Etihad Airways vs Air India – Which is better?

Etihad Airways and Air India offer travellers a global reach in terms of destinations, particularly within Asia. Comparing inflight services, networks, and industry reputations helps identify major differences between these two international airlines.



Inflight services




Etihad’s long-haul Economy Class features seating with adjustable headrests and back support plus power outlets. On short-haul flights, seats have USB charging points and holders for mobile devices. Economy Space provided added room, while Economy Neighbour-Free allows you to book a row for more privacy. Passengers on Etihad Economy enjoy free meals and beverages. The airline’s E-BOX entertainment system has hundreds of hours of entertainment and live TV.


Air India’s Economy Class boasts complimentary meals and free alcoholic beverages on international flights. Seat-back entertainment screens are available on Air India’s Boeing 787-8 aircraft. On other planes, screens showing fixed programming are positioned throughout the cabin.





Etihad Business delivers additional privacy and space. On long-haul flights, seats transform into lie-flat beds. Luxurious three-course meals are served and there are deluxe amenity kits. Leather seats are 22 inches wide and there is an 18-inch monitor. Passengers have access to an airport chauffeur service, which is also available to First Class travellers.


Air India’s Executive Class offers spacious seats and delicious dining. While seats offer good recline, they do not transform into fully flat beds except on the airline’s Boeing 787-8 and 777-300 aircraft. Similarly, limited privacy and storage is offered in comparison to Etihad.





Etihad First features an à la carte menu with fine dining and a diverse wine selection. On Boeing 787s, suites include a 26-inch wide seat that converts into a fully flat bed plus a dining table and 24-inch TV. Added privacy is available thanks to sliding doors. On Airbus A380s, First features a 30.3-inch wide seat that transforms into a bed plus a vanity cabinet and a mini bar. A380s also have The Residence with a private living room, bedroom, and bathroom with shower.


Air India’s First Class lets you relax in luxury. Seats offer a 180-degree recline and transform into lie-flat beds. An indulgent selection of international and Indian meals are offered during the flight. A screen is available on adjacent seats, offering less privacy than Etihad First.





Etihad Airways flies to over 80 international destinations from its base at Abu Dhabi International Airport. From the United Arab Emirates, the airline operates passenger flights to the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and Australia.


The flag carrier of India, Air India serves more than 100 destinations. Over half of the carrier’s destinations are in India, while more than 30 span five continents (Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Australia). Air India Express and Alliance Air are subsidiaries of the airline, which is based at Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Air India is also a member of Star Alliance.



Industry reputation


Air India is certified as a 3-Star Airline by Skytrax, an industry leader in airline review. In assigning this rating, Skytrax noted Air India’s mixed standards and inconsistent experiences depending on its aircraft. It also noted the airline’s dated cabins and poor business class offering compared to 4-Star Airlines.


Skytrax certifies Etihad Airways as a 4-Star Airline. The carrier typically offers a more consistent travel experience. First and Business class products are also recognised for their quality, particularly Etihad First. The airline ranked 4th for the Best First Class and 8th for Best Business Class in the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Etihad’s economy class ranked 20th, while the airline overall placed 29th in the world. By comparison, Air India was not ranked within the world’s top 100.



Air India or Etihad Airways – The verdict


Etihad Airways offers travellers a consistently and high-quality experience, particularly in premium classes. The airline also holds a strong reputation within the industry. While both airlines offers a diversity of destinations, Air India’s focus is primarily in India.


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