We flew Etihad business class from Brisbane to Paris and Barcelona to Brisbane on our holiday in Europe. The holiday was great but how were the flights?
They were long, so long! Our journey to Paris was 28 hours, door to door. I don’t sleep too well on planes so that doesn’t help. Some people seem to be able to sleep the whole way. The lucky ones! I didn’t watch any movies as I couldn’t seem to find any that I really wanted to watch but I filled the hours by reading. I find it’s a great opportunity to lose myself totally in a good book. Even though I am retired, I don’t get that chance as often as I’d like.
On both routes we had a two hour stopover in Abu Dhabi. It’s not quite a long enough break if you want to have a shower and freshen up as we like to do. By the time we disembarked, walked to the transit area, found where the next gate was and then found the lounge, we had about an hour and that’s not quite enough. I’d rather that though than have a five hour lay over.
So what of the airline’s performance? On the way to Paris, the flights were on time but our departure from Barcelona was delayed because we had no crew. That wouldn’t have been such a problem if an announcement had been made saying that boarding was delayed but that didn’t happen. Boarding showed on the board so everyone rushed to the gate only to stand around for 30 minutes until the crew arrived and they prepared the plane.
I found it annoying that in Abu Dhabi, the home of Etihad, we couldn’t disembark directly into the terminal but rather had to negotiate stairs and then be bussed around the tarmac for what seemed miles. The same happened in reverse when we were leaving.
Checking in on Etihad in Barcelona is not easy. The taxi dropped us at our terminal but we couldn’t see the Etihad counter so we asked at information and the pleasant lady told us we had to go down two levels to counter 821. Well, we followed the signs, we thought, went down two levels and were out on the footpath. We eventually found our way back in and found the counter. It was a bare concrete area. Not very welcoming. All that, with all of our luggage, of course. After Check-in we then went back up two levels, found our gate and the lounge. It was breakfast time and we were hungry by this time but there was very little food to choose from. What was most disappointing for me was the lack of any dairy-free milk to have on my cereal and in my coffee.
Sleeping arrangements on the plane are ok. The bed is completely flat and so you can stretch out comfortably and I did manage about four hours sleep. David did much better. I do enjoy the beds on Singapore and Emirates where you have a mattress but this arrangement was satisfactory.
One meal is served on each leg and then there are all day offerings of things like omelettes, steak sandwiches, cereals, breads and pastries. Again, I prefer the food on Singapore Airlines but this was ok. However, still no dairy alternative on offer. Surely today, it should be standard practice to offer soy or almond milk.
Most of the crew have been very friendly and helpful but two seemed to find us an inconvenience when we asked for something.
One advantage of flying Etihad is that we can amass Velocity points which means we can travel more comfortably at home in Australia. This is the case with Singapore Airlines too.
We are so lucky to be able to fly business class and enjoy this comfort and service and Etihad have looked after us pretty well. I think though that should we be lucky enough to travel overseas again, it will be with Singapore Airlines.