We loved it so much we did it again!
When it was time to fly home from Auckland, there’s the more direct route from AKL-LAX nonstop on several carriers. But for those who know us, we’ve never been the ones to take the most direct route home…. especially if we could fly on an airline that we’ve never been on or ones that we love.
After doing some research and discussing our options, we thought, “let’s do the Etihad apartments again!’ Here’s the highlight video!
This routing took us from AKL to SYD on LATAM (see our previous post) then SYD to AUH and on to LAX. A direct journey would’ve taken us about 12 hours nonstop however, its much more fun to go the LONG way around especially in Etihad First Class Apartments.
Etihad Airways (EY) flight EY451
SYD-AUH Gate 58
Sunday, 06 May 2018
Arrival: 00:25 +1
Flight Time: 14h+55m
Seats (Apartments): 3K and 4K
We recently reviewed the same product from MEL to AUH. This time around we’ll focus more on the customer service and dining experience. You can read that trip report by clicking here.
Since we came in from AKL, checking in for this flight was done in the lounge. It’s also good to know that the Eithad First and Business Class lounge in SYD opens three hours before departure. Prior to that, the facility is utilized as the Virgin Australia Business Class lounge so don’t make the mistake like us.
After spending a few hours in the terminal waiting for the lounge to open, we walked through the double doors and was greeted warmly by Andre one of the lounge managers. We briefly explained our situation and needed to check in for our flight. Without any hesitation, he welcomed us in to the lounge and encouraged us to find a space to relax while he takes care of our check in process. Now that’s service!
After a nice warm shower, a lite bite to eat and some relaxing time, we decided to head to gate 58 to board our flight. Boarding commenced promptly at 45 minutes before departure. Although there was a long line, the staff made every effort to distinguish the ‘First’, ‘Business’ and ‘Economy Class’ boarding lines but an A380 with over 400 passengers wanting to board is a daunting task.
At the boarding door, we were shown to our seats (3K, 4K) by flight attendant “Aggie”. Aggie explained in detail about the features of the ‘Apartment’ then allowed us time to get situated. She returned briefly with our Christian La Croix amenity kit and sleepwear.
Also, was the free WiFi card they now offer for First Class passengers. 90mb isn’t much, but it’s enough for text and email.
Michael, our food and beverage manager came by, introduced himself and offered us a pre-departure beverage. Champagne it is! The selection for this flight: Billecart-Salmon 2006 Vintage or NV Brut Rosé. I chose the latter. Dates and Arabic coffee was offered as well.
Like little kids, we were exploring our ‘Apartments’. From the seats, monitors, IFE, lighting and our mini bar (yes, a mini bar!) there were so much to take in.
Our Chef, Samir came by and introduced himself along with the First Dining and First Cellar menu. He briefly explained to us about the Etihad dining experience so basically, we could have anything, at anytime. Both Mitch and I are not big breakfast eaters so we requested to have the ‘Lounge and Grill’ menu as our pre-arrival meal.
Promptly after take off, Aggie came by and offered a hot towel, another round of champagne and beverage snacks. After relaxing with another glass of Brut Rosé, I opted for the ‘Orange Fizz’ Mocktail.
It’s not everyday we get to dine together at 40K feet so we took advantage of the opportunity. Aggie set up a dinner table for two.
Appetizer Course served. I chose the Arabic Mezze and Mitch had the Tomato Bisque Soup.
Lime Sorbet was offered as our pallet cleanser.
Main Courses were served shortly. I had the highly recommended Authentic Chicken Biryani while Mitch had the Chicken Breast with leek, shallot and onions.
Yes, we saved room for dessert! Warm Apple Crisp or Raspberry Cheesecake.
Moroccan Mint Tea to finish off the meal.
After our meal service, Aggie offered to turn down our beds and shortly the cabin lights were dimmed.
After 8 hours of sleep, I woke up more than half way into the flight. I strolled to the on board lounge and quickly returned to my ‘Apartment’. I was feeling a bit peckish so Samir brought me a plate of fresh fruit and cheese.
Since I couldn’t get back to sleep, I decided it was shower time. Yes, one of the few carriers that offers a shower on board.
One of my favorite things about Etihad is their Steak Frites or The Etihad Steak Sandwich, both do not disappoint. Get a side of Pommes Frites with Truffle Oil and you are all set for an arrival meal made for a king! The filet was cooked perfectly!
After our pre arrival meal, we had about an hour before land in Abu Dhabi. Michael came by and asked if I wanted to tour the ‘Residence’. How could I say ‘no’? One thing though… we cannot take pictures or videos of the space but thats A-Ok with us.
Here is Etihad’s promotional video of The Residence
What’s interesting to me is the extensive training each Butler goes through to work in the ‘Residence’. Three days of training at the Savoy Hotel in London then back to Abu Dhabi for more training before they can become ‘the Butler’.
The ‘Residence’ consist of 3 rooms: a private living room, a bed room with a queen size bed and a private shower/lavatory. On top of that, a private Butler who looks after everything from meals on mending should you need anything fixed on board. The fare for the ‘Residence’ is roughly 2 First Class tickets plus 10%. Some notable regular guests in the ‘Residence’ include: Tony Blair and Nicole Kidman.
The crews made their final rounds and thanked their customer before landing.
We touched down at 30 minutes pass midnight local time and headed straight for the First Class lounge to wait for our next flight to LAX.
Our final grades of Etihad Airways EY451
Lounge @ SYD: A+
Comfort of the Seat: A+
Cabin Space Seat Layout: A+
Amenity kit: A+
Storage space: B
Inflight cabin crew service: A+++
Ground customer service: A
Overall we had another memorable experience with Etihad. Yes, the food was delicious, the cabin….luxurious and the shower was nice but it’s the crew that made this journey memorable.
From the On Board Manager to the Chef and crew members, each crew member took pride in their product and was well verse in their product knowledge. This time, our First Class Cabin was full with 12 passengers (unlike our last journey where we were just three of us) we still feel the individualized service with always the ‘Yes’ attitude. They simply made us feel at home, at ease and special. And after being away from home on a long trip, it’s nice to be treated well.
Have you flown on Etihad? How was it? Let us know in the comments!