This trip was taken in November 2005 and the report was previously posted on www.luchtzak.be & www.Flyertalk.com. However, I would like to share it here on Airliners.net.
Etihad's route changed from Toronto to Abu Dhabi from the Airbus A330-200 that I flew with via Brussels, to non-stops using the Airbus A340-500, -600 and now the Boeing 777-300ER. Etihad is still my favourite Middle Eastern airline, but having only flown with Emirates, and yet to fly with Qatar Airways, I can't say that is too much of a comparison.
Anyway please enjoy the trip report below. I would also like to say this is my first proprer report on Airlines net. My last one on Emirates was basically taken from my blogspot. http://www.aviation-crazy.blogspot.com/. I'm hoping to get some feedback from the readers here on Airliners net. Thank you!
Date: Nov 28, 2005
Flight: Etihad Airways - EY 502
Route: Toronto to Abu Dhabi (via Brussels)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-200
I left for the airport under heavy rain, and the thought of taking off in such conditions excited me. Unfortunately by the time we took off later, the weather had cleared significantly. I reached the Etihad Airways counter only to find I was grossly overweight, which is not unusual for people travelling to my part of the world...I had to rearrange my bags and pay for a third bag, before I was off to board the Etihad Airways A330-200 which was already at the gate.
We had to take a shuttle bus to the midfield terminal and passed some Air Canada aircraft bathing under the terminal lights. An AC A321 was being towed close to us, and at one time we were both moving in the same direction, almost close enough to see how big this jet really was. I was then distracted with the sound of a jet screaming as it climbed into the night sky. It was an El Al 767 back to Tel Aviv, and it's lights blinked against the now almost clear night sky. It was wonderful to see that bird from so close by , almost passing us outside the bus we were all in. We turned away and went underground and came back up, only to notice the Etihad Airways tail showing from behind the terminal she was parked at. I was overjoyed that the moment was finally here.
I was on the phone when the boarding call began and was not sure if they were boarding by seat or class, it appeared to be a free for all, however, the load was not much resulting in a more organised boarding even though there were people eager to get on board. A long walk down the air bridge, and I found myself being greeted by a very friendly Etihad Airways Purser, who was Australian and very warmly smiled and welcomed me on board . I stopped to click a photo and told her I needed it for a trip report for a website!!
Once on board I found my seat and before long, with sounds of bumps underneath as the bags continued to get loaded, the trucks around us pulled back and the ground staff that had checked us in left the aircraft. The aircraft was the old TAM A330, and the IFE had the TAM logo as you started the system. However, the seat belts showed no signs of the TAM logo.
The cabin crew took a round checking for fastened seat belts, and asked those already deciding to sleep and reclined their seats, to put their seats in the upright position. We started to pull back from the terminal building and taxied down to runway 6L, while the safety demonstration was being played on the video.
The cabin lights started to dim, and announcements were made these were in preparation for take off. We would be taking off into the east, and would not be passing over the area I lived which lay in the west. The cabin secure and the main cabin now dark, illuminating the no smoking and seat belt signs above, the captain announced " Cabin crew take you seats for take off", we turned onto the runway and the A330 roared into power, the runway lights passing by us quickly outside, as the main terminal building came into sight. We began to rotate just a little away from the terminal and were soon climbing into the night sky. Toronto gleamed underneath, and I practically lost most of the view behind my digital camera, trying to take a movie, resulting in me pressing the wrong button on it. By the time I realised my error we had climbed much higher, and were now passing through some thin layers of cloud, as the city danced in and out behind them. The jet banked to the left and we would soon be heading north east towards Quebec , passing Ottawa on the way.
We were soon up to FL330 and the cabin lights were now back on the cabin crew began to serve refreshments , the sound of clinking glass and bottles passing by as the carts moved to the front of the aircraft. After drinks, and extremely friendly service with genuine smiles , menu cards were issued and a light snack service commenced shortly. The IFE had already started, and for some reason my headphones did not seem to work . The Airshow however was fine and we were soon eating my selection of assorted sandwhiches over Quebec, and shortly thereafter we would be passing over Eastern Canada over the Gulf of St. Lawrence onto our leg over the Atlantic, passing north of St. John’s. The cabin lights were dimmed once more and the passengers stirred under blankets as they began to sleep . I was too excited to sleep and watched our Airshow and continued to click pictures as we progressed. The cabin crew could be seeing walking around a couple of times with drinks and responding very quickly to the sounds of the flight attendant call buttons. Etihad is truly a great airline with highly motivated, friendly and dedicated cabin crew.
Signs of first light started to fill outside the window and the silhoutte of the wing started to take shape as the darkness turned to a dull grey and then finally bright enough to see the Etihad logo on the wingtip.
Soon the cabin lights came on and the cabin crew kicked into action with hot towels and the smell of breakfast filled the air. The Menu cards previously handed out had three options
We were now close to Brussels. The captain announced we had started our descent and I could tell too, my ears started to really hurt, even though I had ear plugs inside them. It was very cloudy and only after we were low enough did the city of Brussels start to show below. We passed over some nice buildings, and then a big stretch of white buildings with grey roofs .
Soon we started to come down really low over nothing but fields before the runway appeared and the jet slammed it's wheels on the tarmac. The spoilers deployed and the jet slowed down before turning right and then right again before the main terminal building appeared in sight. I could not see a single SN Brussels aircraft and was really hoping to catch sight of their A330 .
Before long we came to the gate and started to deplane. I quickly took a quick pic of the attendants, who very happily posed for me. The purser beamed from the exit door as you can see in the picture, in the reflection on the left in the mirror.
I got some pics of our Etihad A330 at the gate.
The airport seemed very quiet for the afternoon. We passed through security and I started to explore some stores and found myself a great Swatch watch , as I had left mine at home . Soon we reboarded the aircraft and a new batch of flight attendants would be taking this flight, some of who were upbeat and smiling waiting for the returning passengers that were continuing on to Brussels.
We made our way back to the runway and started a rolling take off, and I noticed water spraying from underneath as the jet kicked into force, like a horse kicking up water as it galloped along. I do not which ruway we took off from, however we had landed from the south east on the way in. Very soon we passed buildings and the Captain banked hard to the left allowing me to capture the buildings below as the winglet of the Etihad Airways jet with the falcon on it swooped down to touch them.
We were soon our way to Abu Dhabi. Amenity kits were distributed and a cocktail service commenced shortly after.
The blue afternoon skies shone down on the wing of the jet and I captured some great close ups of the winglet . We were served lunch and were south of Zagreb at the time. In a few hours it was dusk and we had passed the north eastern tip of Cyprus , on our way to the North of Amman , flying south west across Saudi Arabia and closer to the border of Iraq , which would then take us north of Bahrain , directly over Qatar before we would begin our descent over the Arabin Gulf towards our final destination Abu Dhabi , the home base of Etihad Airways. A refreshment service was offered prior to landing in Abu Dhabi
It was now very dark outside and as I peered into the window, the wingtip lights shone with some stars in the background that twinkled dimly in the distance. A few lights and what seemed like a burning oil field shone brightly like a speck of orange in the darkness below. It made me wonder how much brighter it must be at ground level considering it was so bright and visible from FL390. The coast line began to take shape with a long bright stretch of orange lights that ran along the coast, with lights behind that which were the buildings. It seemed to appear like a big net cast into the darkness below the orange border holding the little lights that lay inside it. We continued our track passing Abu Dhabi and then the jet turned left and then left again, the second left being much longer than the first. An eerie feeling crept on me , as now i could see no more lights only some in the distance that we had left behind. After what seemed like the longest final descent we passed a long curving road, with only two large trucks below , finally landing gracefully onto the runway. I decided to be one of the last to leave, as I wanted to take a pic of the excellent cabin crew who had taken care of us all the way from Brussels. They excitedly posed for me and were happy to allow me this pic .
We had now arrived into Abu Dhabi, from where I would have a brief stopover before I continued on to Karachi. The terminal was horrendous like the inside of an apple, with the core going down into the centre of the counters that were selling jewellery! And there was n no designated smoking areas, people were smoking into your face!! I was terribly appalled and it set the tone for the rest of the stay at the terminal.
However by the time the flight to Karachi commenced, I was in no mood of photos and practically slept on the flight. However here are a few pics of that sector.
Date: Nov 30, 2005
Flight: Etihad Airways - EY 221
Route: abu Dhabi to Karachi
Aircraft: Boeing 767