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An Apartment in the Sky (Etihad Apartment First Class, AA Y, BA J/Y, QR Y)

An Apartment in the Sky (Etihad Apartment First Class, AA Y, BA J/Y, QR Y)

Old Mar 13, 15, 9:33 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: BTR/MSY
Programs: AA EXP, Hyatt Globalist, Marriott LTP, Hilton Gold
Posts: 1,172
An Apartment in the Sky (Etihad Apartment First Class, AA Y, BA J/Y, QR Y)



Back in early 2014, I took my mom on a thanks for raising me” trip to Paris. Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t make that trip due to work commitments. So I decided plan another trip for early 2015 for my dad and I. Since we were both big World War II buffs, I figured a trip to one of sites of one of the most epic battles of the war would be in order. Normandy, to be precise. Paris seemed to be the easiest launch pad to get to Normandy, so I figured we could fly into Paris, spend a day or two there, and then make our way northward to Normandy.

Since the westbound transatlantic flights are relatively short thanks to favorable winds, I decided to just book us Off Peak Economy SAAver Awards, which cost just 20,000 miles and $5.60 per person. Quite the bargain, in my humble opinion. Getting back was bit more complicated, since there was no SAAver award space on AA or US metal in any class of service. British Airways did have plenty of coach award space available, but that also meant paying a couple of hundred bucks in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges plus a good chunk of my precious AAdvantage miles. At that rate, we might as well fly a little more comfortably, so I booked a Business Class award on British Airways back to the states for my dad. As for myself, I decided to get a little more creative.

One-way tickets home from Europe were exorbitantly priced. So I decided to give it a rest for a bit and reevaluate my options closer to departure. A couple months later, Etihad began releasing First and Business Class award seats on their brand spanking new Airbus A380. Availability was surprisingly good and there were several seats available from London to Abu Dhabi on the day I was planning to leave France. Just for kicks, I put an award on hold using my AAdvantage miles. Then I poked around at one way fares from the Middle East and stumbled upon a $561 fare from Doha back to Houston. Those flights booked into AA codeshares, which meant I would earn full AAdvantage miles. Rather tempting. In fact, tempting enough for me to pull the trigger and issue both tickets. So for 40,000 AAdvantage miles and about $700, including taxes and fees from the Etihad award ticket, I would get to experience Etihad’s much hyped new First Class product and spend a couple of days in Doha, a place I have never been to before. Overall, I was saving 10,000 miles but I spent $200 more. But I would earn nearly 8,000 elite qualifying miles and 16,000 redeemable miles, plus get fly on two new airlines on A380s to boot. Not bad at all.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. A week before we were supposed to leave, my dad had something come up at work. And because of that, he couldn’t go on our trip once again. Well that’s all fine and dandy. Just about everything was cancelable, of course for a fee. But my Doha to Houston ticket was non-refundable, and I hated to let that ticket go to waste. I also did not want to miss out on my first Etihad experience. So I decided to go on the trip anyways, though a few tweaks to my itinerary were in order. Since my dad was no longer coming and I too had something come up at work, I ended up chopping the Normandy part of my trip and pushing back my outbound from the US. Though I did lose a good chunk of trip, I still had more than enough time to visit with some good friends on a long layover in London and spend a decent amount of time in Paris and Doha. My final itinerary looked like this.

American Eagle 4344 Houston Intercontinental to Chicago O’Hare Embraer 175 Economy Class
American Airlines 42 Chicago O’Hare to Paris Charles DeGualle Boeing 767-300ER Economy Class
British Airways 333 Paris Orly to London Heathrow Airbus A319-100 Business Class
Etihad Airways 11 London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi Airbus A380-800 First Class
Etihad Airways 399 Abu Dhabi to Doha Airbus A320 Business Class
Qatar Airways 3 Doha to London Heathrow Airbus A380-800 Economy Class
British Airways 197 London Heathrow to Houston Intercontinental Economy Class

I’m going to try something different with this trip report. For all one, maybe two of you, that have read my past trip reports know I’m pretty wordy. Since photo trip reports are all the rage these days, I’m going to go with the format du jour to see if the general population of the Trip Report forum likes it better as well as to expedite this report.

Previous Trip Reports
2014: The End of An Era (JL/CX/TG/QF A380 F, OZ J, KA Y, and a Chinese Bullet Train!)
2014: A Tale of Two Cities (AA 77W J BA Y IB Y AF J)
2013: It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year (AA/MQ F AS Y)
2013: Geeking Out Across America (AA F)
2012: Around The World and From Sea to Shining Sea (AA F/Y, CX F, SQ F, UA F, DL F, WN Y)
2011: Everybody look at me because I'm sailing on a boat (KL J and DL Y)

Last edited by dat4life; Jan 15, 16 at 10:54 am Reason: Add index links.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 9:33 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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My day started off with the 6AM American Eagle departure out of Houston to Chicago O’Hare. But no one cares about an uneventful domestic US flight, let’s pick up in ridiculously cold and snowy Chicago where it was still 10 degrees Fahrenheit under the sun at 10AM. Since I haven’t been in Chicago for awhile, I decided to grab a rental car and head into the city. While the subway would have been far more cost effective, there were some errands I needed to run as well. Thanks to my Executive status with National, I was able to pick any car on the Executive Aisle. I ended up choosing a 4WD Ford Escape, which was actually a pretty nice vehicle.


Yep. I ain’t in Texas anymore.




First stop was Costco, to pick up a few things. Namely a case of Dr. Pepper and Reese’s Pieces for my friend living in London. Ya know, the essentials for an American living abroad. This particular Costco actually had a pretty nice view from the parking lot.


Then it was off into Chicago proper to meet a friend for lunch.






I caught up with my old friend over a nice sushi lunch. Afterwards, I headed to Navy Pier for a walk and to test out my new toy, a Nikon D5300 that I got for Christmas.












Even though I’m a huge beer nerd, I don’t think I could down a cold brew in these conditions.


This was just an iPhone photo I snapped for some reason while leaving Navy Pier.


With a little less than 3 hours to go before departure, I decided to head to O’Hare just in case I hit traffic on the way over. The drive back was pretty smooth for the most part. After arriving back at the terminal, I packed the Dr. Pepper I had bought for my friend into my bag and checked it. Security was quick thanks to Pre Check. Since I knew the food onboard wasn’t going to be great, I am flying coach after all, I stopped off at Frontera’s for a delicious sandwich and mango lime juice.


I dropped byt the H/K Admirals Club to shower and grab a couple of bottles of water, using my drink chits, before heading to the gate. The aircraft operating my flight to Paris, N7375A, is one of the few non-wingleted 767s left in American’s fleet.


American Airlines 42
Chicago O’Hare (ORD) – Paris Charles DeGaulle (CDG)
Depart: 5:00 PM
Arrive: 7:25 AM+1
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Seat: 13H (Economy Class)


As Business Class award space did open up a few days before departure, I thought about splurging for an upgrade since it was a short red eye flight and sleep was at a premium. But a quick check on ExpertFlyer indicated the flight was still wide open, so I decided to try my luck and hope for an empty seat next to me. When all fare buckets were still showing 7 at T-24, I figured I would get lucky and get an empty seat next to me. And I did. In fact, both Main Cabin Extra and the Main Cabin were both less than half full. So I was pretty pleased I resisted the urge to spend the extra miles.

[center]

I love the old seats on American’s 767-300ER. Despite their age, they are still well padded and comfortable. I was able to select a Main Cabin Extra seat for no charge thanks to my AAdvantage Platinum status, so I had plenty of legroom as well. In fact, I find the MCE seats on the 767 to be far more comfortable than the MCE seats on American’s new 777-300ER.

The setting sun made for some nice views during taxi and take off.






About 30 minutes after take off, the flight attendants made their way down the aisle with the pre-dinner beverage and snack service.


Dinner was served shortly afterwards. The entre choices were chicken and rice or vegetarian pasta. I’ve had enough crappy dried out chicken dishes in domestic First Class post September 1st, so I decided to go with the pasta. My tray was missing the plasticware set, so the flight attendant ran up to Business Class to get me a set of silverware from there. The pasta turned out to be macaroni and cheese with some vegetables. It was perfectly edible and filling meal, though not great by any stretch of the imagination. Beer and wine are complimentary on American’s long haul flights, so I ordered a Dos Equis with my meal.


What’s dinner at 38,000 feet without a show? The downside of flying the 767 is the lack of built in entertainment options. So I improvised. Bonus points for those of y’all who know what movie or TV show this is.


Trays were cleared quickly, and the flight attendants made one last beverage run prior to dimming the cabin lights for the evening. When I declined an additional beverage, the flight attendant told me if I needed anything at anytime during the flight, just ask. Quite impressive for economy class.

Before long, I was feeling rather tired, so I decided to shut ‘er down for the evening. I fell asleep very quickly, and woke up with just a little over an hour left in flight. The flight attendants started the continental breakfast service not long after I woke up. I am huge fan of hot breakfast, but for a short transatlantic red eye this was absolutely perfect. It was tasty and filling.


The captain came on the PA to announce our initial decent a short while later, and even apologized for the chop experienced over the Atlantic. Not that the airline or captain had control over that, but a nice touch nevertheless. It’s worth noting the captain was actually a “she”, and this was the first female pilot I’ve ever had in my nearly 650,000 miles of flying.

The sun began to rise as we made our decent.




We touched down gently at Charles DeGaulle a few minutes ahead of schedule. We were assigned to remote gate on the other side of the airport, which meant a long taxi. I was somewhat miffed as the US Airways flight that landed right after us was assigned a gate, but what can you do about it.


I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a date with this very Qatar Airways A380-800, A7-APC, a few days later.


We pulled up next to a Delta 767-300ER.


A couple of fellow economy class passengers were talking loudly about how amazing “first class” looked as we walked through the Business Class cabin while deplaning. I couldn’t help chuckling a bit, but its all relative. Anyways, it was kind of kind of cool deplaning by staircase. Busses were already there waiting for us. I don’t’ know if it’s by design or a happy coincidence, but as soon as I got on the bus the doors were shut and we left for the terminal. It was a short ride to the terminal, and luckily the lines were short at immigration. Bags were already coming out on the belt by the time I reached the baggage claim, and I was onboard the Roissy Bus bound for Opera a little over 20 minutes after deplaning. That’s gotta be a record of some kind for Charles DeGualle.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 9:37 am
  #3  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: BTR/MSY
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Posts: 1,172
Since I just had one night in Paris, I decided to splurge and stay at the much talked about Park Hyatt Vendome. Revenue rates were slightly north of $750 for that night. I didn’t really want to spend 30,000 of my hard earned Hyatt Gold Passport points, but it was a far more palatable solution. Because of horrible traffic, it took nearly 2 hours to reach Opera from the CDG. After reaching the Opera bus stop, it was just a short walk to the Park Hyatt.

A bellman immediately greeted me and took my luggage as I approached the entrance of the hotel. He then escorted me to the front desk, where a gorgeous agent took over and checked me in. Naturally, I looked like a hot mess coming off a transatlantic redeye. Anyways, she informed me that I had been upgraded to a Park Deluxe King Room on account of my Diamond status and the room was currently available. She then went over my Diamond benefits including breakfast and asked what I wanted for my welcome gift. I chose the bonus points. After room keys were made, she handed me off to the front desk manager who then escorted me to my digs for the next 24 hours.

The room was large, even by American standards. I’ve stayed in suites smaller than this.








Appropriately, the bathroom was huge as well.








As expected, the furnishings were top notch with respect to quality and comfortable, though a little dated. I was very impressed with the room overall. That said, would I ever drop $750 or even another 30,000 points again for it? Definitely no to the former. As for the latter? Meh. I have better uses for my Gold Passport points.

After a shower and a nap, I was ready to head out. I was quite familiar with the hotel’s immediate area having stayed in the same area last year.




What’s a trip to Paris without visiting the Arc De Triomphe?






After stopping for a baguette, I headed down Champ Elysees.


Before I knew it, I walked past Place De Concorde and Jardin Tuileries and found myself at the Louvre.




Having visited the Louvre before, I didn’t feel the need to wait in line for tickets again. So I headed back to the hotel to rest up from all of the walking. After a break, I headed back out for dinner at the nearby Le Cap Bourbon, per a recommendation on the Park Hyatt Vendome thread in the Hyatt forum.

I started off with Kir Royale, as they were on special. It was served with a ramekin of green olives and small crackers. Yep, that’s right. Even in Paris, Tabasco is the hot sauce of choice.


I then ordered the beef tartare, which was good. The French fries were excellent. They were lightly crisp on the outside, warm and mealy on the inside, and not at all greasy. Best of all, it wasn’t oversalted.


After dinner, I walked around Vendome again, and headed back to Place de Concorde to see that famous metal tower. What’s it called again? Anyways, it looks even better in the dark. Just like… Never mind.






Beat from the long day, I decided to call it an early night.

An early bedtime meant an early start the next morning. One of the most cherished Diamond benefit at the Park Hyatt Vendome is complimentary breakfast, which could be taken at the hotel restaurant or through room service. Since I had to leave the hotel fairly early to catch my flight to London, I opted for room service. The breakfast benefit covered up to two people for up to 49 Euros per person. I decided on the American breakfast, which included a choice of eggs, meat, juice, and a hot beverage served with Pastries and preserves. I also added an order of bircher muesli, and asked for smoked salmon in place of the meat option. While that would have put me well over the 49 Euro limit, I wasn’t charged for the overage.

The scrambled eggs were smooth and creamy.



The bircher muesli was fantastic, as was the smoked salmon. For my hot beverage, I ordered hot chocolate, which was ridiculously rich and creamy. The mango juice was fresh and sweet.


That was, without a doubt, the best breakfast I’ve ever had at a hotel. After breakfast, I packed up and checked out. While I could have taken the RER to Orly, that would have required a transfer and I was feeling rather lazy. So I fired up my Uber app, and ordered a car. I arrived at Orly 35 minutes later and only 40 Euros poorer, which was around the same price as cab.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 9:38 am
  #4  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
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Posts: 1,172
This flight was the first segment of my Etihad award ticket to Doha. While I could have dropped this segment and just picked up the Etihad A380 flight in London, I would have incurred a change fee on this award and the award I used to fly to Paris for changing the origin/destination of the respective tickets. To add insult to injury, I would have been forced to pay the UK APD as my ticket would have originated in London. So no thanks. Besides, I got a day in Paris out of it, so it was well worth it.

After entering the terminal, I got turned around trying to find the British Airways counter, but I eventually located it. Check in was processed efficiently, and then it was off to security and immigration. I didn’t realize until after I was past security that the joint British Airways and Iberia lounge was actually landside near the check in counters. With less than hour until departure, it wasn’t worth heading there. So I setup shop in the gate area and took advantage of the free wifi offered by the airport. And of course, I did a little plane spotting as well.

Air Europa E190


Aigle Azur A320


This was actually the very OpenSkies flight I booked my dad on.


Boarding was called beginning with Business Class followed by Executive Club and oneworld elites.


British Airways 333
Paris Orly (ORY) – London Heathrow (LHR)
Depart: 10:55 AM
Arrive: 11:10 AM
Aircraft: Airbus A319-100
Seat: 2F (Business Class)


Although it has toiled for British Airways for almost 15 years, our aircraft, G-EUPK, looked brank spanking new on the inside as it had undergone BA’s latest cabin improvement program. The new interior looked quite sharp and even had a “new plane smell”. However, once I sat down, it became apparent that newer isn’t better. Keep in mind that intra-Europe Business Class, or Club Europe in British Airways parlance, is just an economy seat with a blocked middle seat and a meal. This was one of the worst seats I’ve ever experienced on a plane. Its padding was far too firm, and the seat pan was short. To make matters worse, seat pitch was tiny.


Push back commenced on time, and after a quick taxi and take roll, we were climbing out over the suburbs of Paris.




Flight attendants were dinged out their seats almost immediately after take off, and they got hard to work preparing for the service on this short 41 minute flight. Service upfront began with a drinks run. I ordered a mimosa.


A continental breakfast, consisting of a cold cuts and cheese platter and warm rolls, was offered. I wasn’t hungry after my huge breakfast, so I just picked at it.


We soon went feet wet over the English Channel. The sky was clear when we took off from Paris, but clouds started building up not long after we flew past the French coast. By the time we reached the middle of the channel, there was a thick overcast layer.


Surprisingly, there was no need to hold, so we flew direct into Heathrow. The undercarriage settled softly on the concrete runway, and after a short (for Heathrow) taxi we parked at our assigned gate a minute or two ahead of schedule. I thanked the great crew on the way out and then made my way into the maze that is Terminal 5.

I was eligible to use the Fast Track lane at immigration; however, it wasn’t so fast as several longhaul flights arrived around the same time. I finally reached an immigration officer 40 minutes after I deplaned. Unlike my interaction with UK’s Border Force last year, this officer was far more affable and approachable. He shook his head after looking at my itinerary and again when I explained the “why”. Fortunately, he still admitted me into the UK and even gave me some very helpful tips to getting to my hotel, the Hilton London Heathrow T4. Following the immigration officer’s advice, I hopped on the 482 local bus which dropped me off at Terminal 4 free of charge. Then it was just a 10 minute walk to the hotel.

Mid-morning departures are the worst. Although the flights themselves are scheduled to leave at what looks to be a decent hour, they require waking up at fairly early, but not early enough to beat rush hour traffic. My Etihad flight, scheduled to depart at 9:15 the next morning, fell under this category. So I decided to stay at the Hilton over my preferred choice of staying with my friends who lived near Greenwich. It certainly wasn’t cheap at 98 GBP (~$146) for a one night stay, but the premium was well worth it as the hotel was actually connected to the departure level of Terminal 4, which Etihad operates out of at Heathrow.

The hotel itself was a nice modern facility with an atrium style design, kind of in a mold of an Embassy Suites. A lovely agent greeted me as I walked through the entrance, and then proceeded to check me in On account of my Hilton HHonors Gold status, I was upgraded to a deluxe room and granted access to the Executive Lounge, which was located next to the check in counter.

I was assigned room 407, which was an atrium facing room.


The room was of decent and had a pretty cool looking modern dcor. I’m not quite sure what made this room as “deluxe” as it sure looked a heck of a lot like a standard room to me. That said, it was clean and comfortable, and that’s all that I ask for.








I had purposely scheduled a long layover so I could visit my friends, whom I haven’t seen in awhile. As I mentioned earlier, my friends live near Greenwich, which is a long ways from Heathrow. However, they still kindly offered to drive all the way out to Heathrow to meet me. While waiting for them in the front of the Hilton, I discovered a cool feature of the hotel that would warm any avgeeks heart: runway views. Had I known beforehand, I would have brought my long distance lens. But I was still able to get a few good shots with my 35-55mm lens.










My friends arrived shortly afterwards. The first order of business was to make sure the American goodies I had brought over made it safely into their custody. Now that the transaction was completed, we headed into Central London. We had a great time catching up over “linner” and a few pints. As my friend’s husband had just gotten his private’s pilot license and was quite an avgeek himself, we got into a few aviation related conversation which I’m sure elicited an eye roll or two from my friend. Time flies when you’re having fun, and all too soon it was time for us to part company. Instead having me take the Underground back to Heathrow, my friends offered me a ride back to the hotel, which was very much appreciated. T and K, thanks again for the hospitality! Hope to see y’all again soon!

Last edited by dat4life; Mar 25, 15 at 6:54 pm
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Old Mar 13, 15, 9:42 am
  #5  
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: BTR/MSY
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Posts: 1,172
The next morning, I didn’t wake up after 7AM, which was a little over two hours before departure. I was out of the door 10 minutes later, and found myself at Etihad’s check in counters shortly after that. Although the economy class line was massive, there was only one passenger in front of me in the First Class line.




It wasn’t long before the agent finished with that passenger, and beckoned me to approach the counter. I inquired if it were possible for me to have a window seat; however, every First Class seat and the (in)famous Residence would be taken. Boarding passes for both of my flights were issued, as was a Fast Track security pass, all of which was handed over with a smile and a “I hope you enjoy our new A380, Mr. dat4life”.

Security was breeze, and I made it Etihad’s Lounge, located across from gate 10, just over 40 minutes after I woke up. Not bad at all. As with most airline lounges at outstations, Etihad’s lounge at Heathrow was small and basic. It was, however, nicely appointed and even had a small spa offering complimentary 15 minutes treatments. The attendant, who welcomed me into the lounge, suggested that I make an appointment immediately if I was interested in a spa treatment. I took her up on the suggestion and went to see the spa attendant to make an appointment. There was a slot immediately available, so I was led to a treatment room immediately. I chose the back and shoulder massage, which was quite nice.

By the time the massage with finished, the lounge had filled up, and I was unable to find an open seat. I decided to head to the gate, which was conveniently located across the hall from the lounge, to hopefully get a few get shots of the aircraft. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many windows. So this was the best I could do.


This was my first time seeing Etihad’s new livery in person. It does look more modern than the old livery, but it’s also less distinctive and, quite frankly, rather generic.

Etihad Airways 12
London Heathrow (LHR) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Depart: 9:15 AM
Arrive: 8:15 PM
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Seat: 1H (First Class)


Boarding was never really announced, at least while I was at the gate. One of the gate agents saw me milling around the Residence/First Class/Business Class jet bridge and asked to see my boarding pass. Without saying a word, she walked over to the scanner and scans my boarding pass. She comes to hand back my boarding pass, and says you may board. Alright then. Let’s get this party started.


The jetbridge took me straight to door 1L of the upper deck, where a flight attendant was waiting to greet passengers. After glancing at my boarding pass, she asked another flight attendant to show me to my seat, 1H. Though I’ve seen many pictures of it, none of them fully capture how awesome the First Class cabin looks.


The cabin is arranged in 1-1 configuration, with the seats alternative between forward facing window seats and rear facing aisle seats. 1H is a rear facing aisle seat, which wasn’t my first choice, but hey at least I’m in good company as The Resident is just across the aisle from me.


Etihad dubs this new First Class product the “Apartment”. And it would probably some apartments in Japan a run for its money. To have this much room to stretch out on a plane, at least to me, unimaginable until now. Of course, in true over the top ME3 airline style, it was loaded to the brim with just about every kind of bells and whistle available.
















The 24 inch IFE screen is the largest I’ve ever used on a plane, besting the 23 inch screen in First Class on Singapore’s 777-300ER. While boarding, a number of advertisements were played on a loop, including that of Etihad’s partner airlines. For some reason, I really have an urge to fly Air Serbia now.




Flight attendant Christophe, who would be “looking after me on our journey to Abu Dhabi”, came to introduce himself and offer me a drink. I asked for champagne. Christophe returned with a bottle of Champagne Jacquart ‘Rose Mosaique’ Brut along with a champagne flute, ramken of dates, hot towel, and a note from the Inflight Service Manger on a silver tray. The bottle was properly presented and poured. Etihad actually boards two types of champagne for First Class, and Christophe encouraged me to try the other one sometime during the flight.


The rose was good, and I enjoyed a couple more glasses of it on the ground. Pajamas and amenity kids offered a few minutes later. That was followed by a visit from the onboard chef, Karl, who also presented the wine list. He explained that the entire menu was available during the duration of the flight and that all questions of pertaining to food and beverage should be directed to him. Speaking of the menu, here it is.


After the boarding door was closed, a brief prayer for safe travel was said followed by the Arabic coffee service.

I have flown in rear facing seats before, but this was the first time a sky cam was available while I was in the rear facing seat. So my eyes are telling me we’re moving forward, but the rest of my body was screaming, dude we’re going backwards. It was a very weird feeling, and it only intensified when we took off. I did feel better once I turned off the sky cam after take off.




Noise canceling headphones are located in a compartment next to the seat. Airline branded headsets are typically pretty poor in quality, though I found the ones Etihad to be actually pretty good. Inside the headset case was a voucher for free wifi, which was much appreciated. I really don’t understand why more airlines don’t offer wifi to their premium cabin passengers. I used wifi for my phone through out the flight. It was fast enough for minor web browsing and the connection seemed to be stable for the most part.




Karl returned after take off to see if I wanted to eat right away. Indeed I did, as I hadn’t eaten since “linner” the night before. I settled on the fruit plate as well as the full breakfast and orange juice to drink. The orange juice came first. It was presented along with small ramekins of green olives, peanuts, and chips. Olive and peanuts, I understand, but chips? That I don’t get, at least for this setting. The orange juice was fresh squeezed, but too tart for my liking.


Christophe set my table with great precision a few minutes later.


Karl dropped by with “a little surprise to whet my appetite”. You don’t have to tell me twice. I don’t usually face shrimp this early in the day, but I made a one time exception to my own rule. I’m glad I did because it was delicious. Unfortunately, the food service only went downhill from there.


My fruit plate arrived a short time later. It was beautifully presented; however, the majority of the fruit weren’t ripe enough.


The bread basket (plate would probably be the more accurate description) was of a more sugary variety. I had a cinnamon roll, and it was good.


My full breakfast what up next. Like the fruit plate, the presentation of the dish was a work of art. However, everything on that plate was very bland.


It took awhile before Christophe returned to clear my plate and table settings. Nothing to fret about as the IFE system had plenty of content to keep me entertained. I settled on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, which was pretty bad.


In fact, it was so bad that even the presence of Megan Fox couldn’t save the movie for me. I stopped watching after 30 minutes. I then started watching Lucy, which wasn’t any better. So I gave up and just asked for turndown service so I could get some sleep. One of the coolest features of the Apartment is the bench that converts into the widest and most comfortable bed I’ve ever experienced in the air. And with the Apartment doors closed, there might as well be no one else on the plane.


But once I saw that the IFE screen could be swiveled and faced toward the bed, I ended up finding a couple of The Big Bang Theory episodes to watch. There is a second IFE controller located near the window. I didn’t notice this for until we were about to land, so I kept dragging the controller by the seat to the bed which was annoying as I kept on tripping on the cable..
I have to say, I really enjoyed the separate bed and seat setup. It was nice to be able to alternate between the seat and the bed as I pleased, and not have to ask a flight attendant to help each time.


The feature I was looking forward to most on this flight was the onboard shower. After all, I’ll taken showers at airports countless times over the years, why not do that on an airplane. The flight attendant in charge of the shower came around taking requests for the shower room shortly after we took off from London 2 hours before landing, which wasn’t an issue. At exactly 2 hours before landing, she came to inform me the shower room was ready.

My excitement was somewhat dampened when I got entered the shower room. It was even smaller that the other First Class lavatory next door to it. Compared to Emirates’ A380 shower rooms, Etihad’s are much smaller and lacks some of the bells and whistles, such as heated floors. 5 minutes of water is available for each passenger, which is more that enough as long as you don’t run the water continuously.










Nevertheless, it was a pretty cool experience. I headed back to my seat clean and fully refreshed. Karl dropped by one last time to see if I wanted to eat before he closed up shop. I did. In fact, I decided to go all the way with dinner, beginning with another glass of champagne and the Arabic mezze.

To be perfectly honest, it was terrible. The mezze was bland and the Arabic bread was cold and stale. But the champagne was good though…




The soup was probably the best tasting thing I had onboard all flight, which isn’t saying a lot. But it was ok.


For my main course, I ordered the braised lamb shank with mixed garden vegetables. It was ok, but I’ve had much better meals before in the air. While I wanted dessert as well, I was informed that the galley was now closed despite having 55 minutes left in flight.


The hard product was amazing, but the soft product left a lot to be desired. As I mentioned, the food, while beautifully presented, ended up being pretty bland. The crew… well… I’ve had much better. Overall, service was ok, but the crew wasn’t particularly attentive or proactive. They didn’t seem happy to be there, which was later confirmed when both First Class flight attendants and the chef spent the 20 minutes we waited for jetbridges to be attached at Abu Dhabi express frustrations stemming from some of their colleagues. That said, some of the shortcomings can be chalked up to the crew still getting used to the new aircraft. And the less than stellar catering can be attributed to less than great Heathrow catering.

I just had a short layover at Abu Dhabi, leaving me just enough time to clear transit security and have a quick visit to Etihad’s lounge near gates 1-10. It was a satellite lounge, so I wasn’t expecting much. But it was a fairly nice with an extensive food spread, good selection of beverages, and plentiful seating. I just had time for a drink, before having to head to the gate.

Etihad Airways 391
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Doha (DOH)
Depart: 9:55 PM
Arrive: 10:00 PM
Aircraft: Airbus 320-100
Seat: 2D (Business Class)


Wow. Now this is truly a first rate short haul product. It was eye pleasing, comfortable and functional. I didn’t take advantage of the IFE, but there is an on demand system onboard with the screen stows in the armrest.






The crew on this flight was far better than the one on my flight to Abu Dhabi. Hot towels and pre departure beverages were offered immediately. I chose the basil mint lemonade, which was phenomenal.




For 200 mile flight, I wasn’t expecting much. But man was I impressed. Hot and cold snacks were offered. They were both delicious.




We arrived in Doha on time. I thanked the wonderful crew on the way out, and then made the very long walk to immigration. I was through in minutes. Since I arrived at a late hour, I arranged for a car through the hotel, which cost a fairly reasonable $40. I met my driver just outside of customs, and he led me to beautiful Audi A6 for the ride to the hotel.


Last edited by dat4life; Mar 21, 15 at 10:05 am
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Old Mar 13, 15, 10:45 am
  #6  
 
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Excellent Report. Looks like you had a great trip. I'm interested in your perspective on Doha, now that you've visited. Look forward to the rest of the report.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 10:55 am
  #7  
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Really great report! I have an issue with this new apartment. The product itself seems to be outstanding and for a single traveler I cant imagain much more. But if you travel as a couple I find is not so great if it is 1-1. My wife and I like to be near each other. I read on the Homepage you can lower the divider. Is it really possible?
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Old Mar 13, 15, 10:58 am
  #8  
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Great report with fantastic pics. OK, the Etihad apartment is definitely on my "to do" list. Thanks for posting dat4life.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 10:15 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by isaifan View Post
Excellent Report. Looks like you had a great trip. I'm interested in your perspective on Doha, now that you've visited. Look forward to the rest of the report.
Thanks, isaifan. It'll be up shortly!

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Really great report! I have an issue with this new apartment. The product itself seems to be outstanding and for a single traveler I cant imagain much more. But if you travel as a couple I find is not so great if it is 1-1. My wife and I like to be near each other. I read on the Homepage you can lower the divider. Is it really possible?
Thanks, offerendum! I am not sure if the divider can be lowered, but the bench is equipped with seat belts. From what I understand, you can seat up to three people per Apartment in flight.

Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Great report with fantastic pics. OK, the Etihad apartment is definitely on my "to do" list. Thanks for posting dat4life.
Thanks, SFO777! It certainly is an amazing hard product.
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Old Mar 13, 15, 11:59 pm
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Great TR!

Wow, really disappointed to hear the food on EY is bland and unimpressive. That was unexpected.
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Old Mar 14, 15, 12:21 am
  #11  
 
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Perhaps my OCD is kicking in, but did anyone observe the EY table setting is reversed on the second meal compared to the first. The bread plate, salt and pepper etc is on the right rather than the left.

Wonderful pictures, thankyou for sharing your experience. Looking forward to read the QR report once its posted.

Last edited by Descending; Mar 14, 15 at 12:26 am
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Old Mar 14, 15, 1:48 am
  #12  
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Nice, informative TR. Thanks very much for preparing it.
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Old Mar 14, 15, 3:49 am
  #13  
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Thanks for posting this TR.

I am a little torn with EY F. Obviously the hard product is spectacular. However for flights to the middle east, there really doesn't seem to be enough time to enjoy it.
Whilst on a flight all the way to Sydney I don't want mediocre food.


Still who am I kidding? I'll probably end up booking it all the way to Sydney and just pack some protein bars in case the worst comes to the worst
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Old Mar 14, 15, 9:50 am
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Great TR, and Pics. Thanks for posting ^ The hard product is clearly amazing, is the bench bed better than the LH744 bed? Because I love that bed.
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Old Mar 14, 15, 10:08 am
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Excellent report! Really enjoyed the pictures. Sorry the food was disappointing, but the hard product doesn't get much better! Not sure i would like taking off backwards either. Look forward to the rest.
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