Taxfreetravel guide to Etihad On-Board Duty Free Shopping
In-flight duty-free brochures often look much the same from airline to airline, but Etihad Airways’ ‘Boutique’ shopping magazine is refreshingly different. There are in-depth interviews with brands, celebrity profiles, competitions and a welcome focus on Arabic gifts and souvenirs. For frequent Etihad flyers there is the important fact the Boutique magazine comes out four times a year (not twice like most other airlines). This means as much as 60-70% of the Boutique product range is refreshed in each edition.
We also like the fact the Boutique magazine is not just a dry read comprising page after page of products. The latest edition includes a fascinating interview with the managing director of pearl jewellery brand Pinctada, which details the different pearl types, and tells readers how to spot fake ones. The pages devoted to capturing the look of A-list celebrities such as Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway are also fun.
Regular offers and competitions are another highlight of the Etihad in-flight shopping experience. For instance, in the latest edition of the Boutique magazine (February 2013) the airline is running a monthly competition to win a three-night holiday in Geneva travelling business class. Entrance is open to any passenger spending a minimum of AED500 ($136/£90) onboard an Etihad flight.
Etihad passengers travelling in Pearl and Diamond First also have access to the airlines Aspire Magazine and all passengers can browse the airlines magazine “etihadinflight”.
Etihad offers a convenient online pre-order service on its website www.etihad.com. There you can browse the latest edition of the Boutique magazine and then send your request via email to firstname.lastname@example.org together with your name, flight number and date of travel. You must place the order at least 72 hours before you fly.
Some of Etihad’s fleet are equipped with the latest Panasonic seatback entertainment systems. If you are lucky enough to be travelling on one of these aircraft, you will be able to purchase duty-free goods from your seat. Look out for the shopping cart icon on the system’s menu page. If your plane isn’t fitted with the Panasonic system, you will just have to shop the old fashioned way and wait for the duty-free trolley to roll past.
It’s also worth mentioning that Etihad’s duty-free shopping brochure is linked to the airline’s frequent flyer programme. Shoppers earn two Etihad Guest Miles for every $1 (£0.66) they spend onboard.
If you are looking for a fragrance as a gift or a treat to yourself, you will be spoilt for choice onboard Etihad. The current (February 2013) range includes all the latest releases such as Dolce & Gabbana Desire (($112/AED411/£74), Versace Crystal Noir ($91/AED334/£60) and Gucci Guilt Black Pour Femme ($98/AED360/£65). Also listed is the hit fragrance from Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab ($115/AED422/£76), an ultra-feminine scent bursting with floral and citrus notes.
Should one of the fragrances take your fancy be sure to refer to the handy colour-coded scent guide used by the Boutique magazine. Each perfume is labelled according to its dominant character into one of five groups: ‘woody’, ‘floral’, ‘fresh’, ‘fruity’ and ‘oriental’.
Watches are another product category Etihad does well. Indeed, the airline offers passengers a separate duty-free magazine devoted to them, which is called ‘Timepieces’. The extensive selection runs from smart leather wristwatches from Frederique Constant and stylish evening pieces from Just Cavalli and Folli Follie, to rugged and robust sports models from the likes of Maserati and Timberland.
Etihad takes the time to offer a limited selection of souvenirs, which is not something every airlines bothers to do. Its ‘Style of Arabia’ range includes ceramic candles, pendant and arty postcards of desert scenery. The pick of the bunch is an attractive decorative ‘Sougha’ ipad cover made in the UAE using traditional Bedouin weaving techniques.
Examples of the sort of gadgets Etihad sells include a $99 (AED364/£66) Camera Pen, which can take photos and movies and doubles as a 4GB hard drive digital voice recorder, and a waterproof Merlin Swim MP3 player ideal for relieving monotonous laps of the pool with some of your favourite tunes. And at $110 (AED404/£73) the Akita Black Eagle remote control helicopter would make a great present for a teenager. It can be controlled via an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
Last of all we should mention that Etihad does stock a very limited range of duty-free alcohol. In fact just four spirit brands are offered in total (Bombay Sapphire, Glenfiddich, Absolut, Chivas Regal), and only one cigarette brand: Marlboro. Space is of course limited when it comes to inflight duty-free, but we feel that Etihad’s otherwise above average shopping offer is let down by carrying such a limited selection.
Online pre-order service available
Seatback purchasing available on some flights
Wide selection of watches and jewellery
Some Arabic souvenirs sold
Very limited selection of alcohol and tobacco