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February 7, 2015 / oneworld82

AMS-AUH on Etihad Airways Business Class (332)

After visiting Amsterdam, I could have gone back home directly with an easy US Airways flight to Philadelphia and then on to Dallas. But that wasn’t exciting enough.  A few days before leaving for Europe I saw some award seats between Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi open up in business class on Etihad Airways. That would allow me to spend 24 hours in Dubai before leaving for Washington, DC on Etihad first class. Not only that: my main aim was to do shopping in Dubai, and the complimentary chauffeur service offered by Etihad made this very easy. So I booked myself a room at the Sheraton Hotel Mall of the Emirates, and off I went!

Twenty-four hours before departure from AMS a private limo company contacted me to arrange my transfer to the airport. I took the chance to bring my parents along, since they would be leaving for London more or less at the same time. Our driver was 10 minutes early with a magnificent Mercedes S Class. The ride was smooth and in about 25 minutes we reached the airport. Schiphol wasn’t too busy this time of the day (and on a Sunday); my check in with Etihad was quick and efficient.

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Security was a breeze, and in no time we were in the departure area. We spent most of the time shopping, but  I did check the KLM Crown Lounge as I wanted to take a quick shower. The lounge is big, and when I visited it was pretty crowded. It has a bar area which looked well stocked and a pretty basic buffet area for food. Overall, I was not too impressed with this lounge – especially since it is supposed to be KLM’s top lounge.

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Upon checking in with the service desk I was promptly handed the key to one of the shower rooms. It was a small-ish but clean room with all the amenities needed to freshen up before (or after) a long flight. I tried the internet inside the lounge and it worked pretty well.

After waving my parents goodbye, I proceeded to the Etihad gate. Pre-boarding started about one hour before departure time; basically you go through passport check and security and you access another lounge where the boarding-proper then begins.

Flight EY78
November 30th, 2014, 9.45p – 7.25a
Business Class, Seat 9K
Airbus A330-200

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Once on board, I proceeded to my seat and acquainted myself with its amenities. I must say I am a fan of Etihad’s (now old) color schemes; the seat was spacious and comfortable, with enough personal space to store personal items (but not as spacious as AA’s seat on the 773). We had some delay in leaving the gate, and I kid you not – the flight attendant came twice refilling my glass of champagne. Etihad really knows how to spoil customers!

Beautiful and private seat

Beautiful and private seat

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An amenity kit was also present at the seat – it was of course more basic that a first class one but it still had anything needed.

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While waiting for departure, my aisle’s flight attendant came by asking me what I would like as aperitif and whether I had decided on my dinner. I told him I would just have some champagne and then I placed my order for the pasta dish. I also asked him for some champagne pre-departure.

 

Pre-departure champagne

Pre-departure champagne

The nut service started shortly after we were airborne, and the nuts were plentiful and tasty. Not long after dinner was served, and the tray presentation was excellent to say the least. I had a Campari & soda as aperitif. The drink was ok, but a bit weak for my liking.

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We started with the pea soup, which was flavorful and very tasty. I am finding that soups are consistently good dishes to have on a plane, since they are just reheated on board and since this process does not detract from the overall flavor of the dish.

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As main I had opted for the linguine with tomato sauce; I always am skeptical of pasta dishes on airplanes, but I was feeling like something light and simple, and this dish promised me just that. Now, I wouldn’t say that the dish was disappointing – the pasta was cooked perfectly “al dente” and the tomato sauce was very fresh. But the presentation was rather odd. As you can see from the picture, the sauce was put almost on the side of the pasta, in an arrangement I had not seen before. Also, no cheese was offered for the pasta. I would say that the execution could have been done better.

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To finish off the meal I had the chocolate cheesecake with kumquat sauce as dessert. This cake was very good – good texture, great flavor, great presentation – and ended up the meal on a high note.

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The meal was, overall, very good for long-haul business class. Service was efficient and well-paced, if impersonal. The Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge NV is a good choice and not a surprising one, given that Mumm is the official champagne of the F1 championship!

After my tray was cleared I put the moving map on, reclined my seat in bed mode, and fell asleep for a good three hours. The seat is very comfortable and nicely padded, and provided me with about three hours of good sleep.

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About ninety minutes before landing the flight attendant woke me up as requested and asked me whether I was ready for breakfast.

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My table was quickly set, and my steak sandwich and latte were served. The sandwich was good – flavorful, tasty, with tender meat. The latte was served in Etihad’s traditional tall glass, and it tasted great (with the right amount of foam).

After finishing my meal and I played with live TV – a great feature indeed offered on flight to/from Europe. I then went to the restroom to freshen up, and in no time we were approaching Abu Dhabi and getting ready to land.

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All in all, it was another great flight on Etihad. My 24 hour stay in Abu Dhabi was about to begin, but first I headed to Etihad’s arrival lounge.

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