In today’s flight review on AU Abroad, we take you on board Etihad Airways‘ A330 service from Abu Dhabi in the U.A.E. to Singapore.
Airline: Etihad Airways
Route: Abu Dhabi to Singapore – EY470 (Travels onto Brisbane – Virgin Australia codeshare ticket)
Seat: 18D (Aisle Seat in the Centre of a 2-4-2 Configuration in Economy)
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Scheduled Flight Time: 7 hours 15 minute
On Schedule? 40 minutes late departure arrived about 25 minutes late.
Frequent Flyer Program:
Etihad Guest is the airline’s official Frequent Flyer Program, and the airline is also one of the key partners in the Velocity Network, alongside Singapore Airlines and of course Virgin Australia.
As a Gold Card holder with Virgin’s Velocity program, I had access to one of Etihad’s lounges at Abu Dhabi Airport. This isn’t the premium lounge, however – this is a general use lounge in Terminal 1 that someone like myself – flying Economy with the Gold Card – has access to, while the general public can access with an entry fee. The lounge was quite crowded when I arrived as such, with it being a relatively small room with access permitted to too many people. There was a small buffet, plus a couple of showers and toilets. It was breakfast service when I was in there, so there were eggs and sausages alongside things like cereal and croissants, alongside an operational bar. It was pleasant when it died down a bit – and comfortable enough if you could find a table, but it had nothing on the airline’s more exclusive lounges found elsewhere in the terminal.
Check-in & Baggage:
I flew from London to Abu Dhabi before this flight, so was in transit in Abu Dhabi. Moving between terminals was easy, however, and I spent most of my time between flights in the T1 lounge. Once I made a move to the flight, I took a bus to the plane – which is common of the airport. You get quite the taste of the extreme heat of Abu Dhabi while you’re out there.
Baggage is inclusive in your ticket. Depending on your ticket type, you will be allowed 1 or 2 bags up to 23kg each. Buisness, First Class and Residence passengers can have bags up to 32kgs and they will honour the respective baggage allowance of their airline codeshare partners, which includes Virgin Australia. If you are a premium frequent flyer with Velocity, for instance, you will likely be entitled to the same baggage allowance as a First or Business class passenger.
The flight, at a little over 7 hours, had two meal services – a lunch an hour into the flight and a snack before landing. For lunch I had the Lamb Biryani, while Tofu and Noodles or a Steamed Chicken dish were the other standard options. It was quite exceptional – and a big portion. There were plenty of drink options, too. A cold chicken sandwich (or cheese option) with beverage service came about 90 minutes before landing.
The backs of the seats enjoy their E-BOX on demand entertainment via touch screen, which include some of the most expansive TV options I’ve ever experienced – alongside a great selection of movies. You can’t watch anything until you’re up in the air, however, so make sure you have a book or a magazine to kill time in the event of a delay (as we experienced here). You can watch a camera on the front of the plane, however, while you take off. There’s also – surprisingly – live TV included from CNN, BBC World News plus Sport and CNBC. You will not be bored on an Etihad flight, to say the very least. Though it’s a pity it’s not gate-to-gate.
The A330 has always been a comfortable airplane, as Airbus’ 777 competitor since the mid 1990s, and Etihad have a great fitout, with comfortable seats and a warm design. Unlike some flights where a pillow and blanket are distributed to all passengers, on this flight – which was under 8 hours and leaving in the morning – only headphones were distributed. But you could ask for it if you needed it. There was no control of the air, like the 777-300, which Etihad uses on other routes, but that served little discomfort.
In lieu of the flight delay, we were given water while we waited to depart and the crew were attentive to the needs of the passengers both during that time and once we’d taken on. Etihad have a great reputation and there’s a reason why – they make sure you’re comfortable, time their services well and all in all, the service is top notch.
The writer flew on his own expense in May 2015, flying to Singapore for the annual Music Matters Conference, which now takes place in September.