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November 15, 2014 / oneworld82

Etihad Airways First Class Abu Dhabi – Paris (AUH-CDG F, A436)

Etihad Airways Flight #31 AUH-CDG
Sep 2nd, 2014
Seat 2K, A340-600

A top airline distinguishes itself from the pack with attention to details. Small things like addressing you in a formal yet friendly way, bringing you a freshly-printed (onboard!) newspaper, and always refilling your glass without asking are what really makes the difference to premium customers. Etihad does this all very well, and it’s not a wonder that it has been chosen as one of the top 5 first class operators of the year for the past few editions of the Skytrax World Airline Awards.

I left the lounge a little early to go shopping for some camel milk chocolate (delicious and made only in Abu Dhabi) before proceeding to my gate. To my dismal, the gate had a long line and there was no dedicated line for premium customers. That made the whole boarding experience less than ideal, and overall it was around 30 minutes before I was able to get to the plane.

Once I did get there, though, bliss commenced. I was personally escorted to my suite – 2K – and greeted by the flight attendant was serving my aisle. She would be one of the most attentive flight attendants I have had to date – always trying to please and to anticipate my needs.

Shortly after the chef came introducing himself, followed by Robert, the gracious cabin manager.

Etihad First Class cabin is very appealing. The beige tones that dominate the suites are well complemented by the black and white striped scheme of pillows and blankets. The suite features a big 24″ inches flat TV, multiple light points, a minibar of sort with some (warm) water and packaged snacks (totally useless, only glitzy). The seat is comfortable and wide; under the ottoman there is enough space for a carry-on, and the suite has a narrow closet with enough space for, in my case, jeans and a polo shirt; it is not, though, as spacious as the one found on Cathay Pacific or British Airways. In case clothes do not fit into the closet, the FAs are more than happy to hang them for guests.

Next to the seat there were three menus (one for food, one for drinks, and one for tea). Two pralines in a cute box were sitting on top of the menu. The chef offered me a pre-departure drink, and I went for a mimosa, which was promptly refilled.

I took a look at the menu for today’s flight. Given the late departure, there wasn’t a real dinner on offer, but just a selection of heavy snacks from the “kitchen anytime” section of the menu, which read as follows:

IMG_4958[1] IMG_4959[1] IMG_4960[1]

Also, meat from the grill was available. The chef came back before departure asking me whether I wanted anything after take off, and I asked him for a steak sandwich (which he suggested be served with some chips) and some cheese. Also, for breakfast he proposed me a “last minute breakfast”, meaning pastries and coffee right before landing. At first I agreed, but later on I would change my mind as the menu offered something really tempting.

Right before departure, Arabic coffee and dates were offered.

The suite came with a pajama and a very nice amenity kit – hand-woven by Emirati bedouins – stuffed with Bergamote 22 goodies.

We took off about 45 minutes late, and once airborne service started promptly. A glass of champagne with nuts was delivered and almost right after the steak sandwich came by. The champagne is a Gosset Brut Millesimee, a sort of subpar choice when it comes to brand, but a great choice as millesimee is always a guarantee of high quality.

The steak sandwich was just like I remembered it: pretty awesome. The bread is always crispy to the point, the meat and the cheese on top of it are an excellent combo. It was served with a green salad and chips on the side, as promised. I literally gulped it down in 5 minutes – crazy!

After that, the cheese was delivered – a selection of camambert, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a blue cheese. It was very good, but I think Lufthansa does a better job with its cheese. 🙂

After dinner I fell asleep with my seat right up, but luckily after half a hour I woke up and asked to have my bed made. I got four sound hours of sleep on what is an incredibly comfortable bed. Also, room temperature was great (meaning: not too hot) and the cabin air wasn’t dry at all.

I happily slept for about three hours and a half. When I woke up, I proceeded to the restroom, and when I got back to my suite the flight attendant came by to ask me whether I wanted anything to drink. I asked her whether I could change my breakfast order, and she summoned the chef for me. I explained him that I had changed my mind and that I wanted to try the Arabic omelette, and he graciously obliged in changing my order. My orange juice was promptly served, along with a hot towel.

Then, the most amazing thing happened! Etihad has a printer on board… and a freshly-printed copy of the day’s Wall Street Journal was delivered, perfectly wrapped, to my bed! Simply insane!

A few minutes later my table was set up once again. First, a fruit platter with assorted pastries was delivered.

The omelette was delivered. It was a pretty healthy dish – egg whites only with lebneh and halloumi plus some cucumbers on the side. It was very tasty and energizing.

After finishing breakfast I went to the restroom and changed back into my clothes. We landed in a crispy Parisian morning about half a hour late. Before deplaning, both my flight attendant and the chef came by thanking me for having flown Etihad Airways – a very nice gesture that only reinforced the already-excellent opinion that I have of this incredible airline.

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