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August 14, 2015 / oneworld82

Etihad Premium Lounge (AUH) and Abu Dhabi – Frankfurt on Etihad Airways First Class (EY F, 77W)

I honestly like Etihad Airways’ lounges. I like their color schemes, I like the food, I like the beverage selection. The spa is a great addition, and the shower rooms are nice. To be clear: Etihad Premium Lounge is no Lufthansa First Class Terminal, and while it’s true that the airline is completing a proper first class lounge, I doubt it will reach the gold standard set by the Germans.

Being as sick as I was, I was very glad to reach the lounge and to have a comfortable place to relax, especially since I had a 4+ hours layover. I headed straight to the spa, and within minutes I was showering in one of the shower rooms. The shower was restorative, but I could feel a fever coming up, and overall I was feeling pretty ill. The shower room at this lounge (just like the old F lounge) was a bit small, but nicely-appointed and very functional.

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I then proceeded to the main restaurant area looking for some light dinner, as I was feeling hungry. The buffet looked good for a business class lounge, but I preferred the breakfast spread I found back in December better.

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I then found a chair and napped for a while, waiting for my flight. As most of EY long-haul flights leave at night, the lounge was pretty crowded, and finding a seat (and a power plug!) was pretty challenging. As EY expands further, I do not see this situation improving, although the F class lounge should provide some respite.

The flight tonight, leaving at ~2am and landing in Frankfurt at around 7am was operated by a Jet Airways-configured 77W. As you can imagine, I was very eager to fly this reconfigured bird, and overall I must say that it was a pleasant-enough flight.

Just like the regular Etihad airplanes, the first class cabin features fully-enclosed suites. There are only two rows here though, and upholstery, color scheme, and IFE were completely different.

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The crew did wear Etihad uniforms, and the service overall was at Etihad’s levels.

Boarding happened through the front door, between the business class and the first class cabins. Upon showing my boarding pass I was escorted to my seat, 2A. I can’t help but saying that the cabin looked pretty old, tired, but functional overall. In particular, the colors of the upholstery gave it all a very “retro” feeling.

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After seating down my designated flight attendant – a lovely young Ethiopian woman – came by offering me a drink. I opted for some orange juice, since I did not want to drink anything that could upset my stomach. In hindsight, though, I wish I had more food/drinks on this flight, as I later discovered that pretty much anything would have made me sick…

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Like I said, the suite felt pretty old, but overall it was very functional. The TV was older than Etihad’s, but it featured the very same IFE system. Overall it was a good product, but not an excellent one.

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After take off I only asked for a glass of champagne (gotta try that Perriet-Jouet Grand Dame!), which was served with olives and nuts. After about 30 minutes I changed in my pjs and asked the bed to be made. The seat felt a bit weird as a bed, since its padding is not completely flat throughout and since it’s not perfectly horizontal in all its parts. It was overall comfortable though, and I managed to sleep for a good 4 hours, before wake up for breakfast around 75 minutes prior to landing.

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As I was hungry I ordered a latte and some eggs with sausage and foul madames. I couldn’t bring myself to eat much, as my tummy ache came back, to the utter disappointment and concern of my flight attendant. The food was very good though, and it was a pity I couldn’t enjoy it more.

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After finishing breakfast I changed into my day clothes and we landed in Frankfurt on time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy this flight given my illness. Yet, I was very grateful I had a flat and private bed where I could rest, since I was feeling pretty sick. 9W product looks rather old and overall not on par with the mainstream EY fleet, but service was the usual great Etihad’s one.

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My last leg home was on AA in business class on a non-retrofitted B767. The flight was uneventful, and I won’t report on it since I slept most of the time and did not eat/drink anything but some cheese and crackers. Again, I was very happy I had a lie-flat seat (albeit angled) so that I could properly rest during this day flight.

Overall, and sickness notwithstanding, this Kenya trip was outstanding. The wealth of fauna that that country has is incredible. Reuniting with old friends was priceless, and trying EK F was an experience I look forward to repeat soon.

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