Introduction to The Long Way back to Australia
Bangalore to Mumbai (Jet Airways Business Class Class 737-800)
JW Marriott Sahar (Mumbai)
Mumbai to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi to London (Etihad First Class A380)
Tour of Etihad's The Residence
The Frankfurt Hotel (Frankfurt)
Park Inn by Radisson (Luxembourg 1)
Sofitel Luxembourg Europe (Luxembourg 2)
The Westin Grand (Frankfurt)
Lufthansa First Class Terminal (Frankfurt)
Frankfurt to Seoul (Lufthansa First Class A380)
The Ritz-Carlton (Seoul)
Tokyo to Sydney (Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi - London
Class: First Class Apartment
Don't forget to check out my other Etihad A380 Reports for a different perspective:
Continuing on the previous Jet Airways First Class Trip Report, I mentioned that I arrived to a Etihad ground staff member waiting for me with a placard/sign with my name on it, along with a airport staff, as I discovered, to carry my carry-on bag! I couldn't fathom why I was getting the special treatment and there was no one else from First Class getting the same treatment, so I walked up to them and with a smile told her that I was indeed the person she was waiting for. She introduced herself as Svetlana and told me she was there to assist me in any way possible till my flight boarded in 2 hours, and would lead me to the lounge. The other staff member insisted that I hand over my bag to carry, and although I didn't really him, he seemed like he really wanted to carry the bag, so I went along with it.
As it turns out, I had reached out to the very helpful Etihad PR team a few weeks prior to this flight to request a viewing of The Residence while on board, and their acceptance (after a lot of questions & discussions mind you!) had apparently got me upgraded in status - to have a personal assistant till my next flight! Svetlana was polite and friendly, and we chatted away as we walked towards the lounge, and she told me she would be personally taking me on board so we could do a Residence tour prior to the flight take off, should the go ahead be given by security teams. Fair enough I thought. As we got to the lounge - she took me straight to the First Class section, and gave me a quick recap of the facilities and asked if I would want to book a quick 15-min massage (included for those travelling in First!). I happily obliged and she sent someone to assist with the request right away before heading off to check with ground staff, though unfortunately due to the early boarding, the massage's were full so I told them I would take a rain-check for the next time.
I have to say, it did feel like a VIP treatment, and I was very happy on how to Abu Dhabi ground experience was going, and Svetlana was very helpful. As for the lounge, it's a nice enough lounge - but it's certainly not a First Class lounge (keeping in mind that this is a Business Class lounge with a roped off area for First Class members).
The lounge was rather empty when I arrived, but filled up a little shortly after. The waiter came around to take my order, and I ordered a lovely cappuccino, asked for the wi-fi password, and got myself some yogurt as well. The Etihad lounge doesn't really feature a restaurant or food to order, but works on more of a buffet pick and choose concept, and since nothing seemed particularly appetizing, I figured I would save my appetite for the food on the upcoming flight.
Svetlana shortly returned to let me know that unfortunately someone had booked The Residence last minute, so they would try to get me on early to have a tour, but it depended on when they were given the go ahead - which turned out to be only once boarding started, so The Residence tour wasn't exactly looking promising at this point. Nevertheless, she said since boarding had started, she would try and speak to the crew on board to see if we could organize one post landing in London. By this time we carried on towards the Boarding Gate with the same VIP party, complete with a different staff member to carry my bag, which once again I appreciated.
Just post the security check and prior to the plane, she introduced me to the butler, who was waiting for The Residence flyer, and confirmed if it would be possible to have a Residence tour post landing, and he told me that if I could wait in London, he would do his best to set up the Residence for me. It was at this point, that I realized the Butler was none other than Stephan (not the right name, I forgot his name again!) the amazing crew member who was attending to me in the Apartment when I flew with Etihad last year! Though unfortunately he didn't remember me - which is fair, considering the time gap.
Nevertheless, Svetlana led me onto the plane herself and directly to my seat, 4k - a forward facing window seat, which again was quite cool - and as always, you're in awe of just how large the Apartment really is. I thanked her for help on ground, as she made it an exceptional 2 hours in Abu Dhabi, and settled in my seat. Judy, the British flight attended came to introduce herself, and she was quite friendly and helpful as well - so I knew I was in for a great flight. I settled for a Champagne to start the trip, a usual tradition of mine, and got to taking photos of the cabin before it filled up.
As far as entrances go for First Class - no airline even comes close, it's such an amazing cabin area. Of course, that might also have something to do with the fact that no one has cabin's as big as Etihad on First. I moved on to take pictures of the Apartments themselves, and went through a few of them before people sat in them, though there were already one or two people who had boarded first.
I even took a small GIF of the Apartment to really visualize the size below.
We were delayed by about 25 minutes due to an ill passanger in Economy, who had to be removed along with their bag before we took out - and soon we were on our way to London. During this time, the other Apartment crew introduced themselves - Nitin the on board Chef, and John the other crew member working with Judy. Nitin was friendly, helpful and a stark contrast to the Chef I had on my last Apartment flight, while John was extremely professional, but that came across as stuck up and I almost didn't want to ask him for anything because of how he came off - so I hope I was wrong in assuming the 'stuck up' nature. Though admittedly he did warm up as the flight went on. Or maybe I got tipsier!
I gave the Lunch (or I guess Brunch since it would be 10am by the time I started eating) orders to Nitin, with some wine and champagne pairings, while I flipped through Etihad's wide range of movies on hand. It's not in the same league as Emirates, but it'll do for a 7 hour flight. Controlled by the controller on the side, with a lovely touch screen on it. As far as the tv goes, 24" is fairly massive for First Class, and it's quite pleasant to watch on as well.
Once we were up in the air, it was time for Etihad's Bollinger La Grande Annee, which John 'professionally' poured - one thing about John is he really knew his drinks and their descriptions, tastes, and combinations.
Soon after, it was time to start the long (because of how much I ordered!) Brunch to Lunch service. Considering I wouldn't get to Frankfurt to late, I knew this would be my only chance to eat, so when in Rome 😉 (I apologize in advance for my feet in the pics, but I was in full relax mode!)
I started out with Etihad's specialty - The Steak Sandwich. It was beautifully prepared by Nitin, the chef, and while I wasn't a fan of the egg, once removed, everything else was delicious. The fries, thickly cut, were quite yummy as well, though a little more crisp wouldn't go amiss, though overall - it's still one of Etihad's best dishes.
By this time John came around and asked if I would like any specialty cocktails made, off the menu, so I ordered a vodka sunsrise, though John said he would make it his way as a surprise. I had asked for a 1 hour respite from the food to let the 'starter' settle in.
For what it's worth - it wasn't bad. Not amazing, but the traditional style would have been preferred, but I'm game to try new things. Anyways, while I enjoyed my drinks, and finished watching the Family Guy Star Wars crossover movie, my amuse-bouche arrived. I have no idea what it was, but I was recommended a White Chardonnay to start with, so I did (mind you I was already 2 champagnes and a cocktail down at this point.. so lotta mixing going on).
I guess it was a fine start. Soon after, the scallops arrived and I was looking forward to these, since I almost never order seafood in the air.
They were quite delicious, if not a touch under seasoned, and the White pairing was perfect with these. Definitely a decent choice, with a side of peach mustard I believe. This was followed shortly by my main course, the beef fillet with potatoes and crispy fried duck.
While the sides were delicious, the beef was a little tough, though I would chalk that up to the case with most beef on planes, rather than Nitin messing up the food. Taste wise it was slightly above average, but not the best meal I've had on Etihad.
At this point I noticed we were somewhere over the Alps, and the snow covered peaks made for some excellent in flight pics. I have to point out that by this point, the head of the cabin crew (who was working Economy) came up and checked in with me twice, saying that they would do their best to ready The Residence for me once we landed, which was a nice touch. Stephan, the Butler even came up to me to check if I was enjoying the flight (I figure The Residence flyer was asleep at this point), and told me that he would do his best to tidy the Residence as well. It really was an amazing staff on board.
By this time, Nitin and I were having a discussion over the Salmon versus the Lamb Biryani for the main course, and while I had mentioned Salmon as my preference, I think there was so much discussions going on, he may have misunderstood (I swear I wasn't drunk!) because the Biryani came out instead. No worries, I'm by this point into a glass of Red Wine and many drinks in, so live and let live!
How did it taste? Quite delicious, and preferable to the Steak at this point! Though I really hate raisins/sultanas with rice, so I didn't really like those, but aside fro that - it was a fantastic dish overall, so I wasn't complaining.
At this point I had forgotten dessert was also on order, with Judy brought out shortly - and while I was literally stuffed with alcohol and food, I thought I would take one for the team to give it a taste test 😉
Out came the Cheesecake... which was unfortunately delicious as well, because I couldn't finish more than half.
Realizing that I was too full to really enjoy, I asked for the shower to be set up- easily the most amazing experience in the sky I've had, and it's just as giddying a feeling as the first time you try showering at 40,000 ft.
This definitely helped freshen me up, and wash away some of the alcohol. Though who knows why because as soon as the shower was done, I was back with another glass of Red. Sigh.
At this point, I asked Judy to make the bed in 5C just so I could get some pictures, which she was more than happy to oblige with. I wasn't feeling sleepy so I figure I would utilize the time to take some proper photos with my DSLR of the bed and Apartment.
By this time, we were on the decent to London, so I decided to pull up the tail camera for some great views and was also treated to a lovely view of London on landing!
Once we landed, I waited till the whole plane had de-boarded, while I waited for Stephan to organize The Residence for my tour! While I waited, it was rather interesting to see the First Class Crew Members tidying up and cleaning everything up before the cleaning crew came on board to perfect the Apartment's, and I chatted with Nitin & Judy while they went about packing everything up.
Unfortunately, post my Residence Tour (which will actually be in the next article), I found out that Etihad had left my bag behind in Abu Dhabi, as apparently the 2-hour stop over wasn't long enough to transfer my bag over? Alrighty then.. It took me waving my First Class ticket around for the Etihad ground team to hop around to try and see what had happened with my bag, which was a shame - and by this time I was getting late for my next flight at 4pm to Frankfurt (it was approaching 2:30pm now).
It was the a terrible way to end the flight, as I was definitely not prepared for the 3 degree weather waiting for me in Frankfurt, as I was carrying only one medium jumper with me. However, the Etihad ground team did try to work and submit the claim as fast as possible, so kudos there, but I was a little disappointed with the 52 GBP subsidy which came from misplacing the bag, but I suppose Middle Eastern Airlines don't have great policies like American & Australian airlines do (If I'm mistaken about this, please let me know!). My bag was delivered the following night, by the time I had reached Luxembourg, but it was a real blight on a fantastic as always experience.