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Flight: EY 19
Departure in Abu Dhabi: 8:35 (actual 8:36)
Arrival in London: 13:05 (actual 13:11)
Equipment: Airbus A380 800
Flight duration: 7h 35m
Date of flight: May 27, 2015
Seat: Apartment 4A
*This is an award travel, First class flight #28
Last December, Etihad Airways released a lot of award space to their partner airlines on the Abu Dhabi to London route and vice versa on the Airbus 380 in first class. I was lucky to find two seats on the 27th of May from Abu Dhabi to London, and without hesitation, I bought some more miles to my AA Advantage account so I could have 80,000 miles in total. This is the amount of miles American Airlines requires for a first class redemption for two persons from the Middle East to Europe. I didn't want to start in Abu Dhabi so I thought Mike and I could start in Muscat since Oman is a country neither of us have visited in the past. Our itinerary ended up departing Muscat in the evening of the 25th, staying overnight at Doha Airport and another overnight in Abu Dhabi on the 26th before taking the Etihad First Apartment experience.
During our layover in Abu Dhabi, we stayed at the beautiful Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri. We also got the chance to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where inside you will find the world's largest chandelier as well as the world's biggest carpet.
For our morning flight, we booked a taxi from the hotel to the airport at 5:15am so I could have enough time to make a review of the Etihad Airways Premium Lounge which I haven't visited before, and of course to enjoy the first class experience on the ground.
The check in process went smoothly and after a few minutes, we were on our way to the security control with our boarding passes on the Airbus 380 First Apartment to London. Yipee!
Etihad is currently renovating their First Class Lounge in Terminal 3 so we had access to the Premium Lounge which is shared by business class, first and residence passengers although the First Class and Residence passengers have their own dedicated small areas inside the lounge.
At the door, I was greeted by a young gentleman working in the business class cabin while Cata, the Rumanian crew working in the first class cabin escorted me to my apartment, 4A.
As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off, the cabin crew started serving the post departure beverage which was served with some nuts, chips and olives.
After exchanging views on how beautiful and luxurious our apartments were, Mike and I decided it was time to visit the lobby/bar which is located between the first and business class cabins. The Lobby which is actually shared by first and business class passengers just like on Emirates and Qatar Airways was so beautiful. It is hard to tell which is my favorite among the three but I guess I would go for Emirates since it was the original.
Lavatory and Shower Room
When Etihad announced in early 2014 that they would also have an onboard shower on their Airbus 380 just like Emirates, I couldn't deny my excitement. I have "showered in the sky" aboard the Emirates A380 back in September 2013 so doing it again aboard another airline would be so cool.
After enjoying our visit to The Lobby, I decided I'd book my shower so I asked Cata for the next available time, It was as if she read my mind because she told me she was about to ask me the same thing. The preparation was done in less than 5 minutes afterwhich she explained me everything I needed to know, and then it was my turn to shower!
The shower room itself was much smaller than that of Emirates although this one was just as gorgeous. The use of water was limited to 5 minutes, which just like my first shower in the sky, was more than enough. I actually remember singing Australia's entry to the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest which was "Tonight Again" while giggling and showering at the same time! As usual, they had the Le Labo Bergamote 22 toiletries which has one of my favorite scents.
After enjoying my second time of "showering in the sky", I thought it was about time to have some meal so I asked Cata if I could order something from the menu.
Á LA CARTE
SPINACH AND CARROT SOUP
Labneh, carrot and spinach
PARSNIP-APPLE CREAM SOUP
With pesto oil
With a vegetable tian
Hot and cold Arabic appetizers
Your choice of lamb, chicken and fish
garnished with fried onions, cashews and raisins
TRIO OF DUCK
With vanilla mashed potatoes and vegetables
VEGETABLE AND HALOUMI FRITTERS
With roasted vine tomatoes and aioli
Ask our chef about the "special of the day"
or to create something especially for you
GRASS-FED BEEF TENDERLOIN
U.S. RIB-EYE STEAK
CATCH OF THE DAY
STEAMED GARDEN VEGETABLES
CREAMY MASHED POTATO
ROASTED BABY POTATOES
STEAMED WHITE RICE
OVEN-BAKED FRENCH FRIES
CAFÉ DE PARIS BUTTER
Chardonnay, Louis Latour, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru Burgundy, France, 2011
Sauvignon Blanc, Seresin Estate, Marlborough New Zealand, 2013
Riesling, Classic, Dohlmuhle, Rheinhesses, Germany, 2013
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, La Croix De Beau Caillou
Shiraz, MSV, 'Gomersal Vineyard' Barossa Valley, Australia 2008
Line 39, Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California 2013
Valpolicella, Fattori, Col De La Bastia, Veneto, Italy, 2012
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedré (GSM) Blend, Gérard Bertrand Corbieres, France, 2011
My table was set up elegantly using the tablewares and according to Roberto, the china were all handmade, which means that there is no plate which is identical to the other. He also informed us that the cutleries were the same ones being used by the Royal Family in the UK.
I was glad Etihad allows you to choose your own sides from the menu so I did not hesitate ordering steamed rice to go with my steak. It may be an odd combination for others but definitely something for the Filipinos.
There was no question that the food tasted excellent specially my steak which was just perfect. I've flown on British Airways and Qantas first class in the past and neither of the two served caviar so this is actually my third time to not see the famous "caviar" on the first class menu. Still, I couldn't complain.
Time to Sleep
Not that I needed to sleep but since it would be a "shame" if I wouldn't try the most spacious bed in the sky, I asked Cata, about four hours before landing, if she could make the turndown service for me and in a couple of minutes, my bed was ready. It was just so beautiful that I could compare it to a hotel room.
Etihad Business Studio
After my very satisfying meal, I thought I'd have a look at the business class cabin which is called by Etihad as "Business Studio".
I have to admit I love the beautiful lamp and pillow.
After having our meal, Mike and I got a surprise from the crew on the First Apartment cabin. They made a special plate for us with a selection of some desserts with a message "Welcome to Etihad". They knew it was our first time to fly in the First Apartment and they wanted to make it special. Well, this is definitely our most memorable flight so far. Thank you so much guys!
Etihad's First Apartment is the most luxurious first class in the industry today, no doubt about it and as Etihad advertises it: "The First Apartment is more than a seat, it is a living space for the discerning traveler." The very spacious apartment, the comfortable seats and bed, the gorgeous bar, the shower spa, the excellent food and the impeccable service of the crew all contributed in making this flight our best flight ever. The surprise welcome dessert Chef Kristian and the rest of the first class crew made for me and Mike was something we will never forget and that we trully are thankful for. And yet I still think there are a few things which could have been done better although they are minor things. First, I thought they could have included a glass in the personal minibar (just like the one Emirates has) because I think the drinks were there to be enjoyed anytime without asking help from a cabin attendant. But without a glass, it is either you ask for it from a cabin attendant or you drink the water directly from the bottle (which I did). Regarding the doors which you have to close manually, I would have preferred that they were automatic doors just like the ones on Emirates. I've flown on Asiana's A380 in first class last year and the doors (just like on Etihads) were no longer closing properly as a result of sliding them too often. The picture of the Etihad First Apartment doors (included in this review) shows that there is already a small gap and it is a pity because Etihad could have invested more on these automatic doors. On this flight, Etihad uses headphones with magnet on their audio ports and although it is very convenient to use, there were times I could hear some scratches while making adjustments. I hope it was just me. But as I said, they are just minor things and that Etihad First Apartment is no doubt the best in this class. To all the crew who made this flight truly an unforgettable one, Shukran!
Etihad Business Class, London-Abu Dhabi
Etihad Business Class, Abu Dhabi-Male
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