Etihad Airways » A340-600 » User reviews
Seatplan rating 8.1
- Boarding 8.4
- Seat for sitting 7.0
- Seat for sleeping 7.2
- Service 8.0
- Entertainment 8.6
- Food & drink 8.6
- Punctuality 9.4
- Baggage 7.4
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EY017 (A340-600) Abu Dhabi to London 21st October - First Class seat 2K
Pick up from Dubai Marina was without fault, taking 50 minutes to Abu Dhabi terminal 3. Terminal 3 is a small dedicated Etihad terminal, the far end of which deals just with F/C checkin and the next door area, but separate is the business check in. Immigration is around 25 feet from check in, and security a further 15 feet, the lifts to the lounges are immediately behind security, and a large duty free area adjacent to the lifts. So if you are in to walking don't expect much exercise here.
The Diamond Lounge, is exceptional, and the lounge staff are helpful, attentive and provide a truly personal service. The spa provides all the classic short treatments if you have around 15 minutes. Food and drink is excellent, the menu being al a carte. If you smoke there is a cigar room with free cigars provided.
Gates are usually only a couple of minutes walk from this lounge for the UK flights, so no need to start to board until around 20 minutes before the flight time. I have flown in this class and route (Lon-AUH-LON) with Etihad 4 times now, and each and every time they have been very good indeed.
What made this particular flight special was the crew on EY17 on the 21st. The Cabin Manager, Ali S****, was exceptionally good, and spent a great deal of time with passengers in F/C. He is one of those naturals that meet and greet and serve passengers rather than sit in his "office" like so many do. He was constantly always around the cabins doing anything necessary to make the flight a good experience for any passenger.
Etihad have a Chef in F/C to both cook and present food and wines. On this flight, the chef Fraser, was from Scotland, and I have to say I have never been presented with food as good on any airline anywhere before. I heard his accent when I boarded, and when i asked if Scottish beef was on the menu today it certainly got a laugh.
I chose a garden salad to start. This was freshly made and dressed with excellent dressing - none of the usual rubbish from a small bottle. I chose Sea Bass for a main course which he cooked to perfection, the presentation was as good as any top restaurant in London, followed by a quattro of deserts - a taster version of all the deserts on the menu. The Chef will discuss the menu, and change items as and how you want them. A Chassagne Montrachet 2011 was recommended, and was truly delicious. Items are all cooked freshly, although I couldn't quite work out how the chef does it, because the galley does not seem to have anything special other than a combination oven/grill. There is a large menu, including a grill section, as well as set dishes, and lots of lighter options. When was the last time you were asked how you wanted your steak / lamb etc cooked on a flight!
Divadi was the the other female crew member in F/C (sorry if I misspelt your name), but you exuded charm did an excellent job. Etihad should be very proud of the three of you because you are the face of the airline as far as passengers are concerned.
Any negatives? Very few, but the e-box system is not as good as ICE on Emirates, and the suite is not quite so sophisticated even though still very comfortable. However, both are more than good enough and MUCH better than on many airlines (new first on BA please note!). Just at the front of the right of the A340-600 there is a large toilet about 3 times the size of a typical aircraft toilet. A further toilet although normal size is provided on the left. Ample amenities are available, and it is very attractively decorated in dark shades and hidden lighting. If you get bored drinking fine wines, then you can sit on the loo seat and look out of the three windows available, although the wine is a much more attractive option.
F/C is always an expensive product, and really what you are paying for is the extra space and facilities. I have always felt that very few airlines give good value for money in this class, and many are notoriously bad. Every time I have flown with Etihad they have been very good, and this last flight was the only time I have ever felt I had 100% value for money. Thank you Ali, Fraser and Divadi - you are a credit to Etihad. I wish all airlines could boast crew as good as you, and, even though many claim it, I have never met any.
Enjoyed really good service form start to finish. Check-in at Heathrow was empty so got that done really quickly.
Went through security to airside and wandered about before the flight. We got boarded very quickly and for some reason the queue to board went down very quickly.
The flight was fairly full but it didn't feel too cramped. Seat was comfortable and plenty of legroom to stretch out for sleeping (it was an overnight flight).
The entertainment system was good with lots to choose from although it could have done with a few more TV programmes I think.
Service on board was great and the food was good too. Normally, you get a choice of three meals with Etihad and the evening one was lovely. The only problem was when it came to the morning, my breakfast was a choice of chicken or chicken which for any Brit is not the most ideal breakfast.
Still I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it considering it was so early in the morning.
Would definitely fly them again and would be happy to recommend.
There was a great service at Sydney airport before boarding.
The man on the desk tried his best to get me in an emergency exit seat being 6' 4" tall.
Unlike Singapore Airlines there is no system, it seems to be first come first served and no priority for taller people. Unable to get a seat with enough legroom it did cause a bit of anxiety when I boarded the plane to sit in seat 18C, 2 rows in front of a row of children in the middle, extra leg room seats!
The 15 hour flight was extremely uncomfortable, not being able to sit straight in my seat with my legs closed. No chance of any sleep.
The food was very good with good choices. The entertainment system was the saviour of the flight keeping my mind off the lack of blood circulation to my legs.
Anyone under 5'10" should be alright, but the service was just ok, not a patch on Singapore Airlines who I will return to for my next trip.
I flew CBR-MEL-AUH-ATH one-way in Business. I flew Qantas from CBR-MEL and got to experience the awesome Qantas Business lounge in Canberra. It was much better than their Sydney and Melbourne lounges. Other than that, Qantas is not good and if you can, avoid it unless you're in business or premium economy.
They're ok. I'm just ranting on about Qantas, aren't I? Let's talk about the greatness of Etihad, shall we.
At 1930, I got picked up by a van (Etihad limo service for 6 people + driver) and driven to Melbourne Airport for the flight to Abu Dhabi.
Check-in was quite quick, as the Business queue was deserted. I did have a bit of trouble at security (my CD wallet is lime-green and apparently looked like a liquid(hahaha!).
I was airside by 2100 and the first thing I saw when I entered the Air New Zealand lounge was "Is this a lounge or an economy class departure lounge?" The food was OK but there was nothing to do. Although my flight was supposed to leave at 22:10, I got called at 21:10. My family and I waited until the final call at 21:30 and then headed up to the plane.
As I didn't know whether I would get the new or the old seat, I was very anxious to see. Fortunately, it was the new one.
I was in seat 12K at the very back corner of Business class. My family sat in seats 11D, G, H and 12E and F. Before take-off, I was offered water and a hot towel. I was thinking 'How good's this?, as I had only ever been on Qantas and Virgin Australia previously.
We took off at 22:04 and as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, the air hostesses came and took dinner orders. I ordered a veal cutlet and mashed potato. It was the best aeroplane food ever! Dessert was ice cream with a delicious biscuit on top. I then started watching "Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2" as I had not seen it yet. The E-box is easy to use and you can just fast-forward past the ads. About halfway in, i paused and started playing bkackjack against the AI opponent and won lots of "money" I then reclined the seat flat and slept for five hours on that super-comfy bed.
The service was very good, although my mother complained of a rude hostess (I was on the other aisle so i didn't have to worry about that). About 2 hours out from landing, I got airsick (my travel medicine wore off) The purser was very helpful , as I went through 6 sick bags (poor me :( ).
I arrived in Abu Dhabi at 6:00am and I used their awesome lounge. Some of these reviews say that there is only one shower, but there are actually 6 more in the spa. I had a shower there and had breakfast. I tried surfing the internet in the business centre, but Safari kept blocking my Facebook and Gmail (security). I gave up and fixed this when I arrived in Athens with Google Chrome. The food was very good (especially if you love fried stuff).
At 9am, a staff member who had taken us to the lounge (this was a surprise) took us down to the taxiway and instead of being bussed, we got driven in 2 cars (there were 6 of us after all!) to our plane, an Airbus A320-200.
I sat in seat 2A, a window seat, but as there were only 2 people in the cabin apart from my family, we moved around a bit. I ended up landing in seat 1A. The inflight entertainment was the same as the longer flight, which is good (*cough* *cough* Qantas). I watched Kung Fu Panda 2 and played more blackjack (i like playing it). the lunch wasn't one of the best aeroplane lunches ever, but it was better than some food, such as Virgin's food (and you have to pay for that!).
I landed in Athens at 1300, 25 min. ahead of schedule. I got through immigration quite quickly and I had to help heave 7 check-in bags and 6 carry-on bags to a minibus (not from Etihad, as they don't do the limo service in Athens).
As a resident of Malta, who travels regularly to the Middle East, options were affected when British Airways decided to withdraw from serving the islands. This meant trying to find ‘through’ tickets from agents such as Expedia or risking the journey with two separate tickets, which usually meant allowing several hours of ‘buffer’ between flights.
Air Malta and Etihad Airways launched a codeshare last year, facilitating a single ticket trip from Malta to Abu Dhabi, with snug connections through London Heathrow terminal 4 and with a regular business class fare of approximately 1,530 euros, which represents very god value for money. This report chronicles my first use of this service.
I could not check in online for the flight (Air Malta uses a Sabre system for this) and had to report to the business class counter, where my baggage was checked all the way through to AUH, but only the London boarding pass was issued, due to system mismatches. This is not acceptable and the two airlines need to work on a solution to allow check in all the way through.
I will not describe the Air Malta segment to Heathrow, as I have previously reported typical business class flight. This one was no exception, although due to traffic flow restrictions from the UK, we did depart about one or late and as my connection was 1 hour 45 minutes, this was less than helpful, although beyond Air Malta’s control.
Arriving at Heathrow on 27L was helpful, as the taxi to terminal 4 was short and fast. Flight connections was quiet and so was the Etihad ticket desk, so I found myself walking virtually all the length of terminal 4 to get to flight connections and then half the way back, to gate 10. This was not user friendly, but then Heathrow generally isn’t in my 33 years of experiencing it.
Arriving towards the end of boarding, I was greeted on board the A340-600 by name and escorted to seat 11G, a nice touch more often encountered in first class, than in business. I was asked for my choice of pre-flight drink and requested a glass of water.
The seat was a middle aisle seat and my initial impressions were that it was a little narrow. Later when I decided to sleep, I found it just wide enough to be comfortable and truly a flat bed. Compared to British Airway’s business class seat, it is not quite as wide ad is a little firmer. Having said that, I did sleep well on the seat.
When my glass of water arrived, I was asked for my after take-off drink and given a menu. I was surprised to discover that dining would be at my convenience and two main courses were on offer, with some alternative ‘light’ meals options.
The flight pushed back on schedule, followed by the normal 20 minute tax at Heathrow.
After take-off, I received a glass of G H Mumm cord rouge, which I thought was a reasonable fizz for a business class cabin and then decided to sleep, in the knowledge that I could eat later. Later turned out to be over Romania, where the aircraft had a slight turbulence encounter that woke me.
I decided to order a steak sandwich from the light menu and it came in about 20 minutes and was delicious. I often wonder why airlines try to produce restaurant style experiences, when a lot of us just want a good sandwich.
The service from the cabin crew was enthusiastic, but slightly ‘gauche.’ An example of this was after dinner, when I asked for a small glass of brandy and I waited over 15 minutes, following which a flustered stewardess arrived apologetically with a glass of (delightful) champagne cognac, saying how sorry she was that the aircraft had no brandy loaded, but that her colleague said this was similar. I had visions of the crew unpacking all the atlas boxes in search of the mythical drink!
Having recounted this amusing incident, I much prefer an enthusiastic approach to a smooth robotic service, so it did not in any way detract from the flight.
The inflight entertainment package looked similar to Emirates (which is intended as a compliment), although I did not use it on this overnight sector. The screen at my seat was about the same size as a 15” laptop, although fixed to the end of my seat pod, one did not get the impression of it being 5” larger than the BA business class screen, which is located nearer.
I dropped off to sleep over Turkey and woke up to the ‘bong’ of the seat belt sign, about 40 minutes out of Abu Dhabi, the crew had let me sleep through breakfast, per my preference.
Arrival was a bit of a shambles, being on a remote stand and with the air stairs being replaced after a few first class passengers had de-planed.
We were coached into terminal 1 and I discovered that my suitcase had not arrived, not a complete surprise given a tight connection at Heathrow. The same thing happened last year with an Air Malta/British Airways connection of over two hours and is not acceptable. Air Malta and Etihad need to get their act together and coordinate the delivery of ‘rush bags’ from flights running late on a tight connection.
Service recovery was professional, with an immediate cash payment of 200 AED for necessities and a promise that the case would arrive on the next flight from Heathrow, which it did at around 1915. A courier delivered the case at 0430 the next morning, which prevented me having my clothes pressed before work, but at least they arrived. I received an email, later in the day, advising me of progress and when I called later in the evening, I was promptly given the cell phone number of the courier, so that I could feel comfortable that the case would arrive – anyone who has ever waited for missing cases will understand how reassuring this was.
Overall, I would rate the flight as good value for money and the experience is very different to British Airways, with better food, better IFE (not that this is important to me), comparable drinks, slightly inferior seat (although I got nearly five hours sleep on a 6 hour 40 minute flight), much worse check in facilities, very different service with enthusiasm versus professionalism, but perhaps more importantly, very good ground service when things went wrong.