Tried & Tested

Etihad A330-200 Coral economy

3 Nov 2013 by Tom Otley

CHECK-IN

We arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport at 0800 for our 1020 departure on EY470 to Singapore. We had flown a week earlier from London. To see a flight check of that economy flight on the B777-300ER, click here.

There was a short queue for check-in (around 10 minutes) and once we had checked in we went through passport control and security, and were airside. There is a good selection of shops and many coffee outlets at Terminal 3, though if you want a more substantial meal you need to take the escalators to the level about the duty free shops.

We were departing from Gate 40 which is on the lower level – meaning we would be bussed out to the aircraft. There wasn’t much room by the gate, there just aren’t enough seats for everyone occupying a wide-bodied aircraft.

The flight was full - it was labelled for Brisbane and it seemed the majority were heading there rather than Singapore, so we walked around until we found a quieter area and sat waiting until the flight was called.

BOARDING

We were bussed out to the aircraft and then walked up the steps. We were among the first passengers to get on board, and so had time to stow our bags and find our seats.

There was then a long wait, firstly for all the other passengers to be bussed out, and then because of air traffic congestion “over Oman”. The pilot told us we would not push back from the stand until 1050, and take off would be a 1105.

I noticed the flight attendants pick out certain passengers and offer them newspapers, so I assume they had status in the Etihad Guest programme. For take-off, the screens switched first to a camera view from the front of the aircraft, and then once we had taken off to a landscape view showing Abu Dhabi disappearing beneath us (you could hide these views if you were a nervous flyer).

THE SEAT

We were in row 27 in this two-class aircraft (economy and business). To see a seatplan, click here. Note that although I had understood that Etihad was dropping the "Coral" from its economy class, it is still referred to as such and so I have done so here.

In economy, the seating configuration is 2-4-2 being AC-DEFG –HK. We were travelling as a family of four, and so the middle seats were a good option since we could all sit together, and with the two children in the centre seats we had plenty of room in terms of seat width.

What was interestng is that we had previously flown in a central four seats such as this on the B777-300ER, and thus were in a good position to notice how much tighter it was on the B777-300ER (or, to put it another way, how much more space thre was on this A330-200). There was definitely more room on the A330-200, though some of this might be psychlogical since the aisles are wider on the A330-200 aircraft when compared with the B777-300ER when it has 10-across.

The economy section of the aircraft is in two cabins. There are no washrooms or galley between these cabins. We were in the first of these, about halfway down the cabin in row 27 DEFG.

The flight was almost full, but there was plenty of room for overhead bags, I think because a lot of people were going down to Brisbane and had packed all their belongings into checked baggage.

These economy class seats are pretty comfortable. When you recline them they do actually recline, though the seat itself moves forward slightly to create a greater degree of recline. Of course, you do disturb the person in front of you – and are disturbed if someone does it to you in the seat in front of you, but it is still possible to eat and watch a film even with the seat in front of your reclined.

The seats have in-seat power for working. I was using a UK plug and although this fitted into the adaptor, it did not charge my laptop. I mentioned this to the flight attendant and she said it was because we needed an adaptor and she would bring me one which she eventually did after the meal service. The connection wasn’t great but at a particular angle it worked and the computer lasted long enough for me to finish my work.

I had enough room to work on my laptop throughout the flight, although once the seat in front of me reclined it became more difficult. The seat also has USB power which you can use to power devices (good for iPods and iPads), and both phone coverage and wifi access. I wasn’t interested in making phone calls, but I did investigate the possibility of wifi.

Etihad Airways inflight wifi

It was easy to use, since my laptop located the home page http://www.etihadwi-fly.com/ which in our case had information on the destination weather (Singapore) and also live text news as well as plenty of information about Etihad and its loyalty programme, as well as giving a running update on how long I would remain connected (5 hours and 49 minutes of the flight when I first logged on).

The price for wifi access was $21.95 for 24 hours access or $11.95 for one hour. All of this was offered through T-Mobile.

Etihad Airways inflight wifi

I did want to connect, but I thought the price was quite high and so just worked offline.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

The front row (15) seemed to have more leg room, but was also close to the toilets which meant so far as seats A and C were concerned, people tended to congregate nearby, and also of course the washrooms were right in front of you. This was also where the baby bassinets were, and on this flight there were some babies on-board, although they were very quiet.

If travelling on your own, then a window seat may be a good choice, though note to access the washrooms you would have to ask the person in the aisle to let you out.

The front cabin of economy is over the wing, so views aren’t great unless you are at the front of the cabin, but in the back cabin you get engine noise so it’s debateable whether that’s worth choosing.

THE FLIGHT

On board were flight attendants wearing orange pinafores to signify they had extra training in dealing with children, and they brought the kids meals which we had ordered. The menus followed.

Food and drink:

Appetiser

  • Char siu barbecue chicken on marinated vegetable salad.
  • Warm bread

Main course

  • Fried fish with black bean sauce with steamed rice, courgettes and medlar seeds
  • Chicken biryani with aromatic rice, fried onions and cashews.
  • Penne pasta in tomato and mushroom sauce topped with cheese and bread crumbs (V)

Dessert

  • Cardamom [sic] mousse with pumpkin compote

Café service before landing: selection of sandwiches.                 

Beverages: Choice or white and red wines, Dewars whisky, Bacaradi Run, Beefeater gin, Absolut Vodka. Beers: Heineken, Foster’s, Kronenburg. Juices: Orange, apple, mango, tomato, Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, 7-up, Soda, tonic, ginger ale, still water, filter coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, Dilmah teas: Ceylon, Green tea, Lemon and lime, Decaffeinated (coffee, I presume).

The choice of meals ran out many rows before us, with both pasta and chicken choices exhausted, so it was fish or nothing. Some people in the row in front chose nothing rather than eat fish. I had the meal and it was very tasty, though only slightly warm after the long wait in getting to us. I understand especially if someone were flying on to Brisbane why they wouldn’t want lukewarm fish.

My Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system wasn’t working properly, so I asked for it to be reset, and once this had happened (which took about 10 minutes) I watched a film while waiting for my food, and when that had finished carried on working. (on the return flight, I mainly watched live news from the BBC - a new feature (see news item here).

ARRIVAL

We arrived only a few minutes late at Singapore Changi, once again enjoying the view from the nose camera as we came in for the landing.

It was a fairly short walk through Terminal 2 once off the aircraft, and there was no queue at immigration – there were enough desks open that every passenger was processed as they arrived. I thought that might mean a wait at the baggage carousel, but our bags appeared within a few minutes and we then had our bags scanned before going through to find a taxi.

VERDICT

A good flight with excellent staff. There were problems with IFE which were sorted, with laptop power needing an adaptor, which they found for me, and the meals, which they couldn’t do much about because not enough had been ordered of those likely to be popular.

etihad.com

Tom Otley

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