Our flight from Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi departed at around 4:30 AM, which made it almost impossible for me to stay awake for long after we boarded the flight out of India. Etihad operates a regionally configured A330 to Hyderabad, which does not feature a first class so business class was the first to board the aircraft.
Boarding first is always a nice perk when you just want to make sure that you are on the flight before falling asleep. On this particular flight the cabin was only half full.
The seats on this flight are actually not quite lie flat, but they are certainly a step above domestic first class in the U.S and have generous recline. They were certainly more than good enough for this quick 3.5 hour flight to Abu Dhabi.
Upon boarding we were greeted by the purser and served a welcome drink (a fruity lemonade like mix) as well as hot towel on a tray.
Menus were handed out right after and here it is for your reference:
As soon as I managed to take a picture of the menu, I pretty much fell asleep and didn’t wake up until just before landing in Abu Dhabi. I have no idea when we took off or when we finally landed. Just that I had to adjust my seat to the upright position before landing.
Anyway I went over what we did on the ground in Abu Dhabi here and here (specifically the lounges we visited).
We made our way to the gate just before our flight to DFW was about to depart. There was absolutely no rush in getting to the gate since it was right around the corner from the U.S Premium Lounge.
The DFW flight was operated by a Boeing 777, much like many second tier European routes and other US routes. So while this route is no longer served by Etihad, the review is very much relevant.
Etihad Business Class on the 777 has a staggered configuration with direct aisle access at every seat and alternating seats on the sides with one being closer to the window and the other being away from it. I would say this is my second favorite business class configuration after the reverse herringbone seat (which offers the best privacy). I was seated in 7A for this 16 hour flight to DFW (I traded seats with my sister).
I’m about 6 feet tall and there was plenty of room for me to stretch my legs and the cubby hole for the feet was more than big enough for myself.
The other nice thing about Etihad is that the aircrafts have personal air nozzles, which are absent on other airlines. It’s a simple feature that helps me regulate temperature in my own area just a bit. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve flown a premium cabin, sweating from how warm the cabin was kept.
Much like the flight from Hyderabad, the flight started out with welcome drinks, hot towels, and menus. An amenity kit was also given out, I got the Thai themed bag this time.
One of the nice things about Etihad is that dining onboard is “on demand.” This means that you are free to order what you like, when you may like it from the menu. On this particular flight, my Asian Vegetarian Meal wasn’t loaded, but I was more than happy with having cereal or other breakfast items a couple of times from the menu. It is healthier to eat cereal rather than some rice, lentils, and bread anyway
We left Abu Dhabi at exactly the scheduled time and we were airborne almost immediately after leaving the gate. As usual the take off roll was long and slow, as is to be expected from an ultra long haul flight.
As soon as the flight took off, I went back to sleep for a good 7 hours before I was woken up my dad to help out with the sick passenger onboard. We were quite certain at that point that we would have to divert to Iceland or the Northern UK based on how the patient was doing. It was interesting to see that the flight attendants were so busy tending to the on demand dining service that my dad had to call upon me for help with the patient. So I guess it does have its drawbacks in multiple ways.
Anyway the whole ordeal (read more about it on my previous post) was enough to jolt me awake for the rest of the flight. Embracing the idea of being awake for the rest of the flight, I ordered some cereal and breakfast breads.
This was followed by a cappuccino and some Baklava along with some other assorted Middle Eastern sweets. Yes I also got some potato chips with the coffee (I have no clue why). It was important that I stay awake for the rest of the flight, in case they needed me upfront for more help with the patient. So this is one of the few times, I managed to gulp down some Coffee.
After finishing off my light meal, I decided to watch a few Bollywood movies that I hadn’t seen over the past few years and finished off the final episode of Westworld.
Luckily there wasn’t any further incident with the sick patient and before we knew it we began our descent into DFW. Upon landing on this clear but cold evening in Dallas, we taxied to our gate and parked right next to a British Airways 747. It was so nice to know that I wouldn’t have to clear immigration and then pick up bags because I was absolutely exhausted from this two week trip around the world.
Overall, I have to say that I liked Etihad Business more than Emirates Business Class. The seat being lie flat pretty much makes it better than what Emirates operates on this route at any given time. And the dine on demand was certainly way better than the cart style, timely meal service that Emirates operates.
I loved the idea of a continental breakfast anytime because airline vegetarian food can be pretty drab most of the time. Furthermore, it’s so annoying to hear the clunk of cutlery and people walking by when you are trying to sleep regardless of whether you are eating or not. Service on this flight was great and cabin temperature was perfect for sleeping. I would definitely want to fly Etihad over Emirates anytime. I haven’t flown Qatar, but wonder how that compares?
On another note, the Etihad FAs profusely thanked my dad for his service on board the aircraft and promised a reward, but there hasn’t been a single communication regarding that. Not that he really cares, but in the past I’ve noticed that airlines like Lufthansa have provided airline miles as a token of gratitude.
What’s your favorite Middle Eastern Airline? Qatar, Emirates, or Etihad?
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