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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Etihad Flight Report

Flight report Date: October 18.
Seat 23H
Flight EY461 Etihad from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi

Etihad A340
I suppose it is inevitable that comparisons will be made between this flight and the Emirates 777 economy service to Dubai. Having done both now I would say they are fairly level pegging apart from the fact that Etihad uses an A340 600 with a 2 4 2 configuration – much preferable to Emirates 3 4 3 for couples.

A340 Seat Plan

The A340 is very quiet and surprisingly comfortable – even on a 14 hour leg. Clients wanting to stopover will prefer Dubai – you can head to Abu Dhabi and then take the bus – but why? Sure Abu Dhabi also has shopping and attractions like Ferrari World – but Dubai city is something straight out of a science fiction movie – you just have to see it. The shopping malls are also out of this world.

While boarding was orderly and relaxed, the experience was spoiled a little at check-in. I had booked through Virgin Australia using points and pay - and assumed travel on a major partner airline would be seamless. No such luck. First the check-in guy had to call Virgin - then the airport duty manager got involved and eventually phoned Abu Dhabi for approval.

Meanwhile we went for a long walk - it was that or be stabbed in the back by the anxious horde waiting to be checked in. Finally all was fixed - but it took about 40 minutes. The bad news is this was not an isolated incidence - the res supervisor said and I quote: "This happens every time." Over to you, Mr Borghetti. The welcoming crew were bright and chatty and flight EY461 left Melbourne on time.

Note that the bins above the window seats are smaller than the centre aisle. Safety instructions are via animated video and crew demos. The entertainment screens are a good size and the touch system really easy and simple to use. Hot movie was Man of Steel – which my wife described as a bummer. There is plenty more though; 675 hours of entertainment. Emirates ICE is also great – but the touch controls don’t always work all that well.

About a half hour out hot paper towels were served and dinner started 40 minutes later. Fiona’s vegetarian ratatouille arrived –chickpea patty with sweet potato and beans served with warm bread and a crisp salad. I had Moroccan beef casserole in couscous – not the most appealing looking dish but quite tasty thanks mostly to the black olives.

I was pleased to see Australian products were used including Angas Park prunes, Bega cheese and Arnotts biscuits. The meals are medium in size – the other noteworthy point is that steel utensils are used. I had a glass of red wine – soft French style – and asked for another when the trays were taken but the bottle had gone. To her credit the hostie did fill my glass later. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with the lot – fine for me but Fiona’s vegetarian meal did not arrive.

We arrived a little early. To summarise: Apart from the hiccup at check-in, smooth, good value flying.

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places