Photo review of my trip from NYC-Kennedy to Abu Dhabi (en route to Bombay)
Hello and welcome to my first ever Flight Report!
My usual preference of airlines from NYC to India has been American Airlines/British Airways. Over the last couple years, I've made several round trips between NYC and Bombay. With the AA devaluation kicking in on August 1 and BA on a race to the bottom, it was time to burn some of the miles and try the Etihad A380 in business which I had been looking forward too for a while. This was only my second time ever on a A380(the first being on SQ Y from LHR-SIN which was great on the Upper Deck)
The travel day began at 5 AM - going for a morning Crossfit session…..today it was 5 rounds for time! Perfect way to burn off the calories in anticipation of the feast ahead!
I was back at home by 7 AM and was caught up on work until 11 AM. As the trip was booked prior to August 10 using AA miles, I was still eligible to get a chauffeur. EY does a great job with the chauffeur service and I was kept informed at all times. The car arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled arrival time of 11 AM and unfortunately I had to keep him waiting as I had a meeting going on. The chauffeur was courteous, offered WiFi and water and advised that as per GPS the fastest route to JFK will be via George Washington Bridge instead of Midtown Tunnel (from NJ).
We reached JFK just before noon and I was dropped off outside the premium check-in. A couple of Air India employees were at curbside with a 'Swagat' (hindi for welcome) service placard. Check-in was quick and easy with some usual security questions
Etihad has its own new First and Business Lounge in JFK - it used to be the old Wingtips lounge - to the left after security. The Wingtips lounge has now moved to the right side of security and is much smaller than before.
I was welcomed in and shown around the lounge. It was past my usual lunch time and I settled down for some food. As a vegetarian - there wasn't much to choose from.
I ordered the Falafel along with a virgin mint mojito (later I learnt, this is pre-prepared and available in the cooler next to the buffet). The falafel was disappointing, hard and over fried. I've had better ones from the street cart in midtown! The split pea soup was good, though lukewarm at best. I was offered a tasteless wheat roll along with it .
For dessert - I had the chocolate lava cake and it was absolutely amazing - not too sweet, hot, soft and with perfect vanilla ice cream!
Around 2 PM - I left the lounge and headed to gate A7 at the lower level. Boarding had commenced for priority passengers. I stopped by the window to take a first look at the whalejet!
First and Business passengers boarded though the upper deck jet bridge. I was welcomed and shown my seat - 20A - a forward facing true window seat in the rear business cabin. Even rows face forward, while the odd rows are rear facing.
As soon as I settled down, a friendly flight attendant introduced herself and offered pre-departure beverages which included fresh juices(not canned) and some mint lemonade which looked and tasted amazing!
Looking out of the window - I saw SQ A380 which will make its way back to SIN via FRA later this evening. A little ahead, I could see another Emirates A380
I walked around the cabin - no kidding - over half the business seats were taken by kids and teenagers. I was surrounded by 2 kids in row 19 who would pay video games and run around through out, 2 infants in row 22 screaming and crying for the first 3 hours. and 2 teenagers in row 21 who had to shout to communicate with each other! Not fun!
The on board lounge had its table removed to facilitate boarding.
Etihad provides a city themed amenity kit from LUXE. On all my 3 trips since its been introduced, I have received the blue Sydney kit! Maybe its a sign I need to visit down under….
I was offered Pajamas (one size fits all) and settled down in my seat - watching some US Pre-Clearance promotional video playing on the EBOX entertainment system
The flight attendant came around asking if I wanted my main meal after take off. I was still full from lunch and opted to have it for dinner instead. It was a long taxi and we were finally airborne around 4 PM - a smooth roll heading east over the far Rockaways…
Around 6.30 EST, having finished watching a movie - I was hungry and opted to have my main as dinner. I requested if I could have 2 of the starters and was told "Absolutely!" with a smile.
The yellow pepper and lemongrass soup was interesting, a bit bland and served with a whole wheat roll, butter and olive oil
Next - I tried the Arabic Mezze - which was nothing special.
For the mains - I had the Indian Vegetarian dish - paneer and some beans with rice which was quite good.
For dessert - I had the chocolate ice-cream while enjoying the sunset views over the Atlantic
At this time, I was tired and turned my seat into bed mode. Throughout the flight, I had an issue with the seat as there was no arm rests!. I was resting my left hand on the storage bins while right hand had no support. I found the seat extremely uncomfortable and several times my legs hit the base of the tv screen. I tried several modes - massage, angle, made the seat cushion soft/firm but could not get comfortable. I think these seats require a mattress pad and a proper pillow.
I slept intermittently throughtout the night and woke up with about 3+ hours remaining and decided to visit the lounge. It was empty at this time and I spent some time there catching up on the Olympic action
I was feeling peckish but none of the breakfast options were tempting. I opted to have the beetroot & ginger juice and eat in the lounge in Abu Dhabi instead
We landed in Abu Dhabi about 20 minutes ahead of schedule. While de-planing, flight attendant informed me usually the same aircraft goes ahead to Bombay. Not the case today as we had a different tail number on my connecting flight.
Terminal 3 was busy. I cleared transit security and visited the EY Premium lounge near gate 35 for a quick shower, an awesome virgin mojito and some lunch
Etihad Airways Lounge
New York - JFK
Abu Dhabi - AUH
The biggest disappointment of the flight was the hard product - the seat. I prefer the 777 business seats over the A380 business studio. Service was incredible (on demand and calls answered within seconds). It's clear though that EY is also in cost cutting mode and AUH airport remains a crowded mess (even at noon). On my return I flew Jet Airways business class BOM-LHR which was amazing - amazing service and their herringbone seats were great for sleep. It's sad 9W has ended their Newark service.
I'll continue to use EY when I can(I appreciate US pre-clearance) - but I don't think I will go out of my way to fly their A380 again.
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