Etihad Airways A340-500 (3-class new) Pearl Business

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  • Anonymous

    The limo transfer from Dubai was efficiently managed through SMS, was on time and had a better car than when in First (see other review).

    Etihad’s dedicated terminal in Abu Dhabi is very smart and I was checked in quickly. I’ve read a lot of horror stories about the lounge being standing room only but when I was in it there were only about 15 others. Having said that the whole terminal was empty and London was the only long-haul flight on the board.

    The lounge is very pleasant and offers all waiter service though at times the waiters looked more interested in the TV than in serving the guests. I boarded late-ish and there was no queue so I was surprised to see the business class cabin absolutely full. I stood around like a hopeful debutante at a ball waiting for someone to take my jacket and only when I grabbed someone was it taken.

    I believe the seat was the old one (sea green colour). So far as I am aware it is in storage space that the new one wins and the space for sitting is much the same, ie very tight. I would caution anyone against travelling in the middle pair of seats unless they are very intimate with other passenger as there seemed to be no privacy screen between the seats and because of the general layout you are cocooned in the perfect little love nest – which might not be what you want with a total stranger.

    I had a window seat which provides a lot of privacy and a few bonus places on the floor to lay stuff. However, I was quickly pulling the seat apart to try to find where on earth these stray bolts were coming from that were jabbing into my rear. Eventually the penny dropped that these were the nodes for the massage seat. To me they felt about 1 cm thick and very noticeable. I spent most of the flight sitting on my duvet. When laid out you are fine as your weight is more distributed but when eating or working all your weight sits on those nasty little nodes.

    Etihad prides themselves on “inspired service” which means, basically, that much is on demand and also that each approach from the steward/ess is specifically for you. That in turn means no trolley appears, ever, and every serving of a passenger requires the crew to make a dedicated trip from the galley to you and back again…. and then the whole thing again for your wine…. and then the whole thing again if you fancy water. This approach works fine if there is a high crew to passenger ratio but Etihad is no different to most airlines. The crew do work very hard but in the end I think the whole model fails.

    The food itself was OK and the wines good.

    On arrival there was a man at the carousel taking premium bags off (which didn’t happen in First in Abu Dhabi). There is a dedicated transfer desk in T4 but, also unlike Abu Dhabi, all the drivers were ready and waiting.

    Once again not a bad flight but it did not come up to the expectation which Etihad had raised in me by their advertising.

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