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I had been on the move and up in the air for almost 3 days since I had left Aitutaki and I was still miles from home. After arriving in Jakarta I had to pick up my luggage and check myself in again. This time I would be flying in Etihad business class!
The flight would be onboard an Airbus A330-200 from Southeast Asia to the desert of Abu Dhabi. This is my review and how I experienced this flight.
After landing in Jakarta I went through security in a breeze. This time I knew exactly where to go and which papers were required. It saved me from a lot of hassle. I had learned my lesson during my 7 day mileage in December 2015. It was a matter of minutes before I was waiting for my suitcase at the luggage belt.
As usual it was busy and hectic at Jakarta airport. I had to walk out of the arrivals hall, nice opportunity to get some fresh air. Well it depends on your definition of fresh air of course as the humidity was close to 90 percent! Coming out of an airconditioned plane, the heat hit me like a brick wall… As I had printed my boarding pass at the Asian lounge in Seoul, I had no issues going through security.
I only had a short connection time, but after check in I still had a couple of minutes to get myself a drink at the lounge and check my e-mails. After that I set off to find my gate. Now you will need to have your carry on luggage scanned at every gate at this airport. Even after this X-ray check, you will need to walk by another security officer who will check your passport and boarding pass. Then before you enter the pre boarding area, you will need to show all your paperwork again.
They had reserved a closed off seating area for the business class passengers. I had only just taken a seat when the Etihad crew walked by… my goodness!
Despite the fact that the A330-200 is a smaller aircraft, I felt right at home as soon as I stepped onboard. I was welcomed with a big smile. The stewardess asked me: “Is this your first flight today?” “No it’s my 6th consecutive flight in the past couple of days…”. The look on her face was priceless and she guided me towards seat 7K. I had managed to reserve this seat through Twitter. I wasn’t able to select the seat through my online Etihad account, but their social media team helped me out with it in no time at all.
Even though I had only just sit down on the seat, it felt very comfy. Everything just felt right, maybe it was the combination of the way the cabin looked, the privacy and comfort of the seat and the genuine friendliness of the crew. I was ready for the 8 hour flight to Abu Dhabi.
I was sitting down all relaxed when one of the stewardesses came by to hand over a hot towel and asked me if I wanted a glass of champagne, “Yes please!” I replied.
Whilst waiting for the champagne to be poured, I was messing around with the controls of the seat and IFE. It’s at moments like this that you feel like a little kid again. You just want to push and try every button to see what happens.
I was still messing around with the buttons when the stewardess returned to fill up my glass with liquid bubbles. She told me that her colleague would come by shortly. She would explain the functionality of the seat and hand over the menu for this flight.
I raised my glass, said “Cheers!” to the stewardess and thanked her for the champagne. A couple seconds later her colleague arrived. A moment of silence… Gorgeous blue eyes… Body of a goddess… “Oh stay focused!”, I told myself while I got the menu from her.
She told me she would be back in a couple of minutes to take my order… Oh please do!
Because it was a red eye flight, I decided to order a small meal, just a steak sandwich would be sufficient. The girl with the beautiful blue eyes tried to convince me to order some more food, but I was persistent. For breakfast she recommended the blueberry pancakes. I asked her to wake me up for breakfast about 90 minutes prior to landing in Abu Dhabi.
The champagne tasted great and before I knew it my glass was almost empty. We still had to take off when I looked over to the stewardess and smiled at her. She immediately understood what I wanted and shortly after I received a refill. I almost got the same feeling like I had on my flight in Qatar Airways first class. The feeling that crew seems to be able to read your mind.
I was able to stretch out my legs under the foot rest. This allowed me to sit back and relax for the flight.
In order to watch a movie I preferred stretching my legs out horizontally. By this time I knew perfectly how to control the seat, so I adjusted the angle of the seat and laid back.
The choice of movies on the IFE system was excellent. And oh joy because the latest movie of the Star Wars saga was in the catalogue! I wanted to watch it so badly because the weeks before I had watched all of the older movies to catch up.
The plane was airborne and the lighting in the cabin was dimmed. This is actually the first plane I flew on that the colour of the mood lighting actually fitted the cabin and really worked.
I didn’t have to wait long for the steak sandwich to arrive. I was enough to get rid of the hungry feeling. The rest of the food would be in the shape of liquid gold… champagne!
When the stewardess came around to clear my table, she asked me if I wanted anything else to eat. I thanked her politely and asked her if I could have another glass… She just smiled, came back to fill up my glass and brought some warm nuts for me as well. Perfect combination to watch a movie.
There was WiFi available in business class on this flight. I thought the prices were ok and the internet worked great. Especially if you compare it to the WiFi on American Airlines flights. They used to work with GoGo Air, and even though they recently switched provider it still works crappy.
After another round of champagne it was time for my beauty sleep. I was relieved that the temperature in the cabin was actually quite cool. So cool that I decided to unpack the blanket from its packaging. The Etihad blanket must be the best airline blanket I have ever used. It’s so comfy and soft!
Once I laid down down under my blanket and had closed the seat belt, the girl with girl blue eyes came by to wish me a good night and turned off the lights for me. What a service! It didn’t take me long to fall asleep…
I had ordered my breakfast at the beginning of the flight and I was woken up with the precision of a Swiss watch, exactly 90 minutes before landing. I tried rubbing the sleep out of my eyes while the stewardess started to set my table. Maybe I over exaggerate when I say that everything was great again, but it’s just the finesse that the crew has when they do everything.
The crew onboard this flight had eye for details, they always checked every passenger if they could be of service. The way that my table was set, everything just perfect.
I asked for a cup of green tea, my favourite to wake up with and healthy too.
They gave me time to wake up and came around to ask if I had an appetite. I could already smell the pancakes! This going to be yummy! And believe me they were delicious.
After the pancakes I got a croissant and some more pastries, what a great breakfast on a plane!
Abu Dhabi Here I Come
Once I had finished my breakfast I decided to open the window blinds. Once opened, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise contrasting with the blue sky in the background and the fluffy clouds below it. It made me realise how lucky I was to experience moments like this with this “crazy hobby” I have.
It brings me to so many different places on earth where others never get the chance to go to. You learn to appreciate moments like this, it shows you that there is more to life then rushing and stress…
Whilst enjoying some music from my iPod I kept looking out of the window. The more the sun came out and embraced the earth with its rays, the more I got to see of the world below. Well the world… All I could see was the sand of the desert. There is barely anything to see down there, sometimes you might see some small buildings or a road. But that’s about it.
Out of nowhere you’ll see civilisation down below. Cities, highways and huge constructions sites appear in view. It’s unbelievable how much money is invested in building all kinds of infrastructure.
Ferrari World is probably the best known icon when you are on approach to Abu Dhabi airport.
When the plane was on its final descent, the crew came around and handed out the Fast Track cards. This card would allow me go through immigration quicker than usual. Not that it was really necessary because I arrived very early in Abu Dhabi, around 5.30am.
Despite the early time of arrival, the temperature outside felt really warm. As soon as I stepped off the plane it felt like being hit by a heatwave. The immigration officer asked me what the purpose of my stay was. I replied to him that I was on my way home from a long trip and that I would have a 24 hour stopover in Abu Dhabi. He put a stamp in my passport, told me to enjoy my stay and wished me a safe journey home.
Next thing to do was look for my driver. Driver? Yes, oh how I love luxury travel! When you fly Etihad business or first class you are entitled to the chauffeur service, even when flying on an award ticket. Although this has recently changed for American Airlines award tickets on Etihad.
I walked through a maze of hallways and eventually made it to the chauffeur service desk. All I had to do was step outside where I got hit again by the heat. By this time it was about 6am and the temperature outside was just over 30 Celsius! As soon as I was outside, a man from Etihad approached me and asked for my name. He checked my name on his tablet and shortly after a Lexus drove up to where I was standing.
The driver was all suited up and asked me where I would be heading to. I had booked a night at the InterContinental hotel, so I asked him to take me there. Without any words he loaded my suitcase into the trunk and opened the door of the car for me. The drive to the hotel was pretty quiet, the man obviously wasn’t in talkative mood.
To summarise this extended review, I can honestly tell you that this has been my best experience ever in business class! The product was great, a comfy seat for 8 hours makes such a difference. All the food was good, especially the breakfast! The champagne was splendid, “Yes but you like anything with alcohol” I hear you think. Probably, but I just know what tastes delicious.
Talking about delicious… That girl with the gorgeous blue eyes… Just kidding, the crew on this flight was wonderful! If you ever get the chance to fly in Etihad business class, don’t hesitate but do it!