Skip to content
September 9, 2013 / oneworld82

Etihad Airways rules them all! AUH-SYD on Skytrax First Class of the Year

Flight EY450, Airbus 340-600
Aug 11th, 2013, 10:15a – 6:25a+1
First Class, Seat 2K

So, Etihad Diamond First. I have longed this moment for oh-so-long! And here finally am, on my beautiful suite 2K.

Et voila'!

Et voila’!

What can I say… the suite was simply astounding. A king, and a throne. This is how I felt. But I will try to contain my excitement and go with a little of order.

The armchair – because this isn’t simply a seat – has a nice hazelnut palette, which is in my opinion brilliantly complemented by the black and white striped pillow and blanket.

My throne

My throne

Lots of lateral storage space

Lots of lateral storage space

Pillows and blanket have an amazing palette!

Pillows and blanket have an amazing palette!

The TV is large, the images sharp. The doors design is modern but reminiscent of Arabic art and imaginery,

Large TV

Large TV

Middle Eastern-inspired. On the side of the chair there is a lot of space to store anything you might need next to you during the flight.

Storage space. Do not forget the closet near the door as well.

Storage space. Do not forget the closet near the door as well.

And to make sure Emirates doesn’t have an edge, there is also a minibar with snacks and water (both Acqua Panna and Acqua San Pellegrino).

Mini bar

Mini bar

I have never flown Emirates First and hence I cannot comment on that, but many people complain that Middle Eastern airlines’ service is attentive but not friendly. For a variety of reasons, I found this not true at all on this Etihad flight.

View from the edge of my suite

View from the edge of my suite

Suite next to mine

Suite next to mine

DSC_0113

Pre-Flight treat

Pre-Flight treat

Orange-filled date and chocolate

Orange-filled date and chocolate

First of all, the onboard chef, David.  He was a jovial fella, always smiling and willing to chit chat and to suggest dishes to satisfy your cravings. Etihad – by adopting this concept from Gulf Air – really gained an edge in the sky, if you ask me (it’s not a secret that the current EY’s CEO is the former CEO of GF…).

Then, there were the flight attendants. The crew serving my aisle included an Indian woman and an Australian one; both of them were very pleasant and smiling. The only FA who fit the stereotype was a Filipina attendant who was very efficient but who didn’t crack a smile – perhaps that happened because she served my aisle at the very end of the flight, and after 11 hours of work you probably don’t feel like smiling that much anymore…

As soon as I sat in, David came in to offer me a drink. I opted for the rose’ Henriot Brut Rose’ NV Champagne; I am a huge fan of rose’ champagne as aperitif, and this one didn’t disappoint.

Ready!

Ready!

Right before take off, an amenity kit, slippers, and pj were provided. I love the amenity kit – it looks classy, luxurious, and it’s well stocked with anything you can possibly need aboard a plane (La Prairie is always a guarantee of great quality).

Lovely amenity kit

Lovely amenity kit

The pj was comfortable and it didn’t keep me hot during the flight – a big plus. The slippers were so awesome that I am wearing them right now as I am writing this report.

Selfie with Etihad pajama

Selfie with Etihad pajama

The menu was extensive and comprehensive, with a great selection of Middle Eastern and European dishes; it read as follow:

A La Carte Lunch

Appetisers

Balik salmon tartar and cucumber cannelloni with mesclun salad, wasabi cream and herb oil
Traditional Arabic Mezze. A selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetisers
Harira Tomato Soup
Creamy mushroom soup served with sour cream

Mains

Barbecue marinated chicken with honey roasted sweet potato, baby corn and pecan nuts
Ghouzi style roasted lamb. Arabic-spiced lamb leg with lemon-turmeric rice and grilled vegetables (a traditional Emirati recipe developed in conjunction with Mezlai Restaurant, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi)
Vegetable lasagne served with tomato-herb sauce and mixed salad
Chef’s special. Ask our chef about the “special of the day” or to create something especially for you

From the Grill
(Select your choice of meat or fish from the options below together with your preferred side dishes and sauces and our chef will prepare it all to your taste)

Grass-fed beef tenderloin
U.S. rib-eye steak
Mixed grill
Corn-fed chicken
Fillet of red snapper

Sides

Steamed garden vegetables
Roasted baby potatoes
Courgettes Provencales
Mediterranean grilled vegetables
Creamy mashed potatoes
Steamed white rice
Oven-baked fries

Sauces

Veal jus
Bearnaise sauce
Tomato concasse’
Cafe’ de Paris butter

Taste of Arabia
A selection of dishes inspired by the best of Middle East

Traditional Arabic Mezze. A selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetisers
Harira tomato soup
Ghouzi style roasted lamb. Arabic-spiced lamb leg with lemon-turmeric rice and grilled vegetables (a traditional Emirati recipe developed in conjunction with Mezlai Restaurant, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi)
Chocolate, cardamom and orange pudding served with rosewater custard
Sulaimani tea

Desserts and Digestifs

CHEESE
a selection of international cheeses

DESSERTS
Fresh fruit with passion fruit coulis
A selection of ice cream flavours
Dessert taster. Four mini desserts to tempt you. Summer berry pudding, duo of chocolate mousse, watermelon and apricot shot, ice cream
Raspberry crunch cake with mixed berry sauce
Chocolate, cardamom and orange pudding served with rosewater custard

DESSERT WINE
Royal Tokaji, Late Harvest 2011, Hungary

DIGESTIFS AND LIQUEURS
Taylor’s Select Reserve Port
A. De Fussigny XO Cognac
Cointreau
Kahlua
Baileys

Kitchen Anytime
(A selection of sweet and savoury items to enjoy at any time during the flight)

A selection of breads and pastries
Fruit smoothie energiser drink
A range of breakfast cereals with full-cream or low-fat milk
Breakfast taster. A selection of four mini breakfast items. Omelette roll with mixed peppers, bircher muesli, berry and fruit salad, energiser
Fresh eggs cooked to order and served with your selection of chicken sausage, rosti potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, foul medames
Kraftkorn bagel with smoked turkey, tomato and cream cheese
Selection of crispy snacks served with coriander chutney, lamb samosa, onion pakora and cauliflower bhaji
Sandwiches made to order
the Etihad Steak Sandwich with rocket leaves, veal bacon, red onion compote, melted cheese, mayonnaise and grain mustard
Cheese. A selection of international cheeses
Afternoon tea. A selection of classic tea cakes

NIBBLES
Potato crisps in a variety of flavours
Freshly baked cookies and madeleines
Swedish crisp bread
Arabic baklava

So, as I was saying, the menu is huge. Too bad it doesn’t feature any Asian option, but it definitely matched ANA’s First Class menu; and probably went beyond it. Enough said.

Take off happened about 1 hour 10 minutes late, but it went smoothly eventually; no one ever cared to announce the reason of the delay. Right after taking off, David came by to take my lunch order. Not feeling too hungry yet, I asked him for some snack suggestions to go along with a glass of Bollinger La Grande Annee champagne, and he suggested the bagel with salmon; to which I agreed wholeheartedly. In the meantime, I had a glass of Johnny Walker Blue Label with some tasty amuse bouches.

Post-Departure drink

Post-Departure drink

I started watching “Oblivion”, a movie that had captured my imagination. It ended up being a very good one. After about half hour the bagel arrived. I had drained my glass of Bollinger already, and as the flight attendant – who didn’t know I had tried the rose’ earlier – suggested I tried the rose’, I switched to it for my meal. I think I liked the rose’ better than Bollinger. The bagel was fantastic. It was perfectly toasted, the fish was fresh, the remoulade tasty and there was just the right amount of veggies in it.

Table setup

Table setup

Amuse bouche(s)

Amuse bouche(s)

Tasty

Tasty

Best bagel I have ever tried. And I lived in NYC...

Best bagel I have ever tried. And I lived in NYC…

Now I was hungrier for more; I called David, and I asked for some steak. I asked him what did he recommend; he asked me how I like my meat cooked; I said medium rare. He suggested the tenderloin. I said “sure”. After 20 minutes, the steak with fries appeared. It was perfectly cooked, medium-rare to my liking, tasty, of great quality. Useless to say I finished it all. After my meat (which I had with some Chianti), I decided to indulge in some cheese; again, the presentation was great and the cheese was godo in both quality and variety. At this point, I was a happy camper.

Perfectly-cooked tenderloin with roasted potatoes

Perfectly-cooked tenderloin with roasted potatoes

Chocolate, cardamom and orange pudding served with rosewater custard

I finished watching Oblivion while having some cheese to top off dinner. Again, great selection and variety.

Cheese

Cheese

Then I summoned one of the FA through the control button and asked her to have my bed made. That happened in a matter of seconds more than minutes, and as soon as I came back from the bathroom my suite was all ready. Let me tell you: this is a darn good bed! Comfortable, completely flat, with a nice pad and luxurious sheets/duvet. So classy! I easily fell asleep (although turbulence spilled a glass of wine that was sitting next to me, which prompted a flight attendant to clean my seat and redo my bed) and woke up after about 3 ½ hours – jet lag is an ugly beast. I started writing this report, and ordered a Bailey’s iced coffee that David promptly delivered. It was great, bar level. After that I wrote some more and napped a bit, before starting to watch the second G.I. Joes installment.

Comfortable bed

Comfortable bed

In 13 hours I had enough time to take a close look around the suite. It’s certainly an amazing product. Everything is not only functional, but also eye-pleasing. The leather seat is very comfortable, wide. The side bar where the tray is stowed is classy and modern, with a dense wooden pattern that speaks of luxury. There is plenty of lighting in the suite, and the controls are quite intuitive and easy to use. There are various different lights and many intensities to them: reading lights, dining lights, side lights… pretty smart. The seat controls are interactive and easy to use as well.

Headphones

Headphones

Suite controls

Suite controls

Hidden power ports and remote

Hidden power ports and remote

Suite lighting

Suite lighting

Door closed! :)

Door closed! 🙂

More lighting

More lighting

Comparing this suite to Cathay Pacific’s or ANA’s isn’t easy. But overall, Etihad’s has an edge, given the level of privacy it affords, the quality of materials used, the large TV, and the good lighting. I am honestly impressed by what the Abu Dhabi-based carried has achieved.

Bailey's Iced Coffee

Bailey’s Iced Coffee

Fee (working) wifi!!

Fee (working) wifi!!

In any case, about 3 hours before landing I started feeling hungry again, and so I pressed the magic button on my remote pad and David promptly appeared within seconds. I asked for some mezze and for a steak sandwich – and David said that both would be promptly delivered.

About 15 minutes later, my mezze platter appeared. Here I was positively impressed by David. When I asked for mezze, I could notice that perhaps he had run out of some of them. But he still said: “sure”. What he delivered was a mix of mezze – what he probably still had left – and pakoras/samosas on the side. He didn’t mention once that he was out of some of the mezze, but he positively stated that he had added some Indian appetizers to make the dish tastier. This proactive, positive attitude really makes a World of difference if you ask me; it helps an airline stands out.

Ready for meal #2!

Ready for meal #2!

Mezze, pakoras, and samosas

Mezze, pakoras, and samosas

The mezze and samosas and pakoras tasted great. I washed them down with some more champagne (rose’), and after that I waited for the steak sandwich, for which I switched to Victoria Bitter – one of Australia’s quintessential beers together with Carlton draught. After not too long the sandwich was delivered. I cannot easily describe how good it was. I am simply shocked that it’s possible to create something like this on a pressurized environment 33,000ft above sea level. The meat, the bread, the sauce… everything came together perfectly in what was probably one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted up in the air. David, thank you so much!

The King of all Steak Sandwiches!

The King of all Steak Sandwiches!

Mainstream Australian beer :)

Mainstream Australian beer 🙂

After that, I got a cappuccino and went to the restroom to prepare for landing.

Pre-landing cappuccino

Pre-landing cappuccino

Time to get ready for landing!

Time to get ready for landing!

Washrooms

Washroom

IMG_1461

IMG_1460

We ended up landing about 35 minutes behind schedule.

Australia

Landing in Sydney

Landing in Sydney

Sydney Bay

Sydney Bay

Air Niugini airplane at SYD airport

Air Niugini airplane at SYD airport

Thanks to the Fast Track pass I was provided to I was able to quickly go through immigration and custom and I was able to make it to my connecting flight to Adelaide.

Etihad, I am so grateful you exist! You were able to redefine my already high standards set by Cathay Pacific and ANA. Whether I was just lucky or not, I do not know; but service on my flight was attentive, efficient, and cordial. Not Asian carrier-level to be clear, but outstanding nonetheless. The hard product is simply phenomenal, really hard to beat. Catering was on par with a top restaurant and the selection of beverages was first class as well.

Thanks to this flight, I now know how I will use the hundreds of thousands of American Airlines miles I have on my account. Long live Etihad Airways!

2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Andreas / Sep 9 2013 11:39 pm

    Excellent report!

  2. Anton / Nov 25 2013 6:26 am

    Hi Roberto,

    Indeed an excellent trip report – I’ve read quite a few of yours, and I like that it is easy to feel your excitement through your words. Well done.

    One question a bit off topic, but your end this report by stating that you now know how you will spend the huge amount of AA miles you have. I live in Europe, and it seems that it is not as easy to save up the same amount of points as people do in the us – do you earn your miles simply from flying or where do they come from? :o)

    You are more than welcome to reply in an email.

    Cheers and thanks for the great reports.

    /Anton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: