Thank you so much for all this fantastic stuff. Now it's my turn:
Welcome to my very first trip report!
(Sorry for the bad quality of my pics. Most pictures are taken with my iPhone - it's handy, at least...)
My girlfriend had passed her final exams at university and we agreed that this milestone should be reason enough to take some days off. As she's going to work as a teacher, this would also be the last chance to go on vacation off-season for a long long time. We had planned to go to KUL for quite some time, so all we had to find was a nice beach location on top. I had hoped for Langkawi or Sabah, but both turned out to be pretty expensive. I spent some nights and days on tripadvisor (yeah, I tend to choose my destinations based on airlines AND hotels) and found a nice resort in Khao Lak, Thailand.
So the mission was clear: Find flights to HKT and KUL, at a reasonable price, on a nice airline you've not flown before...
I found a pretty good deal on Emirates for MUC-DXB-BKK/KUL-DXB-MUC at some 600 EUR, every single leg on the A380! This was really tempting... but we already had the pleasure of flying EK to BKK and HKG two years ago, DXB-BKK on the A380, and to be honest: EK did not live up to my expectations. It's a good airline, no doubt, but their service was nothing to write home about. Had some very indifferent crews. So I wouldn't go with EK this time, even with the A380...
Next option: Qatar Airways. MUC-DOH-KUL-HKT vv. at over 900 Euros. Well, would've been the perfect routing for us, but a 12+ hours layover at DOH on the return flight was not overly appealing. Moreover, I had flown them as recently as last September on a trip to DXB (found them ways ahead of Emirates service-wise, btw).
Finally, I came across a pretty good deal on Etihad: MUC-AUH-BKK-HKT/KUL-AUH-MUC (BKK-HKT on PG) for as little as 730 Euros.
Booking was a breeze but what I found a bit odd was the seat selection:
What? I'm booking four months in advance and there's not a single window seat left? No chance to get a seat next to my girlfriend? Well, all I could do was picking two aisle seats with the aisle between us and hope that the EY office in MUC could help. Called them some days later to change the seats. The agent was friendly enough, but seemed a bit annoyed when I politely asked her to change my seats for every single leg. Turned out that I was spoilt for choice regarding window seats by then. So why weren't they available at time of booking?
FINDING FLIGHTS AGAIN
Next mission: Get from HKT to KUL. The alternatives:
- MH 734 at 87 Euros
- QR 77W at 86 Euros
I had always wanted to fly Malaysian, so it was pretty clear that...oh wait, let me check the business class fares! I've never flown long haul business class before and I need a Xmas gift for my girlfriend...and me Couldn't resist, so QR had won me over!
Our itinerary (as of time of booking):
- EY004 MUC-AUH 22:20-07:20+ Y 330
- EY408 AUH-MUC 09:15-18:15 Y 77W
- EY7716 BKK-HKT 20:15-21:40 Y 320 (opb PG)
- QR623 HKT-KUL 23:59-02:25+ C 77W
- EY411 KUL-AUH 20:40-23:45 Y 332
- EY005 AUH-MUC 02:15-06:40 Y 330
The evening before departure I tried to check-in online but when I realised that I could only get our boarding passes for the first leg, I skipped it. I just didn't see the benefit of it when I have to collect my boarding passes for the connection flights at the transfer desk in AUH in the end.
ITS TIME TO PANIC
With our flight to AUH scheduled for 22:20 in the evening, I had the whole sunday for packing my suitcase...which I actually hate! So I thought it would be a good idea to have a coffee instead and hope for self-packing luggage (which did not materialize). Sitting at my kitchen window and sipping my coffee, I watched out for the incoming flight which was scheduled for noon. I checked Etihad's website for the flight's estimated time of arrival and...WHAT?!?!? Delayed to 21:29!!! It hadn't even departed from AUH! Well, I have to admit that I tend to overreact from time to time, but all I was seeing at that moment was me and my girlfriend being stuck in AUH, having missed our connection and fighting through a crowd of people to Etihad's service desk where we would be told that we had to wait for the next flight to BKK. So I prayed that the delay wouldn't get any worse. Well, actually there was no reason to freak out at this stage, but all I wanted was to check back with Etihad...although I was pretty sure they would tell me that everything would be fine. So I tried to reach Etihad's office in MUC...which was closed as it opens just four hours before departure. Next I searched for a hotline in the UAE, but I couldn't get a line, just a busy-tone. So I was left with no other choice than to stay calm and hope for the best.
AT THE AIRPORT
I checked the status of the incoming flight several times and began to calm down when I saw that the flight had departed from AUH at around 4pm, so the arrival at 21:30 seemed realistic.
We arrived at the airport at 19:15. Not really a long queue at check-in, so we made it to the counter in less than five minutes. I handed our passports to the lady and was a bit puzzled when she asked me for our boarding passes. "Uhm, just to be clear: I'm here to get them from you, not the other way round", I thought to myself. Seeing me confused, she told me that I had checked-in online. So I explained to her that I had logged in but had cancelled the process. "At Etihad, you are considered as checked-in from the time you log in for online check-in. Now I have to do it manually for every single leg.", she replied slightly annoyed. Didn't know what she was suggesting or what would be the problem, but I didn't really care, to be honest. So why is there a 'Home' button online when I cannot cancel the process? Why do I have to confirm OLCI at a later stage when I'm checked-in anyway from the moment I log in?
Finally, A6-EYN arrived at the gate at around 21:35. It was clear that they couldn’t turn around in 40 minutes, but the delay shouldn’t be too bad either.
Bording commenced around 22:15. Don't know why they do not board by seat rows. I'd imagine that this is a more efficient way - at least in theory. Maybe Munich station has realized that it probably takes much more time to explain to an impatient crowd that '12' does not lie between '30' and '43', not even close to it. So run as if you had to defend your assigned seat! The plane might depart without you! Well, I feel there's actually nothing more annoying about flying than boarding and deplaneing...thinking of buying an "I'm with stupid" shirt for these very special occasions.
We queued up behind a Thai travel group of about 30 people who were probably connecting to BKK as well. As EY, QR, EK and WY are all coming to MUC, I wondered how much of the cake is left for TG with their nonstop service? Upon entering the aircraft, we were welcomed and greeted by name which I’ve never encountered before as an Economy passenger. Very good first impression, Etihad!
18th March 2012
22:20 - 07:20+
Off blocks 22:47
Take off 23:05
Touch down 07:28
On blocks 07:35
del 18 Jun 07
1st flight on EY
4th flight on A330
3rd flight on A330-200
We pushed back at 22:47, half an hour behind schedule. First we taxied south, but then turned around and made our way to the northern runway. We finally left German soil at 23:05.
A6-EYN had the new interior design, featuring black-brown-beige striped seats with brown head rests. Well, they're pretty nice actually, although it's kind of a restless pattern. But...Ugh!...Who came up with these beige seat backs??? I understand that this a sandy tone and this might work well for the branding of the UAE's national airline. But when you have to stare at it for some hours, it just gets horrible! Looks like from the 70s or like in the smokers' section Advantage of the new seats: they have power outlets. A big plus being able to recharge your mobile.
Etihad's IFE is called E-Box. It's pretty comprehensive and actually very easy to use. It's easy to navigate, the menu structure is simple and pretty on par with QR. But to be honest, I don't really care about IFE. I've got enough music on my iPod, so all I need is a working moving map and flight information.
Welcome to E-BOX
Etihad has really nice amenity kits, comprising eye shades, socks, ear plugs and a tooth brush. Well, it's always the same on the inside with almost every airline, but I found them really chic from the outside.
Some 30 minutes into the flight, I was so much looking forward to the hot towel service. For me, a quality airline can't do without hot towels.
40 minutes after take-off, the crew sprang into action, commencing with a bar and snack service. So no hot towels??? Ok, even my all time favourite airline CX has done away with hot towels in Y years ago. Well, I have to live with these antiseptic towelettes then. WHAT? No hot towels, no wet wipes??? I was deeply disappointed.
I had hoped for a dinner service after take-off and a small snack before landing, but it turned out to be the other way round: Snack after take-off, full breakfast service before landing...which left me a bit hungry in the evening I ordered a 7up/Sprite and a Spicy Chicken wrap, which was actually damn tasty! The snack service was followed by coffee and tea, which all in all seemed to take ages. Lights were finally dimmed over eastern Turkey...
Man Vs. Woman
...and turned on again over southern Iraq, when I had just found some sleep. Aaaaargh!
Breakfast service started south of Basra. As I hate eggs, I chose the mini wafers with cherry compote and vanilla sauce. The fruit salad was just perfect, very refreshing and a formidable start into the day. The wafers however were just ok, the cherry compote was so damn sweet! Positive effect: I was wide awake now! BTW, can you spot the vanilla sauce?
Vanilla sauce, anyone?
Descending into AUH
Off Bahrain, we started our descent into AUH. Touched down at AUH at 07:28 local time. At 07:35, we had reached our parking position near the old terminal, 15 minutes behind schedule. So we had some 100 minutes to reach our connecting flight.
An airline I'd really like to try
ABU DHABI AIRPORT
We entered the terminal some 15 minutes later. I checked the FIDS for our connecting gate, but it was too early, it only showed flights up to 09:00. So we just followed the crowd towards security, which is the weak point of AUH. When you want the world to connect at your hub, you should have the right infrastructure. DOH and AUH are both about to open new terminals in the coming years, but hey, that's about time! We meandered towards security and were literally pushed through ("Leave your jackets on, leave your jackets on, next, next, next..."). Feels more like an evacuation than a security screening.
We made our way through AUH duty-free to the new terminal 3 extension. IIRC, our flight to BKK left at gate 30, so we decided to locate it first before looking for a smoking room nearby. Hah! No smoking area nearby. AUHs smoking lounge is located on the mezzanine floor above the duty-free between the terminals. So we fought our way back through the crowds.
I do not know how, but we managed to go through security, proceed to the gate, go back to find a smoking area and shop in the duty-free in less than 30 minutes. Boarding commenced at 08:15, so we hurried up to reach the gate. I had thought that 90+ minutes would be enough for connecting. And it definately is, if you do everything in a rush.
We arrived at the gate at around 08:20, boarding had already commenced. As we were seated in the aft cabin, we got in line immediately. We entered A6-ETH and walked down the loooooong aisle to 52HK...
19th March 2012
09:15 - 18:15
Off blocks 09:19
Take off 09:28
Touch down 18:15
On blocks 18:23
del 14 Sep 11
2nd flight on EY
7th flight on 777
5th flight on 777-300ER
The Boeing 777-300ER clearly is one beast of an aircraft. It takes over 400 passengers with only two engines, a wet dream for the airlines’ accountants. Surely a damn versatile plane. And she’s a real beauty...from the outside. (The following is my very personal opinion!!!) But who the hell came up with this interior design?!?! This wavy overhead bin structure...Ugh!!! The Airbus cabin is so much more pleasing to the eyes IMHO.
And 3-4-3, 10-abreast?! Are you kidding me?! Rather killing me...
Flying a 10-abreast 77W is nowhere near the 'premium image' of an airline like EY. It's like flying on another airline, accidentially featuring the same seat colours. No matter where you look, it's a never ending Economy Class with narrow seats and even narrower aisles. It's like connecting from premium to charter. And this strangely showed in the cabin crew's attitude. Well, I don't rule out that my rather negative view of this cattle 77W might have overshadowed my general impression of this flight - but, to be honest, I found this flight to be the weakest service-wise (btw, not greeted by name this time ).
Two female flight attendants from Kenya (I suppose) were in charge for our section. And while not being rude or unfriendly, they definately lacked the attitude of the cabin crew I had experienced on my first flight. Not a single smile throughout the flight, interaction with the passenger at a minimum.
Heavily advertising their AB tie-up
A6-ETD next to us
We went off-blocks at 09:19 and taxied to the runway. Take-off at 09:28 leaving AUH towards the northwest. Had a good view of the new terminal's groundbreaking and the Ferrari World nearby the airport. Shortly after take-off we turned right, climbing to the southeast towards Muscat. The Al Hajar Mountains of Oman are definitely one of the most beautiful sceneries I've ever seen from above.
Heading towards MCT
Service started only 30 minutes into the flight with beverages and some nibbles. I like EY's striking red cups, they are a welcome contrast in this sandy ambiance .
Off the Indian Coast, some 90 minutes into the flight, we were served a hot meal. I chose the stir-fried beef which was pretty tasty. The side salad however was a strange combination of leaf salad and potatoes with a rubber-like chicken on top.
Etihad offers pretty decent headphones in Y, which are not only very comfortable but also work noise-canceling (a bit at least).
A bit worn
I skipped the hot beverage service and found some sleep over India. As much as I'd wanted to observe the landscape, I was just too tired. I woke up over Myanmar when the crew handed out creamy caramel popcorn. It was...disgusting. I really like popcorn, and I love caramel, but this is a horrible combination.
We touched down at Suvarnabhumi at 18:15 and reached our gate at 18:23 local time, barely ten minutes behind schedule. Our flight to HKT would depart at 20:15. After our steeplechase through AUH, I was pretty optimistic that this would be a breeze...and I was way too tired to get stressed At home, I had found out that EY flights arrive at concourse C which is only a stone's throw to domestic concourse A. Well, in fact we arrived at concourse E, which is like at the other end of Thailand. So we followed the 'Transfer to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket, Krabi...' signs heading towards concourse A. You only realize the sheer size of Suvarnabhumi when you have to walk from E to A. You walk. And walk. And walk. Aaaaaaand walk. Must have walked about 2 kilometers.
We arrived at concourse A where a Bangkok Airways agent checked our boarding passes. She put a 'International Baggage Claim' sticker on my jacket and let me pass to Thai immigration. After this monster walk, I seriously wondered if I hadn't already reached the Cambodian border... But to be honest, apart from the distance, connecting at BKK is a breeze. No one in line at immigration, no queue at security.
LOUNGING ON AN ECONOMY CLASS TICKET
Bangkok Airways, 'Asia's Boutique Airline' offers lounge access to every passenger. While it's not a real premium lounge, it's a very nice gesture and I did really appreciate it. The lounge was located just opposite our departure gate A3. At front desk, I asked for a smoking room in the domestic concourse, just to be politely told that smoking is only allowed in the interational concourses.
The lounge offers a wide choice of soft drinks, juices, hot beverages and snacks, such as mini pizzas and tuna sandwiches. And fresh fruit, of course. You get complimentary wi-fi access, just enter your last name, flight number and seat number. I really enjoyed the lounge after the two flights. And it made a wonderful first impression of PG which should be only the beginning of a great experience with a small airline.
Asia's Boutique Airline's Lounge for everyone
19th March 2012
20:15 - 21:40+
Off blocks 20:12
Take off 20:20
Touch down 21:24
On blocks 21:28
del 09 Mar 12
1st flight on PG
27th flight on A320 series
10th flight on A319
Boarding commenced at 19:55. I’ve never received such a warm welcome on a plane before. Our purserette was as gracious as it can get, the perfect synthesis of true Thai hospitality and of what I would call a classy, experienced, gracious and elegant flight attendant. WOW! She directed me to my seat in row 19. Just five rows down the aisle I was welcomed by the fellow flight attendant who again guided my way. The third flight attendant again showed me where I would find my seat. This was funny...hey, it's a single-aisle aircraft, do I have an other choice than to walk down this aisle?! But they did it with so much warmth that I couldn't fault them for their genuine care.
HS-PPC had just been delivered to the airline some days before (former operator Batavia Air). The seat colours didn't really match the carpet, but the whole cabin was spotless clean and in perfect condition. I had just settled when a group of three German guys (18-20 yrs) arrived, seated in 18ABC. They were in - let's say - full party mode. Well, at least nothing you wouldn't expect from a flight between BKK and HKT. What followed was a vociferous conversation about their night life experiences in BKK, featuring R-rated vocabulary. This wasn't exactly the kind of inflight entertainment I had expected, but as I felt a bit sick in the meantime, I tried to focus on not having to use the nice little bag in the seat pocket.
We pushed back at 20:12 and taxied to BKK's eastern runway. During taxi and take-off, our German fellows decided to visualize their portrayal of Bangkok's night life with a photo series on their three laptops. The guy seated in 18B, right in front of me, tried to incline his seat from pushback till arrival in HKT. Well, as I really needed my space, I decided to play the knee trick What a pathetic sight: for the whole length of the flight he did not come even near the explanation that I might be blocking it.
We were served a full meal and beverages, followed by a round of coffee and tea. That's simply amazing for a domestic flight of slightly over one hour. The meal contained a salad with a really good dressing, chicken with chili sauce, rice and a dessert I couldn't define. Can anybody help?
Bangkok Airways showcase their new uniforms in most of their advertising at Suvarnabhumi. They also show it on their website for quite some time now. But I haven't seen a single employee actually wearing it. They still have these starfish outfits. Find the new ones much nicer.
We approached HKT from the east and touched down on the island at 21:24.
What a perfect flight!
WELCOME TO PARADISE
We passed the baggage claim and left the domestic terminal as our luggage would arrive at the international baggage claim. Our luggage soon arrived and we made our way to the curbside. We had reserved a transfer to Khao Lak online, so I tried to avoid eye contact while running through the crowd of taxi drivers
Well, didn't help.
Some 23 hours after we had left home, we finally set foot into our hotel room.
I could write a lot about the hotel and the destination...I think the pics speak for themselves
JW Marriott Khao Lak
I miss Thai food
We arrived at Phuket Airport at around 19:30. Upon entering the international terminal, you are security screened which went pretty fast. While waiting in line at the Business Class counter, a check-in agent approached us and asked for our passports and e-tickets. Seconds later she returned as she also needed our booking confirmation for our flights from Malaysia back to Europe. Obviously they are not allowed to send people to Malaysia without a confirmed flight out. We then proceeded to the counter where everything went smoothly. When we turned around, a young lady in a beige uniform bid us a ‚wai’ and told us that she would escort us to the Coral Executive Lounge. Immigration had 6-8 counters open with around 30 people lining up for each. Well, we just passed by, trying to avoid any eye contact with the angry crowd All in all we made it to the lounge in under five minutes what would have taken us 30 minutes at least.
CORAL EXECUTIVE LOUNGE
The Coral Executive Lounge is kind of a larger living room. This is probably due to Phuket airport’s general structure. They have a nice buffet offering fresh fruit and Asian dishes which taste like the better Asian frozen foods you find in German supermarkets. The lounge offers free wi-fi as well as iPads. Furthermore you can indulge in a complimentary neck and shoulder massage. But make sure you’re facing the TV screen as the masseuse will have a better view of the Thai version of ‚Pop Idol’ .
Watching Thai Pop Idol
Coral Executive Lounge does not have ist own lavatories or smoking areas which was a bit annoying as you have to cross the crowded departure area for the public toilets. Phuket’s smoking rooms are the dirtiest I’ve ever seen. There are three ventilators trying to blow the smoke out, but they do not help at all. I don’t expect to get a luxury lounge for us filthy smokers but...
Well, maybe they try some psychological conditioning? I’m shivering with disgust at every cigarette ever since...
25th March 2012
23:55 - 02:20+
Off blocks 23:32
Take off 23:43
Touch down 01:52+
On blocks 02:02+
del 07 Feb 07
5th flight on QR
5th flight on A330
2nd flight on A330-300
The departure time of this flight had been changed from 23:59 to 23:55 some weeks before. QR had not informed me about that, but to be honest, why should they? It's 4 minutes earlier. But I hope they would have sent me an e-mail if there had been a major change to the schedule. Aside from that, they had also changed the equipment: instead of a Boeing 777-300ER, I got an A330-300 for today's flight. I didn't mind at all.
Boarding commenced at around 23:00 with no dedicated line for Business Class passengers. We boarded through door 2L and were escorted to our seats. Wow, this is Business Class! Four flight attendants for a total of four passengers.
For the beginning, we were handed amenity kits full of Molton Brown products. I hadn't even thought of amenity kits for this short hop. Marcos, a flight attendant from South America (I guess), handed out menu cards. Seconds later, a female flight attendant arrived with hot towels. Yahoooo, hot towels, finally! But these were so hot that it took a minute till I could finally use it. Marcos came around to ask if we would join them for a light meal after take-off which we couldn't resist. I had just come to enjoy my hot towel when the female FA spurted down the aisle to collect them, as they had to hurry up a bit cause we were to leave the gate early. Obviously, they did not want/couldn't continue service during taxi.
We left the gate at 23:32 and made our way to the runway. Our flight departed HKT at 23:43 towards the west, turning south after take off, continuing our climb over the island. Seat belt signs were soon switched off and the crew sprung into action. Marcos served us a collection of warm nuts and almonds which was delicious...and one would have been enough for us two, actually. The female FA followed with champagne. Well, actually, I did not want to drink any alcohol on that flight, as I was pretty tired by now...and we still had a long way to our hotel. Furthermore, one glass of champagne is like four bottles of beer for me. So I said...yes?! Well, I just had to accept, it would be long till the next time I get served champagne on a plane.
Our meal arrived pretty quickly. It tasted very good, but to be honest, even if it's Business Class, it still tastes like airplane food. My champagne was always topped up when I had my mouth full. In the end, I had drunk three glases in under one hour.
Time to sleep This was my opportunity to try how it feels to lie flat on a plane. QR's present Business Class seat might not be the industry benchmark but for me this was a wonderful new experience.
We started our descent into KUL when the FA had just topped up my champagne again. I have the feeling that Middle Eastern carriers are preparing the cabin for landing pretty early. So I felt I should pour it down quickly when the seat belt signs were turned on. I saw the female FA (who had just topped up my glass) spurting down the aisle. She apologized, snatched our glasses and ran back to the front galley. Well, no problem at all, but I felt her reaction was maybe a bit over the top, as we were still 10 minutes from touch down. We passed over Kuala Lumpur and approached KUL from the south. We touched down at 01:52 and I startled a bit, as something in the galley hadn't been locked properly and some metal trays had fallen out.
Passengers continuing to DOH were requested to stay seated. We were the only passengers in C to disembark in KUL, but there were another 30 in Y who left the plane here. We disembarked through door 1L this time. When we reached the terminal, our passports and boarding passes were inspected...and they had even waited for us. The Economy Class crowd were held back in the jetway till we had passed.
Immigration went pretty fast and while we were waiting for our luggage to arrive, I went to withdrew some cash at the ATM. When I returned, I realised that we were the last passengers around. The customs officers had spotted us and I hoped that they wouldn't stop us. I've never even tried to offend against customs regulations, but I get nervous all the time So I started sweating a bit when they approached us. And who would you frisk as a customs officer? Right, that German guy who sweats like a pig! What followed was a chat about Germany, beer, football and Formula 1. They welcomed us to Malaysia and wished us a wonderful stay in KL.
Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful airport. It's clean and efficient, like an airport should be. Check-in was handled by Malaysia Airlines. We went straight to security and took the train to the satelite terminal. We had some time to kill, so we took a walk through the rainforest in the central area of the terminal.
Really liked that airport
Our flight left at gate C16. Upon entering the waiting area, we were security screened once more. The MH gate agent made a first boarding announcement at around 19:40 which went like: „Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Etihad Airways flight 411 to Abu Dhabi. Please stay seated during this announcement!“ ☺ Well, you guess, it didn’t help... A young man and his wife from the GCC spurted to the gate...and were denied boarding, as they were neither handicapped nor did they have a baby. The MH agent explained to them why they were not allowed in at this early stage. Well, he didn’t seem to bother at all. He pointed at the LCD screen and repeated „Abu Dhabi, Etihad, Abu Dhabi“ like a mantra...
28th March 2012
20:25 - 23:45
Off blocks 20:30
Take off 20:47
Touch down 00:01+
On blocks 00:06+
del 24 Apr 06
3rd flight on EY
6th flight on A330
4th flight on A330-200
A6-EYH still had the older light blue and beige seats, which I found much more pleasing to the eyes. On the downside, they don't feature USB-plugs.
FA Haytham handed out menu cards. Arriving at our row he asked: "Are you travelling together?" - "Yes", I replied. So we got handed one menu! Haytham proceeded to row 19 and I murmured to my girlfriend in German: "I don't like him!". Haytham turned around, came back to our row and smiled at me, saying something like "Maybe you should have your own".
We went off blocks at 20:30 and made our way to the runway. Had to wait for some Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines to land before we started our take off run at 20:47. EY411 headed north before turning west south of the capital, so I had a nice view of Kuala Lumpur by night from my seat 18K.
The crew started bar service off Bandar Aceh. We were served the familiar Etihad 'Savoury Mix' and I asked for a Gin and Tonic. I forgot to ask for a water and thought to myself that it would have been the perfect touch if I had been served a non-alcoholic drink without having to ask for it.
Dinner was served soon afterwards. I took the chicken in honey black pepper sauce which was good. Dessert service comprised a Malay mocha cake which was delicious!!!
I found some sleep on that flight and woke up some one and a half our before landing when the crew served tuna sandwhiches. Well, the sandwhich was ok but a bit dry.
We passed over Dubai and approached AUH from the north, touching down shortly after midnight local time.
We were familiar with AUH this time which made it a lot easier. Security was a mess again, but connecting in AUH felt less stressful this time.
Etihad is sending an A340-500 to MUC on an irregular basis. Sure I was hoping that they would do so today, but I was bitterly disappointed when we reached the gate.
They did in fact start boarding one hour before departure. So we got in line when the early pushing and shoving had found some kind of order. Meandering to the gate, we watched two boys from the UAE who were ahead of us (12 and 15 yrs I’d guess). They pushed and shoved and the gentleman in front of them got pretty annoyed. When he had reached the gate agent, they pestered him so much that they got an angry look from both the man and the gate agent. But they didn’t bother at all. „Pleeeeaaaase, let them be seated faaaar away from us! Or even better, put them in the hold!“, I thought to myself, and looking at my girlfriend I knew she was thinking the same.
29th March 2012
02:15 - 06:40
Off blocks 02:22
Take off 02:47
Touch down 06:55
On blocks 07:01
del 20 Jun 06
4th flight on EY
7th flight on A330
5th flight on A330-200
We boarded A6-EYI through door 2L and were again greeted by name. I was happy to see that A6-EYI had the older seats, too. I made my way to 18AC. When I got to our row, our seats looked like after a long-haul flight. Seat belts hanging down, our blankets on the floor, the pillows crumpled. I checked back if this really was row 18 when the elder of the boys suddenly appeared behind me, yelling „My seat, my seat!“. Well, I was overtired and a bit annoyed from fighting my way through the crowds of Abu Dhabi airport. And to be honest, I tend to become a bit narky then, but even then I still manage to deal politely with strangers. BUT NOT YOU, AAAAARGH! „NO! It’s mine! Look at my boarding pass!“, I replied rather bold. So they moved to 18DE and started vandalizing over there. Just five minutes later, an elder gentleman arrived at our row and seemed a bit puzzled when he saw his seat 18D occupied by my new very special friend. They checked their stubs and finally moved to 18EF. Minutes later, my good friend decided that being seated for longer than five minutes can get rather boring, particularly when you’ve managed to push every single button and to move every moveable part of your seat in under 30 seconds. So let’s look for some new buttons in the lavatory! And don’t bother to wait till the gentleman in 18D stands up to let you pass. Just climb over him and put your ass in his face. That was the last time I saw the gentleman. And I really missed him as he had been kind of a natural barrier. But for his own good, he took a wise decision, grabbed his luggage and made his way down the aisle...
That's what I had hoped for
We pushed back at 02:22 and lined up for take off. Many flights departed around this time, so it took quite some time. I could glimpse a BG DC-10 through the windows on the R-side. By now I was so tired that I actually cannot recall much of this flight. After take off the crew handed out snack bags which comprised a bottle of water, orange juice, a sandwhich, some sweets AND a refreshing towel!!! Good idea, service went fast, everyone was well supplied so one could use the night hours for sleep.
Breakfast service started one and a half hour before arrival. The frittata and the omelette wouldn't be a possibility for me, so I went with the french toast. The toast was sweet like hell and the caramelised banana made this choice an inedible gloop. The fresh fruit however was perfect - but one can't go wrong with this.
We approached MUC from the east and touched down at 06:55, 15 minutes behind schedule.
V E R D I C T
Etihad offers a decent product. Their inflight service left a very good impression on me. Their AUH hub, however, leaves much to be desired, but this will hopefully improve soon with the opening of the new terminal. Talking about service consistency, they clearly have to fine-tune some aspects.
I had the chance to try the big three from the Gulf in the past three years: EK, QR, EY.
Based on my experiences, QR offers the best product with consistant top-notch service. EY is close on their heels, leaving EK on the third place.
I would definitely fly Etihad again. Their relationship with AB makes them even more appealing. My main points of criticism are their crowded hub and their 10-abreast 77W.
Bangkok Airways was a complete surprise. I was sure they would deliver a good service. But they did really stand out by combining true Thai hospitality with highest professionalism. They truly live up to their slogan 'Asia's Boutique Airline'.
Qatar Airways delivered friendly, efficient and professional service. I think it's hard to judge their Business Class product from such a short flight. Besides I can't really compare. I think they offer a solid product. Main point of criticism: Service was done in a rush. The crew remained friendly and proactive all the time but they were noticeably working hard and seemed a bit stressed while trying to get things done on this short flight. All in all, I must give QR credit for their remarkable onboard service consistency.
That's it! Thank you very much for reading! Feedback appreciated!