Etihad Airways A340-500 (3-class new) Diamond First

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  • Anonymous

    The limo to Heathrow was on time and the driver very polite. On arrival at T4 I was greeted at the kerb by a ground stewardess and a porter to carry my bag. Premium check-in was empty so that was completed rapidy and the same lady offered to escort me to the lounge but I reckoned I could manage on my own.

    The lounge is pleasant with some views though it was night. It’s all waitress service and seems to run smoothly. There is no dedicated First Class section. I took advantage of the very pleasant 15 min free treament at the spa and by the time I got out of there the flight was supposedly closing so there was no delay on boarding.

    At first sight the seat is very pleasant, with plenty of space around you. Personally I didn’t like the privacy screens as their construction means that even if you open them you are somewhat blinkered. It also means you can’t see the crew coming which means you might need to rely on the call bell which I prefer not to have to do. The controls of the seat are very hard to fathom and I never yet knew how to recline the back and had to rely on the presets (which are pretty good). The worst thing by far is that of the 4 individual lights not one of them allows you to read – unless you call holding a book at arms length reading. Very bad design.

    While on the ground I was asked if I planned mostly sleeping or was I dining. I said the latter. This seemed to be interpreted as “in no rush” and we were overhead Bonn before I even got a drink. The food was OK but not startling. They make a big fuss about The Grill but what this means is that if you want something more imaginative than grilled meat you’re pretty well out of luck. And said grilled steak wasn’t so exciting, nor was the mezze. The wines were good.

    After dinner my bed was made up, I changed into the (horrible nylon) pyjamas and slept well.

    On arrival we got off quickly. Whereas in Heathrow (on return) there is someone to pull premium bags off the carousel there was no-one at Abu Dhabi. When I arrived at fast track immigration I eventually found the answer to “why did they stick my baggage tag to that flimsy map of Abu Dhabi airport” That was the Fast Track invite and the authorities were not amused that I had lost mine but grudgingly accepted my boarding card as proof.

    Once past customs there is a dedicated desk and subsequent lounge for limos. You might think this is a nice touch but it simply means that they don’t need to think about getting a driver and car until you turn up. I waited about 15 mins in the not very nice lounge while, I am certain, business class passengers were dealt with and eventually they dragged someone out of retirement and his similarly lack-lustre car with a dodgy transmission. Etihad make a big fuss about non-branded vehicles for you privacy and safety but this one had a huge great advert for Etihad emblazoned across it.

    It wasn’t a bad flight but I think Etihad over-promises and under-delivers.

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