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Review: ORD to AUH and back on Etihad - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Review: ORD to AUH and back on Etihad - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Old May 4, 2023, 5:01 pm
  #1  
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Review: ORD to AUH and back on Etihad - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Recently flew from ORD to AUH and back on Etihad on their A350-1000. I am going to present this list as a list of Pros and Cons, along with the bottom line.

Pros:
-Check in at T5 at ORD was flawless and the airline staff was wonderful. My Precheck was recognized, luggage checked through to the final destination and my miles correctly credited to AA.
-The lounge situation is improved, utilizing the SAS lounge instead of the lesser Swissport lounge. The lounge was fine, with snacks, drinks and finger food on offer. Plenty of seating, nice views of the ramp and a pleasant staff. It is what I would expect at a remote outstation in a non-hub city and is along the lines of a Priority Pass-type lounge.
-Boarding was on time and a PDB was offered (but not a hot towel) and the crew and food was amazing on the way there.
-The hard product on the A350-1000 is 5 stars out of 5 for me. The sliding door provides nice privacy when sleeping and the footwell is large enough to sleep on my side.
-US Preclearance at AUH on the way back is a game-changing convenience, allowing us to land back at ORD as a domestic flight with no customs or passport control.

Cons:
-Terminal 5 at ORD is a nightmare. It's cramped, under construction and when the flight landed as a pre-clearance flight, we landed right back at the same gate at T5 and it was total chaos. The entire plane emptied out into the cramped concourse and we had to make our way downstairs to the cramped baggage carousel 12.
-There is no Uber service to T5, so everyone had to get on the train to go around to T2. That meant either waiting in a long line for the elevator with your cart, or lugging it up the escalator and onto the train. It was a preclearance flight, why couldn't Etihad drop us at T1/2/3? I am sure it's because of no gate space, but still. The ground experience on the return was as bad as it possibly could be.
-The flight on the way back ran out of breakfast food 2 hours before landing. This made no sense. For an airline that offers dine on demand, there should be more than enough food loaded at their hub.
-No slippers, pajamas or mattress pad. Should be offered on a flight this long.
-The soft product on the way there was better than the way back. I had to ask for service instead of being pre-emptively checked on.
-The Business lounge in AUH was crowded both times with not enough seating and the food was very lacking. This is one area where Etihad needs to step up its game. I actually left the lounge at one point and went into the airport to eat.


Bottom line:
For the price paid, it was good value and I would fly Etihad again.
Carfield, SeeBuyFly, Gengy and 1 others like this.
AsiaTravel2019 is offline  
Old May 5, 2023, 2:07 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Thanks for the report!

Lack of pyjamas, slippers, mattress pad are all downgrades, but running out of food is the worst. There was a much-publicized such event years ago when they ran out of food because they upgraded some economy passengers and they spent the whole flight ordering from the DoD menu. But that wasn't the case here as far as we can tell.

I am surprised to hear that the AUH lounge is that overcrowded. I have seen it crowded but not so bad that there is no place to sit. Of course I don't know if they have moved the lounge to a smaller space.

Regarding Precheck at ORD, I see that there is no way to enter my KTN in the EY reservation. Last time I flew EY was before the pandemic, so I can't remember how it is done, maybe the number is entered at OLCI?

Regarding Preclearance at AUH, it is actually useless for those of us who have Global Entry. EY hassles everyone, GE or not, to leave the lounge and go through immigration as early as possible. And upon arrival in the US, we are not used to being the same as everyone else...

Last edited by SeeBuyFly; May 5, 2023 at 3:53 pm
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Old May 6, 2023, 3:27 am
  #3  
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I actually think the food at their AUH lounge is ok. There are meat dishes, veggies, various breads, fruits, and there is a bar to get your alcohol. It is not as good as Emirates or Turkish, but it was as good or better than most lounges in Europe or in the U.S.
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Old May 6, 2023, 1:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Mama
I actually think the food at their AUH lounge is ok. There are meat dishes, veggies, various breads, fruits, and there is a bar to get your alcohol. It is not as good as Emirates or Turkish, but it was as good or better than most lounges in Europe or in the U.S.
I didn't mean to imply it was by any stretch bad, but I think the type of food on offer is down to personal taste.
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Old May 6, 2023, 1:18 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by SeeBuyFly
Thanks for the report!

Lack of pyjamas, slippers, mattress pad are all downgrades, but running out of food is the worst. There was a much-publicized such event years ago when they ran out of food because they upgraded some economy passengers and they spent the whole flight ordering from the DoD menu. But that wasn't the case here as far as we can tell.

I am surprised to hear that the AUH lounge is that overcrowded. I have seen it crowded but not so bad that there is no place to sit. Of course I don't know if they have moved the lounge to a smaller space.

Regarding Precheck at ORD, I see that there is no way to enter my KTN in the EY reservation. Last time I flew EY was before the pandemic, so I can't remember how it is done, maybe the number is entered at OLCI?

Regarding Preclearance at AUH, it is actually useless for those of us who have Global Entry. EY hassles everyone, GE or not, to leave the lounge and go through immigration as early as possible. And upon arrival in the US, we are not used to being the same as everyone else...
My KTN came over with my reservation at booking. You're right, there is nowhere to enter it once the reservation is made. I am sure the check-in agent could enter it in. TSA Pre is a must at ORD to avoid the circus.

Global Entry along with flying business class got me to the front of all 4 EY lines before we left AUH. You're right, had I been in economy, I would have been waiting forefer in a Gen Pop line. But I was able to go to the front of every line. In addition, the Global Entry kiosks were just like the US and the CBP officer put us through no problem. It was nice to arrive in the US as a domestic flight, albeit into the horrible T5 at ORD.

I would fly EY again, but perhaps make sure you order all of your Dine On Demand meals before the food runs out.
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Old May 8, 2023, 8:04 am
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Thanks for the report!
ezhang is offline  
Old May 8, 2023, 2:55 pm
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saldy no pics.
Marschel is offline  
Old May 8, 2023, 3:24 pm
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by Marschel
saldy no pics.
Salty?

There are some photos in a recent over-the-top OMAAT review (flight was "stellar", "phenomenal", etc.)
https://onemileatatime.com/insights/...usiness-class/

It does claim that there will be a mattress pad "later this year". Sure, like the midfield terminal.
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Old May 9, 2023, 12:12 pm
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Originally Posted by SeeBuyFly
Salty?

There are some photos in a recent over-the-top OMAAT review (flight was "stellar", "phenomenal", etc.)
https://onemileatatime.com/insights/...usiness-class/

It does claim that there will be a mattress pad "later this year". Sure, like the midfield terminal.
"Sadly". Not hard to figure that one. Not looking for 3rd party pics...
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Old May 9, 2023, 11:06 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
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Wow thnx for the write-up. I will be taking ORD-AUH in a few weeks as well and share my findings. Hopefully I will avoid the T5 chaos!
Surprised not even slippers!
drivngwhisper is offline  
Old May 10, 2023, 9:57 am
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We have just done MUC-MEL return in J for an amazing price. One amazing crew and three flights where they seemed to be just going through the motions. The 777 cabin seemed to be a bit tired but the 789 and the 78X were really good. The lounge in AUH was OK both directions with food choices and available seating. Overall we were happy because of the price we paid but it could have easily been a lot better.
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Old May 10, 2023, 11:24 am
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Originally Posted by Gengy
We have just done MUC-MEL return in J for an amazing price. One amazing crew and three flights where they seemed to be just going through the motions. The 777 cabin seemed to be a bit tired but the 789 and the 78X were really good. The lounge in AUH was OK both directions with food choices and available seating. Overall we were happy because of the price we paid but it could have easily been a lot better.
Seems it is only ex LHR and US that's still silly money then
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Old May 13, 2023, 7:49 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Gengy
We have just done MUC-MEL return in J for an amazing price. One amazing crew and three flights where they seemed to be just going through the motions. The 777 cabin seemed to be a bit tired but the 789 and the 78X were really good. The lounge in AUH was OK both directions with food choices and available seating. Overall we were happy because of the price we paid but it could have easily been a lot better.
I had a FA serving my rows of J cabin. She had a heavy accent (I am guessing Indian accent??), I couldn't understand anything except the keywords such as "drinks", "desserts". She wrote down my choice of appetizer, and at the meal time, she came to me saying she messed up and gave away my appetizer to another passenger. She apologized.
oh well.
BTW, many EY longhaul routes(9+hours) now only have one meal, plus an anytime menu which is always steak sandwiches, or nuts, ice creams etc. This anytime menu never changes.

Last edited by Mama; Jun 3, 2023 at 7:13 pm
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Old May 28, 2023, 12:45 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Flew this route a couple of days ago. Unlike the OP's flight, hot towels were offered. Otherwise everything the same, all good except bathrooms are full for the last hour of the flight.

$20/1200 miles internet was a bit strange. I could never connect on my phone but my Windows laptop worked fine if I used Edge to login rather than Firefox. Reconnection is slow, best to prevent the laptop from going to sleep. No way to transfer the connection to another device. WhatsApp would not work at all, maybe to prevent voice/video calls---unless I used a VPN. But I did not try calling on it, only messaging. I am not sure if WhatsApp works under the messaging-only plan.
SeeBuyFly is offline  
Old Jun 1, 2023, 10:46 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
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I also flew this route a week ago. I was also offered hot towel, but no mattress or slippers as mentioned above. One odd thing was even though they asked me what I would want for dessert, I never actually received it and didn't realize until I got off (maybe because I was already full from the other food).

Overall service was good.
I also used the AUH J lounge, and thought it was good. This was on a Wed's evening and while it got busy, I wouldn't say it was super crowded or as bad as complaints I had read online.
drivngwhisper is offline  

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