Posted by: doorstoautomatic | March 15, 2010

Eti-what?

Blimey, Etihad’s a weird airline. Just back from another trip AUH-LHR, on the A340-600, the second in recent months. Weird in the way they board 45 minutes before departure, strange in the slightly strained state of the staff – Our connecting A320 pilot had a row with a manager over a ‘lack of respect’ before threatening to cancel the flight unless he spoke to the chief pilot in Abu Dhabi. Odd, too, in their eclectic choice of cabin colours and lighting, and strange they make money, with what must be a high cost base.

Etihad 'Pearl' biz class

Still, these fellas are clearly having fun, and for a couple of good reasons that Doors To Automatic can think of. One: Their lie flat beds are the most comfortable we’ve ever slept on. Honestly, they’re incredible. Seatbelt sign off, bed deployed, sleep, wake up at top of descent. Six hours. We didn’t even have a bite to eat. Maybe they’re pumping some sort of gas into there. On that topic, it was nice and cool, probably about 21 degrees, which is much better than the sweatboxes BA make you sleep in just so the crew are ok reading OK! in the galleys.

While we’re on the subject, the EY bed is a little narrower than the BA Club World offering, but it’s much more comfortable, with thicker upholstery and none of the uneven, clunking panels and lumps and bumps that you get on British. You wake up feeling good, not sore.

The other cool thing, and a Doors To Automatic favourite, is a window in the toilet. In times past, Qantas were the only people to have this, and then only in their First lavs, but it’s such fun doing your business with inanimate objects like wings, engines and the coastline of South-East England looking on. Probably best to use the blind, when on the ground.

EY small room with view

The only down side is that the A340’s don’t have central overhead baggage bins, meaning that the ones on the side fill up quickly and there’s never enough room for eveyone’s hand baggage. And they’re not deep enough for standard roll-ons to fit in lenghthways, so they have to go sideways, taking up more room.

And they insist on showing a bizarre Arabic version of ‘You’ve been Framed’ during the descent. A collection of rather nasty tricks played on members of the Beirut/Cairo/Dubai public caught on hidden cameras. Like the airline itself – Bizarre.

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