Etihad First Class Abu Dhabi to Cairo
In an effort to try all the big three middle eastern carriers’ products, we added this leg from Abu Dhabi to Cairo in First Class. Etihad operates two aircraft on this route, and the 10am departure features the A340-500, with 8 first class seats.
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Etihad Chauffer and AUH-CAI
As is standard on all Etihad First Class tickets, we were picked up from our hotel by our driver promptly at 7am. Passengers flying on Etihad are welcome to make use of the chauffeur service, where a private driver and car will pick you up anywhere in the Emirates and take you directly to the first/business class checkin at Abu Dhabi Airport. This service is free as long as you book it 48 hours in advance of your flight and is free anywhere within any of the Emirates. Talk about an amazing service… the taxi ride to Abu Dhabi could easily have been $50-60, so this is a nice benefit to have.
Our driver was scheduled to pick us up from the ever-so-glamorous Holiday Inn Al Barsha at 7:00am. I’m sure that this was one of the first times, if not the first, that he’d been sent to that hotel to pick someone up for a first class flight anywhere.
We didn’t have data services turned on that morning, but if we did we would have seen that Etihad texted us around 6am to confirm the driver was on his way and then again at 6:50 to confirm that he had arrived and was waiting outside. It was also quite obvious considering there was only one black Audi waiting outside of the hotel at that hour.
When we exited the hotel the driver identified himself as the Etihad Chauffeur and confirmed who I was. He loaded our bags for us and we were on our way to Abu Dhabi. The drive usually takes around 1 hour but we made some fairly good time (no traffic and a lead foot) arriving in just under 50 minutes.
The drive was pretty boring other than driving through the southern parts of Dubai with some more tall buildings, other than that, a lot of sand and not much else. The car was comfortable, clean, and had good A/C. Other than that, you couldn’t ask for much else! A taxi ride would probably have cost around 150-200AED (50-60US) so this was a great savings.
We were dropped off at the First and Business class terminal and a porter came out right away to assist us with our luggage.
After a completely underwhelming check in experience (the website shows a great video with hotel style check in counters, our terminal didn’t have these), we went through security to the lounge. It was so underwhelming in fact that I didn’t even bother to take any pictures other than these two showing the signs. It was like any other check in at any other airport.
The lounge was right beyond the passport control and security. Which was, by the way, an epic shit show. Coach and Business class merged into one confusing noisy line. People were trying to cut the line and pushing and shoving to get through. If Etihad wants to make a truly first class experience, don’t bring us to the airport in a chauffeur, give us a private check in area, and then shove us in with 200 other passengers who are screaming and being unruly. Quite a bit of a let down…
We entered the lounge and immediately asked if we could make a spa appointment. After being informed the first availability was at 9am (our flight was at 10:05) the attendant assured us that there would be plenty of time to have both the massage and make it to the gate on time. Ben opted for the facial while I went for the foot massage. I can’t speak about his treatment, but my foot massage was freaking divine.
Before the massage we went to go have a quick nibble and a coffee, as I’d heard from others that sometimes the catering on the Etihad flights could be underwhelming. More on that in just a few paragraphs.
The spread was pretty standard lounge fare, but the selection was quite varied.
Pastries, Arabic bread and butter
Foul and grilled tomatoes
Turkey bacon and cold cuts
Salad, Cheese, and Olives
Eggs and Sausages
Mushrooms, Baked Beans and Hash Browns.
As we’ve seen in the lounges we’ve visited in Arab countries (much to my chagrin and how much I can’t stand it…) they also offer a smoking room if you so desire.
The departure board for first class flights was pretty light that morning, with a few leaving out of terminal 3 and, like ours, a few heading out of terminal 1.
It was a short walk of about 3 minutes to our gate where boarding had already commenced, so we skipped past the line and headed to the counter to board.
Once onboard a quick turn to the left revealed the small and intimate cabin of the A340-500. Within under 20 seconds we were greeted at our seat and welcomed onboard.
Our welcome was a glass of juice, champagne, warm towel and dates. Only 3 dates because, as we learned is customary, you must eat an odd number of dates. If you eat 2, 4, 6, 8 etc then you’ll get fat. In the interest of keeping our weight loss plan intact, we only had three!
Shortly afterwards the amenity kit was passed out. The products were all Etihad branded, except for the “Le Labo” branded creams and lip balm. Have you heard of Le Labo? I sure as hell haven’t.
We then started to play around with the seat a bit, to get a little more comfortable. The doors close manually unlike Emirates doors which close automatically with a push of a button. Also we started to use the e-box system to check out the entertainment. The only word I can use to describe it? Laggy. It lags, a lot… just like an internet page trying to load using a modem from 1996. You click on a movie and wait two seconds, it appears. You move the arrows in any direction, and they move, after 1 or 2 seconds. It’s pretty sad considering this is supposed to be a first class product.
There is plenty of space to plug into your devices to charge them along the way. One of the most important parts for me, especially when traveling is to be able to charge up on the go. There’s also a little nook stocked with water and nuts for the journey, in case, you know, you can’t be bothered to push the call button (or they can’t be bothered to help you).
There was a personal air vent right next to your head so you could regulate yourself without having to stand up in the middle of the flight, and there was also a throw in case it got too cold in the cabin.
The bathroom was lined in dark colors which made it seem pretty small, even though it was a pretty large space for a bathroom. Real towels and plenty of water pressure are rare in airplane bathrooms, as are windows looking into the outside. Le Labo is back, and on offer are hand sanitizer, hand cream, facial cleanser, and facial toner.
Just before takeoff, I asked our flight attendant about how well the flight was stocked. She admitted that it was pretty light on the meals, so if we wanted to place an order before the rest, we should take a look at the menus and get it to her ASAP. Nothing says first class priority like “we only stocked 6 meals for the 5 of you. Choose wisely.”
The food, once plated and presented, tasted quite good. The problem? Nothing we were served matched what was on the menu
The dessert was paired with a fantastic Chilean wine which we may or may not have finished the bottle together.
We were about 90 minutes out at this time, so we watched a movie and called it a day. The flight was pretty short at four hours, but considering what the attendants were given, the service was quite good. The food? Tasty but mismatched. The wine? Good and flowed freely. The seats were comfortable with tons of storage and extras. All in all, it was a good flight in first class for such a short haul. I’d be curious to try them on one of their long haul flights and maybe try out the apartment products.