Middle East 2016: Etihad Airways

by | Jun 16, 2016 | International Travel, Travel

Muscat – Abu Dhabi

Our first experience with Etihad was a short regional flight from Oman to Abu Dhabi. Muscat airport is small with only one counter for all business and first class passengers, but the lounge was better than expected. With a 50 minute flight there was just enough time for a snack platter (no drinks) and some aerial views of the UAE before we had landed and then cleared customs. Unfortunately, the Etihad arrivals lounge won’t hold luggage (there was no way to get back into that lounge once you exited as it was connected to the secure area) so we had to pay about $16 to store our luggage around the corner. Annoying, but we didn’t want to drag our stuff around all day.

etihad-6  etihad-7
flying into Abu Dhabi; snacks on our short flight

my free manicure in the Etihad First Class lounge - color is 'my private jet'Abu Dhabi – JFK

After spending the day in Abu Dhabi, we returned to the airport and checked in for our flight with no issue. Passport control was immediately after the priority check-in area, and soon after we were in the main terminal lounge. The lounge is large and was rather full, so after being scanned in we started looking for the First Class area. Thankfully, a hostess followed up with us and escorted us to the roped-off First Class section (‘guarded’ by two attendants) providing us with an overview of the available spa services and food options.

We started with champagne, then sorted out our complimentary treatment options. Leandra booked a manicure for 11:30pm, but when I went to book my shave appointment, Leandra was surprised when I came back all trimmed! It was a fun experience – they trimmed with an electric razor to a specific height, then used a straight razor for all edges, followed by a cool towel and moisturizer. Quite nice. Leandra’s manicure color choice was OPI’s ‘My Private Jet’ and the technician complimented her pink hair.


We knew from previous reviews to ask for a menu in the first class area, so we opted for a small dinner of delicious chicken tagine and the mezze plate with tasty hummus that was brought by the staff. Of course, we also supplemented this with trips to the ample buffet area, including several small plates of sushi and pickled ginger!

After our spa appointments and showers it was midnight so we decided to take a quick nap in the lounge – Leandra grabbed a love seat but was asked to move after about 30 minutes when the lounge started to fill up and didn’t get much sleep as a result.

Around 2am, the staff let us know that we should start the process for US Passport control, but we have Global Entry so we weren’t in a huge hurry to head to the smaller lounge on the other side. Turns out the TSA Global Entry machines weren’t working but there were other fast-track machines that we were able to use with a little guidance (people traveling together had to check in at the same machine – this was confusing for many people).

Finally, around 3am, it was time to board! We were escorted to our seats, 3A and 4A, and introduced to the features. Dates and champagne quickly followed, and we discovered an amenity kit was already in the storage around our seats. There were lots of storage options in the apartment including a closet, drawers, and pull outs but our carry-ons just barely fit under the bench seats. We also had USB and HDMI power stations.

First Class Apartments - Etihad Airways

First Class Apartments - Etihad Airways
Apartments 3A and 4A open up into one HUGE space for couples

Leandra crammed all of her stuff into the nooks and crannies of the cabin

The on-board chef came by with menus, and 15 min later we placed our order, having decided to nap for the first two hours of flight.

When we woke the cabin crew quickly made up a table for us to share. I started with the Sauvignon Blanc, which was quite nice with strong acidity and the expected grassiness, plus some oak and fruit on the finish too. The biryani with lamb had several tasty layers and was quite filling.

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After dinner we crashed for several hours of well-earned sleep in this comfortable space…

First Class Apartments - Etihad Airways
yes, that is our bed in the sky – so comfortable!

Sleep was fairly easy, as the bed was quite comfortable.

After waking I checked out the available entertainment on the large tv screen, and was happily surprised by the wide selection. Also notable was the 2005 Bollinger Brut champagne, though it went flat surprisingly quickly (perhaps that is due to the A380 cabin pressure?). It paired nicely with the ridiculously large pistachio cake too! Overall the food was excellent — the scrambled eggs and hash browns (actually crispy!) with pain au chocolate for breakfast were equally delicious.

Leandra was pretty excited about showering on the plane, so she went first and then talked me into it. Five minutes of hot water was plenty as you could turn the water on and off as needed. Plus, the hostess set up everything for you in advance with Le Labo Bergamot amenities, slippers and a towel. It was nice to reset in the air, especially as we were meeting family for lunch in NY after we landed.

Finally, the crew was excellent – quick to respond and proactive as well. Our flight in the First Class Apartment on Etihad was amazing, and we hope to try it again in the future.

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)