JetMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
In September I decided to go on a last minute trip to the United Arab Emirates and checked several interesting options. Finally I picked Etihad Airways from Frankfurt because chances would be good to fly their latest A330-243, A6-EYD, the first plane which was delivered to Etihad directly from the manufacturer. By surfing through various websites I had found out earlier that Munich only gets the two ex-Volare birds (A6-EYV and EYW) which still have their old (two class) interiors and no PTVs. I had also been told by different sources that A6-EYD would fly five times weekly to FRA, only Thursdays and Sundays are exceptions (again, the ex-Volare birds are used on these days).
On September 19 my girlfriend and I arrived at Frankfurt Airport on time at 18.47 after enjoying two smooth train rides from our home. First of all we went to Terminal 1B where we received our tickets at a counter of our tour operator. Then we headed to Terminal 2 for check-in. From the Skytrain station I spotted the Etihad plane and tried to have a closer look at the engine. It looked like a RR shape but I wasn’t sure – the Varig B777 parked alongside was not really helpful…
Anyways, after arriving at T2 I had another look from the McDonald’s and the RR engines were confirmed: the plane was A6-EYD, as I had hoped.
19. September 2005
Frankfurt (FRA) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Etihad Airways EY326
A6-EYD (c/n 658), delivered 05/2005
Coral Zone (Plus), seat 10B
Etihad’s counters would open at 20.00 and we lined up along with some 50 other passengers. While we were waiting we overheard another woman’s telephone call – she apparently wanted to tell her friend or family at home about the airline. “Imagine, the airline’s name is “E---D---I---HADD. EDI-HADD. And imagine, they only have three tiny check-in counters!!!”, the lady emphasized. Wow, how I like those people who don’t have a clue about anything. Why don’t they just stay at home or fly their beloved Lufthansa if they don’t trust Etihad?
These people should really be stuck in the middle of a holiday cattle carrier aircraft rather than having the pleasure of flying an almost brand new A332 equipped with the latest cabin features…
Etihad’s staff first had a briefing and then they opened the counters absolutely on time. There were about 20 people ahead but it took only some 15 minutes until we were called. A friendly agent took our tickets and – as planned – I expressed a special request. Thanks to a trip report by a.net member UK_Dispatcher I knew A6-EYD is equipped with a F12C24W28Y152 configuration. However, the 28 seats of Coral Zone Plus (Eco Plus) would not be sold yet but allocated to as normal Coral Zone, with regular Eco service. So I asked the agent if those seats were available. He smiled and said “Yes, we can do that”. After some moments he said: “Which bird has chirped that to you?” ("Welcher Vogel hat Ihnen denn das gezwitschert?“) I replied: “Talk on the Internet and an insider with Etihad”.
We received our boarding passes and started one more tour around the airport as there was plenty of time left. On the way through Terminal 1A I examined a A380 “mockup” which Lufthansa installed there:
It’s equipped with several TV screens and boards which show information about the aircraft and the required A380 investments at Frankfurt Airport. Interestingly, all airline customers are covered, not just Lufthansa. There were also some Lufthansa seats on the upper deck and while being seated in these "chairs" for a while I suddenly was even more glad about flying Etihad soon…
We passed through security and just as last time at DUS there were some really kind and funny screeners. While waiting for my girlfriend one screener asked me where we would be flying to. I said “Abu Dhabi” and he replied “Oh, that’s were my wife and I will spend our wedding anniversary. Of course we fly Etihad, just as last time! Did you know that they already belong to the three best airlines worldwide?” Well, I didn’t want to go into a longer discussion and just replied “Aha”. Then he added: “The airline was started by the brother of the guy who owns Emirates”. Again I was a bit amused but just replied “Oh?” Then my girlfriend was ready, he wished us a pleasant flight and we said good bye.
The gate area for our flight was quite filled and it seemed to be a good load for Etihad. Most passengers were German tourists and some German business travellers, hardly any “others”. Picture options weren’t satisfying, but I didn’t want to leave without a picture of A6-EYD, so this was the result:
Boarding started shortly after 22.20 and as soon as the call was made people jumped up and lined up. We remained seated for a while and then joined the rest. Very friendly F/As welcomed us on board and as we headed to our row I was surprised to find a 2-3-2 configuration – I had expected more pitch but not necessarily one seat less per row. The Coral Plus section is equipped with beige seats, while Diamond (First) seats are beige & brown, Pearl (Business) seats are turquoise and Coral seats feature a mix of both colors. A true pleasure for my eyes: large PTVs!
Seating comfort is amazing, not just because of wider seats but also because of the cushion. Adjustable headrests and foot rests are also available. I don’t know exactly how much the pitch is, but it’s definitely enough.
While Coral Zone and our section were really packed (around 85-90 percent) there weren’t many pax in Pearl Zone. I have no idea about Diamond (First) as we entered the plane via the second door.
At 22.47 we were pushed back and soon taxied towards runway 18 (“Startbahn West”). Great feature: front camera.
We had to wait some time in line, directly ahead of us was a Lufthansa A346 bound for Sao Paulo and Santiago de Chile. Then we turned in and at 23.10 the two Trents went to work. Runway lights well visible on the screen:
Takeoff was not really impressive – one disadvantage of sitting in the front or middle section of the aircraft. The T/O roll was not very long and soon we lifted off. On the screen we could still see the Lufthansa A346’s lights for some time until we turned east.
As I read on the forum not long ago, A6-EYD is the first ever Airbus aircraft to be equipped with the brand new Thales i4000 IFE system. Shortly after climb out the system was fully available and while browsing through the entertainment guide I realized there wasn’t any time to waste. Here’s the main menu (touch screen):
The IFE options were just huge, here’s a short summary of all features:
8 broadcast video channels
30 movies (video-on-demand)
24 hours of television (video-on-demand)
12 broadcast audio channels
30 music CDs (audio-on-demand)
29 games (games-on-demand)
There were genres of all kinds, different languages available. I really liked the “Inflight Trivia Tournament” which even included an “aviation” category. Though the trivia was nice, it’s not as good as Northwest’s (which also shows seat numbers of players). Another game highlight is the “Berlitz World Traveller” (language training).
Unfortunately the moving map did not work. I told an F/A about it and he confirmed there was an error in the system. Meanwhile a friend in the business told me probably Etihad doesn’t have the “rights” yet – well, who knows. It didn’t work on the return flight either. As a result, I didn’t get any info on the routing.
Though not having my favourite IFE feature time still passed by very quickly thanks to that substantial programming.
Dinner service started some 40 minutes after takeoff and there was a choice of three main meals. Like certain other quality carriers, Etihad has menu cards, or better: booklets. There’s even an intro inside:
“Etihad is pleased to present our unique fusion menu, offering flavours from all corners of the globe created in a harmonious blend in one dish…” The text continues.
Interestingly, one of the three main meals was a typical German dish. The description came on an additional card put inside the booklet. It says the following:
“Etihad is pleased to introduce an additional choice of traditional German food & dessert along with our regular menu offering.”
Here’s the complete offering:
Appetizer Baby Schrimps with Zucchini Salad
Main Course Fillet of Hoki in Black Bean sauce (signature fish)
or Chinese Stir-Fry noodles with vegetables
or Grilled Veal Loin with Spaetzle
Dessert Charlotte Royale
plus German Cheese Cake
I chose the Thai fish and it was a very tasty choice. However there were some slices of capsicum on top and – though being used to spicy food – these were so extremely hot, I almost burnt my mouth!
Another nice surprise was the German cheese cake which came along as a second dessert. The whole meal was accompanied by crackers, cheese, a bread roll and chocolate – it was a very satisfying and filling dinner. They called it a “light meal” – what would a “real meal” look like? Two trays?
After dinner, tea and coffee were served and the Brazilian coffee was an excellent one. Drink service in general was very good, F/As passed through the cabin regularly, offering water and orange juice.
About one hour prior to landing a continental breakfast was served and I really had problems finishing that only some three hours after that big dinner. The fresh fruit tasted well, the croissant was rather average.
Earlier after dinner the bright cabin lights had been turned off and the passive lighting was activated. The blue and red illumination is amazing and feels very comfortable:
Later in the flight the sun appeared on the horizon which caused other beautiful lighting effects.
“The falcon is watching you!” – Etihad’s logo on the winglet:
As flying time was only 5:40 hours in total the descent into Abu Dhabi was coming closer. Too bad – the IFE system would have kept me entertained for another 10 hours I guess! Here’s a first impression of Abu Dhabi’s coastline:
Approach was quite straight and within minutes we were on short finals. Unfortunately, the front camera was switched off. Touchdown was soft and the aircraft was stopped smoothly. As expected, not really much traffic at Abu Dhabi Airport, though there were some interesting planes. I spotted a Cargolux B747-400F (LX-LCV), an Etihad A300-600F (TF-ELF), another Etihad A330-200 (A6-EYA), a Royal Jordanian A321 (F-OHGU) and a Qatar Airways A320 (A7-ADI).
On arrival at the gate the front camera was turned on again and it was funny to watch ground staff running around in front of the aircraft. We decided to remain seated until all other pax had left so that I could take some pictures of the cabin. I asked one F/A and she said “Sure, but it shouldn’t take too long.” Ok, I hadn’t planned to take a picture of every seat. However, here’s our row:
And another picture of the rows ahead, this time without flash:
One male F/A saw me with my camera and he offered me to come into Diamond Class for taking some more pictures. As we arrived in the Diamond cabin another F/A immediately grabbed some blankets, bags and trash at one row and threw it onto another seat out of sight (so that I can’t take a picture of a dirty and worn Etihad First Class cabin!). Then he switched the reading lights on, moved the seat into flat position and asked my girlfriend to lie down there for a picture. Really nice gesture! And no, I don’t post it here. Sorry guys, the picture is only for my personal use!
I said thanks to the crew and we left the aircraft. The captain was ahead of us and apparently inspected the aircraft’s nose from the jetway. Then he said something like “Yeah, there it is!” I don’t know what he was looking for, I only know he had an American or Canadian accent. Well, it was nothing serious of course because he said “Yes” after I asked about taking a picture. Finally, I got a shot of A6-EYD:
Then we headed to the terminal and directly went to immigration. Just in front of the counters we found immigration forms to be completed – I’m wondering why those weren’t given out during the flight. Anyways, within 20 minutes we had our luggage and soon enjoyed the UAE’s heat.
Flying Etihad Airways was a real pleasure, almost everything was perfect. Professional and kind crews & ground staff, superb food, comfortable and clean cabin, the latest IFE system available. FRA-AUH was indeed an excellent experience.
However, there were a few inconsistencies on the return flight – watch out for the report. Any feedback welcome.
FLIEGER67 From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2003, 5243 posts, RR: 54
Reply 3, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
a real interesting story and very good pix, well done.
Was your flight part of a package or self arranged?
I will go also to the UAE, if nothings going wrong, next month with KLM.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Awesome report about an awesome flight, reading was a real pleasure!
I hope I can check out Etihad as well in the future. It seems that they can easily compete with Emirates when it comes to passenger service, the Coral Plus Class looks very comfortable, the food looks very tasty, and the entertainment system must be the bomb! I also like the cabin illumination, the blue and red colors bring a real nice atmosphere in the cabin.
Quoting JetMaster (Thread starter): Just in front of the counters we found immigration forms to be completed – I’m wondering why those weren’t given out during the flight.
Immigration forms? Is that a special Abu Dhabi thing or is that a new requirement since a few months? I can not remember that I had to complete an immigration form when I entered the UAE (Dubai) both times, I think I just walked up to the passport control guy and he stamped the visa as well as the immigration stamp in.
I am looking forward to the return flight report!
Sorry I forgot to ask if you collected miles for this flight and if you can say something about EY's frequent flyer program? Is it generous and is it easy to get status/free flights or is it such a joke like most of the European FFP's became lately (with Shithansa's Miles&Less on top of the "crap FFP list")?
Jsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2261 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Great report! I'm jealous that you Europeans have so many quality airlines available to choose from, and so many exotic places such a (comparably) short flight away. Flying still looks like it's an experience on airlines like Etihad.
AirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Great Great report, I think that is one of the most comfortable looking cabin that I have ever seen. I am amazed at how airlines in the Middle East and Asia are so far advanced when it comes to cabin service. The U.S airlines especially are still stuck in the 1990s.
Leskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 68
Reply 12, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 32767 times:
Great report - seems to have been a great flight as well!
Quoting JetMaster (Thread starter): There were also some Lufthansa seats on the upper deck and while being seated in these "chairs" for a while I suddenly was even more glad about flying Etihad soon…
I can imagine that... ... damn, next time I'm back in Frankfurt, I'll really have to take a look at that mockup...
Quoting JetMaster (Thread starter): Very friendly F/As welcomed us on board and as we headed to our row I was surprised to find a 2-3-2 configuration – I had expected more pitch but not necessarily one seat less per row.
That (the one seat less per row) seems to be quite a consistent feature with premium economy cabins - and I think it's a really good idea.
JetMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting KL808 (Reply 10): So whats to see out in AUH? Ive been to DXB, but dont really know if its comparable?
Abu Dhabi is also a very modern and fast growing city, with shiny skyscrapers and countless other interesting buildings (including as many as 300 mosques!). One can spend some days there with exploring the city's museums, amazing shopping centers and beautiful park areas. Unfortunately there's a lot of construction work in the city's "heart" right now, one of the projects is a new road at the waterfront. So the famous "Corniche" (road) is not the lovely place which it should be right now. Some famous monuments have even been removed (e.g. Volcano Fountain) and will be back as soon as construction work is finished.
Of course, Dubai is still a class of its own. But Abu Dhabi is on the way up definitely!
Quoting A319114 (Reply 11): Very nice trip report, did you enjoy your stay in the UAE?
Absolutely. We explored Abu Dhabi, went to Dubai, booked a desert safari (breathtaking experience thanks to ingenious drivers!) and enjoyed beach, pools and heat. UAE = simply great for vacation
UK_Dispatcher From United Arab Emirates, joined Dec 2001, 2606 posts, RR: 28
Reply 18, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting JetMaster (Reply 13): Unfortunately there's a lot of construction work in the city's "heart" right now, one of the projects is a new road at the waterfront. So the famous "Corniche" (road) is not the lovely place which it should be right now. Some famous monuments have even been removed (e.g. Volcano Fountain) and will be back as soon as construction work is finished.
You'll actually find that the work on the Corniche is pretty much done - it was as you described it when I was there in March, but I've lived in AUH since June and can assure you the Corniche is lovely now.
Quoting Richard28 (Reply 14): Sounds a lot nicer on the new A330 than the ex-TAM A330's and the A340 I've flown on with Etihad..
Yes, sadly. Once EY's B773s, A345s & NEW A332s come online next year, you will see the real EY product. Unfortunately, the leased TAM and ex-Volare A332s let the product down. I've seen pics of the new Pearl Zone on the B773s, and it is amazing. Only 1-2-1 abreast, and fully flat beds, as opposed to the sleeper seats on the 2 newest A332s, A6-EYD/YE.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Reply 18): You'll actually find that the work on the Corniche is pretty much done - it was as you described it when I was there in March, but I've lived in AUH since June and can assure you the Corniche is lovely now.
Well, it might have been even worse in March but there was still a lot of work going on. Plus the famous monuments as mentioned are still missing.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Reply 18): Only 1-2-1 abreast, and fully flat beds, as opposed to the sleeper seats on the 2 newest A332s, A6-EYD/YE.
Mrniji From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Wonderful report! EY, QR (my last trip) seem to redefine travelling and further prove that the LCC age does not necessary mean that the competitors are so foolish to scrap their great products but rather build on product diferentiation! Good to know that the service industry is reinvirogating its performance.
The night cabin lightening is something I would need to get used to.. but better than AI's dark yellow-greyish bulbs
MichaelJP From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 181 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
As I've explained here many a time before the 2 times I experienced EY service it was pretty poor and we flew on the ex-TAM birds.
All the EY reports I read though seem to give me an indication that they're getting better and better!
Loved the pics and the ambient lighting looks impressive! Did it still have the new aircraft smell? I love that smell!
JetMaster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Hi again and thanx for all comments!
Quoting Mrniji (Reply 21): Wonderful report! EY, QR (my last trip) seem to redefine travelling and further prove that the LCC age does not necessary mean that the competitors are so foolish to scrap their great products but rather build on product diferentiation!
Indeed very positive development, yes!
Quoting Avianca (Reply 22): the food on Etihad looks very good! just one think, they should better use Colombian coffee
That would be worth a try!
Quoting MichaelJP (Reply 23): As I've explained here many a time before the 2 times I experienced EY service it was pretty poor and we flew on the ex-TAM birds.
It would have been quite interesting to get a ex-TAM aircraft on one flight.
Quoting MichaelJP (Reply 23): Loved the pics and the ambient lighting looks impressive! Did it still have the new aircraft smell? I love that smell!
I didn't notice it unfortunately. Some 80-90 flights since delivery must have absorbed it...
: Hey Jetmaster Nicely written , very good report. I recently flew on QR and I must say service was immaculate. (Very cheap fares as well , how are Eith
: Awesome TR, Etihad looks great!! btw, Does anyone know which aircraft I can expect on the Toronto to Brussels flight in November? I booked it through
: In April 2004 I flew from FRA to AUH but had a stopover in Doha (DOH) on Qatar Airways. AUH is a nice airport and will gladly go there again. I flew f
: Excellent report! I hope you don´t mind if I use your format to write my own trip report?
: LOL, sounds like you had a good trip. I should try Etihad sometime soon too.
: Thanks again for all new comments! Cheap, at least from Germany. They offer awesome deals (flight and hotel packages). Well, that's really bad luck -
: Awesome report and great pictures as ususal although you "forgot" to add that diamond class picture. With so many quality carriers offering affordable
: Hey, What a fantastic report! Etihad sound amazing, I can't wait for next year when they get their own new aircraft, what an amazing meal choice thoug