Welcome to my trip report on Etihad Airways Part 1 and 2!
I was considering which airlines would take me to London from Singapore, Etihad was the first one in mind. At that time, it was still smaller than Qatar and Emirates and I heard quite a number of positive reviews on this airline, so without hesitation, I made my booking with the airline. My mum was sceptical as she hasn't heard of this airline, but I managed to convince her by showing her photos of the airline and she commented how nice the livery it was and there you go, she was pretty calm after that.
*Photos are credited to the airliners.net photographers.
Carrier: Etihad Airways
Flight number: 473
Date: 11th June 2011
Routing: SIN-AUH (AUH= Abu Dhabi)
Seat number: 36A (Economy)
Aircraft type: Airbus A330-243
My 4th ride on this aircraft type and 3rd airline to be flying the A330-200.
1st time on A6-EYG
Engines: Roll Royce Trent 772 engines
Date delivered: 29th March 2006
Line number: 724
Flight Duration: 6 hrs 50 mins
Load factor for Y class: 90%
Departure gate: F31 (Terminal 2)
Arrival gate: 31
Departure runway used: 20C
My ride - A6-EYG
My sister was getting married in June and Raymond invited me to join him in Europe, so it was like killing 2 birds in one stone! As Raymond wanted to try Sri Lankan and I had already flown with them before, we decided to meet over there instead. There were a few choices in mind. I wanted to fly the A340-600 quite badly, QR and EY are the best choices to fly this aircraft. However, the timing of QR's return flight's connection time is only 45 mins, and I am not going to take that risk as you guys know LHR's traffic is notoriously known for its bad traffic. So I decided to go with Etihad, a new airline for me and I get to fly on my favourite Airbus A330-200. The air ticket was expensive, it cost me about S$1549, only booked it in May. My regret was not booking it earlier, as I wanted to keep my options open, perhaps flying with Emirates was also another option. However, the A380s would be there for a while, so flying the A340-600 was the deciding factor! My flight routing would be EY473 SIN-AUH and EY18 AUH-LHR (A346 scheduled). A few days before my flight, I had checked on what planes were used on EY18, I was hoping for EHJ, the F1 formula plane. I was worried because the on LHR routing, EY is known for doing equipment swops, and I saw A333 which I did not want on the 2 flights before mine. Kept praying that it would not be the case on my flight, besides flying on a Saturday, they may use a bigger plane!
The website was dated; user-unfriendly. The strangest thing is you get to choose the seat first before you book, my first time encountered on any airline. When I was at the seat map section, I was disappointed that all window on both flights were taken so I choose the aisle seats beside the window. One great thing I love about Airbus widebodies is that they are 2-4-2 seating configuration, which means no middle seat! add on; the website was pretty buggy as there were few times when I clicked on payment, it gave me the white screen (Bad request). I was quite pissed off but eventually got it done. Comforting myself after that that I was going to fly on the A340-600!
Cabin photos of the A330-200 (A6-EYG)
I heard positive feedback on EY's service, they are supposed to be better than Emirates. Like Emirates and Qatar, they have a crew of foreigners from all around the world. My expectation of this airline is high, so I was expecting to enjoy the service onboard this flight. Boy, I was so wrong. This has to be one of the worst flight services I had experienced at least for this year. The cabin crews were rude and grouchy and they looked disinterested in their jobs. Most of the time they spend at the gallery chatting among themselves. I was wondering was this for real?
PTV entertainment system
This was supposed to be the older system, AVOD but lacking inflight plug for iPhone charger and laptop. But what I like about it is that it has the camera view and touch screen which SQ should installed on their PTV system! The system itself is easy to use and no problem navigating at all. I give this 9/10 rating.
Conclusion for this flight EY473
The service was mediocre, the meal was ok, seats were fairly comfortable with limited legroom space, entertainment system and flying the A330 was the only positive highlight for me! The flight was turbulent until we passed by the Bay of Bengal. I didn't sleep much because of the moderate turbulence, but I managed to watch some nice movies. Since then, I had sent in a complaint letter about the service on this flight. More on this later. It was a bad first impression! Did I get better service on my connecting flight? Stay tuned. :)
About AUH airport
The terminal was quite small, with limited shops. The gates were not far from each other, it wasn't difficult to get to where I want to go. So if you are going there for transit, you should not have any problems. There is a cafe on the 2nd level and some view of the tarmac. The so-called free wifi was useless, I couldn't access anything from my iPhone. However, if you need to use the internet, there are computers for you to use around the gate areas, they are free to use.
Carrier: Etihad Airways
Flight number: 18
Date: 12th June 2011
Seat number: 25C (Economy)
Aircraft type: Airbus A340-642
My 1st ride on this aircraft type and 1st airline to be flying the A340-600
1st time on A6-EHE
Engines: Roll Royce Trent 556 engines
Date delivered: 29th June 2007
Line number: 829
Flight Duration: 7 hrs
Load factor for Y class: 100%
Departure gate: 35
Arrival runway used: 09R
I was looking so forward to this sector, but because of my bad experience on my previous flight, the enthusiasm level wasn't there! Nevertheless, I told myself to stay positive, hopefully, fingers cross, I get to fly the A340-600. I went to the gate to see my aircraft, however, it was parked at the far end of the terminal, the last one in fact, and I could only saw the tail, Airbus tail, cannot tell which model exactly. So the tension got higher especially when boarding started!
Looking at how long the queue was for Gate 35, I thought it was going to be a full flight, and I was right, not a single Y class seat was vacant when I did my usual walk around during the flight. Anyway, it took about 15 minutes to clear the queue and waited in the boarding lounge for the announcement to board the aircraft. When that time came, I was one of the first economy passengers to head towards the runway. My heart was pounding quicker and quicker when I was heading towards the plane! I didn't want to wait until the return flight for the A346! I wanted the A346 then !! Finally, I saw the sight of my plane, and to my biggest relief and joy, it was indeed the A346, not the F1 formula livery though.
The seating arrangement was the same as the A332, 2-4-2. You can't tell any difference unless you walk around the economy section. You will realize how long this plane is, similar to the Boeing 777-300. The take-off was powerful and what was more significant compared to the 777-300 is that this plane was much quieter even though it was powered with 4 engines than 777-300's 2 engines. Entertainment system was the same as my previous flight, so no comment on this. Ok, this must be what you guys are wondering, service? This set of crews were younger and more Asians this time round, service was better, but comparing with airlines like SQ, CX or MH, service is still not there yet. Also, my PTV on this flight was not working, and there were no other seats available, so I have to put up with it until LHR. This was, of course, included part of the complaint. More about this flight, it was much smoother than my previous flight, meals were tasty. Despite not able to use the PTV, the flight was better and I did catch some sleep on this flight.
Cabin photos of the A340-600!
I guess you can say that I was quite unlucky in both flights, I did have thoughts of just flying back on another airline, but that would waste a fair bit of $$. I am glad to have gotten the A340-600 off my list! Stay tuned for my return flight to know whether would it get any better or worse! Overall, the flying experience onboard A332 and A346 was satisfying.
In-flight service: 6/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
IFE System: 7/10
In-flight meal: 7/10
Overall rating: 57/70
Thank you for reading my trip report.