Being five months pregnant all over the world is not an exciting prospect for any future mother.
The thought of 24 hours in the air and the time I spent waiting at airports was not something I felt like when I booked a flight from Sydney to London via Abu Dhabi.
The general discomfort of being pregnant in combination with the frequent need to urinate, combined with light sleep associated with the second trimester, could have been a recipe for absolute disasters and severe jet lag.
Fortunately I fly with Etihad for the duration of my trip to business class and the combination of services and the always available food, seating and lounge facilities turned out to be an absolute solution for alleviating annoying pregnancy problems.
If you are able to save the money for an upgrade to business during such a long-distance flight during pregnancy, the experience is worth it – even if you cannot take full advantage of the extensive drink menu …
Dreamy: the seats in the Etihad A380 business class lie on a 6ft 8-inch flatbed, which are invaluable for the pregnant Sarah Fitzmaurice during her trip from Sydney to London (stock image of Etihad)
Too close for comfort? The middle seats on the Boeing 777 flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi are spacious but very close together
THE CHECK-IN AND LOUNGE
My journey starts at the check-in counter in Sydney, where I get a fast-track pass through security, which means I can blow through in record time.
There seems to be a row of an hour making its way to the X-ray machines, and I am glad I don't need to lift my hand luggage around the winding road.
This rapid process means that I have more time in Etihad's The House lounge, which is open to business and first-class customers and loyalty members. The house is not the largest lounge I have ever been to, but it is definitely the quietest.
Although there are about 15 other customers in the room, it has the feeling of a spa waiting room instead of an airport lounge and the tranquility is maintained with visual-only flight announcements.
Dining before your flight? Before boarding you can enjoy a meal in the The House lounge of Etihad at Sydney Airport
Facilities: Before your flight (left) you can have a quick bite to eat in the The House lounge of Etihad or take a shower (right)
Space for the children: the house has a special family room to entertain children (left). There is a bar with comfortable seats for adults (right)
For those who prefer pre-flight, there is the option to sit in the dining room and enjoy a menu with soup, warm goat cheese crostini, porcini gnocchi, chicken musakhan, stewed breast burger or a cheese plate.
I bypass the dining and bar areas instead of a soda and a pastry while I watch planes come and go.
In addition to the pristine toilet and shower facilities, The House also has a business center and a family room to keep the little ones busy, not that I don't need that yet.
THE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN – SYDNEY FOR ABU DHABI
I have to admit that I enjoy the sensation of being invited to take Door A, the walkway to The Residence, first and business class seats, instead of Door B with most of the flight to economy.
My first flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi is on a Boeing 777, a slightly older aircraft in the Etihad fleet with 40 seats in the business class cabin in a 1-2-1 formation.
My seat is in the center of the cabin and at first it seems a bit too close to my male neighbor for comfort – I'm practically sitting shoulder to shoulder with him.
This is quickly corrected by Brad, the cabin manager, who quickly restores order and gives me some privacy by lifting the partition between the seats. It would be great if you are a couple traveling together – not so great if you sit next to any person.
Although the divorce separates us, I can still see my neighbor's screen, which can sometimes be annoyingly distracting, my attention is constantly being drawn back to what is on his screen instead of mine.
On the plus side, the touchscreen TV is quite large – 15.4 inches – and you get noise canceling headphones.
Too close for comfort? The seat configuration on the Boeing 777 flight brings two seats close together. Even with the division up, the screen of your next neighbor is visible
The chair is also large. It extends to 6ft 2in when flat. By having 5ft 6in this space, I can really stretch and lean back.
When I'm comfortable, I unpack the Acqua Di Parma toiletries kit and leave the eye mask and body cream on the table for later use.
Unfortunately I have to refuse the offer of a chilled glass of Piper-Heidsieck cuvee brut Champagne before leaving, although it looks very inviting. I opt for a glass of sparkling water instead.
Small treats: business class customers are gifted with the Acqua Di Parma amenities and brand products are also available in the bathrooms
Although I cannot enjoy the drinks menu, I still have a good insight.
In the white wine section there is the Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay 2017 (which is for sale for £ 16) and Pebble Row Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (£ 9). If you fancy a red wine, you can opt for the Bordeaux-blend Chateau Pontet Reynaud Graves 2016 (£ 9) or the & # 39;Tscharke Shiraz Shiraz Shiraz& # 39; 2016 (£ 12).
If I drank, I'd stick to the champagne or surrender to the Chivas Regal 18-year-old single malt whiskey to get the most out of the ticket cost, but I'm used to that.
What will it be? The all-day menu and the drinks menu are both available during the flight, not that Sarah can be pampered with alcohol
Although the extensive list of wines and alcoholic beverages is of little use to me, the concept of the whole day is truly invaluable – as a pregnant woman there is nothing worse than feeling a hunger and realizing that you have no snacks at hand have.
Hangry doesn't cover it.
Just a few moments after waking up Brad appears dutifully ready to take my dinner order. Guests can dine on the all-day menu, as well as the à la carte menu. Because the flight takes place at night, the meals are focused on dinner.
First I enjoy the Arabian mezze plate, which consists of hummus, a vine leaf, flat bread, a large olive, taboule and an unknown type of pastry. The white tablecloth, cutlery and glassware are just a small reminder of where you are – no plastic in sight.
While the starter is delicious, the main course – fried barramundi with rocket and pesto puree, broccolini, beetroot, tomato, capers and lemon butter sauce – is a mixed bag. The fish is wonderfully succulent and cooked to perfection but unfortunately the broccolini is a bit overdone and bland. Although filled, I try to make my salted caramel Häagen-Dazs ice cream dessert, but I am defeated.
Starter: the Arabian mezze plate starter, which consists of hummus, a vine leaf, flat bread, a large olive, taboule and an unknown type of pastry. The white tablecloth, cutlery and glassware are just a small reminder of where you are – no plastic in sight
A mixed bag: the main course consists of fried barramundi, which is delicious, but the broccolini is exaggerated and neutral
Ice cream: the dessert came in the form of ice cream from Häagen-Dazs
While most people in the cabin end their meal with a glass of wine or something stronger, I stay on the water, despite being seduced by the Cipriani Bellini mocktail, I decide that I have certainly eaten enough.
Full and content I go to the toilet to change into more comfortable clothes. The bathrooms are slightly more luxurious and spacious than in the economy with Acqua Di Parma products for use, but the main advantage of doing business is that because there are more toilets per person, I never have to wait to use the facilities.
As a pregnant lady I never quite know when nature will call, so this proves to be extremely useful and comforting during the flight.
When the cabin lamps are dimmed, it is time to extend the seat and free up as much space as possible. I settle comfortably by the warm blanket and walk away very quickly and enjoy an uninterrupted sleep for more than nine hours – I actually sleep longer in my own bed than on a normal night.
Despite the fact that we have plans to enjoy a snack and a walk around the cabin when waking up, it is suddenly almost time for the plane to land. I am almost irritated because I am not making optimum use of the available food. But I feel refreshed.
THE LOUNGE AT ABU DHABI
When I leave the plane in Abu Dhabi, I am escorted to a plush seat on board a terminal transfer bus that is only for top class passengers. Everyone has a seat, unlike the economy bus.
Spa life: The Six Senses Spa at Abu Dhabi Airport offers guests the opportunity to enjoy massages, body treatments or facials between flights. Unfortunately Sarah didn't make it
I fully intend to visit the Six Senses Spa at Abu Dhabi Airport, located in Terminal 3. Guests traveling for the first time and doing business can relieve travel stress with a 15 to 25 minute stress-relieving massage, body treatment or facial treatment at the location, although these incur additional costs.
I never really make it – my transfer is only a few hours and by the time I get through security and am a little indulgent to tax-free shopping, it's time to get back on board, with the benefit of getting on with priority again.
THE BUSINESS CLASS CABIN – ABU DHABI TO LONDON HEATHROW
The second leg of my journey takes place on an Airbus A380 and after checking in I go to the upper deck, where the premium seats and cabins are housed. It is an even greater sensation than boarding the first flight.
The seats, again in a 1-2-1 setup, have much better privacy and although I'm back in the middle, tables and smartly placed bulkheads keep my neighbor at a much more comfortable distance.
That's better: the seating configuration on the second flight, an Airbus A380, gets the thumbs up from Sarah for privacy and she loves the modern decor
Lots of space: the seats on the Airbus A380 lean out to a whopping 6ft 8 inches in length. That is perfect for a good night's sleep
Aisle: every seat in the business class has direct access to an aisle – this means that trips to the toilet or to stretch your legs are much easier than in economy. Perfect for anyone traveling during pregnancy
This cabin is more modern, the decor is darker and aesthetically more attractive and the bar and lounge area available for business class passengers is much larger.
This is handy in flight if I want to enjoy a walk and a stretch and a different environment.
There are more business class seats on the A380, a total of 70, and the seat space is also larger. This chair is suitable for no less than 6 feet 8 inches, with a width of 22 inches and the TV screen has grown to 18.5 inches.
Cheers: The bar and lounge on the Airbus A380 offers guests the opportunity to get together and enjoy a snack or drink (picture from Etihad)
Breakfast? The breakfast menu is for all tastes
Although I slept so much on the first flight, I still manage to get a solid four-hour sleep during the seven-hour flight, which I honestly amazed.
Unlike the first leg, I get the most out of the dining options, enjoying a meal just after takeoff and just before landing. My first is an asparagus and brie omelet with potato and spinach rosti, beef sausage, mushrooms and tomato, with a corresponding selection of breads and pastries. It is delicious and filling.
I choose round two for natural yogurt and a berry compote.
When deciding on my second meal of the flight, the helpful cabin crew reminds me of my earlier choice and offers recommendations similar to a well-known server in your favorite restaurant.
Breakfast is served: an asparagus and a brie omelet with potato and spinach rosti, beef sausage, mushrooms and tomato, with a matching selection of bread and pastries
Round two: Dining all day means that meals can be ordered at any time during the flight – an outcome to prevent pregnancy promises
Sarah Fitzmaurice arrives in London, feeling refreshed and relaxed after her journey from Sydney
Soon it's time to land and my journey is coming to an end. It is 06:00 in London and I am going straight to the office. I feared this moment and thought that I would feel quite exhausted at the moment.
The opposite is true. I feel rested and have had 13 hours of sleep in the 20 hours I have been in the air. I am well fed, well watered and do not experience any of the aches and pains that I expected that would come from air travel during pregnancy.
The seats greatly exceeded my expectations and I had plenty of sleeping space – I spent most of my trip curled up in the fetal position.
Just before we descend, I jump to the toilet for a quick freshening up and get dressed for the day. I feel perky and alert – the most refreshing I have ever felt after making this trip. Maybe it also has something to do with the lack of alcohol. I am probably the most hydrated where I ever got off the flight.
However, it seems that my appearance has also benefited from the business class trip.
Standing in line for safety at Heathrow, a girl turns to me and says, "How do you look so glamorous after such a long flight?" I am a bit embarrassed but also secretly quite satisfied – it is nice to know that I can look as good as I feel.
Somehow I know how to avoid the dreaded jet lag for the rest of my journey and I am pretty sure that the huge seats in Etihad cases, in combination with choosing a night flight, had a lot to do with it .
Etihad Airways flies Business class from Sydney to London from $ 10,024AUD (£ 5,500 / $ 6,990) excluding taxes.
Go to for more information about Etihad Etihad.com.
Assessment code: one star – poor; two stars – ok; three stars – good; four stars – very good; five stars – exceptional.
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