Etihad First Class: Flying the 4th Longest Flight In the World
My best friend joined me for my awesome stay at Al Maha last year and got a chance to fly Etihad First Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi, one of the longest routes in the world. She very kindly agreed to write about her experience.
When Keri asked me if I wanted to join her on her trip to Dubai, I was ecstatic. I had never been to that part of the world before, and it sounded like the chance of a lifetime. Especially since it would be my first time flying Etihad. I could hardly wait!
After booking the flight Keri told me that Etihad offers its first-class passengers complimentary car service to and from the airport on both the outbound and the return flights. This was a particularly valuable perk for me as I live 25 miles from the airport in LA, and was landing in Abu Dhabi but initially staying in Dubai, almost 75 miles away. I booked cars in both directions on both flights—four trips in all. The drivers were prompt, courteous, and got me to my destination quickly and safely each time.
When I arrived at LAX for my outbound flight I walked into the Bradley international terminal and found the Etihad check-in counter. I stood in the queue for first class passengers briefly, until an agent walked up and said she could help me. I followed her back to the counter, and she asked me whether I was in coach or business. Suddenly I was confused, and a bit worried. Was my reservation missing? Maybe Keri had made changes to the ticket without telling me? I replied, “I think I’m in first class,” and held my breath. Luckily, she found me in the system and printed out my boarding pass, and I was on my way.
After breezing through security, I headed up to the Star Alliance first class lounge, where there was a loud alarm ringing. I gathered that someone had opened the wrong door. The front desk agent apologized profusely for the noise and said they were working to turn it off, so I decided to stay. (It’s not every day that I get the chance to hang out in a first class lounge.) Perhaps not surprisingly, the lounge was nearly empty. I sat down in a comfy chair and one of the staff brought me a menu and a glass of champagne.
I knew I would be eating well on the flight so I decided not to order anything, but I couldn’t resist helping myself to a few snacks from the buffet of fruit, cheese, and sandwiches. Everything I had looked good and tasted even better. I could have gone back for seconds, but I needed to pace myself. I still had a 16-hour flight ahead of me.
Stepping on board the plane, I was greeting by a very friendly flight attendant who showed me to my seat and walked me through its features and controls. She asked me what I would like to drink, then brought me a glass of Bollinger champagne with some dates, a cold towel, and a welcome note from the cabin manager. A few minutes later she returned with an amenity kit and some black pajamas. She even refilled my glass before boarding was complete.
After I sat down, I took a look around. The cabin was outfitted in dark wood, with coffee and caramel-colored features. There were no overhead bins, and as a result it felt extremely spacious.
My window seat was large, luxurious, and very comfortable. It was set in a “suite,” surrounded by a shoulder-high wall with sliding doors for maximum privacy during the flight.
The suite was well-designed, with a nice-sized video screen and an entertainment system featuring more than 120 movies, a small storage closet, a separate guest seat with carry-on space underneath, a non-alcoholic minibar with bottled water and snack mix, reading and dining lamps, comprehensive seat and lighting controls, and power plugs.
There was also a nice set of noise-cancelling headphones, a plush blanket, and a colorful throw pillow.
The chef came through the cabin with Arabica coffee in an ornate teapot. He returned to talk to me and take my order. The menu was impressive, and dining was “on demand,” so I could eat whenever I wanted.
I decided to have dinner shortly after take-off, and opted for the goat cheese and ratatouille tart, followed by the grass-fed beef tenderloin with Béarnaise sauce and sautéed chateau potatoes, paired with a cabernet sauvignon, which the chef had recommended.
Before the meal I was surprised with an appetizer tray of olives, pickled vegetables, and nuts followed by a lovely amuse-bouche.
The tart, which was delicious, came out next, followed by a palate-cleansing sorbet and the main course.
The tenderloin and potatoes were accompanied by a small salad.
The first-class cabin was full, but the suite-style seating made it so that I hardly noticed the other passengers during the flight. After dinner, I was tired, and so I rang the flight attendant (as she had instructed) to ask her to make up my bed while I brushed my teeth and changed into my pjs.
When I returned the seat had been fully reclined and covered with a thick mattress topper, crisp sheets, a comforter, and a plump pillow. The lights had been dimmed and there was even a bottle of water waiting for me. I smiled, slipped under the covers, slid the suite doors shut, and fell fast asleep.
Eight hours later I woke up and felt great. I made a quick trip to the lavatory to get dressed and when I came back, the bedding had disappeared and my seat was once again in its upright position. I sat down, ordered some breakfast, and scanned the movie selections. Lots of options, including a few new releases I had been wanting to see. Excellent.
A few minutes later my food arrived—assorted pastries, fruit, juice, and tea—and I queued up the first of three movies. The scones, topped with strawberries and whipped cream, were so good that I actually paused the video to savor them. (I had two but easily could have eaten ten.)
Before I knew it, the cabin lights were coming up and the flight attendants were telling us to prepare for landing. I could hardly believe it had been 16 hours since we had taken off from Los Angeles. It didn’t feel like nearly long enough.
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