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Upping The Game: On Etihad In J & New F  
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

~ Inflight Service - Not really up there among the best and a major weakness of an otherwise decent product. Although there were exceptions, most of the crew seemed to be just doing a job, nothing more. One could even say some of the crew couldn't care less - and this was in the premium classes ~

And that was how I concluded one of my first trip reports on A.net. in Oct. 2007. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the then very young Eithad Airways. And one that got a few people riled up. This guy must obviously be biased! Although my first experience on the airline (4 sectors KUL-AUH-LHR and return) was really not so bad - I was quite impressed with the flat beds in J class - it was clear that the quality of inflight service left much to be desired.


not first choice


Two years on, plans for my Christmas travel to the U.K. are well under-way before mid-year 2009. My top choice for the route is not Etihad, but an exotic milk-run: Yemenia to London from Kuala Lumpur via Jakarta, Dubai, Sana'a (overnight stay required) and Aden. It's more costly than some other airlines, while the planes are a little dodgy and low on frills but no matter, I figure, the experience itself outweighs anything I might have to forego in comfort, perceived safety, entertainment or convenience.

Well, at least that's the plan until June 30: the tragic crash of a Yemenia A310 on approach to Moroni in Comoros changes everything. The airline's already eccentric schedules go haywire, while the writing is on the wall for a possible EU ban on safety grounds. I need to find another way.

The next few months are spent weighing plenty of options, none of which can quite match what I had in the beginning. Iran Air almost tempts me with a unique B747SP ride and mandatory stay in Tehran, but it's rejected for being expensive and well, challenging. (You see, another plan being simultaneously considered is flying on from Europe to New York on AF's brand new A380. Travelling via THR just ahead of a U.S. trip wouldn't have been a very smart thing to do. On hindsight, a jaunt in Yemen would probably have been worse.)

Reluctantly, I consider "safer" options. Gulf Air has a great offer in J but I had recently flown them, so that's out. I briefly consider TG for my free upgrade entitlement (a nice perk while I still have my Star Alliance status) but the airline - more familiar old friend than exciting new lover - is not what I'm seeking for the definitive trip of the year.

European premium airlines mostly don't qualify on basis of budget, while an idea to travel on half a dozen Asian and European low cost carriers to Europe - a narrow-body trip that'll take nearly three days - gets me excited in the planning phase as I self-connect across websites from AirAsia to Air Arabia to Jazeera to TUIfly to Ryanair to easyJet... When I try to imagine what the reality of such a journey might actually entail, I chicken out.

With my transatlantic AF A380 flight now booked and paid for, my enthusiasm for multi-stop options to Europe wavers, especially if this could result in me missing the crucial flight to New York. The tide shifts in favor of reliability and comfort, but at a reasonable price. After another round of searching, Etihad is a surprising find; combining the best value in comfort - a flat bed in J - and price: from nearby BKK to LHR costs about $2,000 roundtrip (strangely, a similar EY ticket KUL-LHR-KUL costs almost double). With its significant service upgrades, I didn't think such bargains could be had anymore. So that's how Etihad out of Bangkok - with a couple of easy mouse clicks (and a growing credit card bill I try not to think about) - became my only choice.


christmas eve

KUL-BKK


Twas the night before Christmas... and I recognize old St Nick, disguised as a young MH agent manning the LH check-in desk at KUL, doling out upgrades to good kids. "You're in Business Class," Santa says as he hands me my boarding pass. "Economy is overbooked... full of groups to Bangkok." Lufthansa overbooked? I never thought I'd see the day! I don't realize I'd said it all out loud. Santa laughs: "yes, it's not normal!"

Lufthansa is my favorite choice between K.L. and Bangkok if the schedules fit. The four-times weekly 2-hour tag-on to the FRA-BKK route is one of the region's best kept secrets: consistently one of the emptiest 747 routes I have ever been on, and one of the cheapest too. I haven't been able to work out the business justification for this tag-on (LH already code-shares on a similarly timed TG flight) - perhaps it's the cargo - but I will enjoy it as frequently as I can, while it lasts. My 192 ringgit ($57) one-way ticket tonight gets me seat 2K near the nose of jumbo... I wish it is all the way to FRA of course - but I can't complain, can I?  christmas day

BKK-AUH-LHR





Early morning is busy any day of the year at Suvarnabhumi. Today is no exception. A free shuttle drives me the short distance from the Novotel, a rather nice airport hotel that's also a walk-able distance from the terminal if you enjoy obstacles and puzzles, and dropped off in front of Eithad's check-in area 2 hours ahead of departure. There's enough of a chill in the air to warrant a light sweater, but it will warm up later: Bangkok's year-end weather is one of the most pleasant, and no wonder why it attracts so many visitors this time of year. Still, the airport's decorations welcoming those celebrating Christmas - and obstructing one of the main entrances - is probably not such a great idea!





Check-in: so prominent and prolific are Qatar Airways' "World's 5-star airline" banners that I miss the obscured Eithad desks completely, walking straight past them to the next island. What a crafty QR ploy: I am sure that it's intentional. When I retrace my steps and eventually reach Etihad's Business Class check-in counter, the agent seems to have memorized the passenger manifest by heart: "Good morning... Mr Lee?" she ventures, as I approach the desk - a tad risky but very nice touch.

Check in is painless and I walk away with a whole bunch of paper. My boarding passes for the AUH flight and onward to LHR are issued without delay, as are invites for the Suvarnabhumi fast track immigration lane (very welcome during the morning peaks), TG lounge in BKK and EY lounge at AUH.





As I still have some time, I wander around a bit. I notice the two Gulf airlines - with hubs an hour apart - don't just share adjacent check-ins; they also have neighboring ticketing desks. Compared to the drab counters around them, these two keen rivals dress their desks up in elaborate fashion, and almost identically. Theirs are the only manned by guys in suits. Before this, I didn't realize the competition was so intense, but it is clear here the extent to which they vie for attention and try to outdo the other: so what if you're a 5-star airline; we're the world's leading airline! You've got a plane backdrop? Look at ours - it's bigger! So funny to see.





I do some searching, and it's also interesting to see how QR and EY schedule their flights from BKK. Both airlines operate double daily flights - the morning departures leave with 15 minutes of each other, while both airlines schedule their evening flights at exactly the same time. Not a coincidence, I think: there's definitely no love lost between these two.





I never thought of Suvarnabhumi as a particularly user-friendly airport, but it does come out looking rather decent in photos. Here you see the three main levels (though there are far more than that) accessible to the public: the upper departures level, the lower arrivals concourse and an intermediate floor housing airline offices and a number of food outlets.





The arrival of the coach carrying the crew who'll be operating this morning's EY flight to Abu Dhabi is the cue for me to move on, head inside thru immigration and security. Even though it's a relatively quick affair through the dedicated Fast Track lane, it takes me a good 15 minutes' leisurely stroll to reach one of the TG Royal Silk lounges at Concourse E. The place is crowded (sorry no photos) not only with TG's own passengers but also with those of other "client" airlines like EY, so I don't stay for long.

And besides, it's boarding already. I walk the short distance to gate E4, which coincidentally is also the one EK's A380s use when at BKK.





Most of the gates are occupied in the morning peak hours at BKK. Next door at gate E6 is a Gulf Air A343 boarding soon for BAH, while across at E2 is a SriLankan A332 in transit between CMB and PEK as UL 888. Also visible behind are the flights leaving from Concourse F: an AI A321 bound for Mumbai as IC 694 (I'm sorry but I still don't understand the AI/IC merger), an S7 Airlines B763 and CI B744.





This being Christmas day, the load for the EY flight is light. I see not more than 100 fellow passengers at the holding gate, which is reachable via steel ramp, a contraption so elaborate that it never ceases to make me wonder: why? Still, when you're not in a hurry, it's quite an interesting diversion and works well for the camera.





Outside, through the dirty convex glass panes, is the B77W that'll be carrying me to Abu Dhabi, looking almost ready to go. Bangkok does a pretty good job of a quick 90 minute-turnaround. A6-ETA is the first of an initial batch of five B777-3FXERs: delivered in January 2006 and barely four years old, she is already one of the oldest equipment in service with the airline - goes to show just how young a carrier Etihad is!


from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways flight 407 in Pearl Business
Boeing 777-3FXER A6-ETA
Dept: 08h13 Arrv: 11h58 (on time)


There is no one manning the separately marked J class boarding channel, so I join the one for economy class. With the light load, the queue is short and no problem at all.

A friendly welcome at the door - I even get a wave and "Merry Christmas" from a pilot donned in a Santa hat - and I'm quickly directed to my seat. Like in economy, this 28-seat cabin, which Etihad calls Pearl Business Class, is going out pretty light too. There are seven seats taken in all, a 33% load factor.





Eleven-A is the last window seat in the cabin. Like every other in Pearl Business, my seat is private, has direct aisle access, while here also delivering on the all-important window view. I think I have said this before, but it doesn't hurt to say it again: this is simply the best J class configuration there is. No contest, in my opinion.

Now, having said the good stuff, I think it's only fair to niggle a little over the detail. And there are a few of those. For a start, the seat is not overly wide, and some may even say it's almost as narrow as in Y: but that's the price to pay for privacy and aisle access I suppose. Next, the fittings are starting to show their age after four years - the armrest is particularly flimsy and mine seems about to collapse, while the seat cushion feels decidedly lumpy. Then there is the lack of any storage space - most of my stuff from books and newspapers to amenity kit and menus end-up strewn on the floor, while the safest place to store my glasses when I sleep is inside my shoes that are wedged between the seat and sidewall. Not so much J style as a reminder of my backpacking days actually. In fact, 11A has the unique advantage of a flat surface on the side, but that's really mainly used by the crew during service.





Still, the onboard service does go a long way to making up for any deficiencies. The last time I flew EY, I wasn't exactly bowled over by the service. But things seem to have changed. Rommel, dressed in a light jacket (as opposed to other cabin crew in dark suits), seems friendly and chatty when he comes over to introduce himself as 'the Food & Beverage Manager'. "Can I get you some fresh orange juice or fresh carrot or champagne?" (Heavy emphasis on the fresh bit throughout the service.) He explains the dining on-demand: "anything you want to eat, at any time during the flight." And obviously trained in more than just onboard service, Rommel also takes the opportunity to cross-sell EY's other benefits: "one hour is too short to enjoy our new lounge... we have a later London flight; you should try to change to that one - you shouldn't miss our spa in Abu Dhabi." I don't plan to take up the offer - and fraught with practical difficulties if I did - but that's an undeniable 'A' for effort.

Rommel brings me the usual - pre-take off drink, hot towel, newspaper, menu - as well as an amenity kit, that's becoming an ever rarer giveaway in J class these days. The handsome, unbranded dark grey pouch contains socks, eyeshades, earplugs, toothbrush, a couple of small Aigner items and a trendy bottle of Voss Norwegian still water.





We leave seven minutes ahead of schedule to a short verse from the Quran and announcements in Arabic, English and Thai. The safety video is played in Arabic and English. As we push back, I get a better view of the bright florescent green S7 Airlines B767-300ER that's being prepared for a flight to its hub at Novosibirsk. The airline will also be an interesting but among the stranger additions this year to the oneworld alliance - now mostly comprising a sober and rather grand-fatherly collection of carriers.





Next door to S7, is the regular morning China Airlines B744 in transit between Amsterdam and Taipei as CI 066. Like most of the machines CI uses on this route, B-18205 is one of those that have not yet been retrofitted into the airline's latest configuration. The roundabout routing for AMS-TPE via BKK is also legacy of the politics of the not-so-distant past when Taiwanese carriers had to skirt around China en route to Europe. Now of course, it's no longer an issue with CI (together with BR) flying to a number of mainland Chinese airports.





As we taxi towards 01L I spot the first of three Tiger Airways A320 flights today just arrived from Singapore, and patiently waiting for us to cross its path. Given its pedigree, home base, hubs, and routes, Tiger's achievements so far are, at best, lackluster. (Most critics are far less charitable.) Still, the airline's recent S$248 million IPO was a surprising success and puts the airline on a slightly better footing - critical with the likes of hungry rivals AirAsia and Jetstar now linking up.





There is a short queue for take-off with the usual morning, mostly TG, traffic before we get our chance to roll onto 01L. Perhaps I had only yesterday been sat at the quiet tip of a 747, but the roar of the twin turbofans is particularly noticeable. The whine of the GE90s as they spool up is louder and more high-pitched than I remember, and as we thunder - the engines now screaming - down the runway, I am scribbling in my notebook "wow, what's that?" It's a while since I've had a more powerful (or loud) take-off - or maybe it's just because I don't get to fly the B77W often enough?





As Bangkok disappears from view and the seatbelt signs come off, service starts in earnest. The cabin lights are dimmed and mood lighting - a shade more subtle than many others - is turned on, while window shades particularly for unoccupied seats are quickly lowered by the crew. (I've noticed Middle East airlines are among the most diligent of the 'keeping-you-in-the-dark-in-daytime' brigade.) There's not a problem with me remaining defiant though, but it seems strange that at 9 am, all my fellow passengers have decided to go to bed.





Rommel comes to me first, asking if I want anything to eat - it's an obvious choice seeing I'm the only passenger still awake. The menu, which had been distributed earlier, is an understated all-white affair. Inside, the grandly-termed 'a la carte' section is really just an elaborate way of saying breakfast, and is the only full meal served on this seven hour flight. Being famished, I tell Rommel I want the full works.





Outside, we are just slipping across the border over the Tenasserim mountain range which separates Thailand's Kanchanaburi province and Burma. It looks so serene and peaceful from way up here, of a place that is anything but. Our route is the standard westbound out of Bangkok that takes us over the port city of Tavoy, and into the Bay of Bengal.





Breakfast arrives with a minimalist black-and-white offering that looks pretty pleasing to the eye. I've already had a fresh juice and fresh fruit skewers to start. Here's the croissant, freshly made toast, and a delicious energizer drink to follow. There's quite an attention to detail too - the napkin is deliberately laid out askew by the flight attendant, something I notice done at every meal on EY.





The traditional hot breakfast dish (not sure whether freshly prepared or not) - herb omelet, sausages, the works, generously proportioned - tastes as good as it looks, even for someone who's not usually a fan of egg dishes in the morning. Note that each separate course comes with a fresh set of cutlery rather than a whole bunch for the whole meal you find on other airlines. A nice detail that's more F than J, but assuming your flight attendant doesn't forget to bring ‘em - which they don't on EY.





My "inspired" meal ends colorfully with a fresh fruit plate and yoghurt. In all, a pretty decent meal: style and presentation definitely at the higher end of the scale for J class. It's not perfect though with some small practical issues (for instance meal tray is larger than tray table or no space for an extra drink) but that's more to do with the seat design than the meal service itself - and are presumably solved when the airline upgrades its Pearl Business seats starting with the new A333s this year.





Etihad's entertainment system is called E-BOX but the interface aboard this B77W is still the older one which I recognize from 2 years back. There are entertainment options aplenty (but nowhere near in size to Emirates' selections) but as I still have a few more EY flights to take, I forego the movies for now in favor of some reading. I start with the house publication Etihad Inflight, a glossy bilingual magazine that dedicates a double-page spread to the airline's current and future fleet.    Among the planes on order are 10 x A380, 25 x A350 and 35 x B787, in addition to more B77Ws, A330s and A320s. Although I vaguely remember reading about these orders sometime back, I never quite tried to envision what Etihad could become in just a few years' time; and that's a sizable top class airline.





But pity poor artists: they do try hard. Planes are looking more alike these days and differences so subtle that a slipup on a 1:500 scale drawing is easy with details only airline nuts will notice (and care about). Like the CFM56s being fitted to the A340-600 that's lost a pair of doors   , or the over-stretched A330-200.    Or my favorite: the Etihad Cargo "MD11", which I'd love to see exactly like this   





The rest of the flight is uneventful. As usual at year end, I bring my copy of the Economist Christmas edition along for the ride, but don't get too far into it before succumbing to the temptation of a flat bed. Following the example of my fellow passengers, I unwrap the comfy blanket, lower the window shades, recline my seat, don the headphones, and am asleep in moments. When I wake up - two hours later - we'd already traversed India and making good progress for the Arabian Peninsula.





Interesting that for most of this flight during cruise (and also seen on subsequent flights), the fasten seat belt signs are on even if there is no noticeable turbulence. I wonder if that's EY policy now to keep them on: certainly, my visits to the washrooms aren't restrained by the crew in any way despite the illuminated signs. On my way back, Rommel offers to prepare something from the snacks selection of the menu, which I readily accept. The steak sandwich is delicious.





We are making good time and already over U.A.E. airspace when the cabin is being prepared for arrival. The captain comes over the blower to say the weather's a pleasant 22 C in Abu Dhabi and there'd been light rain at the airport earlier. Outside, it's like big sky country.





The planned housing developments on the outskirts of the capital city are clearly visible as we line up to land at AUH's runway 13R. We are about 10 minutes ahead of schedule as we make the smoothest of landings.





Like most EY flights from longer haul destinations, this arrival will be processed through the airport's newish Terminal 3. Thanks largely to Etihad's rapid growth, this terminal opened in January 2009 is the latest in a series of initiatives to expand the hub's capacity over the next few years. Among the most significant of these developments is the building at AUH of a large new complex known as the Midfield Terminal that will be completed 2012. I presume this new control (?) tower is part of the new development. Extensive ground works for the new terminal appear to be in full swing around it too.





From the announcement of onward connection gates, I decipher that passengers aboard this flight are bound for London, Munich, Frankfurt and Beirut. The traffic is light at midday, so it's a quick taxi for us to reach gate 30 where A6-ETA will take a well-deserved rest. Next door, I spot a company A340-600 - it's the only one of the type I can see parked at the terminal, which leads me to guess she'll be taking me on the next leg to London. Here we are finally at the gate:





After exiting though 2L, I get an opportunity to catch a last shot (albeit a partial one) of the plane that got us here. The windows are far cleaner here than in BKK. Across on the other side is the A346 that will be doing the LHR run as EY 017.





Abu Dhabi's Terminal 3 looks like an up-market shopping mall where all the outlets display posh brand names and immaculately turned out shop attendants greet you along the marbled aisles. Perhaps it's just quieter today at Christmas but the contrast with the crowds at the DXB terminals just an hour away can't be any more stark. It definitely feels more upmarket here.





My transit in Abu Dhabi is a short one. Despite arriving a little early, I have barely an hour between flights, which is just about enough with having to queue for another security check in between flights. Usually in such circumstances, I would give the lounge a miss, but with Etihad touting the virtues of its new facility, I had to check it out.





The common entrance for the separate First and Business Class lounges is reachable by elevator, one level up from the departures concourse. A host at reception welcomes me, but says I may not have much time with the LHR flight "boarding shortly"; she also warns that boarding calls are not made in the lounge. I walk past the entrance to the much-promoted Six Senses Spa, and straight into the Business Class lounge, a plush place with plenty of different seating areas to suit your mood at the time. There are quiet convivial corners, bright and sociable living room type sofas, a large dining area with a generous buffet, and bar seating for singles - but I am drawn, as you will be, to the seats by the window with a tarmac view. As you can see, the lounge is not overly crowded today, and is quite a contrast to my last experience at EY's old lounge in 2007. I do like this classy joint very much.





I don't get much chance to settle down. After I do a quick e-mail check and fix myself a drink, the host from reception shows up to say my London flight has started to board. Ah, there are boarding calls after all! I really would have liked to have spent more time in the lounge, which comes pretty well equipped, but Rommel is right: one hour is far too short for this facility.

By the way, the view from the lounge is of the old Terminal One which accommodates some of EY's short- and mid-haul flights and most foreign airlines.





It's a short stroll to gate 29 from where my flight is boarding. The ground agents have an easy time: the flight seems to be going out light. I'm not sure if some passengers have boarded or they haven't arrived, but there are definitely not more than a dozen people here. A6-EHK, one of the latest A340-600s delivered to Etihad in August 2009, will be operating flight 017 to Heathrow this afternoon.





With no queues, we are invited to board all at once. Outside, Hotel-Kilo, like many of the newer EY planes, carries the clear, unequivocal statement cheering its oil-rich home base. I suspect it's also intended as a non-too-subtle warning shot at its cocky and much larger competitor down the road to watch it, and not get too carried away with its hub-building. Don't you just love sibling rivalry?





Bonny, a friendly stewardess, welcomes me aboard at 2L and shows me to my window seat that's just ahead of the door. Pearl Business Class on the A346 seats 30 passengers but is divided into two cabins separated by a galley and washroom complex around doors 2. The seating configuration is identical to that on the B77W, but the distance between the seat and sidewall is noticeably smaller here, making it feel a bit less spacious. But that's not a surprise though seeing the A340 is a narrower plane.





I am one of the first to board in J class and that allows me time to take a few cabin photos. Compared with my last flight, one of the most obvious differences here is the use of new black and beige striped blankets and pillows. They are pretty smart looking. The fittings and seats themselves are obviously newer and in better shape, while the absence of overhead compartments above the middle seats does wonders for the spaciousness of the cabin. The airline seems to be in the middle of a transformation program as evidenced by cabin interiors which have been spruced up with new beige curtains and lighter colored carpeting. Altogether, a much nicer look.

I am tempted to pop into First Class to steal a few pictures of the new suites, but the arrival of a large family of six to claim their luxurious leather seats ensures that the photo session will have to wait for another time. Business class also starts filling up too, with a decent load of about two-thirds full in the front cabin. The aft J cabin remains unoccupied for this flight.


from Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow
Etihad Airways flight 017 in Pearl Business
Airbus 340-642 A6-EHK
Dept: 13h14 Arrv: 17h04 (on time)


Another early push back, this time accompanied by fresh chilled watermelon juice courtesy of Bonny. There's an F&B Manager aboard this flight too, but I don't catch his name as he rushes by between curtains without looking in on me. In fact, as far as I can see, he doesn't spend time with any of the J class passengers - presumably because he's quite busy enough in First Class. Not that the friendly stewardesses aren't doing a great job in Business, but there is clearly an inconsistency between the service you can expect on a 2-class and 3-class aircraft.





As we taxi out, the safety video fails, so we get a manual safety demo - always more fun to watch I think. Closing in on 31L, the Trents spool up - a lot quieter than the earlier GE90s - as the second phase of my long Christmas day's journey to London begins. Flight time is 7 hours and 40 minutes, about standard westbound for this time of year, and certainly not pushing the envelope for what an A340-600 can do. We lift off rather effortlessly.





The view immediately after take-off is one of an Abu Dhabi still undergoing a building boom. Less well known - certainly I didn't realize until I checked - is the fact that the city comprise a series of inter-connected islands, while the emirate has close to 200 islands along the coast. We don't fly over the city proper but can see the towers from a distance as we gain altitude over the Persian Gulf.





A stewardess hands out my second amenity kit for the day, and a menu in festive red. Do I want my Christmas lunch now? Why not, I say, feeling pampered and supremely contented. With Paul Theroux as my companion, I don't even have much reason to tune into the AVOD because escapism comes easy. I had bought this paperback follow-up to that definitive train-spotters' manual The Great Railway Bazaar many months earlier, but am glad I'd saved it for this trip:

"The best of travel seems to exist outside of time, as though the years of travel are not deducted from your life. Travel also holds the magical possibility of reinvention: that you might find a place you love, to begin a new life and never go home. In a distant place, no one knows you - nearly always a plus. And you can pretend, in travel, to be different from the person you are, unattached, enigmatic, younger, richer or poorer, anyone you choose to be, the rebirth that many travelers experience if they go far enough."

Now, which movie can top that?





Lunch is a long, drawn-out affair, which suits me just fine today. It starts with a meat skewer with a dabbling of peanut-cream sauce, not quite kebab, not quite satay. My menu says nothing so that's the best way I can describe it, and tastes better than it looks. Meanwhile, E-BOX shows we're heading directly north-west over the gulf, while Theroux, just starting out on his epic rail journey from London, has ordered a large bowl of bouillabaisse in Paris.





Next up is also something not listed on the menu but seems to be a staple ahead of every EY meal in J. Let's call them the mystery multiple dips served askew - though I recognize one as hummus - but they're all quite delicious. The bread is especially good.





The next course is cream of roasted fennel soup. I don't know what it is about leisurely holiday long hauls and comfort foods, but I am thoroughly satisfied with my choice. Meanwhile, Theorux has polished off his lunch and is sounding abnormally charitable. But as I expect, that old cynic is only prepping us for a nasty sting in the tail:

"I finished my meal, talked with the waiters, and made a few notes. From these few hours in France I could conclude that French waiters are friendly and informative, French food is delicious, French taxi drivers have a sense of humor, and Paris is rainy. In other words, generalize on the basis of one afternoon's experience. This is what travel writers do: reach conclusions on the basis of slender evidence."

Ouch.





I opt for the traditional Christmas turkey with chestnut stuffing as my main course. I'm not a great fan of turkey but it just seems the only "right" dish to order today. After this ample serving, I am well and truly stuffed.

Bonny asks if I need anything more. I say no, but she insists that I try the Christmas Yule log to complete the set. "Just take your time. I will bring it in fifteen minutes. You'll be in a mood for it then," she says. The service is excellent while the desert's delicious, as with almost everything on the Etihad J menu (or so this traveler generalizes on the basis of one afternoon's experience!)  


With lunch over, I take a break from Theroux (who has arrived in Istanbul), and am amazed by what I see on my PTV. We are over Iraq! Ever since I can remember, airline routes between the gulf region and Europe have skirted around Iraq, making a detour south of Kuwait into northern Saudi Arabia, then over Syria, before heading north into Turkish airspace. If overflying counts for anything, I tick off a new country today. I know I shouldn't be surprised with many airlines now starting or planning flights to Iraq but it's exciting nonetheless: I feel I want to tell somebody, except by this time, everyone else in the cabin is asleep while Bonny's probably on a well-deserved break.





The cabin has been darkened so I am reluctant to raise my window shades too much. And in any case, the direct afternoon sun isn't making it easy to look out from the port side, so I move to a seat on the starboard side of an empty second J cabin to enjoy the view. This is my first ever glimpse of Iraq under the pleasing hum of a couple of giant Rolls Royce Trents:





When the skies cloud over, I return to my seat, and lie back to enjoy the airshow. What's incredible about Iraq is how the names of the cities and towns we pass - Basra... Baghdad... Najaf... Kirkuk... Mosul - have all become sadly familiar from news reports.





The mood's turned a little sedated and I decide to hibernate for a little in my window-side cocoon. By the time I am conscious again, it is almost dusk over the Balkans, which means we have about two and a half hours to go.





I take the opportunity to wander into economy, which feels a lot emptier than the J class cabin I am from. A few front seats are occupied but most of the rear seats remain empty and untouched. It's rather unusual that there's more pronounced mood lighting here than in Pearl Business that's largely kept in the dark.





The dim lighting didn't allow for many photos but the cabin was empty enough that I could "set up" my shot with the aid of as many overhead reading lights as possible, with most (if not all) of Y class passengers not even being aware of my presence. The end-result, as you can see, is not particularly successful - but I think you get the idea.





The legroom looks pretty standard, while the contrasting seat cushion designs are an interesting diversion. Those are the blankets rolled up like mini sleeping bags.





Somewhere over Germany, the sun starts to set. Bonny offers to bring me something sweet, which I don't decline: after all, what better way to end a pleasant day's flying? The skies start to clear as we cross the channel (but it's already too dark for any meaningful photos): the twinkle of lights on the Belgian coast and then in Kent, as we track westward along the Thames Estuary to a now brightly neon-lit London on Christmas night. Without ATC delays, we don't change course at all and make a beeline for 27L, landing at Europe's busiest airport on its quietest day of 2009 almost half an hour ahead of schedule.






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new year's eve

LHR-AUH-BKK



The airline had called up the night before to reconfirm my complimentary limo transfer at 6 a.m. The holiday has ended all too quickly, and I'm feeling inadequately recharged. In the past few days, I'd even squeezed in a quick trip to New York in order to experience Air France's new A380, but I am now inexplicably obsessed with the need to complete the trip report. Do it right now, or you'll never get round to it! So, that's what I do: spend the whole of my last day and night in London slogging over a rushed AF A380 trip report to meet a silly, self-imposed deadline just hours before my car arrives. Ahem, not very smart.   

So it's a bleary-eyed rather than well-rested Etihad premium passenger who's being driven through the quiet streets of pre-dawn West London towards Heathrow this morning. Terminal 4, EY's new LHR home, is already starting to get busy at this hour, and I am dropped off close to check-in area C, which Etihad shares with Malaysia Airlines.

But I first stop at the ticketing counter to try my luck. Having now flown six sectors on Etihad since 2007, I have accumulated just enough 'Eithad Guest' miles to upgrade from J to F on one sector the distance of LHR-AUH. Perfect, except according to EY's website, upgrades from J to F are only available for higher status members - of whom I am obviously not one. Still, there's a sign at the ticketing desk that looks promising: I'd like an upgrade to First, please? I ask sheepishly, expecting a rejection.





Now, the treatment here is nothing short of impressive. My card is checked and miles quickly verified: yes, I do have the required 27,000 miles needed for the upgrade and yes, there are seats available in First. A quick call to a "supervisor" and I am told to wait a couple of minutes. The supervisor shows up to tell me everything's taken care of, and even offers to escort me to the First Class check-in desk. It's sorted in less than 10 minutes: the "instant upgrade" really does work! (As for the J to F upgrades only available for higher-tier members, that apparently still applies if you want a confirmed booking ahead of your flight. On-the-spot upgrades like mine are available for all provided there are seats.)





Here in London, Etihad doesn't need to vie for attention against fellow gulf carrier Qatar. The neighbor being Malaysia Airlines, there's really no contest. Diamond First Class' six foot tall Roman column easily overwhelms MH's more modest signs.  

Check-in is a breeze. I ask if I am on the "new" plane, hoping that I might strike it lucky a second time, but no: "the new A330 starts service on January 1st." I am missing her by a day! Still, I can't complain seeing I've managed to snag a ride on the new First suite. I am again given a whole wad of paper (including, only momentarily, the wrong boarding pass for J class) and sent on my way.





The queues are short at fast track and I am quickly airside. I am anxious to see the new, highly-acclaimed Etihad lounge, opened at end-September when the airline moved over from T3, that's occupying part of the space vacated by BA. So that's where I head immediately. The facility is close to gate 10, from where today's AUH-bound A340-600 will board.





The lounge is located one floor down. Inside, the place is elegant - lots of leather and timber paneling done in quite a tasteful manner. There are no separate First and Business sections and the color of the sofas and armchairs may be a little different, but otherwise this place is if not a clone then a close relative of the airline's flagship AUH lounge. When I arrive - I suspect the F Class boarding card makes the difference - a host at reception asks if I'd been to the lounge before. "Ah, if it's your first time, may I show you around?"

I realize it's a mistake the moment I accept the offer. Now, if you haven't been on a 'tour' of an airline lounge before - as I hadn't before today - let me tell you, it's a short affair. That's just as well, because you have less time to feel self-conscious from the curious stares of more frequent travelers as the buffet or direction to the toilets are meticulously explained to you. All the standard facilities - from showers to business center - are there, but there's also a children's play room while a trendy dining area and open kitchen form the centerpiece of the facility. Like at AUH, there's also a Six Senses Spa which I am immediately invited (but decline) to try.





One of the most notable features is how this facility is staffed - or rather, extravagantly over-staffed. You see this sometimes in the East, but I am surprised to experience it in London. Waiting on hand and foot, the service is more hotel style than airport lounge. I could have picked up my breakfast from the self-service buffet, but instead opt to be pampered by having it delivered to my table.





However lavish a lounge keeps my interest half an hour at most, after which I am usually longing to go. When I get back upstairs, one of the first things I see is another one of a series of aggresive adverts Etihad has put up in and around Terminal 4. I don't know about you, but I find this kind of blatant trumpeting a tad distasteful - it certainly doesn't make me suddenly excited I am today flying with the "world's leading airline". In addition to this accolade, Etihad has also picked up the World Travel Award's Leading First Class prize - if it means anything at all.





If I feel a little cranky today it's probably due to the lack of sleep. But my mood improves markedly when I look out to see a sight that lifts my spirits. KLM's B737-8K2 PH-BXA, painted in a commemorative retro livery to mark the airline's 90th anniversary in October, is parked at an adjacent gate. I know she's been around for a while, but it's the first time I am seeing her. This fantastic scheme is no less trendy today.





Here PH-BXA is pushing back for Amsterdam in the relative calm of Terminal 4 - which has been KLM's Heathrow home since the terminal opened in 1986. It is in the background - across 09R-27L - where most of the serious action at LHR happens. I spot two United triple-sevens parked at Terminal 1, and an SQ A380, EK B773 and TG B774 in Star Alliance colors sharing adjacent bays at Terminal 3.





Etihad flight 012 to Abu Dhabi is boarding when I get to the gate. It looks like most of the economy class passengers have boarded because I don't see any queues. Outside, a partial, unsatisfying view of the plane carrying us there can be had, but better than no view at all, I suppose - A6-EHL is the airline's seventh and latest A346.


from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways flight 012 in Diamond First Suite
Airbus 340-642 A6-EHL
Dept: 09h38 Arrv: 20h10 (on time)


Cabin manager Adbelhafid is at 2L. He shakes my hand amicably as I board - could the F Class boarding pass have made the difference? - and gets a stewardess to escort me to the front of the plane through J class, past the curtains into First. I can't be seated further forward than 1A as a passenger.





There are 12 seats in what airlines like to now call "suites" in Diamond First Class. The configuration at 1-2-1 is similar to what Etihad used to have in the same space - but the cabin has obviously been spruced up with the addition of privacy partitions and doors, and new leather seats. Although I'd only seen the interiors of SQ's A380 Suites in photos, the similarity is striking here. Could it be the almost identical cream color scheme, or the fact that the seats are made by same Italian manufacturer Poltrona Frau? All the same, it is luxurious and classy in an understated way.





There are a total of 4 or maybe 5 passengers in First today - the privacy screens ensure that it's difficult to tell unless you ask. But I am certain that there is someone seated at 1K - a young teenager of maybe 11 or 12, but acting the part of regular First patron, who gets his bed made immediately after take off and sleeps all the way to Abu Dhabi. How sober.

And so unlike the guy at 1A who gets excited because he found a hand-written, welcome note from the Cabin Manager at his seat. A nice touch by the way... does remind me of CX though  


Food and Beverage Manager Carrie comes round to welcome me aboard. "Have you traveled on our new suites before?" When I say no, she proceeds to explain the features of the latest Etihad offerings. Undoubtedly the highlight is the seat (believe it or not) which is so supremely comfortable - aaah, the leather so incredibly soft and supple as you sink in - that I immediately feel that a 6-hour-plus flight wouldn't do it justice. It is really fantastic!





Ahead of me is a buddy seat, for a visitor and fellow diner, and the 23-inch flat screen PTV. The buddy seat also serves as the end of a 6 feet 8 inch bed when fully streched out. There's space to fit a small backpack but not a trolley bag. In fact, despite all the available room: the lack of ample, close-by storage for carry-ons is a weakness in this configuration. There are no overhead bins.





Now, how could you call this a first class suite if it didn't come equipped with a "minibar"? Obviously EK has a lot to answer for. The compartment at the side of the buddy seat contains a pack of mixed nuts and two bottles of Voss Norwegian artesian water - in still and sparkling varieties.





The compartment by my seat houses a whole series of useful stuff from PTV controls to iPod, USB ports, power point for the laptop and a pair of noise cancelling headphones that's already plugged in. The magazine rack is just behind it while an LCD panel just ahead has easy-to-use commands for seat comfort and recline, in-seat massage, lighting for a whole range of moods and do-not-disturb sign.





Carrie also shows me the "Portfolio" that's tucked by the side of the seat. In it is writing paper, a comment card, a multi-page guide to the suite and, a first, calling cards for both Abdelhafid and Carrie. The menu and wine list are surprisingly (and disappointingly) plain, comprising three sheets of heavy paper inserted into the folder. Three thick in-house publications share the same magazine rack.





One of the key perks of traveling the premium classes is the giveaways. As an avid collector, I anxiously await the moment the crew come round with the loot. On Diamond First, Etihad doesn't just give away an amenity kit, but a grey satchel that's large enough to fit my laptop computer. It contains the usual toiletries, a pair of slippers and another

35 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 1, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

continued here


...bottle of Voss - but is particularly useful for taking away the pair of PJs that the airline also provides. I don't know what compels me to say yes when Carrie asks if I want to change into the PJs while still on the ground at LHR: "certainly, please follow me to the changing room," says Carrie.





I follow Carrie through the front galley (where the onboard lounge used to be located on earlier A346 models), to the starboard side. The Etihad F changing room/washroom, located just aft of door 1R, is fitted in sleek black and about one-and-a-half times the size of a standard plane loo. Still, this place, unique as it is, doesn't 'wow' me - it almost feels the airline is trying too hard to look hip. But full marks for trying something different. After changing into the all-black PJs, I am already quite well camouflaged here! The pics here are taken later in flight by a simple point and shoot, but someone with a fish-eye lense could probably do it more justice I am sure...  


My clothes are taken from me as I head back so there's no need to use the coat storage compartment at my seat. Abdelhafid comes round to welcome me aboard again as we push back and the safety demo video starts to run. We are about a quarter of an hour behind schedule, but our short 6 hour 11 minute flight will ensure we get to AUH on time. I sit back to enjoy my flight.





Outside, it's been a little drizzly so the views aren't the best. More bad weather is forecast but I am glad I'm headed for warmer climes. So will these MH and 9W machines very soon. The two non-aligned airlines only a couple of months followed Etihad from Terminal 3 to 4 as part of Heathrow's great multi-year reshuffle.





I am curious though why this American B763 and Virgin Atlantic A346 (both of which flies out of Terminal 3) are parked here across the runway, so far from their gates.





We make quick progress towards 09R and with the queues short (only a few BA short haul buses join us), the four Trents spool up - the engines even quieter than usual from far front - rotating as Terminal 1 comes to view on my side.





Taking off in an easterly direction, we head back the same way I'd come on Christmas Day: over Kent, Dover and then across the channel. Inflight, the service is as I would expect in First - which is really all about choices. Everyone has an idea of what they'd like to do, and everyone is amply accommodated: a passenger seated somewhere behind me has ordered a meal, the crew are helping Master 1K convert his seat into a bed, while I am just quite happy lounging on this luxurious armchair reading. And yes, it is as comfortable as it looks  


Carrie exerts no pressure for me to order anything and leaves all the decisions to me: "any time you're ready to eat, any time you're hungry or need a drink, just let me know." In the meantime, she says, I look like I could do with a coffee... how could she have known? Hmmm, I think I could get used to First Class...





The fasten seat belt sign comes off. Knowing how quickly the lights get dimmed and window shades get lowered on Etihad, I quickly get my camera out for a few cabin shots. With a light load, cabin pictures aren't a problem. Although it's undoubtedly a handsome cabin, I am still not a fan of these new F class seats with doors and high partitions.





There's no doubt Etihad is going for the cream of the premium crop with this product. The hard product was quite good to start with, and yet within four years, it is now completely revamped and upgraded. All the A346s will be retrofitted by end-2010, while the new A333s come equipped with them. The evolution in the soft product is no less impressive: a decidedly underwhelming inflight service experience in 2007 has changed - if the last few flight are any indication of the direction - into a likely world beating airline of the future. Perhaps most importantly, EY has the financial backing to get there.


EY 012 is only over Belgium when the mood lighting comes on. The privacy sliding doors are put to good use too, with at least two of my fellow passengers already choosing solitude - making me tempted to follow suit and retire into my own private shell.





I wonder if my moods are being meticulously monitored, because a stewardess appears quite suddenly to ask if I'd like a turn-down service. Thinking I'd better get used to doing things for myself again soon, I decline the offer. (But I regret that a little now after finding out what I missed - the under blankets, duvets and chocolate mints - which would have made for an interesting photo if nothing else.) Anyhow, their absence does nothing to affect my rest - once I lie back, I am out like a light.





Welcome to my private sarcophagus   Ok, it's really not so bad at all with the doors closed - the width is ample while having a window to look out of makes the space more cosy than claustrophobic.





I sleep well. When I am next conscious, we are over Iraq where the sun has already set on the last day of the year. A full moon hangs low on the horizon just past Kirkuk. Almost three uninterrupted hours' of slumber on a plane - especially on a seat/bed as comfortable as this - will usually have recharged my batteries; but strangely not today. Having only had a light breakfast earlier, I should also be famished but instead only taste bitterness in my mouth. I must be coming down with something.





The menu selection looks decent to me but matched against the best (for that is where EY says it wants to head), perfectionists can probably argue it is a little sparse for a First Class offering. In fact, it doesn't look all that different from what the airline serves in J class. Also like in Business, there's a main menu and a 'Kitchen Anytime' list of snacks on demand, perhaps only slightly longer.





I am not terribly hungry, but then, what does hunger have anything to do with trip reports? I can't have traveled in Diamond First and not shown you any food, right? (Ah, such is the bane of the trip reporter...   ) I see nothing I want from the list of mains, so Carrie suggests a lighter offering from the list. It starts, as usual on Etihad, with the tasty mystery dips presented askew.







Next up is the salmon sushi, that's followed up with an undemanding Scotch vegetable broth. A strawberry ice cream rounds off the meal. A simple selection, but that's what I am in the mood for today.





My very pleasant First Class experience has nearly come to an end. We are overflying the Persian Gulf now, speeding towards Abu Dhabi. Abdelhafid and Carrie stop by in turn to thank me for flying Etihad as the cabin is prepared for landing. An announcement of connecting gate numbers reveals this flight is carrying a whole load of onward passengers (well, not a surprise) to a host of destinations in India and Pakistan, and also Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cairo, Bahrain, Melbourne and Bangkok.

It's busy at AUH when we arrive (10 minutes ahead of schedule) - almost all the gates are occupied by Etihad's machines during the evening bank of flights between 8 and 10 pm. Our alloted gate 35 is as far as you can go in the new Terminal 3, so it's a fair walk to the lounge. My transit this round is only very slightly longer than on the outbound, so my stay there is almost equally as brief.


from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok
Etihad Airways flight 402 in Pearl Business
Boeing 777-3FXER A6-ETB
Dept: 21h58 Arrv: 06h50 next day (on time)


I make an early appearance at gate 29 from where A6-ETB, the airline's second oldest B77W, is ready to take us to BKK. From the looks of things, New Year's is not as widely celebrated as I thought with many passengers appearing willing to forego a year-end countdown for a new-year's red-eye. The flight is chockablock full in both classes: seperate boarding for J is relatively quick and easy, but the long queues at the Y entrance aren't enviable.





Thus far, I'd been on pretty empty EY flights. On this packed flight, I get a feel for what the airline might be like in more normal(?) situations, and the difference is immediately noticable. The crew is still polite, but the personalized greetings and friendly banter are missing. The crew is stressed and it shows: EY402 feels almost like another airline. For quite a while, nobody even notices me after I board, as welcome drinks and hot towels pass by seat 9K as if it's unoccupied. Any airline can have off days, and I guess this could be one of Etihad's.





It looks like it's an off day for me too. EY serves an impressive two full meals - dinner and hot breakfast - on this short red-eye to Bangkok and I'm not in the mood to take either. (I do opt for some dip and bread as sustenance though.) I also stop taking notes at this time - which explains for why we're ending this trip report here. After this photo, I lie back under the covers all the way to Bangkok, sleeping into 2010.




last words


What benchmark would you use for a six-year old? By any measure, Etihad is an impressive animal. The airline has certainly improved by leaps and bounds since my flight in 2007. In terms of hard product - at least in F and J - it has one of the best. (Y class quality seems to be moving in a different direction though.) Except perhaps for the last sector, the much touted "inspired service" is more than just a handy slogan. Inflight service has improved significantly (even accounting for the weakest last flight) but it is service on the ground (in lounges, at ticketing desks, check-in) that impressed me most. All in all, a great way to end 2009 and start a new year.

Lastly, apologies for taking my time at posting this trip report. Without a deadline, I just procrastinate! As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed the ride.


Regards
airpearl

[Edited 2010-02-09 08:45:57]

[Edited 2010-02-09 09:03:06]

User currently offlineakhmad From Netherlands, joined Sep 2005, 2487 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi airpearl,

What a nice surprise to see another TR of yours!

Your EY report is just wonderful! Crisp pictures and very well detailed. I enjoyed every single part of it. It's like I have been there with you. And I just can barely wait for my own intercontinental Asia bound trip this summer.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Rommel
Oh dear, do you have any idea what it means in Dutch?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Or my favorite: the Etihad Cargo "MD11", which I'd love to see exactly like this  Â
This is how MD11 would have looked like if McDonnell Douglas had merged with Airbus!
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The legroom looks pretty standard, while the contrasting seat cushion designs are an interesting diversion. Those are the blankets rolled up like mini sleeping bags.
What a luxurious appearance on Y! Good job on EY!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Still, this place, unique as it is, doesn't 'wow' me
Well, it do wow me instead!

Thank you for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo



Friends forever
User currently onlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17777 posts, RR: 46
Reply 3, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
With Paul Theroux as my companion, I don't even have much reason to tune into the AVOD because escapism comes easy. I had bought this paperback follow-up to that definitive train-spotters' manual The Great Railway Bazaar many months earlier, but am glad I'd saved it for this trip:

Do you recommend either? I read his "Shadows of the Silk Road".



E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently offlineGlobetraveller From Germany, joined Apr 2008, 379 posts, RR: 20
Reply 4, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Another excellent trip report as always. A very enjoyable read.

Keep them coming!

Globetraveller


User currently offlineAirthanet From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 95 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Really good trip report airpearl!

Fantastic photos from BKK and LHR.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My top choice for the route is not Etihad, but an exotic milk-run: Yemenia to London from Kuala Lumpur via Jakarta, Dubai, Sana'a (overnight stay required) and Aden. It's more costly than some other airlines, while the planes are a little dodgy and low on frills but no matter, I figure, the experience itself outweighs anything I might have to forego in comfort, perceived safety, entertainment or convenience.

Well, at least that's the plan until June 30: the tragic crash of a Yemenia A310 on approach to Moroni in Comoros changes everything. The airline's already eccentric schedules go haywire, while the writing is on the wall for a possible EU ban on safety grounds. I need to find another way.

Shame, an IY trip report from KUL to LHR would have been very rare and exotic! Maybe next time?



Recently Flown Airlines: Air Malta (KM), My Travel (MYT), First Choice (FCA), Swiss (LX), Virgin Atlantic (VS), Monarch
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1128 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

What a classy airline. All the crockery looked immaculate - especially your coffee setting in First! Really very cool.

Meanwhile, your report writing was as usual sublime - no sparing of words, descriptions and opinions. Really great stuff...

I was envious of the 12 year old in F... what a diva just going to sleep! I think you caught him in one of your photos of the cabin - it looks like a young chap...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
bottle of Voss

This trendy Voss stuff has really got my back up - its tiresomely trendy! Looks more like aftershave than water.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
when Carrie asks if I want to change into the PJs while still on the ground at LHR: "certainly, please follow me to the changing room," says Carrie.

This could perhaps be the most brilliant segway to the mile high club - or since on the ground the 4.25m club. Pity...!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
doesn't 'wow' me

Its really cool! Black seems very in and is a nicely reoccuring theme with Etihad

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"Portfolio" that's tucked by the side of the seat. In it is writing paper, a comment card, a multi-page guide to the suite and, a first, calling cards for both Abdelhafid and Carrie

A great idea - and the portfolio looks quite smart

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
two bottles of Voss Norwegian artesian water - in still and sparkling varieties.

*feeling faint and dizzy*

Many thanks for superb account of your trip.

Luke



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1960 posts, RR: 24
Reply 7, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Wow, amazing report and photos! Etihad is amazing. Each time I read and see reports about them, I'm impressed with every level of their service. Diamond Class looked amazing ... but I almost think they should reduce the choices on the menu.. I'm the kind of person that would pick everything/and or not be able to choose anything because there are so many good choices !!  

Thanks for sharing!

767747


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1325 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

That is one awesome report, with the most amazing photos, I have seen on airliners.net in a while!!! I don't know about you but that washrooms in First look great, such a difference from the normal ones.

I had no idea Etihad had an MD-11 Cargo jet. Those illustrations in the magazine were atrocious!!


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6643 posts, RR: 55
Reply 9, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Amazing trip report with great pictures! Also very well written and paced perfectly! EY looks really good both in F and J.

The lavatory in F in black is the most impressive lavatory that I have seen on a commercial airliner.

In short, very impressive!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 10, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Mr Lee... Congrats on another soiree...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I do some searching, and it's also interesting to see how QR and EY schedule their flights from BKK. Both airlines operate double daily flights - the morning departures leave with 15 minutes of each other, while both airlines schedule their evening flights at exactly the same time. Not a coincidence, I think: there's definitely no love lost between these two.

This actually reminds me of the FIDS in CGK. GA and JT (Lion) have almost similar timetables and wherever GA flies to, you can be sure JT follows 5-10 mins later. They say imitation is the best form of flattery!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
which is reachable via steel ramp, a contraption so elaborate that it never ceases to make me wonder: why? Still, when you're not in a hurry, it's quite an interesting diversion and works well for the camera.

I think I mentioned about these wheelchair ramps a few TRs ago. BKK has taken wheelchair friendly access to a whole new extreme have forgotten about the able bodied users.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Or my favorite: the Etihad Cargo "MD11", which I'd love to see exactly like this

LOL... Which reminds me of an issue of Dynasty (China Airlines) Magazine I thumbed through back in 1986. I arrived at the page which illustrated the route network and there you had two lines stretching across the Pacific Ocean from Taipei to LAX and SFO being touted as "747SP nonstop flights". But the problem is... the entire continent of South and North America WAS UPSIDE DOWN! So the two dots of "Los Angeles" and "San Francisco" were really along the coast of what was supposedly Brazil.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Here in London, Etihad doesn't need to vie for attention against fellow gulf carrier Qatar. The neighbor being Malaysia Airlines, there's really no contest.

Hahahahahahaha... I love this token swipe at your national airline. Which reminds me, they have been very quiet lately ever since the departure of Datuk IJ. I really wonder what is going on?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The pics here are taken later in flight by a simple point and shoot, but someone with a fish-eye lense could probably do it more justice I am sure...

Are you referring to a Bloody Mary here?  

Thanks for your report! better late than never, some say!



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineCanadianDC10 From Canada, joined Aug 2001, 346 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

This airline looks amazing. I want to fly them! hah! As if that will happen.... Great TR. Thanks for all the pics, especially the ones of the food. The beef sandwich looks so good. And mmmm, salmon sushi! My favourite! Was it tasty??

User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6451 posts, RR: 38
Reply 12, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hi Airpearl,

Great TR as always! Full of humour and great pics too. Good to see how excellent EY is without Roni needing to say anything  

You're excused for the bugs on A.Net but I must say that reading the main part was rather difficult. I hope I can lay my TR out (due by week's end, assuming I don't get tied up reading everyone else's awesome TRs) without it being affected adversely!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Twas the night before Christmas... and I recognize old St Nick, disguised as a young MH agent manning the LH check-in desk at KUL, doling out upgrades to good kids. "You're in Business Class," Santa says as he hands me my boarding pass. "Economy is overbooked... full of groups to Bangkok." Lufthansa overbooked? I never thought I'd see the day! I don't realize I'd said it all out loud. Santa laughs: "yes, it's not normal!"

Sounds like a little perk with help from your old friend TG! I guess I'll try to fly them when I get to Asia. It'd be wonderful if they scheduled the 748i onto this route as well (assuming of course it makes it to the passenger stage in which we all cross our fingers, toes and anything else) because I'd be super keen on getting on that!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
As I still have some time, I wander around a bit. I notice the two Gulf airlines - with hubs an hour apart - don't just share adjacent check-ins; they also have neighboring ticketing desks. Compared to the drab counters around them, these two keen rivals dress their desks up in elaborate fashion, and almost identically. Theirs are the only manned by guys in suits. Before this, I didn't realize the competition was so intense, but it is clear here the extent to which they vie for attention and try to outdo the other: so what if you're a 5-star airline; we're the world's leading airline! You've got a plane backdrop? Look at ours - it's bigger! So funny to see.

Always nice to see these people dressed like they mean business. The competition must help in providing quality service because if you have a lot of passengers flying for their first time to, say, Europe and their experience is bad, they've always got another airline they could take instead. Especially if the timing wouldn't throw them out either.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
this is simply the best J class configuration there is. No contest, in my opinion.

It'd be nice to be able to try it out one day!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Can I get you some (fresh orange juice or )fresh carrot

I do hope you mean juice.. 
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
the airline's recent S$248 million IPO was a surprising success

Very surprising IMO. I wonder if the investors know much about the airline..

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I've noticed Middle East airlines are among the most diligent of the 'keeping-you-in-the-dark-in-daytime' brigade

Haha. I guess I haven't had a long haul flight with any Middle East carrier to say anything here..

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
it seems strange that at 9 am, all my fellow passengers have decided to go to bed.

Anything to do with the time at their final destination, I wonder?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There's quite an attention to detail too - the napkin is deliberately laid out askew by the flight attendant, something I notice done at every meal on EY.

One thing I notice is that it takes up more space, making the tray look less empty  

The meal looks great and getting fresh cutlery every meal sounds impressive - due to the light load? Or do they have a dishwasher onboard?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
But pity poor artists: they do try hard. Planes are looking more alike these days and differences so subtle that a slipup on a 1:500 scale drawing is easy with details only airline nuts will notice (and care about). Like the CFM56s being fitted to the A340-600 that's lost a pair of doors   , or the over-stretched A330-200.   Or my favorite: the Etihad Cargo "MD11", which I'd love to see exactly like this  Â

Gotta love that stretched A300 trijet! And yes, wouldn't it be a sad day seeing hairdryers on an A346..

AUH looks very classy.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There's an F&B Manager aboard this flight too, but I don't catch his name as he rushes by between curtains without looking in on me. In fact, as far as I can see, he doesn't spend time with any of the J class passengers - presumably because he's quite busy enough in First Class. Not that the friendly stewardesses aren't doing a great job in Business, but there is clearly an inconsistency between the service you can expect on a 2-class and 3-class aircraft.

It sounds like the experience could be greatly improved by introducing a separate J manager.


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I take the opportunity to wander into economy, which feels a lot emptier than the J class cabin I am from. A few front seats are occupied but most of the rear seats remain empty and untouched. It's rather unusual that there's more pronounced mood lighting here than in Pearl Business that's largely kept in the dark.


Woah, that's super empty! I'd like to be in an economy cabin like that.. Mood lighting shot looks great.


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The supervisor shows up to tell me everything's taken care of, and even offers to escort me to the First Class check-in desk.


First Class service. As expected, of course.


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Although I'd only seen the interiors of SQ's A380 Suites in photos, the similarity is striking here.


From only looking at pictures of both layouts, I must agree. The bit in between the seats looks just about identical.


Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
In fact, despite all the available room: the lack of ample, close-by storage for carry-ons is a weakness in this configuration. There are no overhead bins.


That's a flaw. Hope they can rectify it in the new layout. I see a few airlines have side storage bins for F/J..


Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
continued here


With a much better layout! Lol.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
After changing into the all-black PJs, I am already quite well camouflaged here!


Indeed, a very black lav.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
but someone with a fish-eye lense could probably do it more justice I am sure...

*tsk tsk* Roni *tsk tsk*  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I can't have traveled in Diamond First and not shown you any food, right? (Ah, such is the bane of the trip reporter...  )

Food! Yes! Food! Stuff it in! Doesn't matter if it doesn't last you the trip - we don't need to know that but we can always be envious of the food!  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Thus far, I'd been on pretty empty EY flights. On this packed flight, I get a feel for what the airline might be like in more normal(?) situations, and the difference is immediately noticable. The crew is still polite, but the personalized greetings and friendly banter are missing. The crew is stressed and it shows: EY402 feels almost like another airline. For quite a while, nobody even notices me after I board, as welcome drinks and hot towels pass by seat 9K as if it's unoccupied. Any airline can have off days, and I guess this could be one of Etihad's.

I guess it shows that full flights aren't the best to choose when you want exemplary service, no matter which airline.


Sorry about the near TR long reply.. I couldn't help myself. Too good of a report to not do so. Hope you don't mind!


Regards,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 13, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thanks all for the kind comments. This so-called 'upgrade' of the A.net site is playing bloody havoc with the report layout (it certainly didn't look like this at the preview stage) - so I doubly appreciate your efforts in trying to read it. I am not sure I would have had the patience to be honest! So thank you again.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 2):
Oh dear, do you have any idea what it means in Dutch?

Haha Suryo, I suspect something not so very nice... call it a hunch  
Quoting akhmad (Reply 2):
Well, it do wow me instead!
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
Its really cool! Black seems very in and is a nicely reoccuring theme with Etihad
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 8):
washrooms in First look great
Quoting The777Man (Reply 9):
The lavatory in F in black is the most impressive lavatory that I have seen on a commercial airliner.

Ok I gotta admit it doesn't look so bad in the pics. Maybe having seen some early pics (I was impressed then too) did set me up for the fall - when I realized all it was was an overly dark loo. And yes, black is definitely "the new black" with EY.

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 3):
Do you recommend either? I read his "Shadows of the Silk Road".

Definitely. 'Great Railway Bazaar' is a little dated but very readable, very nice for a glimpse into a simpler world only a few decades ago. In 'Ghost Train' Theroux retraces the route he took in his last book 30 years later. If I had to choose between the two, Bazaar would have to be the one. Other Theroux travel books I'd enjoyed are 'Riding the Iron Rooster' on China and 'Kingdom by the Sea' on UK - both great stuff. Btw, isn't 'Shadows of the Silk Road' by Colin Thubron? He's another great travel writer, of course, but comes across as far more polite and less arrogant than Theroux.

Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 4):
Another excellent trip report as always. A very enjoyable read.

Good to hear from you Globetraveller. When are your next travels?

Quoting Airthanet (Reply 5):
Shame, an IY trip report from KUL to LHR would have been very rare and exotic! Maybe next time?

Yeah I was really disappointed. Had my break not been so short, I would probably have chanced it and tried to go IY. Still, hopefully next time...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
Meanwhile, your report writing was as usual sublime - no sparing of words, descriptions and opinions. Really great stuff...

Thanks for the nice words Luke. Glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
This trendy Voss stuff has really got my back up - its tiresomely trendy! Looks more like aftershave than water.

Amazing stuff isn't it? Fit water into a fancy cool bottle and its suddenly designer... hahaha. I hate to admit it but I was a little taken in too!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
This could perhaps be the most brilliant segway to the mile high club - or since on the ground the 4.25m club. Pity...!

  


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting 767747 (Reply 7):
Etihad is amazing. Each time I read and see reports about them, I'm impressed with every level of their service.

EY has got better too. It's certainly impressive given their young age and speed of expansion.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 8):
I had no idea Etihad had an MD-11 Cargo jet. Those illustrations in the magazine were atrocious!!

Quite funny I thought! I'm not sure but read somewhere they have a leased MD11 from World Airways, not painted in EY colors of course.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 10):
GA and JT (Lion) have almost similar timetables and wherever GA flies to, you can be sure JT follows 5-10 mins later. They say imitation is the best form of flattery!

That's interesting... didn't realize that.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 10):
But the problem is... the entire continent of South and North America WAS UPSIDE DOWN! So the two dots of "Los Angeles" and "San Francisco" were really along the coast of what was supposedly Brazil.

Hahaha... that's so surreal Ryan. Almost as good as a classic MH inflight mag (which I still have somewhere in the dusty archives) around the time they changed from 'Wings of Gold' to "Going Places' - someone drew the routes to Europe but another person (who obviously didn't know anything about where the airline flies to) decided to try to name the points... MH was flying to some strange destinations that month!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 10):
Which reminds me, they have been very quiet lately ever since the departure of Datuk IJ. I really wonder what is going on?

Well, they did buy some planes...  
Quoting CanadianDC10 (Reply 11):
The beef sandwich looks so good. And mmmm, salmon sushi! My favourite! Was it tasty??

Yumm! The food was very good.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
You're excused for the bugs on A.Net but I must say that reading the main part was rather difficult. I hope I can lay my TR out (due by week's end, assuming I don't get tied up reading everyone else's awesome TRs) without it being affected adversely!

Yes I hope they can sort this mess out soon. And sorry about the difficulties in reading! I thought I'd be able to avoid it by using notepad instead of MS Word but it seems not. Also, what gets published may be different from the preview making it particularly frustrating. One thing appears to be clear: don't put 2 pics in succession without text in between - that causes the width problem. Also, as this TR seems to show, posting the main body of the report as a reply seems to help the formatting at least.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
It'd be wonderful if they scheduled the 748i onto this route as well (assuming of course it makes it to the passenger stage in which we all cross our fingers, toes and anything else)

Oh yeah, I can't wait for that route to go 748i - would be brilliant!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
Anything to do with the time at their final destination, I wonder?

Or they may have had a better time the night before in Bangkok than I did? hehehe

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
The meal looks great and getting fresh cutlery every meal sounds impressive - due to the light load? Or do they have a dishwasher onboard?

I don't think the loads had anything to do with it; seems to be a standard thing. Thinking about it, that's a practical way of handling a meal-on-demand situation because you don't know what meal combination a passenger will choose. As a passenger, you get just exactly the utensils you need for each course.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
Woah, that's super empty! I'd like to be in an economy cabin like that.. Mood lighting shot looks great.

I think this is a once-a-year event. Yeah made me a little envious too... you mean I paid more to travel J when Y is so empty?

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 10):
Are you referring to a Bloody Mary here?
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
tsk tsk* Roni *tsk tsk*

I am sure the man can't wait to get aboard EY's new F! And I am certain it's a matter of time before a trip report hahaha

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
That's a flaw. Hope they can rectify it in the new layout.

That's a problem too with the suites on 9W too.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 12):
Sorry about the near TR long reply.. I couldn't help myself. Too good of a report to not do so. Hope you don't mind!

Not at all. Thanks for the kind words Nicholas.


User currently offline9MMAR From Malaysia, joined Jul 2006, 2110 posts, RR: 18
Reply 15, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Dear Airpearl,

So is it true that Paul Theroux is the inspiration behind your writing style?

Yet another superbly composed trip report with fair equilibrium of all aspects that matter - you are the only one who could do such feat in the entire forum - no one else comes close.

I was in LHR T4 a few days earlier than you and I am glad to be able to see what's inside the Etihad Lounge, which shares the same walkway with the SkyTeam Lounge that I visited during my journey. I never expect that the main area of the lounge is located on the lower (arrival) floor.

Why aren't you write more details about the LH's KUL-BKK flight? I think no one ever covers the flight in the entire forum. I am actually eager to try the service. And were you on LH as well on the inbound flight from BKK to KUL?

Now I am inspired to complete my abandoned trip report (which I have managed to reach AMS by the way).

Terima kasih daun keladi.


User currently offlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6451 posts, RR: 38
Reply 16, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
Yes I hope they can sort this mess out soon. And sorry about the difficulties in reading! I thought I'd be able to avoid it by using notepad instead of MS Word but it seems not. Also, what gets published may be different from the preview making it particularly frustrating. One thing appears to be clear: don't put 2 pics in succession without text in between - that causes the width problem. Also, as this TR seems to show, posting the main body of the report as a reply seems to help the formatting at least.

Thanks for that. I've managed to put my TR up without it being wide.. But it took 25 minutes to do it properly and I'm certain that there are many errors.. Hopefully it'll be fixed by the time I come around to posting my next one!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 14):
Thinking about it, that's a practical way of handling a meal-on-demand situation because you don't know what meal combination a passenger will choose. As a passenger, you get just exactly the utensils you need for each course.

True, I guess that they'd carry a whole load of cutlery with them anyway.



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1675 posts, RR: 53
Reply 17, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Alas! The absolutely fresh Trip Report that i spent many sleepless nights obessively waiting for   haha!

Well done my friend, as usual! ... Only now have i realised that lately i have not flown Etihad as much as i like them! So much has happened with this airline, and i have yet to experience it all!

Nevertheless, i am glad to see Etihad maintaining the top class service that i have grown accustomed to.

I can imagine how tired the condition of the B77W interiors may be, as i believe they have a very high utilization rate. These things are barely on the ground! Similarly, i would think their A345 interiors would be even shabbier by now.

As for the highlight of this TR, the new Diamond First Class Suite, I think it is the best-looking F suite i have seen so far. The earthy brown tones seem far more subtle and comforting than the brown spill all over EK's Suites. The changing/wash room looks very interesting indeed, but i think i much prefer CX's F-style lavatory as it isn't so dim looking.

It seems that the F experience is more of a 5-star hotel type of service. The portofolio, the magazine rack, the 'Suite', and even the mini compartment by the seat that houses the headphones, powerports etc, all seem to remind me of a luxury hotel (like the Raffles Dubai for instance   )

As for the service, i still have difficulty seeing any feasibility for the very thin margin of difference between F and J. In fact, i think the trays that the identical china is placed on in J class adds even more style to it. Other than that, and apart from additional choices to an already similar menu, i do not see much of a difference between the two products.

But that doesn't make me any less enthusiastic to find a justification to try it out (with my fisheye of course) one day very soon!  


Thanks a lot for sharing this trip report! and hope to see more very soon!

Cheers,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineKurt From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 417 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

I just enjoyed the first half of your report; I like your writing style a lot. I'd never heard of "The Great Railway Bazaar," so I just requested it from my local library. I'm in a bit of a travel drought at the moment (self-imposed as my discretionary income has gone into a kitchen renovation that's now complete) so this one was particularly tasty.

User currently onlineMaverickM11 From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 17777 posts, RR: 46
Reply 19, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
Btw, isn't 'Shadows of the Silk Road' by Colin Thubron?

Haha I meant "Dark Star Safari". I recommend both but obviously confused travel writers; Theroux's arrogance toward other travelers was a big disconcerting in Dark Star Safari but overall I liked it.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
comes across as far more polite and less arrogant than Theroux.

I'll say! Good lord you'd think you were committing a crime just by visiting another country according to Theroux.



E pur si muove -Galileo
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8578 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi airpearl,

As usual, an excellet TR, well done!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
most of the crew seemed to be just doing a job, nothing more. One could even say some of the crew couldn't care less

- This was pretty much my experience on 3 out of 4 flights a few years back.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
My 192 ringgit ($57) one-way ticket tonight gets me seat 2K near the nose of jumbo

- What a result!

Whilst there is no doubt the EY F & J product is excellent, the lack of continuity is the real problem, as you saw on the returnm flight from AUH. If EY can sort this they are laughing.

I have to say the J seat does took pretty narrow, much prefer the look of the BA J product, which I am more than happy with for comfort etc.

EY F looks lovely, very nice indeed.


I'm off to BKK tomorrow, chose QR over EY in J, let's see...............

Regards

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlineklkla From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 941 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

That has to be one of the best written, best documented, best photographed trip reports ever. I always say I am going to do a trip report and never get around to it but wow... This was really interesting.

With such light loads I wonder how long this airline will be able to provide service at this level but at least you were able to enjoy it.. and share it with us! Thanks


User currently offlinethaia345 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2006, 888 posts, RR: 16
Reply 22, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

A great TR both in the way its written and also the pics. Really a fan!....since I hop over to KL so much, we should probably try to meet up some times in the near future.

Cheers


User currently offlineairpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 955 posts, RR: 26
Reply 23, posted (4 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Hey guys, thanks again all for your comments and the nice words.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 15):
s it true that Paul Theroux is the inspiration behind your writing style

Hi 9MMAR, I am not sure about that. I think Theroux writes well but I hope I don't sound like him  

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 15):
no one else comes close

Thanks for the compliment but it's just too much! There's a whole bunch of A.netters who have fantastic writing styles and/or have far better knowledge. Glad you enjoyed this TR anyway.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 15):
I never expect that the main area of the lounge is located on the lower (arrival) floor.

Yeah that was the only thing I didn't like about it.

Quoting 9MMAR (Reply 15):
Why aren't you write more details about the LH's KUL-BKK flight? I think no one ever covers the flight in the entire forum. I am actually eager to try the service. And were you on LH as well on the inbound flight from BKK to KUL?

I thought about that but it detracts from the main trip I think. I also wasn't taking notes so my impressions are now semi-hazy anyway. Maybe next time... And no, I didn't fly on LH from BKK to KUL. Mainly due to the timings (and price was also okay) my first flight of 2010 was on this:
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 16):
I've managed to put my TR up without it being wide

Ah yes I see it. Very comprehensive tour as always I see, haha. Will comment soon Nicholas.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 17):
i spent many sleepless nights obessively waiting for

Guess you can stop taking the sleeping pills now Roni LOL!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 17):
The earthy brown tones seem far more subtle and comforting than the brown spill all over EK's Suites.

Absolutely no contest imo. EK's really is way too shiny for me, while EY is classy and understated.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 17):
The changing/wash room looks very interesting indeed, but i think i much prefer CX's F-style lavatory as it isn't so dim looking.

Absolutely agree. The CX B744 F Class washrooms were very much in my mind but I intentionally didn't want to make a direct comparison here but yes, between the 2, CX wins hands down haha

Quoting ronerone (Reply 17):
But that doesn't make me any less enthusiastic to find a justification to try it out (with my fisheye of course) one day very soon!

Yes I think it's now almost compulsory hahaha

Quoting Kurt (Reply 18):
I'm in a bit of a travel drought at the moment

Haha, I can relate... usually I find I have to live vicariously through others too!

Quoting MaverickM11 (Reply 19):
I'll say! Good lord you'd think you were committing a crime just by visiting another country according to Theroux.

Yup, I rather disliked him at first, but I must have got used to his complaining style haha

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
Whilst there is no doubt the EY F & J product is excellent, the lack of continuity is the real problem, as you saw on the returnm flight from AUH. If EY can sort this they are laughing.

Spot on there Mark. Consistency is a problem but it does seem they're making real strides at getting better - so it'll be interesting to watch.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
I'm off to BKK tomorrow, chose QR over EY in J, let's see

Have a good flight and look forward to a trip report!

Quoting klkla (Reply 21):
With such light loads I wonder how long this airline will be able to provide service at this level but at least you were able to enjoy it.. and share it with us! Thanks

Thanks for your very kind words klkla. I'm certain it's never as empty as this usually, and part of the reason why I chose to fly on Christmas Day!  

Quoting thaia345 (Reply 22):
Really a fan!....since I hop over to KL so much, we should probably try to meet up some times in the near future.

Hi ThaiA345, thanks for the comments - yeah sure, let me know when you're in town! The question I'm dying to ask you is if we'd ever see you flying anything other than TG F Class to Europe? Hehehe


User currently offlinethaia345 From Indonesia, joined Oct 2006, 888 posts, RR: 16
Reply 24, posted (4 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting airpearl (Reply 23):
The question I'm dying to ask you is if we'd ever see you flying anything other than TG F Class to Europe? Hehehe

Hi Air Pearl!...

hahahah...well unfortunately TG F is my bread and butter trip. I am currently taking a break for Chinese New Year's in Perth, but guess what, was due to fly here on the 6th Feb last week, but for some reason flight was cancelled, so flew in on MH125 on the 7th Feb. And the crew also told me they had to do a turn around!...do you know what was going on with the MH PER flights last weekend? And anyway to answer your question above, well, I am now in PER and I flew in with MH in J as usual hahaha...but something out of the extraordinary soon!...I will be flying to LAX from KUL on CX in F ahahhahaha..so there u go, a new flight for me   I just wanna try their new F suites on the 77W from HKG to LAX.

So keep your eyes out for that.


25 PlaneHunter : Hi Airpearl, fantastic report with countless great pictures! Took me a while to read it! Very good deal. What kind of drink was it? Great stuff! That'
26 SR 103 : As usual, fantastic trip report Airpearl. These days, I seem to only fly a single Star Alliance carrier and despite my Elite status, I am always looki
27 BOACCunard : Brilliant trip report, as always. I am very impressed by EY's premium products, which to me look a lot more appealing than EK's. Interestingly, I real
28 Post contains images airpearl : That will definitely be something very different from you! Who knows, you could soon be a CX convert? Hahaha You should be quite safe with CX F thoug
29 ojas : A great report! Good job. So many reviews off lately on EY are tempting me to re consider EY. I think I will fly them soon. Splendid pictures, I found
30 BOACCunard : I originally heard the cigarette pack comparison made to BA's late 1980s/early 1990s livery. I didn't agree with it in that context, but it immediate
31 Post contains images Econojetter : Great report. A little surprised it got done this early... hehe. That was a lot of material too. Respect. whoa... Yes, it is quite photogenic. There's
32 airpearl : Hi Ojas, BKK is still unevenly cooled, though it's usually a bit on the warmer side in most places I feel. The airport security checks have also been
33 Post contains images KHPN : That new ATCT (?) in AUH is STUNNING!
34 gabrielchew : What a great and very detailed report. Those seats in F look amazing - quite fancy trying one of those out! And the various patterns of pillows in Y l
35 MSS658 : Nice trip report, The F-suites on the A345 look very nice.
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