For those of you who have experienced First Class on Asian carriers and thought it was a cut above everything else, let me tell you, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. You haven’t experienced luxury air travel until you’ve flown on an airline like Etihad.
I just flew their B777 from Abu Dhabi to Dallas. It’s one of the longest scheduled flights today at 16 hours and 5 minutes. But that was the quickest 16 hours I have ever enjoyed.
Checking in at Abu Dhabi (AUH) in First Class is a breeze and this was not even in the new terminal that they are building. I can’t imagine how much more efficient and luxurious that will make the process.
Unfortunately the First Class lounge is currently closed for refurbishment, but their other lounge doesn’t disappoint. As well Abu Dhabi offers something quite unique. There is an American US Immigration center in the airport so that you pre-clear US Customs and Immigration before you board the plane. When you arrive it’s like you’re landing domestically in the US. They do this in Canada for US destinations and in Shannon, Ireland as well. It’s a neat time saver.
I have heard that Abu Dhabi may be discontinuing this, but while it lasts, I liked it. It’s perfect for connections as you don’t even need to pick your bag off the belt until at you’re at your final destination.
When it was time to board I was escorted to my cabin. The single seat configuration has doors that close giving you complete privacy. Most of the Flight Attendants are European, young and eager to serve. There was an on board Chef who comes around to explain the menu and ask if you have any dietary requirements. Bollinger Champagne was served even before take-off along with Arabic coffee and dates.
Once airborne you experience the incredible cuisine that Etihad offers. I opted to start with the Arabic Mezze which consisted of tabbouleh, humus and vine leaves and this was the best tasting I have ever had. I followed this up with a fillet minion and a cheese tray. Food is offered throughout the entire flight and their tapas could not be more appealing.
When you’re ready they will put your seat into a full flatbed, making it with a duvet and comforter. Pajamas are offered with amenity kits and as soon as I gchanged into mine and got into bed I couldn’t have felt more cozy. Even the bathrooms are Modern and clean.
Etihad cuts no corners. They offer 400% of meals meaning that you will never be turned down for a choice. They have great on demand entertainment options and in-flight wireless is available for US$21 for the entire flight.
The arrival in Dallas could not have been simpler. Because we had pre-cleared all the Customs and Immigration formalities it was as if you had come off of a domestic flight. In the end all I can say is, brilliant service, equipment and food. 7 stars service all the way.
Daniel Green, the Model Cook is a Celebrity Chef known for his healthy approach to food and living well. With TV, books, magazines and live appearances, Daniel spends his time helping fans to cook better, feel better and live better. He’s also an avid traveler and a self-confessed Foodie.