(Newswire.net — May 13, 2016) Henderson, NV — Check-In and Lounge: After being dropped off at Terminal 3 of Abu Dhabi International Airport by Etihad Airways’ chauffeured car service, I proceeded to the dedicated Etihad First Class check-in area, where a porter brought all of my luggage and there was no wait. Security was also a breeze with a dedicated line.
The new First Class lounge wasn’t officially open yet, so I headed to the Etihad Premium Lounge. The lounge had plenty of seating and dining areas, as well as buffet stations and a full bar. There’s also a business center with iMacs and semi-private TV cubicles. First Class passengers have access to a private, roped-off seating area. The first thing I did was head to the Six Senses Spa and Style & Shave Salon to book treatments. I then headed to the food stations to grab a quick snack along with a glass of champagne.
Before my spa and salon treatments, I had a quick shower to freshen up. There are only a few showers inside this lounge, so there was a bit of a wait. I then proceeded to get a complimentary fifteen-minute back massage, followed by a complimentary shave. As of this writing, First Class passengers are allowed two complimentary treatments, however that will soon change to one.
Since Abu Dhabi International Airport has a US Customs & Border Patrol pre-clearance facility, passengers were asked to approach the gate about an hour-and-a-half early so that we could go through the process. I found the experience to be significantly quicker than landing at a US airport and going through CPB, which can take hours in some cases. Having this facility also means that Etihad flights to the US from Abu Dhabi land in the domestic terminal, and baggage can be checked through to its final destination in the US.
Once through US Customs & Border Patrol, Etihad has another lounge for its premium passengers to wait in before boarding. This lounge is much smaller with a basic food and drink selection. From here, boarding was announced, and we proceeded to gate 61.
Boarding and Seat:
Boarding was quick with a dedicated line and jetway to the all premium upper deck aboard this Etihad A380. Once on board, you have to pass through the huge galley to get to the Etihad First Class cabin, where there are nine First Apartments, plus The Residence.
What can I say… the Etihad Apartment is the most luxurious First Class suite I’ve ever experienced. Aside from the Poltrona Frau leather upholstered reclining seat, there is a gigantic ottoman opposite that turns into a very long bed. Etihad also gives you a nice throw blanket to use during the flight. There is a private vanity stocked with amenities, a private mini-bar, a myriad of lamps and compartments to put things in, and privacy doors to boot. With no overhead bins, carry on luggage fits nicely under the ottoman in front of you. Some of the seats face forward and some backward. Some are closer to the window and some are closer to the aisle. A few of them quasi-connect by removing a privacy screen between the suites if you happen to be traveling with a companion. I also got a peek at the Etihad Residence, which contains a living room, bedroom, and an en-suite bathroom.
Once seated, you are given a bag containing pajamas and slippers, and offered a drink. For me, the choice is always champagne. The in-flight service manager, flight attendant, food & beverage manager, and in-flight chef all come by to introduce themselves. You are also presented with a signed welcome letter. A lot of staff are walking back and forth and there seems to be a flurry of activity going on before departure.
Shortly after takeoff, snacks and drinks were served. Etihad’s entertainment system, E-BOX, has a pretty good selection of movies, TV shows, and music, and I usually like to start a film to accompany dinner. The noise cancelling headphones were great.
The meal started with an amuse-bouche, and I had no idea what it was. For the appetizer, I selected the Gulf Mezze. After that, there was a little sorbet to cleanse the palate, followed by the main course, which was a black truffle risotto- custom created by the chef as it was not on the menu. For dessert, I opted for the Pomegranate parfait, sponge, and jelly, which I found underwhelming.
After dinner and a movie, the flight attendant graciously turned down my bed with a mattress topper, comfy duvet, and fluffy pillow. I got a few hours sleep and decided it was time for some tea and a snack. Etihad’s A380s have a lounge they call The Lobby, located between First and Business Class. It’s basically a pair of circular couches with a table in between and a TV on the wall. I had some good conversation while visiting The Lobby and then ordered a steak sandwich to munch on.
Following my late night snack, it was time to take a shower before arrival into JFK. There are 2 lavatories available for First Class passengers. One is much larger and has a large changing table and a bowl sink. The other is smaller, but has a shower. Both are stocked with Le Labo products. You get five minutes of water in the shower, plus the possibility of extending for two more minutes by pressing a call button. I can’t stress enough how nice it is to be able to shower on a long-haul flight before arrival.
Once I returned to my seat, it was time for breakfast. This time, I had the chef create a made-to-order omelet (also not on the menu) with a grilled tomato and some hash browns, followed by some fresh fruit. Then it was time to change out of my pajamas and get ready for landing.
It was raining on the way into New York and we had a very bumpy landing- so bumpy that all my drawers and cabinets popped open! All in all, an excellent flight and the most luxurious First Class suite in my opinion. Looking forward to doing more Etihad Airways reviews in the near future.
Here is a link to the full Etihad First Class Apartment video.
(Newswire.net — May 12, 2016) Henderson, NV —
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