I had used 30,000 American Airlines miles pre-devaluation for his one-way from Dublin to New Delhi via Abu Dhabi in Etihad Business Class. Etihad runs a combination of A330 and 777W on this route and luck would have it I got a 777.
My chauffeur would show up right at the agreed time and was as courteous as possible. This courtesy this morning would not extend to the check-in and security. The Swissport agent was clearly not in her best mood and she could not manage to smile or say anything besides the absolute necessary. Oh well. However the Fast Track security had an equally tough morning and my bag (which had just gone through 20 countries with the exact same content) would be screened and screened again. However it would not turn into another SSSS adventure – I had enough of those SSSS security checks last year.
Etihad has their own Business Class lounge in Dublin and it’s modeled much after the Etihad Business Class Lounge in London. It has the same color scheme and the same lounge seating and restaurant seating. The lounge attendants all were super friendly and worked hard on stemming the tide of passengers that all appeared in short order. The Business Class cabin would be a t full capacity for the later flight at 28 passengers plus I’m sure the odd status passenger had access too.
The 777 is in a 2 cabin layout – an (aging) business class and economy class – there is no first class. My seat choice wasn’t the best – I had a middle seat that opened up into the aisle. It’s a bit like the Swiss Business Class (Review) – each seat has a different config and is either sheltered or opened up a lot into the aisle. There would be one window seat left after boarding and I switched right away. The seat and area felt so much more spacious – almost like the mini suites of Cathay Pacific.
The seat is equipped with the standard Etihad eBox system which has a ton of entertainment loaded. However the screen is far away and rather small – that’s a generation behind modern seats now. So is the remote – it all works but is just a bit tool old. The seat is equipped with power and USB connections.
There was less than 100 feet of taxiing as we had parked literately at the end of the runway and we took off into the windy Dublin skies. The lunch service started right away. My favorite choice the chicken biryani was not available anymore (I was almost the last person to be asked) so I was left with a salmon with tomato confit entree.
I was expecting the starters to come out automatically but they were ‘a la carte’ as well. The flight attendant offered to serve them after lunch. The salmon was ok – just VERY salty and there wasn’t much taste left with the dry and thin air. And just after the main course the appetizers arrived but the Arabian mezze and the prawns were just bite size. I did not like the mezze while I thought the prawns and salmon were decent (bust small).
The dessert came out quickly too with an espresso. Both were pretty terrible. A bitter espresso with no coffee taste and an apple crumble that tasted like it came off the ‘past due’ rack at Starbucks. I feel I had better meals at United Business Class (which is really a low bar).
I asked the flight attendants to prepare another dish for me since I was still hungry and they offered to prep anything that was left from the menu without hesitation. In general any interaction with the service staff was very good.
The tortellini and the meringue dessert fixed my hunger and they both were very good.
I was surprised how close Etihad flies to the Syrian/ Iraqi border – we were just about 100 miles north along the southern border of Turkey in our flight and straddled the border line really close before going into Iran. Northern Kurdistan really hasn’t seen much fighting in a long time so I guess it isn’t as dangerous to fly over.
Later ‘my’ flight attendant came over and was very curious about my feedback and what they can do to improve. She was genuinely interested and hoping to help improve the Etihad product. She mentioned she usually works the A380 Business and First Class and knew a lot more about the Etihad operations than I’d expect.
We eventually made it into Abu Dhabi that showed a crackling 110 degrees at 9 PM with a 30 minutes delay