Etihad First Class is something I never thought I would experience. Yet then, out of nowhere my brother asked me a question I never thought I would hear; “Do you want to go with me to Egypt next week?” Due to his miracle working with the airline award tickets (his Award Booking Service) and the fact that my boss is awesome meant that not only would I be going to Egypt with him, but that I would get to travel first class on Etihad’s brand new 787 to get there. In a quick introduction, I’m Josh, Rocky’s little brother. Like him, I love to travel and I love airplanes.
I love flying so much that I’m actually a pilot (though currently not flying professionally). Unlike Rocky though, I don’t get to travel first or business class very often, and I rarely get to travel overseas. I have a few blog posts coming up reviewing our flights and time in Egypt, but my posts won’t be the same as the usual reviews you get from Rocky. Instead they will the flights from the eyes of someone who is used to domestic traveling in economy on the cheapest tickets that can be found.
Etihad First Class Lounge IAD
When we landed at KIAD, the fun really began. We had five hours to spare till our flight to Abu Dhabi, but plenty to entertain ourselves with. We walked around the terminal and got in some excellent plane spotting (Lufthansa’s 747-8 took the prize as the best plane of the day). We then proceeded on to Etihad’s first class lounge and entered the lap of luxury. While we checked in, the attendants stored our bags and gave us free access to the rest of the lounge. It was time to experience one of the best products in the world!
The lounge had a business area with new iMacs, a buffet of olives, hummus, cheese, and fresh fruit, a full service bar, bathroom with showers, and a play area for children. There was also a dining area for the full a la carte menu they offered.
As soon as we sat down, two servers came over and offered us dates and Arabic coffee. The dates were the best I had ever had, and the coffee had a delightful blend of spices that called for several more cups. The food on the a la carte menu was fantastic. I had a pancetta appetizer, prime rib with potatoes au gratin, and poached pears for dessert. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the menu, but the food was amazing and better than food I’m used to getting while at even the finest restaurants.
As great as the lounge was, the best part of the trip so far finally came. It was boarding time. I was so beyond excited for this as I was finally going to get to go onto a boeing 787. I have been following that plane’s progress since it was still called the 7E7. When I was in college Boeing did test flights with the 787 near Moses Lake, WA and I would fly through that airspace while the 787 was in it on a regular business.
Even though I never saw the plane flying while I was in flight, it still always made me excited knowing the 787 was in the same airspace! The plane’s composite build and use of electrical systems to replace the traditional bleed air systems is amazing. The wing flex technology is not only an engineering marvel; it’s also sexy as hell! Finally getting on board this plane was like a dream (no pun intended) come true. Oh, and I was going to be in first class!
Etihad Airways First Class 787 In-flight
The boarding process for this particular flight was the most casual boarding I had ever seen. Rocky and I were at the bar having a drink and they just simply announced that we could board the plane whenever we were ready. So we finished our drinks (I downed mine as I wanted to get the plane but Rocky took his time), collected our bags, and boarded the plane directly from the lounge. We entered the plane and passed through business class seats and into the first class cabin, where my jaw immediately dropped.
What I was viewing did not look anything like a plane. There were small, almost apartments all around the plane. The first class suites are amazing. The walls only came up to about my shoulders (so a little more than 5 feet tall), and inside of them was the amazing spot I would get to spend the next fourteen hours. Welcome to seat 1a! I was home.
The seat was more like a very comfortable lazy boy complete with an ottoman. That ottoman however, also had a seat belt on it so that two people could sit facing each other and talk during flight. On the Ottoman was a set of pajamas, a blanket, and the amenity kit.
The amenity kit had a toothbrush and toothpaste set, a sleeping mask, socks, and facial acqua di parma moisturizer, body lotion, and chap stick in it. I was shocked, I never thought I would need or want so many things while flying!
Our flight ended up getting delayed after boarding, but there were no complaints on our end! We were on board and the champagne was free flowing. Our first class experience was starting out grand
I’m quite accustomed to Cook’s, after all I am a poor college student. So the 2005 Champagne Bollinger La Grande was a whole new flavor profile that I had never had the privilege of enjoying. I should also add that I never had to request more champagne, the service from the flight attendants was spectacular and if we needed anything, they were at our seats within seconds or even before we requested them! Spilling every first class passenger.
The plane eventually took off and what an experience! First, it was the quietest plane I have ever been on. This wasn’t surprising of course; Boeing specifically designed special nacelles for the engines that would reduce noise. Nevertheless, it was still astounded to actually be on board and witness it. The takeoff was also insanely smooth, and it hardly felt like we were even flying. Of course, this was helped along by being on the isle seats, watching TV, and having had multiple glasses of champagne. It was probably the most heavenly experience of my life.
As soon as we got aloft, dinner was served, and oh what a meal it was! Etihad guests are treated to an inflight chef, customizing meals and orders.
At one point in the meal, I actually looked at Rocky and said “I never thought airplane food would teach me the meaning of fine dining.” We started out with a small appetizer of Salmon Tartare. It was so amazingly delicious and was unlike anything I had ever enjoyed in my life. I then had a fantastic salad made with fresh greens, and tried lamb for my main course.
If I’m perfectly honest, I took a gamble with the lamb as it’s not my favorite. That was a gamble that I was so glad I took, for it was the most delightful food I had ever had! The meat was cooked perfectly and the seasoning was divine. If there is a heaven, they will serve food of this caliber there!! I was so excited over the state of the meal that I had to immediately tweet Etihad and compliment them on the dining experience. Yes, I did say Tweet, as we had free WiFi throughout the entire duration of the flight. Etihad Airways first class, truly divine!
After dinner, I had a few more cocktails while I finished watching a movie (the most recent Hunger Games), and then had to pass out. I told the flight attendant that I was ready for bed, and went to brush my teeth. The bathroom in that 787 was also a huge surprise. Literally huge, as it was about twice as big as any bathroom I had ever seen on a plane!
When I returned to my seat, I found that I had a nice comfortable bed to sleep in. I was surprised and delighted by the turndown service. So I put on a classic movie and immediately fell asleep on this wide bed, not a double bed, but still quite like for this first class flight.
When I woke up, I felt like I wasn’t even on a plane. It was so smooth, and so quiet, that it seemed more like I was just in an odd hotel. Of course, the fact that 787s maintain a cabin pressure altitude of 6000 feet instead of the standard 8000 feet helped a lot with this sensation. I woke up and had some coffee (they had everything you could have wanted from drip coffee to extra dry cappuccinos). I was still so full that I couldn’t really eat anything from their large breakfast menu. Despite this though, the flight attendants came around multiple times to make sure that we were comfortable. Eventually I gave up and ordered a plate of fresh fruit and (why not) another glass of champagne! The fruit wasn’t quite ripe and was probably the worst part of the flight. Which, is so petty, that you should hopefully get an idea of how amazing of an experience this was!
Etihad First Class Recap
My time on board etihad s first class cabin is a time I will never forget. Honestly, words cannot begin to explain the luxury of soaring over the Earth in the most modern of aircraft while being treated like a king. I’ve heard Singapore Airlines is the best, but I think Etihad Airways first class wins.
The food, drinks, service, and comfort are far superior to any airline I’ve ever been on, and even to many restaurants and hotels. The best way I can really describe this fabulous experience is this: Etihad appears to be trying to recreate the glory days of aviation; they made me feel like I was flying on Pan-Am in the glory of the Jet Age heading far off to new worlds!
These pictures are part of the drink menu, unfortunately I didn’t get all of it.
Related reading: Rocky’s Trip report Etihad Airways B787 First Class Washington Dulles (IAD) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)