihad’s core values, and we have a responsibility to protect them, to keep them fully informed, and to provide even greater levels of genuine warmth and personal care.
“We must guarantee they can travel assured in the knowledge that we have every aspect of their journey with us covered, while still providing a top-quality travel experience.
“The Wellness Ambassadors will play an important role in delivering this.
“For us it is not simply about dealing with a new normal - this level of genuine and innovative customer care has always been part of Etihad’s DNA since our inception.”
This commitment to onboard safety played a role in the selection of Etihad for the title of World’s Leading Airline – Customer Experience.
While the airline has long been recognised for its commitment to luxurious travel, leaders have this year been able to refocus on Covid-19 security, in line with passenger expectations.
As another example, Etihad earlier this year rolled out an innovative new protective wear for First and Business class guests.
As part of Etihad Wellness, premium passengers will receive a snood style facemask for use throughout their journey and beyond.
The soft reusable snood has been treated with MicrobeBarrier fabric treatment, a broad-spectrum antimicrobial treatment, laboratory tested and proven to reduce the presence of germs in fabrics.
With this long-lasting protective layer, the snoods are washable and reusable, making them environmentally friendly.
Travellers can choose to wear the snood around their neck like a scarf and when in close proximity to others, pull it up over their mouth and nose to protect themselves and those around them.
Made out of lightweight, breathable and stretchy jersey fabric, the snood is comfortable and ideal for travel because it can be easily slipped on and off as needed.
The safety, health, and wellbeing of Etihad’s guests is the airlines top priority, during and beyond the flight.
The MicrobeBarrier treated snood is one of the many initiatives the airline has introduced to create a healthier and cleaner environment.
Of course, it is not all doom and gloom – flying can still be fun!
Etihad takes this to the next level, with guests offered countless options for entertainment during a flight.
Fliers can take entertainment into their own hands with E-BOX Stream – a new inflight entertainment app.
Watch movies or TV, listen to music or read magazines – straight to a personal device.
Or keep up with the latest news and keep an eye on our moving map as you fly.
E-BOX Stream is available on the Airbus A320 and A321 narrow-body aircraft, while on the rest of the fleet, guests can enjoy E-BOX on the in-seat screen.
Take a look here to see what is on this month.
If reading is more your thing, Etihad has partnered with PressReader to bring guests award-winning journalism and inspiring stories from the around the world.
Travellers can choose from thousands of free newspapers and magazines in their own language to read before, during and even after a flight.
Download the PressReader app and save your favourites to your phone or tablet from 30 hours before your flight – look out for the PressReader notification when you check in online.
Finally, Etihad can keep children busy with the latest kids’ movies, TV shows and games on board.
The parental lock feature also means that parents can control what your little flyers are watching.
Finally, Etihad was honoured with the trophy for World’s Leading Airline – Inflight Service, reflecting a commitment to exceed guest expectations whichever cabin they fly in.
In the Residence, on board the A380, guests can step into a luxury three-room apartment in the sky.
Designed for up to two guests, the facility features an en suite shower room, private bedroom and separate living area.
A VIP travel concierge and dedicated team will take care of everything for you, from your chauffeur-driven limousine to your own private airport lounge.
In First Class, Etihad offers a time and place to call your own.
Travellers are welcomed to a private suite, where they can unwind with a drink in a leather armchair while crew prepare your bed.
Choose when and how you would like to dine with an extensive a la carte menu and boutique wine list.
In Business Class, it is time for an experience as individual as you are.
Before a flight, take time for yourself in one of the lounges then fast-track to your seat with priority boarding.
When it is time to rest on board, recline your chair to a fully-flat bed. Hungry? Dine any time you choose.
Finally, in Economy Class, choose your favourite seat then get comfortable with full-size blankets and plenty of space.
Switch on with hours of on-demand entertainment or switch off and enjoy complimentary food and drinks on every flight.
Surf or stream with mobile connectivity or stay up to date with live TV and news.
Take a 3D tour of all four Etihad cabin classes here.
Whichever class you are flying in, Etihad has extended its digital reach with an update to its mobile application for Android, Apple and Huawei smartphones, enabling guests to manage their journey with even greater ease.
New key features allow guests to purchase upgrades or other extras, use Etihad Guest Miles as a form of payment or choose from ten other payment options, including Travel Bank, which have been added to the booking flow.
Frank Meyer, chief digital officer, Etihad Airways said: “To increase flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic, we established Travel Bank, an account which guests can use for future redemption on flights.
“With the new app, guests are now able to book their next flight with travel credits they have saved while being unable to fly due to travel restrictions.
“As we strive to make travel as convenient as possible, this is a step forward in our innovation strategy.”
The refreshed mobile app is simple to use and allows guests to manage their details, book flights with voice search and enrol into the airline’s loyalty programme, Etihad Guest.
Uber and Google Maps are now also integrated into the app to direct travellers to and around the airport.
If the status of a flight should change, an update is automatically pushed to guests through the app.
As the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier, Etihad Airways is one of the world’s leading airlines, acclaimed for its unparalleled service, industry leading cabins and genuine Arabian hospitality.
Find out more on the official website.