What should I do about aircraft change when flying from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi with Etihad?

Hi everyone. Hoping to get some advice from the Point Hacks community regarding a flight I have recently booked for myself and future wife for our honeymoon next year.

I recently booked a business class reward seat flying Etihad Melb-Abu Dhabi in August 2020 (Flight EY461). When I booked the flight Etihad were flying the Boeing 789’s on both flights flying out of Melbourne of a weekday. I preferred EY461 as we have a connecting flight in Abu-Dhabi at 11.00am and this flight would arrive with a comfortable, but not too long, layover. I also considered the flight out of Sydney (EY455) but decided to stick with the Melbourne flight for ease of travel. This decision was made on the basis that the 789 was being flown on the EY461 flight.
While doing my research prior to booking, I noticed in October Etihad begun flying the Boeing 777-300er’s for the EY461 flight. When I queried this with Etihad I was told this would be temporary and the 789 would be back in service on this route by the end of October. The 789’s returned to service by the end of October as advised and I booked my flight with the itinerary confirming the 789 was being flown.
The 789’s continued on this route throughout November however, it appears recently Etihad have been flying both the 777-300er with the 789s on the EY461 flight. Etihad have also issued me with a new ticket last week with an updated departure time which also confirmed the aircraft change to a 777-300er.

Having queried Etihad (again) and not receiving any answers and no information regarding the above changes on the internet, I am hoping the Point Hacks community can provide some advice on the following:

  1. Has anyone got any information on why Etihad are flying the 777-300er on this route and if they intend to return the 789s back to service for the EY461 route?
  2. Have Etihad recently retrofitted the Boeing 777-300er business class cabins with the newer seat (i.e. similar to that in the A380 & 789 cabins)? If so, the aircraft change is probably not a deal breaker given the product being provided.
  3. If no to the above, what would be your advice given that I would be flying in the older Etihad business class cabin which, in my opinion, is inferior to what they have available on the 789’s & A380’s.

Appreciate any feedback!


Equipment swaps are quite common in the industry. I believe the seats are still in the older style but remains a 1-2-1 with direct aisle access seat just not the Business Studio product. If it is possible, you could try to switch to the other Melbourne to Abu Dhabi frequency (EY 463) which is still a 787. Though I’m not sure how your connection times would be.

Thanks mate. Appreciate the response. I’ve looked at the earlier flight, unfortunately it gets into Abu Dhabi at ~12.30am with our connecting flight at 11:00am so a bit of a wait. I’m looking at flying Melb-Syd Syd-Abu Dhabi which is currently rotating between the A380 and the 787. I was hoping Etihad had updated their 777 product and could keep my flight the same. Cheers for the response.

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Unfortunately there is nothing you can do but to either: change flight or accept that aircraft swaps are within the terms and conditions. Last year I booked Syd-Auh (being based in Melbourne) qnd chose the flight which got eventually swapped from A380 First Apartment to their B777 First. First world problems but the hard product is just different.

Agree, not much you can do with regards to aircraft changes, I was more wondering whether Etihad had made any announcements with regards to this like they did when they ceased flying their A380’s out of Melbourne. Haven’t heard any announcements regarding this one. I’ve also had Etihad confirm that the 777 Business Class product are still the ‘old’ cabins. Agree that this is a first world problem, albeit a little frustrating when you make your booking based a specific product. If it was between the 787 & the A380 it wouldn’t be a big deal, but I think most people would consider the 777 business class cabin an inferior product. In saying that, Virgin (who I made the booking with) are happy for me to change to a different flight. Now looking at flying out of Sydney! Thanks for the response!