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Believe it or not, but this was my first Etihad flight! I had never set foot on Etihad before, but during this trip I'll have a number of journeys through Abu Dhabi with Etihad (thanks Etihad Guest!)
Male Airport is just 10 minutes by ferry from the main island. This was my first ferry ride from the airport that wasn't full of water spray. Finally a day at sea the way I imagined the Maldives.
I showed up 2 hours before departure and the Etihad check-in was just about to open. There was a long line for Economy check-in. Business Class check-in is done in a separate premium area where you can sit down (and get some mosquito bites) while the friendly staff check you in. There was even an Etihad supervisor working – someone with a bit more knowledge about the airline's reservation system.
There are no airline-owned lounges at Male Airport and all airlines use the same lounge. It's just after immigration and the duty-free stores. Note that like everywhere in the Maldives that is not a hotel – there is no alcohol. The food was just OK (I was rather waiting for the food on-board so I did not try much).
The internet is extremely slow (and many other places in the Maldives have had that issue). I was typing away writing a review and ignored the super-early boarding which was one hour before departure time. At 40 minutes before departure, the lounge attendant told me to go since it was 'Final Call'. I could not believe it, but I was the last passenger to board! It's amazing how much Etihad stresses early boarding.
I asked the flight attendants why, since I doubted we'd get ATC clearance before our departure time, but they replied that it's usual procedure. Not sure why everyone should stay on board longer than needed.
The A330 in the Manchester City livery was brand new. The Business Class was a lie-flat configuration. It's a bit cramped to get in and out, but you get a pretty long seat that reminds me of the Delta lie-flat Business Class seats.
Champagne was served and the next 30 minutes were filled with lots of cabin announcements. I ordered my dinner with the friendly flight attendant.
The Etihad entertainment system is called E-BOX. It featured the latest movies and lots of TV shows. It also shows live TV for several news channels (incl. CNN and BBC) and I found some re-runs I wanted to catch up on. The system can be used at any altitude, which is something I love.
The flight attendant got my order wrong and I was given the wrong appetizer. I ate it but realized afterwards and got to try my original order as well.
The chicken main course was pretty good – certainly one of the better business class meals I've had.
The cheese dessert was bad though – I mentioned that and got to try the ice cream dessert served as well, which was pretty good.
After dinner, I reclined the seat to a bed and went to sleep right away.
I woke up with the pilot's announcement of our descent into Abu Dhabi.
Landing was almost 45 minutes ahead of schedule and even the slow bus transfer wasn't able to make me late.
Immigration was quick and the taxi lines non-existent.
And then off I was to the Novotel Abu Dhabi Gate for a couple of hours sleep.
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