Having flown with Etihad on their A380 numerous times before, I was excited to see if their soft product had improved since the last time I’d flown with them.
I arrived to the gate at the supposed boarding time (1 hour before departure) but the gate agents told us that our flight was delayed by 20 minutes. Boarding was called at exactly 14:20 and passengers were boarded using zone numbers via 3 different doors; two doors on the lower deck and 1 on the upper. Boarding was not chaotic in the slightest and quite efficient for such a large aircraft.
I boarded through door 2L where I was warmly greeted by 1 of the 26 flight attendants operating this flight to Abu Dhabi. I was directed to my seat and to my surprise, it turned out I’d snagged one of the best wing-view seats on the plane!
On paper, Etihad offers 17.5” of seat width and 31” seat pitch which felt very spacious and comfortable. My only criticism is that the recline is substandard and, when the person in front of you reclines, you have no space to put anything on the tray table. Regardless of the recline, the seat was fully equipped with everything; A USB charger, a 110V socket, a coat hanger, 2 screens including a 10” wide screen (which I find extremely impressive for an Economy class seat), and a fantastic entertainment system. They offer fast and reasonably priced WiFi, which is especially convenient for passengers travelling on business.
When I arrived at my seat, I found a pair of headphones, a blanket, and a pillow waiting for me. The noise cancelling headphones were pretty nifty, complete with an adapter. The blanket smelt odd but, on the plus side, at least it was in a plastic bag…
As I waited for boarding to be completed, I browsed the entertainment selection, which was excellent. Etihad’s entertainment system – E-Box – has a huge variety of movies, and I also liked how many episodes they have of each sitcom in their library. There’s no shortage of good entertainment options on Etihad. I ended up watching the movie ‘Daddy’s Home 2’ which was really funny. Etihad’s A380s are equipped with 3 cameras (a tail, front and down viewing cameras) which other airlines like Singapore Airlines don’t have.
We pushed back at 15:05 sharp and at 15:26 we were cleared for takeoff. Fifteen minutes later the seatbelt sign was turned off. Our climb was smooth and, soon enough, we broke out of the clouds at 20,000 feet.
1 hour into the flight, the flight attendants served drinks with a savoury snack and an hour later, the dinner service commenced. There were no menus as before. Instead, there was just an option between chicken or pasta but, oddly, the passengers behind me had a choice between beef or pasta. I chose the chicken which came with cold bread, a salad pasta and a chocolate butterscotch mousse. The pasta salad was amazing and the chocolate mouse was even better. The tray tables were cleared 30 minutes after and tea and coffee were offered which I declined.
After the dinner service was taken, I went to the toilets and to my surprise, I wasn’t the only one with that idea. While I waited for 15 minutes for my turn, the flight attendant offered me any drink/snack I wanted. I took had the salad pasta again as it was just so good. In terms of amenities, there was just a hand sanitiser – on previous flights, they offered face mist.
An hour and a half out of Abu Dhabi, we were offered a light snack and a drink which I said no to as I wasn’t feeling too well but it consisted of chicken and spinach.
Half an hour out of Abu Dhabi, the captain came on the PA to inform us that we would be landing 25 minutes prior to our scheduled arrival, that the temperature was 26 degrees and the forecast for the next few days was pure sunshine; a stark contrast to London’s clouds. The crew also started to complete their pre-landing checks and collected our headphones. The entertainment system was switched off to only the map view for the last few minutes of the flight.
We had a smooth touchdown at 00:56 and arrived at the gate 8 minutes later. As I was disembarking, I asked if I could visit the cockpit but I was not allowed as ‘it’s against company policy…’ I bid the crew farewell and headed home.
I couldn’t have had a better experience in economy. The crew all had the biggest smile on their faces and were extremely friendly, attentive, and caring. They were a real treat! Etihad has really improved since the last time I flew them. I would choose to fly them every time over any other airline that operates direct flight to Abu Dhabi.
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