23rd October 2014 at 15:00 #592711
Anonymous23rd October 2014 at 15:00 #592712
Etihad have two flights a day from CDG, at 11am, and 22hrs using A 346 Aircraft. Compared to LHR, they have some superb Premium fares, which are between 10-50% cheaper at various sale times, quite some saving.
Etihad offer Chauffeur cars each side of your trip, and two free night stopovers in Dubai or Abu Dhabi complimentary, again with chauffeur transfers. This add at least £900 of value if you actually paid for these, and include the FF miles, and the level of service, i think provides one of the best Airlines in The World from Europe.
An easy LHR flight with Air France was my choice of connection (or several other Airlines from other london Airports), but not choosing to book my luggage through due to different Classes of travel. Although connections and the trek between terminals is very time consuming at CDG, it helps as i hold a Flying Blue Gold card, so fast track security and Immigration, which makes this far easier and at times an hour of queuing!
This is my 3rd trip with Etihad from CDG in the last 6 months, and with Booking ahead in Pearl Business, or Diamond First, saved £500- £1,800. This flight was the beginning of a trip to Sydney, and amazingly i managed to book a fare in August for Euros 2,034, so around £1,500 return in Business class, having spotted a special sale.. Upgrades on the last trips were either able to be bid for to a Diamond First cabin model, and your miles can also be used subject to availability. This flight was completely full, in all cabins, so this was not possible.
Check in was easier than my last trip to Kuala Lumpur, where at the 3 hrs time, huge queues had formed, though Diamond First has a different and quiet desk, as a maximum of 12 cabins are on the A346, but also pearl Business Class, and no one in front of me. The Etihad Guest Gold card i have also enables check in here even for Coral Economy. The staff member stood up and welcomed me, extremely polite and courteous, with another Senior Etihad Staff welcoming me back. Check in was straight forwards, and efficient, though i had already chosen my seats when booking, and Etihad do not charge for this unlike other Airlines. You can also check in on line 24 hrs before. You can check through with with AF/KLM and several other Airlines, but owing to the different classes of travel and having a back broken into at CDG outwards i did this separately.
CDG is as mentioned time consuming, and though Terminal 2C is where Etihad Check in, then you actually have to go to gate A51, which leaves people wandering around if you do not know. there are gates C80+, but you have to go for A51- confusing.
Through the Duty Free store, and immediately you see a sign for Lounges on the 2nd floor, with Lifts and stairs. It is beautifully decorated and lit as an atrium, with Emirates, Cathay, Etihad Airlines there also, with brand new lounges. I believe Etihad spent E 110 M on this lounge.
As you enter, again staff stand up great smile and a warm genuine welcome. They firstly offer Dates and Arabic coffee at the desk, and confirm your entrance, as well as Chauffeur car if you are stopping over in Abu Dhabi.
The lounge design is chic, floor made from white marble, and much effort in design, colour and fabrics, and is very similar in style to the Diamond First lounge in AUH. A restaurant area has several styles of seating, with bench style window seats for single travellers, 2/4 seat tables with chairs, and a sofa style area. Service is swift as staff levels are high, with at least 5 people working in this lounge, very smart, extremely courteous and polite, helpful, and welcoming. These people clearly enjoy their work, and have a great environment to work from. the bathroom and shower areas along a single corridor, are also impeccable, with even each toilet cubicle having a wall inset at the back, a vase of fresh flowers, and coloured wall with gem coloured tiny tiles. Molton Brown toiletries were available, throughout this area.
The Menu, was brought over as soon as i sat down, a daily soup,and a choice of 4 main courses, from Beefsteak, Chicken with Mango, several desserts, and a vast array of fine wines, champagne, tea and coffee menu. There is also a salad buffet, with Arabic offerings, various breads, and a cheese Board.
They are small and finely presented portions, of the highest quality. there are plenty relaxing sofa seats, and even when full it never feels crowded, with the entrance around a curve so it is quiet. Staff constantly offer you drinks, and the area is impeccably clean and tidy, due to the diligence and high staff ratio.
Wi Fi, and several Apple Computers are also available in a small private area. One of the best Lounges in Europe, i can only think the Virgin Clubhouse came even near, especially with a restaurant before flying.
Boarding for this A346, was through two different walkways attached to the front and middle doors, Diamond First at the front, and Business and Economy through the Middle, with a left or right turn, so quick smooth and no queues. Again Etihad operate quite unlike other Airlines with such common sense, so boarding Economy by seat row, which means within 20-25 minutes the flight was fully boarded, allowing everyone to settle easily and with good time, no stop starting as with other Airlines that simply no longer bother.
I chose 9k in Pearl Business which is behind the First Suites, and last window seat, on a staggered formation, 6 across. Every seat has direct aisle access, and this seat being the last is quiet private, and has a cupboard and larger surface, as well as overhead space. Three windows to the seat, and a good cosy space with TV on the end of the foot stool. The seat reclines to various positions, individual controls, massage, and is fully flat.
Etihad have large "Humbug"- black and white striped soft pillows, and a soft large blanket.
Entertainment is easy to Navigate, though very US orientated with little British Comedy or dramas, but also good Indian, and Arabic options, audio, and maps, and camera for pilot view take offs and landing, and one underneath.
Excellent wines, fine champagnes, and beverage selections with coffee and tea menus to choose from. For this 6 hrs 15 minutes flight, there is a good selection of dishes, also options as and when you wish. I had pre-ordered an Asian Vegetarian, which was superb, with the main course full of fine ingredients, fruit, flavoured rice, and one of the best i have had recently.
Again, thanks to Etihad's service and efficiency, all orders were taken for post take off drinks and food before we had even taken off. Their fine Toiletry bags in the hand finished Arab style with high quality items inside.
Mood lighting with many shades add to relaxed and soft a feel on Board, these being displayed and varied colour to colour before you take off. No overhead lockers in the Middle of the Business and First cabins, so a great feeling of space, seats offering intimacy and you really do have privacy and peace.
(I know in First you have a larger selection as well as Etihad Pyjamas).
Take off exactly on time, but then everyone was on 30 minutes before and so well organised, so food was promptly served with drink, individually brought on a tray by crew. there were 4 crew for the Business section and an F & B Supervisor, with a Chef in First.
the flight was uneventful but i felt great privacy and quiet, slept for the few hrs after dinner and a movie, and the crew woke me an hour before landing for breakfast. Tasteful smoothies, cereals with choice of milk, pastries and breads, fresh fruit, a hot option, with the menus for drinks and fresh orange juice. I had a Late coffee in a huge glass, which was perfect.
I strongly admire the "Guest" mentality of Etihad so crew deal with one person at a time, and it feel very personal and they never miss anything out. Good leadership and teamwork on Board. they also have a Nanny for kids but thankfully not needed in Business.
Landed on time, thought gates are precious at AUH and the 2017 Midfield project is coming along fine, it dwarfs the whole of LHR 2-3 times, so we had no bridge at this very busy time of 6.50am. Very busy time for connections, most worldwide leaving by 10am.
Fast track Immigration took 5 minutes, and luggage arrived within 5 minutes of being at the belt. As i was flying to Sydney, i took the two Nights at a 5 star hotel in Dubai, and the Chauffeur car already booked. You choose these on line when you book, and arrange all in your overall itinerary.
However there is Also a New Arrivals lounge, only 2 months old, just before you exit or meet the car service. I walked past it last trip, and as some hotels stick by the rules about Pm check in, I stopped in this lounge. It was very quiet with around 6 people in, but would seat around 50. I was welcomed, my Chauffeur car checked again for me, and shown around every detail, a concierge took my trolley of bags to store for leaving, at least 10 shower rooms, and steam pressing of your clothes with a cupboard to put them in, and they are taken and returned the other corridor side. A great chance to freshen up, then breakfast of cold selections, fine juices and hot drinks, all brought to you with again plenty staff if you wish, or self serve. I found many countries' leading newspapers ready, even The Times for today, not bad at 8am local time! Well done Etihad.
I highly recommend stopping here if you stopover in AUH, before you exit, it is one of the finest lounges i have seen, same style as in paris and The premium Terminal at AUH, and the friendly welcome was terrific, and overall an impeccable standard.
The Concierge insisted on taking my trolley for me, we exited through a different door, towards the Chauffeur desk, where my card and booking were lined up ready, and handed to him. I was allocated to a very comfortable large 4 wheel drive for the 50 minute drive to the Dubai hotel. At the hotel, the room was not ready despite an early request, but i offered to Upgrade to a Business Club room, so was ushered into a Business Lounge on a Mezzanine floor, with all the Business Offices, meeting rooms etc. Welcomed, i sat for 20 minutes with a Fine tea, and was shown to my room.
I stay 2 nights before being collected by car again, for a late evening flight to Sydney, and a long 15 hrs stretch. So this complimentary stopover in both directions was very welcomed and ideal.
Strangely for me, I cannot fault any aspect of this first sector of 4 worldwide with Etihad. They really have a Hotel guest philosophy, that stands them well out from many of The World's best Airlines, and none come near in Europe. Ground Facilities, Lounges,restaurants, transfers, hotels, impeccable food and service, and always remember whatever you pay for your fare, all of these valuable extras come with it, and your miles. The efficiency, ability to bid for upgrades, and everything from your first to last contact is organised so well, and with such welcome and courtesy.
Etihad have my loyalty and Business for Long haul travel from Europe, and my now Gold card offers fine benefits. the remarkable fact is their fares cost no more or certainly less than many other good Airlines from Europe long haul travelling East. No wonder the Asian Airlines and European, have had their Business taken. They are profitable, certainly unique with a hotel guest style of travel, and most flights i take are full.
The new innovations for their A380 starting to London in 2 months, and then Sydney in May 2015, and 787, all with a new livery, A "Residence", First Apartments, Business Studios, and revamped Economy put them far ahead of other Airlines. They are one to watch for the future, building an alternative to an Alliance with their own investment program in other Airlines, such as Alitalia, now formed into one FF program in the last weeks. Also unique in their growth and investment, and highly successful for an 11 yr old Airline.
Amazing value, Impeccable facilities, admirable teamwork with high quality motivated crews and ground services no other Airline matches. Abu Dhabi desperately needs more gates and space but it is coming, hardly a week goes by without an announcement of expansion, investment, innovation, or progression of Etihad, so it is fast developing.
Well Done Etihad, and i cannot wait for my mic of First and Business on the remaining 3 sectors to from Sydney and back to CDG. It is a great adventure and retains the pleasure of travel far left behind by other Airlines, when you are the Etihad World of travel.
Getting on an Air France plane, takes me back 20 years and the entire opposite in every aspect when i return, compared to Etihad!25th October 2014 at 07:38 #592713
I forgot to add, they have a barber, and a full shaving service within the arrivals lounge at AUH also!27th October 2014 at 04:42 #592714
Marcus, how is the AUH lounge these days?
My last trip (March) I was in Pearl Business and the outbound flight was connecting at peak times. The ONLY seat posisble was at one of the business computers in the back.
On the return flight there was not a single seat available, even to sit and share a table with someone else.
With the A380 coming and announcement of new routes, this just puts even more pressure on the lounges.
This I feel is a huge let down to Etihad and their onboard product, they really should look into a temporary solution until the new terminal opens in 2017.
I was at New Doha last week, where the lounge seats 1,000 !27th October 2014 at 14:46 #592715
thanks for your message.
I also passed through 6 weeks ago, and the First and Business lounges like you mention, were well over capacity. But, typical Etihad, they already were building through towards the gates at gate 35, a new lounge. It combines Business and First now they told me, and then First will go through all the old lounge areas just after security.
It is beautiful, contemporary, stunning seating zones for work, sofas, dining, and impeccable colours and clearly MUCH money has been invested.
I would say it is 4-5 times the size of the previous lounge, multiple dining areas with over 100 tables of 2 or 4 places each. Chic and minimalist bar as in Paris, very high ratio of staffing, and a new bigger spa centre.
It is fabulous and taken great time to think through, and it works very cleverly, with restful yet welcoming feel and colours in the design.
A great improvement, and i cannot see this lounge which will become Business only would seat less than 1,00 probably more. It is on the corridor to the gates, so if you go backwards after you leave it can be against the crown at the late eve an early am peak times.
But much improved, i agree the old lounge was far too small, chaotic and no sense of space.
Etihad have responded very well, invested for the best and it looks it, and the old Premium First and Business Lounges are being formed into One First Class lounge, so that will be the size of both in one in the coming months.
i really feel and see innovation, and the “guest” philosophy come through with Etihad, and they are developing, expanding, like no other in the World.
I am in Sydney now, but coming out of the lounge 48hrs ago, i thought “That is one of the best contemporary, and now spacious lounges in The World!”
i hope you benefit and feel the same when you next travel with Etihad, a superb Airline, and pioneering in Ground services. You will not at all be disappointed!
i am coming back First Class from Sydney, and last trip just missed the new Sydney Lounge, Which i presume they will share with V Australia’s International Terminal flights. Londons is also nice, Paris better with not buffet but restaurant, but this top them all, making Airlines like Thai and SQ, look very old fashined.
i think Etihad are way ahead and impeccable, and show standards others will never reach.
Also the new Arrivals lounge is a real treat, not many use it, but is has a Barbershop shaving service within, steam clean & press whilst you shower, and is an intimate quiet arrivals area. Very handy off am flights, as many Hotels stick to PM check ins, and freshen up, have breakfast etc
It is after baggage, and before you to to the Chauffeur desk in The Premium terminal, so i highly recommend trying this also.
I hope that has been helpful.28th October 2014 at 16:17 #592716
Excellent review thanks Marcus. Mrs JH and I have a trip to SYD booked with EY for next year on the A380, will report back in due course.28th October 2014 at 16:45 #592717
Good choice John.
here is a link to the Etihad lounge which opened a few weeks ago.you will see some of the Colour scheme and style, but currently combined with First as the two older lounges now closed, will be converted to one First lounge facility.5th November 2014 at 14:24 #592718
The Sydney Lounge need s a review, i missed its opening by a day last trip.
No doubt they are modelling on the same as in AUH, CDG, and about to improve LHR. Be very interesting to see, compared to their use of the Air NZ lounge before, that was more like a holiday camp breakfast cafe!15th November 2014 at 01:06 #592719
Thanks for the review. I’m flying on Etihad on F from CDG as well in a couple of months time and really looking forward to it. I’ve booked a one way ticket but in hindsight I should have booked a return. Oh well, next time!
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