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We were especially excited for this flight, as we would be flying on an A340-600, which are slowly going out of service. I personally have never flown on one (not that I can remember anyways), and I’ve always thought they look super sleek with their four engines and long fuselage.
This would also be our first time trying out Etihad. The only other gulf carrier we’ve flown is Emirates, so we were curious to see how Etihad compares.
We headed to gate 15 early, as we weren’t enjoying our time anyways at the disappointing KAL Lounge. Our Etihad A346 was parked there, looking fantastic.
Boarding began on time, but we were held up on the jet bridge as the crew halted the boarding process due to a passenger who wasn’t sure if he had received a seat upgrade.
After a few minutes, we were allowed to continue boarding. We boarded the plane from the door right behind the business cabin. For this flight, I was seated in 12A, which is the first window seat on the left when boarding from this door.
This particular Etihad A340 was equipped with the 1st generation Pearl Business Class seats. The main difference between the 1st and 2nd generation seats is the addition of a side table, providing extra storage.
The window seat felt very private, as everything is pretty much blocked out by the barrier when you lean back. However, the seat-width was a bit on the narrow side. The lack of a side table also made it difficult to store any personal belongings. A soft pillow was available on the seat.
The seat controls were mounted on the side of the seat above the armrest. The seat pitch and lumbar support can be adjusted, as well as how far front/back the seat is. Don’t get excited about the “massage” seat option, as it just sends small vibrations through the chair. The controls for the wall lamp and reading light are also here. Word of caution: the wall lamp is extremely bright! Careful not to blind yourself, or the whole cabin for that matter, if you turn it on when the cabin is dark.
Docked on the inner side of the seat was the IFE controller. It looked a bit dated, but was fully functional.
The footrest was decently sized and can accommodate most taller individuals. Beneath the footrest was a large storage area for shoes. A wrapped blanket was available on the footrest, as well as the menu and amenity kit. I thought the blanket was a good thickness and quite comfortable.
The amenity kits were made by Luxe, and what’s cool about them is that there are five different styles that represent cities from all around the world. The one I got represented Melbourne. It was made of a neoprene material, similar to that of a laptop sleeve. The contents included a Melbourne city guide, and amenities supplied by Scaramouche + Fandango, including a sleep pack, ear plugs, skin care, and a dental pack.
The TV felt a little small for a screen at this distance. Beneath the screen were two USB ports, an Ethernet port, and an RCA connector (the red, white and yellow plugs). You know a plane is old when that is still available!
Mounted to the right of the TV was the tray table, which folds down and swings into place. You can conveniently swing it forward should you need to step out with the tray table down. I later found the tray table to be a little small when my food started to arrive.
As I got settled in, a friendly flight attendant came over to introduce himself, and asked if I wanted anything to eat after takeoff. I didn’t want to eat too much before sleeping, so I ordered several snacks: baked cookies, potato crisps, cheese plate, fresh fruit, and a cappuccino. (Yes… I’m weird, I still drink coffee right before bed.)
We were delayed in pushing back, due to a problem with the cabin lights. Apparently, they were having trouble turning off the cabin lighting, and the crew warned us that it may stay on for the duration of the flight. This was quite alarming to hear, as it was a red eye flight, and I’m sure everyone was hoping to catch at least a bit of sleep. Thankfully, after 10 minutes or so, the cabin lights dimmed, and we were under way. Thank goodness!
After a lengthy taxi and a takeoff run that felt like we used the entire runway, we were in the air, bound for Abu Dhabi.
As we leveled off, the crew started prepping the food orders. I got the baked cookie and the potato crisps first, as well as the cappuccino.
The cheese plate came next. I was a little disappointed with the taste and the presentation of the dish. Also, as you can see, the tray table starts to get crowded with just two items.
I wrapped up my light meal with the fresh fruits.
I was getting quite sleepy, so I started setting my seat into the lie-flat bed configuration. With the lack of storage space, I had placed my amenity kit and DSLR camera on the footrest, so making enough room for myself to sleep proved a little challenging.
I woke up after a few hours, and was feeling a bit hungry. I scanned the menu and ordered myself a roast beef bagel. The roast beef was a bit chewy, and the bun was a bit tough. I also had a cup of Sencha green tea to get my senses awake.
I took this time to check out the entertainment system. The controls felt a bit delayed, but I believe this is due to the IFE system having been upgraded recently. The selection of movies and TV shows was pretty good, and comparable with other airlines. I didn’t take any photos of the selection, but please refer to this part of my video review: https://youtu.be/acCoYgytIck?t=11m28s
The sun was starting to rise on the horizon, so I figured I should have my breakfast served. I ordered the poached eggs with potato rosti, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and Hollandaise sauce. I also got a fruit smoothie and cappuccino for drinks. The breakfast service was great, and I enjoyed the taste of the food.
Pretty soon we were on approach to Abu Dhabi, and we flew past some spectacular desert mountain ranges. This was my second time in the Middle East, but I was still in awe at the exotic landscape.
The crew prepped the cabin for arrival super early, as I didn’t even see them walking the cabin for the last 20 minutes or so of the flight. Reflecting back on the entire flight, I did notice that the crew didn’t check up on passengers very often, but I attribute this to the fact that it was a red-eye flight.
We landed a bit after 6am local time, and as we taxied to our gate, I caught several glimpses of the new midfield terminal that was being built. Abu Dhabi tower also looked gorgeous in the morning light.
Our gate was a remote stand, as many of them are at Abu Dhabi airport, since the airport infrastructure is a bit under capacity to handle the amount of traffic they actually have. I didn’t mind this too much, as I got some incredible views of our plane, being the very first one to deplane.
We boarded the shuttle bus, which took us past many remote gates back to the terminal building. My eyes were glued to all the planes we were driving by.
Etihad Airway’s first-generation business class product on their A340s feels a bit dated, and I can see why they are starting to phase them out of service. The seat width felt a bit narrow, and with the lack of a side table and proper storage areas, this was a bit bothersome, and made sleeping a little awkward. The service was friendly, but the level of attention to detail was a bit less than I expected. Perhaps this is due to the flight being a red-eye flight. The food was generally pretty good, but not spectacular. If I was to fly with Etihad again on this routing, I would definitely try to get a plane with the second-generation business class seats.
For those interested in watching a video review of this flight on our YouTube channel:
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