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Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Thu May 02, 2019 10:50 am

***SHOCKING CATERING*** Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Flight: EY833 HKG-AUH
Date: 21APR19
Airline: Etihad Airways
Aircraft: 787-9 A6-BLJ
Cabin: Economy
Routing: HKG-AUH-DUB-LGW
Cost: £520, booking 2 days before departure.

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At the end of a round the world trip I had booked my journey home flying Etihad routing Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi to Dublin to Gatwick. This was a last minute booking after my plans to return to London via Kazakhstan on Air Astana from Beijing could not be fulfilled when my flight to Beijing from Guangzhou to catch the connecting sectors to Kazakhstan on Air Astana from Beijing had been cancelled 2 days prior due to stormy weather that day. I had flown on Etihad before about 5 years ago and found it to be great airline, also I would be flying on a 787-10 from Abu Dhabi to Dublin so was looking forward to it.
I arrived at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport about 2.5 hours before departure and got checked-in. Check-in was quick since there were no queues whatsoever. I couldn't get my boarding pass for the Aer Lingus operated sector from Dublin to Gatwick though and was told I would have to get it when I arrived in Dublin, my bag was checked in all the way however. Online check-in with Etihad opens 48 hours before the flight however free of charge seat selection can only be made from 24 hours in advance or you could let the system select a seat for you.
I had a walk around the landside check-in area and found a toy store selling model airplanes. I bought a 1:500 British Airways 747-400 model in the "Wunala Dreaming" world tails livery - G-BNLS, the exact one I had flown 20 years ago from Heathrow to Hong Kong.

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Once through security and immigrations you enter into HKG's large shopping area featuring a number of high end brands, various duty free stores and a large food court. Best of all when airside at HKG are the great spotting opportunities with clear, unobstructed views through the glass walls of the terminal out on to the ramp and the aircraft parked at the gates. Highlights included seeing the EVA Air 787 and Cathay Pacific A350-1000.

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My gate was located at the far end of the terminal which meant I could walk the length of the terminal picturing the aircraft parked at each gate, those that don't fancy walking can take an underground train that that takes you from one end of the terminal to the other and also onto the satellite terminal. By the time I reached the gate the flight was just about to begin boarding, and I long line was forming, I waited till the end to board as usual.

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The flight was about 90% full with a few seats here and there remaining empty, lucky for me the middle seat in the 3 was left empty. The economy cabin was full of Chinese tour groups and along with that comes the constant loud chatter throughout the flight. A number of them tried to take a seat in the empty exit row seats and were promptly told they would have to pay $95 if they wanted to sit there. A few paid up and took their new seats. The seat was new and modern, with 2 buttons one for the recline and one for lumbar support, a headrest with a large fixed "wing" on one side where you can rest you head when sleeping and also featuring the latest IFE system with a large selection of TV, movies, games and audio. There was even live TV featuring a number of new channels and a sports channel showing live Premier League matches. The IFE can either be controlled via touch screen or the remote control with a screen that allowed you to make your selections or watch the inflight map without having to exit your movie. IFE however did not start until we reached cruise altitude and stopped before the final descent. Pitch was standard 31 inches so legroom was not great and felt cramped compared to the Korean Air A380 and 787 that I had just flown on previously with 33-34 inch pitch. The seat back table had a cup holder in the stowed position and smaller pockets for devices and smaller items. Provided, was a better than standard headset which used an odd magnetic connector, a regular pillow, not like the neck support type Etihad used to have and a soft fleece blanket. There were no amenity kits were provided for the long haul night flight and also no printed menus.

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We pushed back just 2 minutes behind schedule and were airborne from HKG's 25L after 16 minutes.

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The first meal was served within an hour of takeoff with 3 choices: a western choice of beef with mashed potatoes, an eastern option of chicken with rice or a vegetarian vegetable lasagne. I went for the beef with mashed potato however what was served looked to be very basic. The meal was served on a small rounded shaped tray, with the main meal, bread and cutlery. That was it, missing the usual starter and dessert that normally comes with your meal, it was even missing the butter for your bread. Although the presentation didn't look bad it was definitely lacking, is this what company cost cutting has brought in? I was told later by a friend at Etihad that this new catering concept had only been introduced a week ago. I finished up the meal in no time and soon drifted off to sleep. Whilst I was asleep a dessert in the form of a packaged piece of cake with tea or coffee was served.

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5 hours later I woke up from my sleep and we were now flying over the Arabian Sea just south of Pakistan. By this point my bum was starting to ache, the seat cover fabric had a rough patterned surface which I think was the cause. Had a quick visit to the beautifully designed toilets, fitted with nice black cabinets and basin and mosaic look walls and floors.

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For the remainder of the flight I started watching a movie then about an hour before landing the mood lighting turned blue as the cabin lights brightened up for the second meal service.

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Trolleys began coming down the aisle for the second service. What would be for breakfast? Some scrambled egg and sausage or maybe a Chinese congee, or at worst a muffin and a cup of tea? So when the trolley got to my aisle the FA asked tea or coffee, I went for a tea and then guess what was handed to me, a packet of crackers. Really? a packet of crackers? I was absolutely shocked, appalling!

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Soon we were well into our descent into Abu Dhabi and the seat belt signs had been switched on. Etihad switch off the IFE system before landing leaving you with just the inflight map. We landed just past midnight on runway 13R after 8h8m in the air, with the approach taking us past Ferrari World and Yas Marina on short finals. After a short taxi in, we were parked at the gate at Terminal 3 next to a company A380 getting prepared for her next flight to Heathrow as EY11.

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In conclusion the flight was most disappointing, mainly due to the catering, so many things were lacking and when it came to the meals, I was simply shocked. Definitely not the airline Etihad once was. I was later told by a friend at Etihad that the new meal concept had only been introduced a week before my flight (15APR19). There was even a buy on board menu if you wanted extra/premium snacks, drinks or even meals. See here for the menu: https://flights.etihad.com/en/sweet-or-salty
I read that Etihad had also made a number of cuts in their premium cabins such as airport chauffeur service, pyjamas, and cuts in their lounges. Comparing to the other 2 ME3 carriers Etihad seemed to be right down there at the bottom and no comparison to that offered by Emirates and Qatar Airways which I have flown in the past on the same route. I understand that the airline is under financial difficulty and has to find a way to survive however the clearly evident cost cutting has really put them way under in comparison to the other big players of the Middle East.
I have always been impressed with Etihad being such a relatively new airline that has been able to build up such a strong reputation for quality and innovation, I really hope this new direction they are heading doesn't damage all the good that they have done till now.
Last edited by atcsundevil on Thu May 02, 2019 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Clickbait title
 
debonair
Posts: 3406
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Thu May 02, 2019 6:18 pm

missing the usual starter and dessert that normally comes with your meal, it was even missing the butter for your bread. Although the presentation didn't look bad it was definitely lacking, is this what company cost cutting has brought in? I was told later by a friend at Etihad that this new catering concept had only been introduced a week ago. I finished up the meal in no time and soon drifted off to sleep.


The problem was, you were sleeping... :lol:

This is was EY is saying; I guess as the meal is much bigger, there is no need for a 2nd meal... :duck: :

"Dine Your Own Way – All new Economy Dining Experience

Etihad has launched a redesigned and enhanced complimentary dining concept on all its flights. On journeys of over three hours, the main course of the core complimentary dining service is now a larger, contemporary bistro-style meal which is higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination focused choices. ...

As part of the new dining sequence, delicious dessert items will be served separately with the after-meal coffee and tea service, reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal. On shorter flights, dessert will be served with the main meal."
 
smi0006
Posts: 2183
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:45 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Fri May 03, 2019 2:31 am

Qantas introduced the same meal concept maybe 5-6years ago. Larger, higher quality main, no salad or cheese and biscuits, seperate desert- no tray. QF does however offer pre-buttered bred roles. Lol.

I for one am a fan - larger main makes sense, more substantial and quality. I don’t need two mouthfuls of salad that add no nutritional value nor fill me up at all. Also less containers, better for the environment! Simpler and easier to eat. At the end of the day it’s economy, you aren’t purchasing a three course meal, so why try to do a cheap version of that? Better a substantial proper meal.

I believe Qatar is also about to introduce this concept too.
 
mfe777
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:35 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Fri May 03, 2019 6:35 am

smi0006 wrote:
Qantas introduced the same meal concept maybe 5-6years ago. Larger, higher quality main, no salad or cheese and biscuits, seperate desert- no tray. QF does however offer pre-buttered bred roles. Lol.

I for one am a fan - larger main makes sense, more substantial and quality. I don’t need two mouthfuls of salad that add no nutritional value nor fill me up at all. Also less containers, better for the environment! Simpler and easier to eat. At the end of the day it’s economy, you aren’t purchasing a three course meal, so why try to do a cheap version of that? Better a substantial proper meal.

I believe Qatar is also about to introduce this concept too.


I get why airlines would want to change to this. It's less complex and probably saves money. I can also see the logic from your point of view of this "making sense." But what I think might be hard to gauge is how passengers see the inflight meal almost as entertainment or a distraction, especially on long haul flights. The little appetizer, opening the cheese and crackers, buttering the bread, the little dessert.... it's almost a ritual. So many components. It sure does take longer, but that might be part of the appeal in some pax's minds. It's not just about sustenance. I mean look at this website and all the trip reports out on the web. For some reason, there's something about these inflight meals that fascinate and entertain people. Reducing it to just one big container of food does not have the same je ne sais quoi. But, I can see how operationally it makes more sense.

I really hope Qatar does not follow suit. I have thoroughly enjoyed my flights on Qatar and the inflight meals were a big part of that. Just lovely. In the example of Etihad above, one container of entree and a small bag of snack mix before landing just isn't up to par for an 8+ hour flight.
 
directorguy
Posts: 1332
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:58 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sat May 04, 2019 3:24 pm

I feel your pain. Imagine flying India-AUH-US with their new dining.
On a long-haul flight especially, you should get a proper 3-course meal. The benchmark is Emirates, they balance quantity/taste/quality quite well.
FWIW, judging from your photo, there seems to be no improvement in quality. Still looks like mediocre airplane food.
I am for offering optional, enhanced meals, but not at the expense of reducing the included meal option.
I remember a few years ago ordering an enhanced meal on BA in Y, and it was quite good. At the time however normal Y meals were still fine. The enhanced meal add-on was clearly visible through the BA Manage Your Booking page. Not sure if EY communicated their new dining options with passengers.

EY is introducing a bunch of cost-cutting "innovations" that will simply chase more people away. Most people will now go for EK with their superior and consistent product (though FZ codeshares sometimes ruin that) or QR with their very strong route network.
 
planemad1
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:01 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sat May 04, 2019 6:05 pm

directorguy wrote:
The benchmark is Emirates.

EY is introducing a bunch of cost-cutting "innovations" that will simply chase more people away. Most people will now go for EK with their superior and consistent product (though FZ codeshares sometimes ruin that) or QR with their very strong route network.


Not really. Emirates are over priced. I flew MAN - SYD recently in business class and paid £1500 less with Etihad and the flights were a million times better than the ones I've flown with Emirates.
 
9w748capt
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Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:27 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sat May 04, 2019 9:09 pm

Just curious do QR and EK serve 2nd meals in Y on their ex-HKG sectors? I've never flown this route but we've flown KUL-DOH and I'm pretty sure they served a hot snack prior to landing.
 
directorguy
Posts: 1332
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 10:58 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sun May 05, 2019 9:48 am

planemad1 wrote:
directorguy wrote:
The benchmark is Emirates.

EY is introducing a bunch of cost-cutting "innovations" that will simply chase more people away. Most people will now go for EK with their superior and consistent product (though FZ codeshares sometimes ruin that) or QR with their very strong route network.


Not really. Emirates are over priced. I flew MAN - SYD recently in business class and paid £1500 less with Etihad and the flights were a million times better than the ones I've flown with Emirates.

I was talking mainly about EK in Y. Even if EK was more expensive, I'd fly with them over most other options.
In J, I try to avoid EK 777s 2-3-2 layout.
 
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hongkongflyer
Posts: 661
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:23 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Fri May 24, 2019 8:27 am

9w748capt wrote:
Just curious do QR and EK serve 2nd meals in Y on their ex-HKG sectors? I've never flown this route but we've flown KUL-DOH and I'm pretty sure they served a hot snack prior to landing.


Yes but only one meal is a full one. Another meal is a bread (or something similar).
 
ewt340
Posts: 672
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:22 pm

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Fri May 24, 2019 12:35 pm

debonair wrote:
missing the usual starter and dessert that normally comes with your meal, it was even missing the butter for your bread. Although the presentation didn't look bad it was definitely lacking, is this what company cost cutting has brought in? I was told later by a friend at Etihad that this new catering concept had only been introduced a week ago. I finished up the meal in no time and soon drifted off to sleep.


The problem was, you were sleeping... :lol:

This is was EY is saying; I guess as the meal is much bigger, there is no need for a 2nd meal... :duck: :

"Dine Your Own Way – All new Economy Dining Experience

Etihad has launched a redesigned and enhanced complimentary dining concept on all its flights. On journeys of over three hours, the main course of the core complimentary dining service is now a larger, contemporary bistro-style meal which is higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination focused choices. ...

As part of the new dining sequence, delicious dessert items will be served separately with the after-meal coffee and tea service, reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal. On shorter flights, dessert will be served with the main meal."


That's a big fat lie. Because the main course on that pictures looks like it's 5% bigger compared to the standard main dishes on other airlines.

I don't have problems with the concept BUT, with that small portion, I expect at least an appetizer or salad to go along with it. Or just give bigger portion of the meal. It wouldn't sustain me for 8 hours flight that ended with crackers before landing.

We eat meals every 5-6 hours. Within 8 hours, we need at least 1 full meal and 1 light meal. Not cracker and coffee.
 
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PerfectGriffin
Posts: 533
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:35 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:24 pm

The cost cutting is clearly evident. That meal does not look any bigger or better than the same meal I had on Etihad last year. Only difference now is the removal of the starter and butter/cheese.
 
a320fan
Posts: 725
Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 5:04 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:51 pm

The meal itself doesn't look too bad, I guess a little side salad added would be preferable, but you still get a desert. The biggest insult is the tiny sachet of snack mix served as the breakfast. Are you kidding me? If they don't want to serve a full meal on the sector at least give something that resembles substantial. A muffin, Croissant with jam or a little container of fruit salad would be simple yet preferable options. Buy on Board for a so called premium airline like EY also makes me scratch my head. Cheapen the product too much and they'll just drive PAX to their competitors. There's few if any routes operated by EY that doesn't have at least one of QR, EK or TK (not that I thought TK was that great in all honesty) as an option. It was only 5-10 years ago the premium airlines were talking up their 'snack bars' where pax could go to the galley and grab something from a selection of snacks on the house.
A319, A320, A321, A330-200, A380, 737-700, 737-800, 777-200ER, 777-300, 777-300ER, 787-8, Q300
 
lychemsa
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Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:15 am

I avoid airlines offering only 31" legroom or pay extra. On SAS it's $59. Austrian offers 32" which is good. The food is a disgrace. Austrian portions are tiny but this is a disgrace! I think Etihad will have to merge with Emirates. They are losing money.
 
lychemsa
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2009 8:39 pm

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:18 am

Wonder what they cut in Business. The food was great 2 years ago.
 
AEROFAN
Posts: 1664
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 9:47 am

Re: Shocking Catering - Etihad 787-9 Hong Kong to Abu Dhabi (EY833) in economy

Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:06 pm

You were in economy... exactly what did you expect?

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