This was yet another magnificent installment of my experiences with Etihad. After an eye opening experience in my first Etihad A380 flight, second experience with their Apartment was wonderful. It surpassed my previous experience by quite a bit. I wish Etihad were more consistent with their crews, as the ones on this flight made all the difference.
The Good: Excellent crew and an improved Food and beverage experience, although some of the appetizers were exactly the same as the previous flight.
The Bad: Repeat of some food options as on the previous flight.
The Noteworthy: Wifi on this flight was barely useable, ditto for the live TV.
Leaving the Lounge and Gate:
After spending most of the afternoon at the Residence Lounge (which, if available, you can book for ~$89), I headed to the gate. At the time, it seemed the flight would be empty, as the gate was not crowded at all. About 10 minutes before boarding, the security crews announced that everyone would need to leave the gate area, to have their passports inspected. There was a queue for business and first class passengers, and one for economy. I was the 8th or so in line, and the process took quite a while. Once back in the gate, and with about 10% of the passengers past the checkpoint, the gate agents announced boarding for first class.
Airline: Etihad Airways
Cabin Class: First Class
Flight Number: EY 454
On Time: Yes
Once again, the Apartments cabin of the A380 is majestic. There is something special about this configuration, and I am a huge fan. I won’t go into that much detail about the Apartment itself, for more images see my flight from JFK to AUH. The difference between 3A and 3K is the leather hues. 3K was a dark brown, while 3A was a sand color. I am a huge fan of the light fixtures in the Apartment itself. They are refined and subtle.
The vanity is always an impressive feature, and inside was the amenity kit, just like last time. The seat controls are on the side of the seat, and the IFE control is next to the seat. The IFE control is touch screen and doubles as a second screen.
Pre Departure and Take Off
As soon as I was settled in, the purser came around and introduced herself. I don’t remeber where she was from, but she was wonderful. She brought me a set of pajamas and headphones, as well as offered to bring me a pre departure beverage of my choice. I selected champagne, and it came with dates and a warm towel. What I was not expecting was a free wifi voucher. I don’t know if I missed that on the previous flight, but it came in handy on this one.
A few moments later, the inflight chef introduced himself. He was very eager to explain the options in the menu, and explained that he could modify anything that was listed. In case I wanted something different, he would do his best to make it.
The menu was very similar to the one on my previous flight, and I actually have pictures of this one!
Once everyone was on board, the captain came on the PA system and welcomed us onboard. He also expected there to be a smooth flight, and would have the seat belt sign off most of the flight.
We were airborne after a mighty take off roll, and slowly rose to cruising altitude.
As mentioned in the previous instalment, Etihad’s table setting is excellent. It rivals any fancy restaurant on the ground. The meal began with another choice of drinks, and ramekins of almonds, olives and edamame.
The first course was a king prawn set. Followed by a tiny Arabic mezze, nothing compared to the Emirates mezze. Finally, the last appetizer was a spinach soup, very similar to the one I had on my previous flight.
Before the main course, I received a mango sorbet as a palate cleanser. I passed as I am not a fan of mango, but the concept of palate cleansers is still amusing to me. For dinner, I ordered the cod fillet, which was itself cooked perfectly, but not flavorful at all. The food quality was excellent, but they missed a wonderful opportunity to give it a bit of a zing.
For dessert, I ordered the raspberry tartlet. It was not what I was expecting, as it looked more like a sponge cake.
For my second meal, after about 6 hours of sleep, I ordered the Etihad Steak sandwich and a the tomato soup. The soup was noticeably different to the one I had before, and the sandiwch was more thoroughly cooked. And, as usual, the table was set perfectly.
For my final meal before arrival, I had the grilled steak, with fries, and the dim sum set. The steak was cooked to my exact specification, and the dim sum set was very flavorful. This was the highlight meal.
After my first meal, and in between meals, I had my bed made. Once again, the FA left the Dr. Seuss quote on the pillow. This time, however, the flight was kept a bit warm and I woke up various times because of that.
Before my shower, and after sleeping, I decided to go to the Lobby to have coffee and watch some TV. For some reason, they had better reception on the larger screen than I did on my personal monitor. I took a quick peek of the business class cabin, and it was dark with most people sleeping. Because of this, the FAs kept the lobby fairly dark.
Before my meal and after my hour-long stay at the lobby, I went to take my shower. I was giddy, for me this aspect of flying will never lose its novelty. The bathroom was well equipped, with all the basics, but no major decorations or motifs. Everyone gets 5 minutes of water, and those 5 minutes are absolute heaven.
Notes on Service
This crew went above and beyond. They were kind, attentive and proactive. I saw them come through the aisle every 20-25 minutes to make sure everyone was fine. I wanted to see the business class amenity kit, and immediately they came back with one for me to keep. 10/10 service.
Landing and Arrival
As my time with the Etihad Apartment came to a close, I felt very sad to be leaving what I consider my favorite first class hard product. Before arrival, the crew came by and thanked us for flying with Etihad, and asked if everything was to our liking. I could not help but tell the purser about the excellent first class crew. As we began our descent to Sydney, we got AMAZING views of the harbor and the city. WOWZA! Soon after, we were on the ground and at our gate.
Etihad, on this flight, far surpassed my expectations. I had a great time on my previous flight, but this one was amazing. The food was better, the crew was better, heck, I feel the suite was better too, lol. I would hands down recommend Etihad First to anyone, but be mindful that not all crews are created equal. Hope to have a chance to fly them again soon!