I had booked my AAdvantage business class award on an Etihad A380. At the time, Etihad was planning 3 daily flights on A380 aircraft, but after many schedule changes, the flights are now mostly operated by A340’s instead. This isn’t a bad airplane at all for a 7-hour flight, but it’s not an A380 either 🙂
The gate was just on the other side of the Etihad Airways First & Business Class Lounge, which is a nice touch; no roaming the crazy Heathrow Airport for your gate.
After unpacking my amenity kit and playing with the seat controls, I realized that the first and business class cabins were both completely full. However, the business class cabin must have been half-filled by toddlers. It seems those cheap award tickets have given families a chance for affordable business class travel, which is something I love to see, although crying babies and toddlers always raise anxiety on a red-eye flight.
Pre-departure, I was served a custom aperitif and my favorite magazine – The Economist. The pilot announced a 15-minute ATC delay, but this was London Heathrow after all – so we were off to a good start. What could go wrong?
This was the first time for me that there was a baby in the same cabin who cried so much and for so long. The poor little thing was certainly not a fan of flying and cried every 15 minutes – very loudly – throughout the cabin 🙁
For dinner I selected the chicken biryani and the Arabic mezze. The mezze was as bland as it gets, but the chicken biryani was quite good – full of flavor – and the yogurt helped too, though I wish the dish would have been spicy as well!
I found the Etihad inflight entertainment system on the A340 to be so slow. My remote was partially broken so that I could not move the cursor up easily – it needed some tricks. I timed it to see how long it took to switch from a movie to the map and then back again and it came out to 5 minutes – that’s how annoying it was.
I managed to watch an hour of American Soldier and fell asleep – only to be woken up later like clockwork by the crying baby next to me.
The Etihad Business Class seat morphs into a lie-flat bed and the thick blanket is of great, soft fabric. Given the comfortable pillow, the seat normally makes for a cozy sleep, but it’s a bit cramped and turning onto your stomach isn’t really an option.
The service during this flight was outstanding, with smiling flight attendants who spoke fluent English and provided service on the dot. I also received a small handwritten note about my connecting gate, which I hadn’t experienced before.
I missed breakfast on the flight unfortunately and finally got up when the landing in Abu Dhabi was announced. There was no holding pattern on this hot morning and I was thrown into the crazy crowds at Abu Dhabi Airport at 7.30AM. There was a huge line at security, but it moved very quickly thankfully.
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