WELCOME TO THE ULTIMATE
Author: Sumaya Bezrati
Etihad Airways: First Class Cabin Review
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Los Angeles (LAX)
Tuesday, January 1
Duration: 16hr 15min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
For Valentine's this year, my loving husband of 12 years surprised me with first class plane tickets on Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles. This was my very first time flying first class, so as you can imagine I was through the moon excited!
We boarded through the doors of the Boeing 777 aircraft in Abu Dhabi, using the same bridge as economy and business (boo!) and were pointed in the direction of the first class cabin. This plane features eight first class suites, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Etihad's First Class' hard product is absolutely gorgeous. The seats are comfortable and spacious, with very large screen TVs, an ottoman, and an entertainment compartment to your left which contains your TV remote, power plugs, USB, and headphone jacks. They provide high quality noise-cancelling headphones.
There is an additional compartment to the left stocked with trail mix and two bottles of still water.
I particularly enjoyed the touch screen seat and light controls (although even after 17 hours together, I never did figure out exactly how they worked and was too embarrassed to ask lol).
To the right of the entertainment system is a personal
closet with a mirrored door where
you can hang your clothing inside.
Resting on my ottoman was
a blanket, slippers and amenity kit.
Once settled in, the onboard chef, Mazen, came to introduce himself. He was welcoming, friendly and in good spirits. I have always felt that it is the crew that really makes the flight! If they are helpful, attentive, and cordial then the flight will be great; and unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Even if the hard product is amazing, if the crew is absent or dismissive, then the flight experience just won't be the same.
I was offered a pre-departure beverage and declined the champagne (which was Gosset), as I don't drink alcohol. Instead, I opted for a lemon mint drink. The drink was fantastic! They then offered Arabic coffee in the traditional way, dates, and a hot towel. I thought that was a fun touch!
Takeoff was smooth and soon the onboard chef came to take my meal order.
Here was the menu:
I decided to start with the Arabic Mezze. Unfortunately this was not a very good Mezze, as it was very bland. I just tasted the hummus and the tabbouleh and neither were very good, but the muhammara (Levantine red pepper and walnut dip; pictured below left in the trio) was quite delicious! The Mezze also consisted of kibbeh (a Middle Eastern fried bulgar wheat pastry stuffed with ground beef), a falafel, and a (sadly) cold pita bread. Although none of the bites were very memorable, I did appreciate the plating which was quite beautiful.
For the main course, I ordered the chicken breast. Would you believe this was the best chicken meal I've had in my entire life? It was! The skin was deliciously crispy (I didn't even know I liked chicken skin, but I guess I have just been eating bad versions of it all my life lol) The inside was also incredibly juicy and moist and the mushroom sauce was extremely flavorful.
For dessert, I ordered the raspberry crostata, which I was actually not even planning to eat, as I was already stuffed, but I couldn't stop eating it and after a few minutes finished my whole plate! I am not a fan of blueberries, but the ice-cream complimented the dish so perfectly.
Sadly, I was not offered any tea, coffee, cheese, fruit or any other after dinner accompaniments. But that's okay, I was pretty full!
After eating, I settled in and decided to check the entertainment system. I was not that impressed with the movie selection to be honest. Most of the foreign language films did not include English subtitles, so that narrows down the list considerably. I had also already watched several of the choices previously. So instead I decided to watch TV shows as they did have a good selection of TV Shows including British series that as an American I was previously unexposed to and I really enjoyed them. The entertainment system was easy to use and the screen size made for a great viewing experience.
After several hours, I decided to order dinner. I rang my stewardess who came and seemed to be in a rush as if I was disturbing her. I asked her if I can order dinner and she said I can but that I am going to have to wait a while for it to be prepared. Ok, fine, no problem. So I ordered a cheese plate, a steak sandwich and cookies. It took an entire hour before she came to make my table and brought the cheese plate. I know she said it would be awhile, but I did not expect an hour wait. The cheese plate was ok, but unfortunately, the steak sandwich was inedible. I do not know what happened but the meat was raw, filled with fatty tissue and I couldn't even eat it. I was also not a fan of the cookies.
After eating, I asked the stewardess if she would make my bed. I went to the bathroom and changed into the complimentary Etihad pajamas, which were the highest quality pajamas I've ever had from a flight. They are so incredibly soft and comfortable, they feel like you are sleeping on a cloud! When I came back, my bed was made. So I closed off the doors to my suite and slept.
When I woke up, I decided to break out the free 180MB wifi code they provided to First Class guests on board. I went on my phone and checked my social media until the wifi ran out about 15 minutes later (lol).
When there was 3.5 hours before landing, I decided to order breakfast. I thought I was getting my order in early as they mentioned that the kitchen closes 1 hour before landing. I called the stewardess, who again, acted like I was bothering her. I asked to order breakfast to which she replied she is out of everything on the breakfast menu except for croissants and fruit. I found that shocking, given that Etihad only has 8 first class passengers to account for and it was still hours before landing. I feel that at least they could have offered me breakfast from Business Class, but they didn't. So, I ordered croissants, fruit and a Moroccan mint tea. The croissants were stale and cold. The "Moroccan" mint tea was just Lipton's Mint Tea bag (and not made with fresh mint).
Before long, it was time to land. This is where chaos ensued because my daughter couldn't find my cellphone that I had leant her. (Oh the joys of traveling with kids!) I tried to help her look around her seat area, but the stewardess told me I must return to my seat and she will help me look after we land. When we landed, she came and kind of did a half-hearted look and said it wasn't there. I asked her if she happens to find it later in the seat is there any way to contact us, but unfortunately there wasn't any way. I felt the crew could have done a little more to help us in this situation. They seemed apathetic to the situation of the lost phone and meanwhile my daughter was crying. Somewhere on an Etihad plane in between seat 1A lies a pink and blue iPhone. If anyone ever finds it, send me a message and I'll give you a reward!
So overall, my first First Class experience was a grab bag. The hard product of Etihad is truly where the carrier shines. The seat, entertainment and on board amenities are superb. Unfortunately, where they were lacking on this journey was food and service. Our first class flight attendant (I never did get her name!) was not very attentive and it seemed that she was always busy, so it always felt like I was bothering her. The last thing I want to feel when I am on a flight is that I am inconveniencing a flight attendant. If an airline is going to offer "on-demand" dining then the flight crew should be welcoming to getting orders at any time and not be annoyed by it. I feel that I was very reasonable to only order food three times for the entire 17 hour flight duration, so I should not have been met with such hesitation. After this experience, I realize that I prefer flying in Etihad's Business class because the food comes on a schedule so I don't have to feel like apologizing every time I am hungry.
Seat comfortability, layout and size: 5/5
Entertainment system and options: 4/5
Amenity kit: 4/5
The retail value of this flight is $19,225.16
Do you think we paid that much? NO, OF COURSE WE DIDN'T!! We booked these flights with our Game of Points.
Want to know how we did it? Stay tuned, because our next post is going to tell you how, so that you too, can be flying first class (up in the sky) on your way to the UAE!