June 17, 2016

Review: Etihad A380 First Apartment, London-Abu Dhabi

Trip to Kathmandu flying on Etihad A380 First Apartment and Qatar Airways A380 First Class

Last month, Mike and I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal for the first time to meet our travel partner Helena, owner of Helena India Travels. We are sending our first group to Nepal in autumn and it was a great opportunity to meet her as well as the owners of the hotels where our group would be staying at. We were offered complimentary five nights stay by Mingma, the Nepalese owner of Chhahari Retreat and needless to say, we enjoyed every single day of our stay not only because of the nice room and excellent food in the restaurant but moreso because each one of them treated us like their own family. As for our flight, Mike and I used our remaining American Airlines Advantage miles to fly in first class from Europe to the Indian Sub continent, just before the devaluation in March, which is 80K miles return per person. Here's the full trip report of our trip to Nepal and I hope that thru this, more people would consider traveling to this wonderful country in the future!



Review: British Airways Business Class, Stockholm-London
Review: Etihad A380 First Apartment, London-Abu Dhabi
Review: Al Dhabi Lounge, T1 Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class, Abu Dhabi-Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class, Doha-Kathmandu
Review: Chhahari Resort, Kathmandu
Review: Yeti Airlines to the Himalayas
Top Attractions in Nepal
Review: Executive Lounge, Kathmandu International Airport (KTM)
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class, Kathmandu-Doha
Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Doha-Paris
Review: Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Review: Cathay Pacific First & Business Class Lounge, T2 (CDG)
Review: British Airways Business Class, Paris-London
Review: Hilton London Heathrow Airport
Review: British Airways Business Class, London-Stockholm

Etihad A380 double bed, 3A & 4A

Flight: EY 20
Departure time in London: 15:00 (actual 14:56)
Arrival time in Abu Dhabi: 1:20 + 1 (actual 1:28)
Equipment: Airbus A380
Apartment: 3A
Duration: 7h 32m
Date of flight: May 25, 2016
*This is an award travel, First Class flight #34

Lounge

We had about more than 4 hours connection time at London Heathrow so after taking the shuttle bus from Terminal 5 to Terminal 4, we headed straight to the Etihad First & Business Class Lounge which is one of the best lounges I have visited. I just love the "ala carte" dining and the complimentary treatment at their Six Senses Spa.

Etihad First & Business Class Lounge, LHR T4

The lounge was still not busy when we arrived so I thought I'd go to the Six Senses Spa to book for a facial. The receptionist booked me in the next 30 minutes so I decided to order some juice first from one of the lounge attendants. Mike at first thought he could have a complimentary massage but then later changed his mind. Nelly, a very nice lady from Hungary, gave me one of the best facials I've had lately. She also offered me something to drink after the treatment but I declined.

By the time I finished my facial treatment, Mike and I were already starting to feel hungry so we decided to have our lunch in the restaurant. We ordered our main course from the ala carte menu while taking a bit of everything from the buffet. My main course was beef and tasted fantastic. Around 2pm, we left the lounge for the 2:10pm boarding.

Aircraft

Etihad's beautiful Airbus A380-800 bound for Abu Dhabi

Boarding

Gate 10, LHR Terminal 4

As usual, there was priority boarding for the Residence, First and Business class passengers. A few minutes later, boarding was called and we slowly made our way to the aircraft.

Another shot of the A380 while boarding

As I approached the door, I was welcomed by Liz-Mari, the Food and Beverage Manager from South Africa. She then turned me over to Samea, the Swedish flight attendant working in the first class cabin, who then escorted me to my seat.

Cabin

The first class cabin on Etihad's A380 is simply unique. No other airline offers a first class cabin with a 1-1 configuration, thus the HUGE size of each of the nine apartments. This was actually my third time flying on Etihad's first apartment, and I have to admit, I was just as excited as I was on my first flight in May 2015 and my second flight in December 2015!

Apartment 3A

Welcome to my Apartment 3A!

This apartment is all mine! And yes, the leather seats by Poltrona Frau (same company that furnishes Ferrari cars) were very comfortable.

It was my first time to be seated on a rear facing seat but I guess it didn't really matter specially if you are flying in first class... and specially on Etihad's A380! Of course, the main reason for our seat selection is that Mike and I wanted to try the double beds and it is only possible with Apartments 3A and 4A or 3K and 4K.

Seat controls located outside the left armrest.

Seat controls inside the left armrest.

Window shades

From my seat, I could see Delta and Vietnam Airlines planes.

Tray table located inside the right armrest.

Lots of storage under the couch.

On the screen is the name of the Captain (Robert), First Officer (Faisal), Cabin Manager (Rita) and Inflight Chef (Graham).

Here's a short video of my Apartment 3A!

Samea introduced herself as she welcomed me and upon learning that she was from Sweden, I started talking with her in Swedish. She was just as happy as we were since it is rare that she meets Swedish people on Etihad's flights. She also mentioned that the first class cabin was full since there was an Arabic family traveling home, half of which were seating in first class and the other half in business class. The Residence on the other hand was not occupied. She also came with the usual welcome note, hot towel, dates and drinks served in a silver tray. Truly a five-star concept!

Etihad's signature "welcome note" signed by Rita, the cabin manager.

As we had enough time before push back, I started inspecting (again) the features of my apartment starting with the vanity mirror where the amenity kit (containing Le Labo Bergamote 22 products) is located.

The personal mini bar consisting of 2 bottles of water, 2 Cokes and 2 Sprites.

Etihad first class duvet

The first class amenity kit consisted of skin care products from Le Labo Bergamote 22 (5g lip balm, 7ml facial moisturizer, 7ml hand balm and 1 refreshing towelette), Pillow Mist and Pulse Point Oil, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks and eyeshades, earplugs and this time, with an additional Colgate mouthwash. The bag itself has patterns of Sadou, paying homage to it Emirati heritage, and which I personally think is a good thing to promote local arts.

The first class pyjamas and slippers came with the usual paperbag with "Reimagined" design.


Then it was time for some arabic coffee served by Samea. Rita, the cabin manager also came to our seats to welcome us as well as the inflight chef, Chef Graham. He also handed us the menu and wine list and after a few minutes, took our order for dinner as well as our post departure beverage. Around 14:55, the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 6 hours and 20 minutes and that we were still waiting for our slot.

Entertainment

The 24-inch TV is just perfect for watching movies.

There were lots of good films from the movie selection and I ended up watching Deadpool and The Dressmaker which are two of the most recent films I have not seen yet.

Etihad Airways first class noise canceling headphones.

Entertainment controls

Etihad E-Box, Inflight magazine, Duty free magazine, safety card and waste bag.

There is also wifi connection although unlike on Qatar Airways where it is complimetary for first class passengers, there is a fee to use it.

View of Qatar Airways Airbus A380 during push back.

Dining

A few minutes after we were airborne, my post departure beverage (mango juice) and some snacks consisting of nuts, green peas and olives were served.

Etihad menu card and winelist

Comparing Etihad's dining and food offering to other airlines I have flown with in first class, there is no doubt that this is the most extensive list I have ever seen. First, you can dine in whenever you want, and choose from a large selection of lounge snacks, main course, lounge and grill, etc. One disadvantage of Singapare Airlines first class dining experience in my opinion is that they don't have the "Dine in Anytime" concept and it is a pity because flexibility is one of the best things I love when flying in premium class.

A La Carte menu

Appetiser:

Chicken Ballotine
Gulf Mezze
Shorbat Adas
Tomato Soup


Main Course:

Fillet of Beef
Chicken Breast
Authentic Gulf Lamb Biryani
Salmon
Mediterranean Open Lasagna


Dessert:

Textures
Lemon Sponge
Cheese Selection
A Selection of Ice Creams


Breakfast:

A Range of Breakfast Cereals
Eggs Cooked to Order
Fresh Fruit Platter

Lounge Snacks:

Potato Crisps
Baklava
Madeleines
Freshly Baked Cookies


Lounge And Grill (Salmon, Fillet of Beef, Chicken Breast)

Chef's Special
Steak Frites
Sandwiches
Baked Camembert
Chef's Table D'Hote Salad
The Etihad Steak Sandwich
Scones

Champagnes

Bollinger La Grande Année 2005, France
Duval Leroy Rosé , France NV

White Wines

Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc, Berry Brothers, Burgundy France 2014
Sauvignon Blanc, Vergelegen, Somerset West Stellenbosch South Africa
White Blend, Waterkloof  'Circle of Life White', Stellenbosch South Africa 2012

Red Wines

Merlot Blend, L'Hospitalet De Gazin, Pomerol, Bordeaux France 2010
Shiraz, Wyndham Estate 'Bin 555', Hunter Valley Australia 2013
Pinot Noir Muratie Wine Farm, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2012
Tempranillo, Marques de Riscal 'Reserva', Rioja Spain 2011
Malbec Blend, Clos De Los Siete, Uco Valley Argentina 2012

Dessert Wine

Viognier, Taltarni Late Harvest, Eden Valley Australia 2007


Aperitifs
Cocktails
Mocktails
Beers
Spirits


Fortifieds (Taylor's Select Reserve Port)
Digestifs
Liqueurs
Waters
Soft Drinks
Teas
Coffees

Etihad's first class tray table is huge and with a couch opposite Mike's seat, we decided we'd eat together. I've always wanted to know whether the inflight chefs of airlines like Etihad, Turkish Airlines and Austrian are really cooking something during the flight or it is just plain preparation since the food were already precooked before being loaded so I asked Liz-Mari, the Food and Beverage Manager about it while she was setting up our table. I was informed that the chef, in this case Chef Graham, actually prepares food since the meat are raw and they have the cooking materials, etc. unlike in business class and economy where the food are all prepared in land. I yet have to ask the chef from Turkish Airlines about their job since I have an upcoming flight with them in September although I have none in the future with Austrian so I guess that confirmation has to wait, unless I ask them on Twitter. And yes, kudos to Etihad for having a real chef on board!

Some fresh bread being offered by Chef Graham.

Amuse Bouche
Green Pea Panacotta, Pretzel bread

Soup (Mike's)
Tomato Soup with Thyme, Garlic Oil

The soup according to Mike was spicy and delicious. Chef Graham also asked if we wanted some wine so Mike ordered the French red wine Merlot Blend while I settled for a glass of water. Rita, the cabin manager once again checked on us if everything was okay.

Appetiser (mine)
Chicken Ballotine

Granite Tomato Sorbet with Basil Jelly (palate cleanser)

Chef's Special

As per Chef Graham's recommendation, both Mike and I chose the Chef's Special which was chicken and pizza which was excellent. Everything from the appetizer to the main course tasted perfect and it felt like we were dining in a five star restaurant! Unfortunately, Mike and I were both full that we had to skip the cheese and the dessert. I had previously booked for a shower after the dinner so right after our meal, it was my turn to "shower in the sky" for the fourth time!

Lobby

The Lobby

While the shower suite was still being prepared, I took my time to visit the Lobby (again) which is located between the first and business class cabins. Not surprisingly, nobody was there since most were probably still having their dinner or probably resting. Otherwise, this is a very popular place to hang out specially on day flights.

Monitor in the Lobby

Business Class Cabin

After visiting the Lobby, I decided to take a picture of the Business Class cabin. I have previously flown in Etihad business class but it was on their Airbus A340 so it was the older business class. This one is really something I should try in the future.

Located in the main deck is the economy class cabin although I did not have time to check it out.

Lavatory and Shower Suite

And now, it's my turn to shower. To be honest, I already showered in the morning at home before going to the airport, and then again at the Etihad First & Business Class Lounge at London Heathrow before this flight so this would actually be my third shower today. But of course, taking a shower at 37,000 feet is incomparable and I'll do it again and again. The first time I actually experienced it was when I flew on Emirates A380 First Class from Bangkok to Hongkong. It was a very short flight though so flying on Etihad on this route allowed me to enjoy it more.

Etihad first class lavatory

Skincare products by Le Labo Bergamote 22

Etihad First Class toilet

Just like the last time I had shower on Etihad's A380, there was the small amenity bag consisting of shampoo, conditioner, lotion and shower gel by Le Labo Bergamote 22.

Etihad First Class towel

Etihad First Class shower suite

Emirates and Etihad have pretty much the same rule when it comes to using the water. You get maximum 5 minutes of water and you can pause it when not needed. In my experience, I've never really consumed that 5 minute water alloted since I guess I was always after the experience of just turning the water on and enjoying the experience itself!

Etihad First Class hairdryer

Time to Sleep

My luxurious bed prepared by Samea! There was also a note on the pillow and a bottle of mineral water on the side. What more could I ask for?

Etihad's First Class double bed

Our scheduled arrival time to Abu Dhabi was 1:20 so after taking my shower, I decided to have a nap. And who couldn't resist sleeping on this comfortable bed? I've flown on Singapore Airlines Suites Class last year and was able to have a double bed all for myself. Between the two, I prefer Singapore Airlines' double bed a bit more since there is still a divider on Etihad's beds making it a semi-double bed. Of course that is just my opinion.

Snacks before Landing

Less than two hours before landing, Samea came to our seats and asked if we wanted to have some snacks. I was still feeling full so I just decided to have some Sencha Green Tea.

Souvenirs

We also got some souvenirs consisting of pens and playing cards. Samea also gave us a comment card and Fast Track Cards in case we decide to leave the airport. About half an hour before landing, Samea and Chef Graham came to thank us again for flying with Etihad.

Arrival at Abu Dhabi Airport

We arrived at Abu Dhabi Airport a bit behind of schedule although we were not bothered since we had enough time for our connecting flight to Doha.

CONCLUSION

Flying on Etihad First Apartment for the third time, I realized more and more how luxurious their first class is. I have flown a lot of times in first class on airlines like Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, and Cathay Pacific and Etihad has truly reimagined everything to give such an amazing product: the most spacious apartment, a separate seat and bed, a shower suite, an inflight chef making a truly five star experience in the air and of course, the impeccable service of the crew. And this is simply unbeatable. While I think that  Etihad's First Apartment is not perfect, (I still think that Emirates shower suites on their A380s are much larger and nicer and that the complimentary wifi offered by Qatar Airways to their first class passengers is something that's missing on Etihad) overall, Etihad's First Apartment is surely the most luxurious first class in the sky and no one can deny that. To all the crew on this flight specially to Samea, Liz-Mari and Chef Graham, thanks for once again letting us experience the best the airline industry has to offer! Until next time!


Related Posts:

British Airways First Class, Atlanta-London

Qantas First Class, Dubai-London