Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I have been catching up on reports of trips made last year and this series will be exactly that. This series of flights was special for several reasons. First, the timing. My family was expecting a new member in July of 2016 so this window of time was my last chance to enjoy some flying for a while. Second, as a "last hurrah", it was an all points on deck sort of affair where I simply pooled every point currency I had available and sought to exhaust them into a grand adventure. Through the luck of my timing I beat the devaluation cutoff of both AA and the Alaska and Emirates. Finally the trip was loosely based around A380. The first class cabins on these machines are nothing short of spectacular so let's have a comparison.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
This was my first time doing and inter-terminal transfer at LHR. The word in the blogosphere is that it's a circles of hell experience that no human should have to suffer through and the the UN Human Rights Council should take action on. For me, I got on a bus, then,+/- 11 minutes later, I got off.
Etihad First and Business Class Lounge
Security screening was fast, no fuss about the liquids in my amenity kit collection(only one so far…). This is my first ever visit to T4 but the signage was good and I located the Etihad lounge quite quickly.
Please forgive me for the lack of pictures in this lounge. I'm not sure what happened. perhaps there was an error on my part in transferring the files. Normally my FRs are lounge heavy in coverage, but not this time.
The lounge was moderately busy when I arrived. My first stop was the Six Senses Spa to schedule my complimentary massage. There was only a short wait so I assumed a seat near the spa entrance and was called after 10 min. I had a 15 minute back and neck massage and it was fantastic. I returned to the lounge a melted mess of relaxation.
While the lounge had roaming servers bringing food and drink I decided to sit in the dining room to sample some dishes. I'm more comfortable eating at a proper table at the proper height. I was quickly shown to a seat and presented the following menu. the a la carte options are few but there is also a substantial buffet. I think having a made to order menu in a combined F & J lounge is quite nice. Since this trip the a la carte feature may have been "enhanced" away… 1
Eager to experience the service I requested the potato and parsley soup and the gnocchi.
I was offered bread from a basket.
The soup was really quite nice. I great vibrancy from the herbs and richness from the creme fresh yet somehow not heavy.
The gnocchi wasn't as good. The dumplings were very chewy and the sauce was underwhelming.
I made my way to the gate with much anticipation of a trip on this very special airplane. Etihad F on the A380 is such a unique and prodigious experience.
Boarding the upper deck you enter into a service area that is between F and J. I present my boarding pass and am welcomed by name and handed off to an escort to seat me. This is my second trip on this configuration and I have been able to select forward facing seats that are closest the window both times. It is my preference for window views.
The suite has an abundance of storage and convenience features. A drawer for small item storage and another chilled drawer for beverages.
A rack for additional small item storage.
The vanity is absolutely replete with storage possibilities.
Lighting options are varied.
Processing your space can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe I'll have some people over later? As I tinker and marvel at it all I am introduced to several crew and of course offered a beverage. As an absolute creature of habit I request the champagne (2005 Bollinger La Grande Anee) and still water. It is served on the signature EY silver tray along with a towel and welcome note. The dates and Arabic coffee came a little later and I consolidated them here.
The amenities are offered and accepted, thank goodness for the handy bag.
I spot early on that I'm in the hands of a very competent crew. When I leave my seat to go to the lav to don the pajamas one of the FAs quickly offers a garment bag for my street clothes. This type of proactive service is what differentiates average from exceptional. Anticipate a need and act on it.
I change in the smaller, no shower, lav with a cool lighted changing table for your wee little Etihad Apartment customers.
Decked out in my sleek black Etihad ninja attire I return to my seat and have a look at some of the other features. The rather low end headphones.
The touch panel suite controls in the armrest.
Situational awareness is critical to all aviators.
The rather fetching South-Asian Chief Purser distributes the menu and wine list. Shall we peruse? 1
And to wash that down:
Isolated in my suite I lose track of the fact that I'm on a giant flying machine and we are assembled there to fly. Boarding is complete and we're soon pushing back for departure.
A short taxi later we're in Dubai. No, not really.
The tail cam is an avgeek's dream come true.
The eager crew is quick to begin service with an offer of beverage. In some strange out of body experience I order a martini. Unfortunately it's not a dry martini as I am accustomed to so it doesn't suit my tastes. Beautiful presentation.
I go back to my safe space with the Bollinger.
Etihad First is a complete dine on demand experience. I opt to dine after takeoff in the interest of maximizing sleep and still enjoying this absolutely decadent product.
My table is promptly laid. As is my neighbor's.
Our chef, a friendly Australian fellow, drops by to discuss the dining options. He offers to mix match and create however I'm not truly taken by anything on the menu and opt for a simple steak frites. This sounds so wonderful to me with a lovely red wine. I also tell him that the smallest of portions is preferred as I tend to enjoy small bites of as many items as I can. I also request a miniature version of the mezze because, well, when in Rome.
Start off with a very satisfying 2010 Pomerol.
The chef's amuse is delivered next. It's a pea terrine. Lovely texture but otherwise unremarkable.
The tiny mezze is next. This type of customization is where you can really appreciate the on board chef concept. All of the flavors here are familiar and bright.
A palate cleansing sorbet was offered next. What fun.
Then, the saddest of steak frites. Dry, chewy beef. The potatoes were completely void of texture and greasy. There was very little positive to say about this dish. Even the Bearnaise couldn't save it. In a way it fit perfectly with my tasting menu concept as I only managed a taste.
The cheese stands alone. Or almost. Only two cheeses?
totally unimpressed so far I decide to press on to dessert. The name "Textures" is too enticing. It is in fact a satisfactory sensory experience. The presentation is excellent and the flavors and textures keep you interest too.
While the parade of unremarkable food was disappointing the service was top notch. In that tradition my bed was setup immediately upon request. The bed, for some reason, isn't as comfortable as you would expect based on appearance. It's somewhat narrow and rather firm. I enjoyed a few hours of sleep.
I allowed my sleep to be interrupted in order to experience the novelty and luxury of a shower at 38,000'. No, it's not as spacious as the Emirates shower suite but still…it's a shower in a commercial airliner. The lav with the shower is well stocked with amenities.
Additional items are added when you are called for your shower appointment.
My shower was somewhere over Iran.
Back at my seat I am offered breakfast. Of course i give it a go, I'm not going to skip an experience. We're about 90 minutes from AUH and the sun is just beginning to display it's intentions.
I request the English breakfast, and the table is nicely laid and coffee is served. Nothing too revolutionary here. The eggs are cooked on board and were correctly done to my over-medium specification. Who doesn't love a toast caddie?
The sun is showing itself and we're making our last vectors to line up AUH.
Touch down is hardly perceptible and we're on taxi to the terminal.
It' has been a nice flight on a spectacular airplane. I bid farewell to this most uniquely outfitted machine.
Etihad Airways Lounge
London - LHR
Abu Dhabi - AUH
The Ground Service: There is no ground service to transit passengers. Perhaps originating LHR traffic gets something?
The Lounge: It's a nice lounge for J passengers and an average lougne for F passengers. I suppose that tells the tale of virtually all shared F and J lounges. The spa treatment and a la carte dining are both welcome features.
The Cabin: Outstanding. F is about space and privacy and this product is second to none (The Residence notwithstanding).
The Crew: A very international mix of young and energetic flight attendants. Their service was excellent.
The Food and Beverage: This is where Etihad falls down for me. I don't mind if the menu is not full of caviar and exotic ingredients. If the food is high quality and well executed I am very appreciative. This flight offered neither.
Overall: An apartment and shower on board a commercial aircraft. What a world, what a world.
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