This trip was 50% vacation and 50% mileage run. My wife and I had wanted to make it to Egypt, in fact, we had wanted to visit Egypt on our honeymoon, many moons ago, although that didn’t pan out. No regrets there, the honeymoon was perfect, and in line with family tradition–in Bermuda–I highly recommend it! That said, this trip availed us the opportunity to see the Pyramids, visit a new country, fly Etihad first class again, and see Doha’s new Hamad International Airport.
We leveraged Etihad’s complimentary car service from our home to Dulles International Airport (IAD). Once at the airport we checked in with Etihad, and admittedly were a bit surprised by some of the luggage (not the most I’ve ever seen).
Of course, once through check-in and security we made our way to the Etihad Lounge
Once in the lounge, we learned the flight was delayed. The next thing we learned was that the lounge wifi on par with a third world country. I tried to get it better, in fact I even traded messages with Boingo, hoping to get things resolved, but, no luck. Thankfully, we could leverage our Verizon phones.
Besides, getting past the wi-fi, we were able to truly enjoy the found. Just take a look, I think the photos express at how great it really was. I had the lamb.
Before long, it was time to board our flight. Etihad’s lounge is great in that you can board the plane from the lounge. Even better, you make the first left to the First Class jetway. The flight ended up leaving full in F. We even saw 1 upgrade clear in the lounge.
The onboard chef served us champagne, and we noticed the first vestiges of the changes that Etihad instituted from the introduction of their new A380, namely the trays. I’m not going to mince words – the tray didn’t do a whole lot for me itself, but it certainly looked cool. In addition to the tray, we had upgraded pillows, an upgraded amenity kit (which I’ll get to in a moment), as well as a really super soft blanket/throw, which my wife fell in love with. I dare say it’s the nicest throw in the air.
A word about the amenities: amenity kits consistent with last trip (May), perhaps slightly upgraded. Pajamas very much improved. To early to tell if they move to second best (behind LH). Depends on how they wash–but so far they’ve proven to shrink a little–I will request XL next time. All that said, I’d put them as my second favorite pajamas in the sky (behind Lufthansa).
Once we got in the air, the cabin manager warned us that we’d have turbulent skies soon. In fact, he worked with the onboard chef to ensure that we had our meal–which my wife was kind enough to join me in my suite for–before we started encountering the really bad turbulence. The cabin manager was so good, that as we were enjoying our entree (below), he let us know roughly how long we had before it would start to get bumpy. He pretty much coordinated the speed of our meal to allow us to finish before the really strong turbulence started. He did so perfectly.
Ultimately, the cabin crew and chef were amazing. They worked as a solid team and did whatever was necessary. Chef – Donagon (sp?) Irish, grew up just outside of Dublin, Ireland was very personable and a great cook (with the tools he had available)
After the wonderful meal, we had a slight issue with my seat going to/from bed mode. Cabin manager resolved in moments. It was for me, more pronounced going from bed to seat later in the flight, although my wife was sure to inform me that they had an issue going from seat to bed while I was changing into my comfy pajamas.
A few words about the bed: the bedding was ok, not great. A second full sized bed pillow would have been appreciated. About the seat: I usually prefer to sit in 1 or 2K. This flight I was in 1A. I definitely noticed more noise from the galley. Still much better than 1K would’ve been as the larger of the two lavs is right in front of it. A very popular place with a full F cabin.
One rather interesting experience of this particular flight was that we took a rather different route. I don’t have a photo of the larger airshow, but suffice it to say that we cut across the Atlantic along the most southern route I’ve ever taken. So much so that we passed over Madrid, flew over the Mediterranean, then hung a right at Egypt, a left over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and made it right into Abu Dhabi. The tailwinds clearly did us much good, and offered the flight crew flexibility–I dare say they made significant time up in the air too, perhaps to our detriment (because the flight was so enjoyable).
As we approached Abu Dhabi, I opted for an afternoon tea–even though it was approaching 8pm local time, but really, what does local time mean?.
My wife also enjoyed the tea as well. Ultimately I have to say the crew was phenomenal on the flight.
Summarizing the flight, I’d say this: The food was good, if not great, but not top-rate–I’ve had better, such as on my Swiss flight last year–the quality of their service was top rate. The bed was comfortable, it would’ve been better with another pillow. All that said, I can’t wait to fly Etihad again.