Etihad IAD-AUH-DAC (Airbus 345/ Boeing 77W)
When flying to South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, flyers have a variety of flight options, one of the most enjoyable ones, but with a forced overnight in Abu Dhabi, are the flights operated by Etihad.
I had originally booked this flight when Etihad announced the introduction of the Boeing 787-9, but a few weeks before the flight it was changed to an Airbus 345/346 combo.
Luckily, the Airbus 345 was operating my flight, the interior in First and Business Class is the same on both planes, but I had never flown the 345 and it completed my Airbus 340 family, having flown the 342 with Aerolineas Argentinas, the 346/3 with Iberia, 346 with Lufthansa and now the 345!
Etihad has its own lounge at Washington Dulles airport, which is laid out over two floors and has both a Business and First class section. Sadly on the day I flew, the First class part was closed.
Interesting side note, Etihad actually lined up all the passengers hand baggage in a nice line as a way of avoiding overcrowded situations in the lounge.
The lounge also had some of the biggest strawberries I have ever seen!
Boarding was done directly from the lounge and I was one of the first to board the plane. I was sitting in 2K, a side suite and right across the aisle were two gentlemen who were clearly flying for the first time. We all have had our first time in First Class, but it was a bit funny seeing them struggling with the controls, had to show them how to adjust the seats, they quickly fell asleep, not even changing into the Pajamas that Etihad provides.
Overall the hard product was pretty good, it offered a decent amount of privacy and a great screen/IFE system.
Service started with the classic nuts, olives and chips with a drink shortly after taking off.
I had the shrimp as an appetizer and then the lamb with a side of baked french fries as my main choice and then proceeded to watch a few movies before sleeping for several hours.
Midflight I had the Etihad steak sandwich, which was a great snack to enjoy while catching up on some movies.
We landed on time and I had a close to 12 hour layover in Abu Dhabi, I had booked myself into the Premier Inn hotel which is connected to Terminal 1/3 and is a strong option for a forced overnight. Single rooms were available for under $100 and included Free Wi-Fi and two bottles of water.
The next morning I decided to get up early and explore the Abu Dhabi lounge, this lounge serves as a combined Business/First lounge as the First class lounge is being renovated with a mid-2015 open date.
I had been monitoring my flight for several days and as boarding approached I was still the only passenger in First Class. This plane was operated by Jet Airways for Etihad, and while a top-notch First Class suite in 2009/10, the product was clearly showing it’s age with several nicks and signs of wear. Business class was at about 40% while Economy was packed to the gills. Overall it felt nice to have my own Private Cabin, using one suite as a storage unit (later on a Emirates 380 First Class flight , I joked with the crew that I usually end up commandeering a suite as a storage unit)
Food Time! First the classic nuts , olives and chips with a side drink.