28th February 2014 at 08:55 #592633
Anonymous28th February 2014 at 08:55 #592634
This Etihad flight leaves @21.50hrs daily, to make the 15 hrs flight overnight to Sydney, arriving the next eve at 19hrs.
We bought Business class tickets from London through AUH to SYD, but a week before we flew, were invited by email to bid for an upgrade into First class. We made a modest Middle bid (a dial in the email you move to your bid, goes from Red through a range to green colour), but only for the ultra long haul sectors.
We were notified 2 days before our bid was successful.
Having looked at the Seats taken at that stage, half of Business and only two of First had been taken. When we flew, Economy and Business were full, so the changes offered them an increase in revenue. A sensible strategy to manage capacity in advance, and avoid upgrades at the airport, maximising and increasing revenue for the Airline.
A Chauffeur car collected us from the Yas Viceroy hotel, at an agreed time, and we were greeted at the Terminal 3 Premium entrance. Bags were taken and we were handed to another staff member with a good welcome, and taken to the First class check in desks, where we sat down on two white leather chairs at a desk with the check in staff member. Another Colleague took the bags and completed all with those.
Confirming the Meals, Suites (1A and 2A), we were taken a short way towards Etihad’s First Class lounge area.
She took us through the private Immigration and security area, dedicated to this lounge, where everyone was very courteous, helpful and engaging, and polite. (We thought how different this was to LHR!)
She left us, stating she would be back to take us to the aircraft at the boarding time.
The Lounge Manager took over, and showed us around the areas. A champagne bar, 5 star Dining area, Spa centre, Smoking lounge, and plenty of comfortable seats beautifully decorated throughout, were some of finest facilities we have seen in any Airport lounge. We booked Spa treatments, and ordered food to dine in the restaurant and they would come to collect us when it was ready. Meanwhile, we chose from a champagne and bar menu, with a selection of Canapes.
A short time later, we were collected to eat. A fine environment, silver service, and impeccable food quality and presentation. We chose fillet of beef, with creamed spinach, Sweet pea, and rosti potatoes,and from the “Taste of Arabia” menu, Lamb cooked with lentils and fennel, and Followed by Baklava. we were chatting to one of the best major Airline leading chefs sitting next to us is appeared, who was clearly checking out the Etihad competition!
There was an excellent choice of fine wines from all around the world, and the champagne menu, but we took the 15 hrs flights into consideration, and declined. Our Spa treatments were called so we had a back and shoulder massage, and facial.
A short while after this, the staff member arrived who greeted us through check in, arrived to escort us to the gate and onto the plane. The end gate of the Terminal it was a good 15 minute walk, and very busy throughout, and at the gate. She took us through gate security, with them asking a few questions only, and we walked to the sides of the queues, where she introduced us to the Flight Manager at the aircraft door, and we were taken to the front to Suites 1A and 2A. She introduced herself, as did the Chef and another crew member, between them they would be looking after us for the entire flight.
The Suite strikes you with the space and colour, and privacy as soon as you view it. These are arranged 1-2-1 across the cabin, with the centre Suites having a partition that can be raised or lowered if you travel as two.
We chose to have suites behind each other for the window, views, and privacy on this long flight.
The link really shows you what cannot be described in words, far better.
The feeling of space, soft lighting options, colours and fabrics used, privacy, and comfort are excellent, better than other Airlines First on BA, QR, QF, MH, TG we thought between us, only SQ we thought could match it. There was also a mini bar, stocked how you wanted at request.
The in flight Comfort bag, for once, had not been scaled back as on many Airlines. It was made in a persian style with hand made traditional leather & arabic fabric, contained excellent branded selections, good fabric eyeshade, socks, and a nice reflection of Etihad itself. The best we have been offered on any Airline.
On the table, were also business cards from the Cabin manager and chef, introducing themselves, and a place to send comments. This was a great touch, honest open, and way above that of other Airlines again, and very professional.
The Chef had asked us to choose from the A La Carte menu, also is available an “Anytime menu” throughout the flight, or we could discuss with he what we would like and she would make it for us, though we chose to have an Asian Vegetarian dinner. She made such efforts and we were presented with over 2 hrs of 7 courses, including sorbets in-between, and multiple desserts each!
The food and presentation was superb and the efforts which she made clear, and both her and the Cabin manager were all on first name terms, clearly enjoying and having fun between us.
We changed into the sleeping suite, which to be honest could have been better, much as the VS black ones, and returned to find the beds made up, with base covers, duvet sets with the black stripe theme, and settled to a good 7+ hrs sleep. We had already made selections for breakfast. It was quiet, peaceful, very spacious and comfortable, and the privacy of the bamboo doors just added that touch of perfection. A First Class without such privacy Suite these days as on some Airlines, is really an inferior product considering the noise and visuals from others, or people passing by which are avoided. This gave an exclusive feel, and total lack of distractions for getting great sleep or just having private space.
The 23Inch cinematic TV at the base of the cabin, worked smoothly had a great array of the most up to date movies, as the other options, and the audio you could choose your music and compile a playlist from a mix of Genres, great to sleep with. The Bose noise cancelling earphones were the best we have used on Board any Aircraft, similar to SQ.
The flight of 15 hrs, meant waking a little and asking for the menu choices that your body told you it needed, sweet, savoury, meals, snacks, even afternoon Tea with scones cream etc, perfect for the mix of time zones and flight length.
We were awoken at our chosen time, and breakfast served as a complete tray, for our Continental style options we had selected.
We had left one hour late, but the flight time was just over 14 hrs, so arrived at Scheduled time into Sydney the next eve at 19hrs. With many thanks on both sides (as the crews said they had much enjoyed us being on board), we left the aircraft first, feeling it was an impeccable flight, one of the best long hauls we have each of us, ever made.
Our baggage was a little delayed, but did arrive First.
The overall feel was indeed that of being “A Guest” and not a passenger or customer, and a good reflection of the philosophy of Etihad, completely Unique and different to others, and one that came to fruition. Etihad do what they say they will.
The Business fare we purchased was a very competitive £2,750 each return LHR-AUH-SYD. This followed Air India and Malaysian in flight cost searches, but Etihad also provide a free night stopover in a 5 star hotel each way, and every extra night is half the best price, which includes breakfast. Add on also the chauffeur cars totalling 8 including the stopovers. This added a benefit of £1,000 of extra services for us.
The FFP Etihad Guest Miles earned, even in just joining, would offer up a Silver level of status by our return. Also they had a triple miles promotion (announced just before we travelled) which covered our travel period, which would give a one way AUH-SYD Business trip.
The “Bid for upgrade”, was successful at £580 each for the one way AUH-SYD sector. This would not be as useful on the LHR-AUH sectors, but for these long haul flights, it is worth Making a firm bid.
Overall, we can only see that SQ would match these standards, but even the comfort kits, selection of A La Carte foods and the quality, and order as you need and like, beats them. It would be one of the best World standards for a First Class. The crew were professional, and impeccable in their approach to you, much time and effort given from first arrival in AUH, to getting off the Aircraft. These were clearly people who enjoyed their work, and were proud of the resources they had to make it so.
The Finest First Class we have experienced or seen, in 20 years of International travel.
SQ come close, but Etihad’s Guest approach, flexibility of food options, and stopover options, cars for all sectors including stopovers, make it unreachable in Value, and an on-going feeling of being well looked after, by a superb Airline, one of The Worlds leaders.28th February 2014 at 13:52 #592635
Great review Marcus
You’ve made me envious, sitting here with my nose to the grindstone
Sounds as if Etihad actually realises what 1st class travel is all about! And makes you wonder what their 380 experiance is going to be like !
Excellent point about your bid option, as a generator of revenue for Etihad. Sounds as if they didn’t do this, a free U/G would have been on the cards at the airport!28th February 2014 at 17:34 #592636
One question…. why on earth would you want to spend 7 hours unconscious…. far too much to see / eat / view / etc…………..28th February 2014 at 17:49 #592637
Excellent review Marcus, I really enjoyed reading it.
I agree, these days F has to have suites and SQ, EK and EY lead the field with no one else to touch them.2nd March 2014 at 12:36 #592638
Thanks Marcus, sounds absolutely amazing.
I am curious as to whether their First Class cabin is profitable overall as it seemed only two of the seats were actually booked at the ‘proper’ F fare when you bid.
However what an amazing deal. I would love to try Etihad, I’ve heard great things about their premium cabins and your review just makes me more hungry for a sample!
How did you find the crew?2nd March 2014 at 22:01 #592639
the crew were very professional, impeccably turned out, polite and down to earth and friendly. I think its our responsibility to build up a good rapport with crews on long flights. Its good when we are friendly and offer out some thanks and exchange what’s going on in the Airline too, take an interest.
one crew member when the others were asleep, and the Crew Manager alongside the chef, looked after us through.
They thanks us as we left as they said “we have much enjoyed you being on board, it has been nice for us and much fun also”.
What more could you ask?
And when we boarded, we received there business cards in a little presentation wallet, to send out comments in to Etihad at anytime.
Very open and transparent.
They are superb, really excellent, and since flying them in 2006/7 firstly, they have just go better. The “Guest” philosophy makes their whole approach completely unique and different. It makes European Airlines look quite cold in their cabins, and sparse on what you are offered in all aspects. What has been removed from services years ago, is fully included on Etihad!
Fares and value in services you receive, surpass any other Airline at this time.
On a 773-ER they have 8 seats in First, 4 of these were taken. But eh Business cabin prior to us flying was only half taken.
So the Bidding had upgraded some into Business, and it was when we left full, as we economy. This generated lots more revenue, and removed the need for upgrades at the airport, load management in advance. Etihad are quite strict about upgrading only when revenue is enhanced, or you use loyalty miles. there may not have been many wishing to pay a fair sum to upgrade to First.
In this respect, and as confirmed by the Manager, the flights were very profitable.2nd March 2014 at 22:46 #592640
We just received the same offer to upgrade to First as we did on the way out. So it seems Etihad produce these about 5-6 days prior to travel.
We stand a great chance as there is an A346 returning, and 12 First Suites in total, only 8 on the 773-ER.
Unlike other Airlines, they Do award the miles and status points if you upgrade. KLM do not at the airport.
Interestingly i received the same model and type of email, for upgrading on Air New Zealand for our flight AKL -SYD. However, I booked us in the Pacific Premium Economy, and wanted to try what is reputed to be the best PE in the Air.
So it seems differentCompanies are offering Airlines these models to increase revenue and mange loads better in advance…?
Or do the Airlines merely adopt a model and manage it in house.
Anyone seen these or know of them?3rd March 2014 at 21:39 #592641
I’m pretty sure Virgin Australia allows you to bid for upgrades as well – but only from certain fare types. I guess it will be something that more and more airlines adopt as like you say it probably reduces the need to upgrade people.
It seems Etihad has it’s sights firmly set on making OZ a major market. They announced today that they will be rostering their new A380’s on the SYD and MEL routes next year. Also they are launching PER-AUH. Not to mention also opening one of their own lounges in Sydney. And on top of all of that they also want to increase SYD to 3 x daily, MEL and BNE to twice daily.3rd March 2014 at 22:12 #592642
A great review, thanks. I am now very tempted to try Ethiad First, which had not been in the top end of my wish list up to now.
Well done with the upgrade.5th March 2014 at 11:00 #592643
Great review Marcus, really wants me to fly with them more. The experience in business has ben very positive both on the 773 and the a346, although the 346 I had to Paris last week had the older (blueish) business seats, still very comfortable although not as pleasing to the eyes as the new brown seats on the 773 I had from AMS to AUH5th March 2014 at 23:18 #592644
The Bid for upgrades, appear to be being used for Direct Airline bookings only. these days, i think far few of us use agents when we pay and book for ourselves or personal Premium travel, so should benefit from these.
Another solid reason to remain booking with the Airline and your frequent Flyer Program direct.
It is an excellent method of Managing Loads factors, and increasing revenue, everyone wins as passengers can gain access From Business to First and economy to Business for the seats free, but also the seats you have vacated! It saves time, and shows planning and strategy, and good financial Management. Etihad do not upgrade under any other circumstance unless it is paid, or a one off as needed at the time of travel, and this ie very rare i am told.
This would stop the complaints from crews and passengers (as recently noted “having to upgrade 60+ passengers on a BA N, America flight”.
Find out in a day or two for the return offer for upgrade.5th March 2014 at 23:59 #592645
Good luck Marcus! Look forward to another report – hopefully another one of F!7th March 2014 at 05:02 #592646
Well in Sydney now, and an email confirms we were successful for the First Bid Upgrade! Again this was achieved with a £580 each seat payment, very good value for a 15 hr flight.
Great, thanks again Etihad!
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