- Trip Report: UAE in the Summer
- Review: Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX
- Etihad First Class Review LAX-AUH (Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi)
- Review: Ajman Saray, A Luxury Collection Resort
- Review: Le Meridien Fairway Dubai
- Review: Sheraton Deira
- Review: Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi
- Review: Hilton Al Ain
- Review: Crown Plaza Sohar
- Review: Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort
- Emirates First Class Lounge DXB Review
- Qantas First Class Review DXB-LHR
- Review: British Airways Concorde Room (First Class Lounge) LHR
- British Airways 747-400 First Class Review LHR-DFW
After spending some time in the Star Alliance First Class Lounge and eating everything on the menu, it was finally time for the ~16.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi aboard Etihad in their First Class suite on EY170. It’s always a fun experience for me when I get a seat that has closing doors – I’m not sure why, but the extra privacy is always nice.
I had to wait a little longer though as boarding and departure was very late. From the looks of the number of people at the gate, it was going to be a very light load.
Etihad First Class Review – Seat
Eventually we got on the plane, and when I first walked into the cabin I was very impressed. The cabin simply looks awesome – not because of any individual features, but because each individual seat looks great. Everything looked new and high class.
The first class cabin on this plane is very small – just two rows of four across. That meant boarding for First Class was completed rather quickly despite the cabin being full. Unfortunately I came to learn that Business Class passengers also walk through the same door as First Class passengers, so they all walked by and stared at everyone as they got to their seats. That’s a bit unusual for international First Class cabins in my experience, as non-First Class passengers tend to not walk through the First Class cabin.
Anywho…that brings up the point of how close Business Class actually is to the First cabin. Right behind my seat past the curtain is Business Class, as you can see easily in this pic:
Thankfully this wasn’t an issue for me at all with noise or otherwise. The only time it became an issue was for the flight attendant that came to take my drink order as she had to fight through a few people. I ordered a glass of water, then I continued to explore the rest of my suite to see what there was.
One of the flight attendants came around to offer coffee and dates as well, which I declined. My glass of water eventually came about 10 minutes later.
It took a while to get my pajamas and amenity kit as well, which had been passed around to other passengers already. I also had my friend Jamison aboard to compare service with, and he seemed very happy with his service so far, while mine was good but seemed a bit delayed. I didn’t get a choice of size for the pajamas, but they seemed like extra large (so too big for me).
I tried talking to one of the flight attendants, and she seemed very shy and awkward in conversation. I can’t really complain though since I know English is her second language, but I figured she was a relatively new at her job. The other flight attendant I spoke with, however, was great. I guess she sensed that I wanted to change into my pajamas before takeoff (something I usually try to do), but wasn’t able to, and she made sure to come let me know that the lavatory was free after the seat belt sign was turned off after takeoff.
Back to before takeoff, I continued to explore the seat and what kind of controls and storage there was.
Right next to the seat was a touch screen panel that was similar to the one on Cathay Pacific, but slightly larger. Through it you could control the seat, lights, call the flight attendant, and more. Everything worked really well and was intuitive.
There was also a small storage bin next to the seat that housed the IFE remote and various outlets. You could store small things in here but nothing substantial.
Between the storage and the windows was the usual wasted space, but I think most of us end up putting things here throughout the flight anyway. It was a good place to store things while I slept later in the flight.
The one thing that I thought was cool but not useful was the closet. It had a mirror and a hanger inside, but it was so narrow that I could just barely fit my hand inside if I squeezed. It was really difficult to hang my shirt on there, and it didn’t really even fit my shoes either. The one on Asiana A380 First Class is MUCH more functional since it provides that extra two inches of width.
During this time the Etihad Chef came over to introduce himself, and a flight attendant came to take my meal order. I’m not sure why the chef didn’t take the order, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Soon after that we took off and were on our way to Abu Dhabi.
As soon as the seat belt sign was turned off, the flight attendants came around to close all the window shades. The guy sitting across from me actually asked to have his bed made immediately. I also took a look at what was inside the “mini bar” at my seat.
I wanted to watch a movie through the IFE, which had a pretty good selection of Western movies and TV shows, but the noise cancelling headphones at my seat were not working properly. They kind of worked if I fidgeted with them, but it was too annoying. There were no flight attendants around the cabin so I pressed the flight attendant call button. No one came after five minutes, so I turned it off and back on again, and then one of them came rushing. She took my headset immediately, and two minutes later another flight attendant brought me a new one that worked perfectly. Transcendence was my movie of choice during dinner.
Etihad First Class Review – Dinner Service
The new flight attendant came by with drinks since the dinner service was starting, looked at me while holding the drinks, paused, then left without saying anything or giving me the drink. Um, did I miss something? Then she returned a few seconds later, opened my tray table and set it, then left and came back with my drinks, bread, and a dish of olives, mushrooms, something I think called harisa, and pesto. Yup….she’s definitely new, at least to the First Class cabin if nothing else.
Note that my pictures might be a little dark since the cabin lights were turned off after takeoff.
After that came the Arabic Mezze that I ordered…a dish that I was looking forward to more than any other.
I wish there was more light available for this picture, because there’s actually A LOT of food here. Kabobs, grape leaves, hummus, and more. This could have (and should have) been a full meal, but it was just the appetizer! And it was delicious. The kabob was warm and the hummus was so good. Between courses I received a raspberry sorbet.
Next up was my main course, and I selected the US rib-eye steak with potatoes.
It was surprisingly tender and actually very good, while the potatoes were nothing special. There was some fat on the steak and it was a rather thin piece, but the size of it was still good considering my huge appetizer. I don’t think any meal will ever beat the wagyu beef fillet I had on Japan Airlines First Class a few months back anyway.
I’ll also point out that once the meal got started, all the service was excellent. I was checked on several times and empty plates or completed dishes were never on my table very long.
I was asked if I wanted dessert since they didn’t take that order before takeoff, and I asked for the baklava. The flight attendant agreed and started to clear my table, but then knocked over my glass of soda. Thankfully she caught the tablecloth before it got on my clothes. And you guessed it…it was the new flight attendant again. It just wasn’t her day!
The baklava came and was delicious as it tasted very fresh, but unfortunately it came with no napkins. I dug up a few from my laptop bag that I save for situations like this.
At this point I closed my doors and continued watching my movie. The seat itself is tucked behind the shell of the seat so it’s not like your neighbor can see you anyway, but the closing doors really give you that added privacy to feel like you’re in a (small) room.
I wasn’t sleepy after my movie, and with a good 13 hours to go I decided to finally buy internet on the flight for $22. It’s a bit pricey, but I thought it would be worth it since I needed to get some work done. I worked for a few hours and then headed to the front galley with Jamison where he was having a conversation with the chef.
The chef mentioned to us how much better the food is when departing from Los Angeles than Abu Dhabi because of how hard it is to get fresh food like fruits in the desert country. One of the pilots happened to exit the cockpit at this point as well, carrying a pillow and blankets, and asked us about our trip. He recommended we do the desert safari, as pretty much everybody else also recommends. Thankfully I’ve already done it! His “bedroom” was a small room just aside the front lavatory, which seemed like a noisy location.
The chef also convinced me to have a “passion fruit and cucumber smoothie” that I was reluctant to try. It smelled gross, but tasted alright. Not something I’d order again!
Etihad First Class Review – Bed
At this point there was about 8 hours left in the flight, so I decided to get some sleep. I rang the flight attendant call button again, and the chef, of all people, showed up. I told him that I wanted to have my bed made and he told me that all the First Class flight attendants were asleep, so he’d have to ask one of the Business Class ones. I found it to be quiet odd that they wouldn’t stagger the shifts to have at least one First Class FA working all the time, but no biggie. The Business Class FA came and made my bed without any issue.
The bed was huge in terms of both length and width, and it was also very comfortable. The bedding itself was also good and the pillow seemed to be genuine down as there were feathers all over afterwards.
I went to sleep and slept for 6 full hours, which was longer than I was expecting. Unfortunately I woke up a bit too late to have a full meal service again, so I asked the chef what my options were. He said he could make me a bagel roast beef sandwich with chips. That worked for me, and I also ordered a plate of fruit.
Aside from the sandwich being slathered in a mayo-sauce, it was actually much better than it looked. The fruit was fresh as well. I was bummed I couldn’t have a full meal, but at least I wasn’t hungry after this food.
The flight attendants seemed like they were all very busy as they walked around the cabin towards the end of the flight. My dinner table was still made with 15 minutes to landing, but everything was finally picked up with 10 minutes to go. They didn’t even bother to mention I’m not supposed to have my laptop bag on the side near the windows, where it stayed for landing. I was also handed a immigration fast track pass.
Etihad First Class Review – Chauffeur in Abu Dhabi
Once we landed we made our way to immigration, which was just as fast in the normal line as it was in the fast track line. After bag x ray we were off to follow the many, many signs for the Etihad Chauffeur that we receive. The cool thing about the chauffeur is that you can take it to pretty much anywhere in the UAE, including Dubai if you wanted to. Our hotel was in Ajman, which was over a one hour drive away.
Once we got outside, there were a line of mostly Audis ready to take us to our destination. They weren’t familiar with our specific hotel so there was a bit of extra time wasted at the end of the trip, but we eventually got to our hotel. Can’t beat a free ride!
Etihad First Class Review – Summary
There’s no denying that the Etihad First Class hard product (the seat/bed) is one of the best there is. The seat is extremely comfy and spacious in both seat and bed mode. The closing doors to the suite make it extremely private, and aside from that it looks gorgeous with the colors they’ve chosen. The food was also excellent, and the on board chef on my flight took his job very seriously.
The only negatives to be found were with the service. One of the flight attendants clearly hadn’t worked the First Class cabin many times before, and it really showed. The fact that none of the First Class FAs were available when I wanted to have my bed made was a bit odd as well. But other than that, service was great and friendly.
I think I prefer Etihad First Class over Emirates First Class, despite the latter having a shower. This is a great way to get to the Middle East or beyond, and I’d be happy to fly them again.