Etihad Business Class Review San Francisco (SFO) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) EY182 777L (incl. Etihad Wi-Fly Review), Cathay Pacific Lounge SFO and Etihad Arrivals Lounge
I had been on the westbound flight (my Etihad Business Class Review) just 5 weeks earlier - this time I took the day time flight from the US to the UAE.
Etihad uses Empire CLS in San Francisco for their complimentary chauffeur service (also on award tickets such as mine). The driver picked me up perfectly on time and the Sunday morning drive was quick (not something you can say about Bay Area traffic ever).
The check-in person was very doubtful that there is a visa waiver for Kazakhstan at first and I need to 'convince' her with me onward ticket that I'd be ready to take advantage of it. She also never heard of TSA Precheck and how a known Traveler ID to my profile for check-in. Oh well - after some back and forth (Sir, we don't have it - please go' the supervisor fixed it and I was on my way to security.
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco (SFO)
Etihad uses the Cathay Pacific lounge in San Francisco (it's the OTHER side of the International terminal without access to the Centurion Lounge, though you can go there first of course). The Cathay lounge is not a happy place in the morning - the breakfast offerings aren't what you want to eat, there is no noodle bar and the coffee maker does not offer espressos. The lounge WiFi is also extremely slow - much slower than the zippy free WiFi at SFO.
Boarding time would be pushed back by 30 minutes because of the late arrival of the aircraft.
When it arrived boarding was quick and efficient and the flight attendants friendly and observant as ever. The flight would only be about half full in Business and Economy giving everyone a little more time.
This time I had brought my fish eye lens which produces interesting perspectives in the these tiny, cramped spaces. Take a look.
I was hungry and started with an item from the 'anytime' list and the main course chicken biryani. I liked it quite a bit - though both items were not exciting and or spicy (as I had hoped).
Etihad Wi-Fly Review
The Etihad seat is quite good for lounging (much better than for sleeping - see my Etihad Business CLass Review for the night flight). I purchased the $21.95 Internet 24 hour package (the service is provided by Deutsche Telekom) and did some work for the next 8 hours. The Internet was pretty stable around 1 Mbit and while not fast - certainly useable. It would cut out later over Iceland but until then it was a delight to work efficiently.
During my 'office hours' I tried the excellent dessert and the decent espresso served by the super friendly cabin crew.
The fight was calm and really uneventful and I decided to have the sea bass for dinner with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. To my surprise both were excellent.
I had the impression that my particular seat was in a better shape than in my last flight and had no backpain after I slept for a few hours before going back and forth between watching TV and trying to sleep further. Once I finally fell asleep for a bit longer the pilot would announce our landing into Abu Dhabi after almost exactly 15 hours of flying time. A few minutes later I was through the eGate immigration and custom on my way to the arrival lounge.
Etihad Abu Dhabi Arrivals Lounge
The arrivals lounge is small but a great way to grab a shower, a quick drink and to have a place to sit before you go to your meeting in town.
Over all I felt this flight was almost perfect. Yes I would have loved a newer seat and more exciting food and a MUCH better lounge at SFO - but everyone did their job during this flight and I felt Etihad delivers a quality, scalable experience that you can trust.