Getting to Abu Dhabi Airport
I’m on my way back to Europe. Not quite on my way home yet, but getting closer. In Abu Dhabi I’m staying at the Doubletree Yas Island, which is close to where I’m giving a course. The car picks me up at the hotel just after six in the morning. The journey to Abu Dhabi airport takes about twenty minutes.
Etihad Airways operates out of Terminal 3. There is a dedicated Business Class check-in area which is segregated from the main part of the terminal.
The place is not at all busy. I’m seen to immediately by a friendly agent, who issues my boarding pass, tags my suitcase and then sends me on my way.
Immigration is very easy these day in the UAE with the introduction of the E-gates for biometric passports. There is a dedicated security screening area for Business Class passengers, which ejects you right in front of the entrance to the First Class lounge in the middle of the dutyfree shops.
Etihad Business Class Lounge
The entrance to the Business Class lounge is through a corridor that branches off from the main airside area more or less opposite gate 35. The lounge is very spacious, and divided into separate dining and lounging areas.
There is a good selection of hot and cold dishes. I haven’t had breakfast, so I have the sambar with idli and parathas. I don’t take any pictures though, as it’s difficult to avoid disturbing the other passengers.
The staff in the lounge are a mixed back. There are several attendants standing around. Some of them are helpful and actively assist passengers at the buffet. Others however, obviously have so little of a sh*t to give, it makes you wonder what exactly they think it is they’re getting a salary for.
My boarding pass tells me that boarding will start at 07:20, one hour before departure, which just seems a tad early. When I reach the gate at 07:50, boarding is only just starting. There is a passport check before you can board, and supposedly there is a separate queue for Business Class passengers. But with all the passengers milling about, I don’t see how I’m supposed to get through without coming off as being rude. So I wait in the queue just like everybody else.
The Cabin & Seat
On the B 787-10 Etihad has the same seats as on its A 380s, which is different to that on the A 350 in Business Class. The A and K seats are window seats on the evenly numbered rows. On the unevenly numbered rows, the B and H seats are aisle seats and are rear facing.
The seat is comfortable enough, but it has a few drawbacks. First, it has no armrests, which is just a bit odd when seated in the fully upright position. There is a storage compartment large enough for a laptop, but that is located slightly behind the seat, which makes it awkward to use.
This seat does not have any privacy screens, which is a bit unfortunate, because having rear facing seats means that I have 12D and 12G directly in my line of sight.
There are two lavatories for the Business Class cabin, which are located at the front. They’re quite spacious and well stocked.
The Service & Crew
The service on the ground starts with a welcome drink. There is a choice of lemon & mint juice, orange juice, water, or champagne. Shortly after, hot towels are distributed. The crew come to take orders for the after departure drinks and for breakfast.
The meal service is just plain strange. First, the water & juice I’d ordered for breakfast never materialise. Second, it takes the crew nearly two hours after we get airborne to finally get start serving the meal on my row, which is the last row of Business Class.
For the main course, I have the French toast, which is lovely.
With that comes a small bowl with a croissant and a pain au chocolat. Both of them are hard, and taste like French fries.
There is also a bowl with fresh fruit.
The meal is quite nice. The French toast is all sticky and gooey, and the fresh fruit are very refreshing. With the meal I have a coffee with milk.
The flight time to London is seven hours. Flying over the eastern Balkans is a lot like driving on an Autobahn. Above us is a whole string of mainly Turkish Airlines aircraft heading East, while we are flying in formation all the way to Amsterdam with a Qatar B 777 next to us and an Emirates A 380 slightly behind us.
There’s only a small hold up for the approach into Heathrow, and we only have to do one orbit before we’re cleared for the approach. Approaches are from the East, but by the time we break through the cloud we’re already past the city.
Terminal 4 is quiet when we land. Right behind us is a Qatar A 380, and luckily we beat them to the gate.
Getting into London
As you exit through customs, the signs to the Undergorund and trains are on the left. First I take the complimentary Elisabeth Line to the stop for Terminals 2 and 3, where I change to a nonstop Heathrow Express train to Paddington.
I still think Etihad is the better airline than Emirates, but probably not quite as good as Qatar. Both flights I took on this trip were pleasant enough and certainly beat what you get in Business Class with most of the European airlines on a flight of similar duration. Apparently, the new terminal in Abu Dhabi is expected to really open this year. I really hope so for Etihad, as the current facility is just a bit too small to handle all the passengers.