First trip with Etihad in J

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  • cotswoldsw

    My travel has always centred around Oneworld, historically with BA; then with CX; and more recently with QR. Earlier this year however, having retained BAEC Gold, I decided to try the competition and see if my alliance loyalty was misguided. Back in March I was planning a trip to Sydney/Melbourne and was curious to experience SQ or EY. At that point, I don’t think any of the cuts to EY’s service had been announced, EY beat SQ on price and the chauffeur service tipped the balance in EY’s favour (I’m about 90 miles from LHR).

    The original flights were booked for May but I had to rebook for later in the year. I had to change the flights again at some point in August. It was only after changing the flights and paying the applicable charge in August, that I was told I was no longer entitled to the chauffeur service, as per EY’s cuts announced in July. Equipped with my rudimentary (read long forgotten) grasp of contract law I challenged this and was only listened to once I vented my spleen on twitter (all previous emails going ignored). To EY’s eventual credit they reinstated the car service but made clear that any future changes to the booking would result in losing the benefit.

    My booking was for LHR – AUH on EY12; AUH – SYD on EY454; MEL – AUH on EY461; and AUH – LHR on EY19. All straight through save the connection in Abu Dhabi.

    On the day of departure, a very comfortable and new BMW 5 series arrived a few minutes early and had me at terminal 4 about two and a half hours before the flight. Check-in was hassle free and security was far quicker than the last time I went through T4. Aside from buying some new headphones (Bose Quiet Comfort 35, highly recommended), I headed straight to the lounge. I found the lounge to be on the small side with very few spare seats. I sat down for some breakfast and ordered the shakshuka. Bizarrely, it was only the food that was table service and I had to get my own coffee etc. I found the portion size small and the egg (singular) was terribly overdone. Overall, I thought the lounge was average, as was the lounge at AUH. The lounge in MEL was a much better offering, great bar and proper a la carte dining.

    Throughout the trip boarding was always prompt and hassle free. Greeted at the door of the aircraft (all sectors A380) but never shown to my seat. I have to say that I loved the seat. I had pre-booked seat 12K for all sectors and was very impressed by the privacy. EY’s A380 business cabin is 1-2-1 across but the window seats alternate between being forward facing right next to the window (even numbers A or K) or nearer the aisle and rear facing (odd numbers C or H). Similarly, the centre seats alternate between being right together in the centre, forward facing and away from the aisle (even numbers E/F) and being closer to the aisle and further away from your fellow centre seat passenger, rear facing (odd numbers D/G). Given that I was travelling alone and always prefer a window, A or K seats were the obvious choice. The seat came with an average sized pillow and a great blanket. Menu and bottle of al-ain mineral water with the seat. Usual glass of champagne (Billecart-Salmon, although I note Onemileatatime reporting that this has since been downgraded), juice or water offered and food orders taken pre-departure.

    This post would be far too long if I went into detail with each sector so I will try and generalise. Each flight was busy, if not full in J, aside from MEL – AUH, which was half empty. The levels of service on the quiet Melbourne flight were streets ahead than the others. It was pretty much as expected, personal and attentive. On the other flights I found the service slow and on two occasions my drink orders, to be served post take off, were forgotten. I suspect this was because I didn’t want to dine straight away and the crew were caught up with meal service. I thought the service was hit and miss. On the final flight back to London I wanted to order some food, no cabin crew in sight and a 10 minute wait before the call bell was even acknowledged. The food itself was consistently good and well presented. The main meal options always seemed to coincide with departure time, which is fair enough. However, on the flight into LHR, which lands at 1300, I would far rather have a main meal lunch, as opposed to a much earlier breakfast, which simply wasn’t an option (although this might be due to having just had breakfast on previous flight).

    Amenity kits weren’t provided on the shorter legs, which may be because they were day flights. Certain elements (socks, eyeshades, tooth brush) were available on request. The kits for the night flights were good enough but pyjamas are clearly a thing of the past.

    I didn’t try the communal bar area nor did I bid for an upgrade on any of the flights.

    My biggest complaint about the trip was the chauffeur service upon arrival at SYD being a no show. Sent round the houses to try and speak to someone and then fobbed off. Told that the driver was there; then told he had gone to the wrong terminal (which was clearly rubbish as Sydney only has one international terminal); and then told he was minutes away, which he wasn’t. Ended up wasting about 50 minutes and $60 on a taxi. EY ignoring me in respect of my request for reimbursement etc. The only time they respond is when I send a message on twitter, but nothing ever comes of it.

    Having completed the trip, I won’t be switching allegiance from Oneworld. The chauffeur service (when it worked) was the biggest plus but that benefit has now been withdrawn. I did love the privacy of the seat but in all other respects I think QR offers a far superior product and the service on CX, in my opinion, is far better. I don’t know if my expectations are unrealistically high having experienced fantastic flights and service with QR but I couldn’t help but constantly compare and then regret my airline choice. If only QR always addressed you by name in the same way CX does…


    Hi cotswoldsw,

    Thank you for letting us know about your trip with us. Could we have your case reference number so we can follow up on this for you? *Sky


    Thanks Sky, 590358. I’m impressed that you monitor this forum. However the pessimist in me notes that Etihad only replies when I post something in the public domain.


    Interesting thread cotswoldsw.

    I can’t take seriously an airline that ignores clients unless they take to Twitter or a public forum.

    Shame because with EK starting to slip a bit I had started to look a bit at options. As you say QR is one but their issues in the GCC make them a no really.


    Thanks for sending us the case number. We can see that your case officer is currently investigating with the Chauffeur Team to see why the driver was a no show on that occasion.
    As soon as the investigation is complete, she will get back to you.
    We’ll also chase your case up for you. *Sky


    By way of update, Etihad has offered “as a gesture of goodwill” to reimburse the taxi fare. I’m struggling to see where the goodwill is in this gesture? Is it not simply repaying me so I’m not out of pocket following their mistake?


    I did book with them to fly from BKK to AMS return, but cancelled when they took away the limousine service, how can they call this an improvement?


    Sorry to hear about your experiences. The MEB3 were very good in the 2008-13 era and have fallen since. For some reason the hype still strongly precedes them.


    Having flown with Etihad since its first year, i would say it was truly different then, and would market itself as a “Boutique Airline”.
    That has long gone in my experience of them in recent years.

    Having been a Gold member with them, i flew several times a year down to Australia from Europe, various airports, aircraft. in both Business and First.
    I introduced many others to them, equally impressed at all the aspects of travelling with them, that made them different.
    As you mention, the limousine service, the great seating, dining and spa’s in their lounges, on board eat when you wish services, the bar, Suites, bathrooms and showers, every little touch they made a difference…all now being cut out!

    Frankly i had emails full of absolute lies regarding their frequent Guest program, when they started to cut back. “Due to a computer program error, we have been awarding members with a % of miles when they purchased a fare using part miles part cash”.
    Absolute rubbish, it was policy for years and fair. I could then go through every aspect of their service that they have cut back, spa’s chargeable, elivated miles and add on charges for miles redemption seats, buffet foods in their own brand lounges “Feedback shows our customers prefer this”, just untrue.
    Yes pyjamas do matter when they were branded Etihad and of good quality, actually a great marketing, but not the black equal to a cheap straight in flight sock with no shape to it, as you have now!

    I flew long sectors, with their best coming through on the AUH- Australia services, more on the A380 aircraft. they still run 773’s with a generation back of seating, as they do a small 332 into Amsterdam from AUH, so where you fly from and which Aircraft, shows major differences.
    Their First cabin was one of the best in the World, but the ground experience now annoys me so much, that i would prefer a lesser space and fly other Airlines, such as Garuda’s First, where the service is impeccable on the ground Worldwide.

    Etihad have failed to regenerate Alitalia. They have failed to regenerate Air Berlin. They have lost $ BIllions as a result, and so sweeping costs have blown through the Airline. In the process,it has swept away all that was different, or felt comfortable, of high level of service, and good value in their own Brand of Etihad. All Airlines have cut back, and some are now starting to give back being more comfortable financially and having brand status, such as Garuda, Singapore, KLM…

    So on my last trip which was First MEL-AUH, with family in Business, it was so apparent from start to finish, the cut backs, and i discussed this with two Senior Australia Managers in their Lunge prior to take off.
    They reluctantly looked sad, could really do nothing but agree with the many points i raised with them.
    I decided to finish my Use of Etihad 2 years ago, when being lied too regarding the FFP, and charged $AUD 20 for an extra 2 KM in a car from Sydney Airport, to friends i stayed with, which they said had been reduced from 50 – 40km! I had a First class ticket, emailed when i was flying saying i would have to pay this, and harassed by the driver when i was in the car.
    It was rude, arrogant, petty, and that was enough to sum up the Airlines direction for me to cease using them.
    Friends and colleagues have found the same. they are also no longer booking with them, and letting their FFP go.
    More cuts to come i see, and more falsified charges, almost becoming like a low cost Airlines with add ons now, even in Business and First Class.

    I flew Garuda a few days ago ex LHR -JKT, and booked an excellent £1,575 one way fare to Australia, with a stop in Indonesia.
    I bid for a First upgrade, and for £275 got this, and it was superb.
    Personalised from reaching the Check in desk, to the car at the hotel in Jakarta, even immigration was done before i arrived at the desk by the two staff escorting me through. On board was not as large as an Etihad Suite with a 773, but it was comfortable private, service was natural and anticpated my needs before having to ask. The on board comforts were all in place and to a high degree of quality.

    It brought home how poor Etihad have become, and they will be realising this with a sunstancial drop in demand to fly them from all over Europe.
    So Etihad, IF you do read these mails, then you will know why if you mislead and cut back,, they will leave, and fly other Airlines. You are no different if not worse than others now, and that is why your customers are leaving. That is why you are cutting back flights, and lower capacity Aircraft, loyalty towards you has dropped as you show none to your customers, and you are no different to others, and charge far more.

    No, it is not a strategy that works in 2017!

    kresna prana


    I agree that EY is losing its shine and sparkle. EY used to be my first choice, not only because I’m based in AUH, but because it never disappointed me. Th at’s until recently. I’m not talking just about the perks that they decided to remove from premium passengers, but even the onboard experience has noticeably gone downwards. In my last two experiences with them in short-haul J, the crew couldn’t even explain to me what snacks they were serving. Last month I flew in Y from FRA-AUH, and the entire F & G seats’ IFE didn’t work. Haven’t flown EK for years, so not in the position to judge, but I flew QR J for the first time in January this year, and in all four legs (including 2 short hauls), the service was just outstanding. I was addressed by name (and I had no status in their loyalty program or anything affiliated with it), the cabin manager took time to talk to all passengers, and even helped caring for a passenger’s crying baby, and all F&B were graciously served (not in a rushed manner like EY). I only stopped flying QR because of the political feud between Qatar and the UAE.

    I’m also increasingly agitated by the slow response of their customer service. Been chasing them (through the dedicated EY Gold email address) to credit missing miles from a WY J flight I took in June, and weeks later, a response saying they don’t credit miles for WY flight arrived. I pointed out that their website says the opposite, and I’ve been receiving miles for all my previous WY flights. They promised to get back to me, but I’m still waiting for response until now.

    I still fly EY purely for convenience and as long as the destination is within a direct flight, but I’m becoming more and more open with other alternative options.

    Kind regards.


    Just been informed from another travel reviiew site, that Etihad have had a catastrophic failure during their “Guest program ” upgrade!
    “Etihad in Disarray when Guest Program Loses All/ Mlost Email during IT Upgrade!”

    Many emails / addresses have been removed for accounts, and other data on their members has been completely lost, and passwords also wiped.
    it means sending an email to the new interface to replace your password with a code, to your registered email adress, which the Airline database no longer has!

    Yet another failure, and chasing up responses for the Robotic answers just became even less likely.

    A falling decline in every single aspect of the Airline!
    Loyalty Lobby describe it as “Typical Etihad Incompetence, an cheapest providor upgrade with disastrous conqeuences!

    I am pleased i have left them!
    If one of the ME3 are going to fail, to me it looks like Etihad is clearly failing in every aspect, and most likely to go.

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