Etihad Airways: My Second Flight

fter my first flight on a Boeing 777-300 aircraft operated by Etihad Airways from New York to Abu Dhabi had concluded, I had greater than six hours before the departure of my next flight, which was at 2:00 in the morning and whose destination was to Johannesburg.

I walked the long trek from gate to gate; and I found a row of stools nearby with a counter equipped with electrical outlets which can accommodate different plugs — no adapter needed. Internet access was complimentary in Abu Dhabi International Airport; but after a while, it became so painstakingly slow that I was forced to give up…

…but by that time, the gate area became more and more crowded. There were certainly a lot of people heading to Johannesburg.

Unlike the flight from Abu Dhabi which used an actual gate, we queued up at a door which exited out onto the tarmac where a couple of buses awaited us. Once the buses were full, we were transported to the Airbus A330-200 operated by Etihad Airways which awaited us on the tarmac away from the terminal.

Personally, I do not like bus transfers between airplanes and terminals; but it did explain why the time to board was at 1:00 in the morning.

I boarded the airplane. Everything was basically the same as my first flight — including the seats; although the configuration was 2-4-2 instead of the 3-4-3 found on the Boeing 777-300 aircraft…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The seat to which I was assigned is the one in the foreground in the center of the photograph — and the seat next to me was empty. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…but there were a few minor exceptions.

First, neither the forward camera nor the landscape camera were in operation in the in-flight entertainment system; and there were fewer options overall with the in-flight entertainment system — although there were still plenty of choices.

I did score an empty seat next to me.

The amenity kit was in a bag of a different color and pattern.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I received a hot towel, which I found was customary before food is served on flights operated by Etihad Airways in the economy class cabin. After refreshing my face and hands with it, I wiped the tray table with it, as I always do whenever I receive a hot towel aboard an airplane. The used hot towel revealed that the tray table was quite dirty.

Then there was the food.

Shortly after the aircraft departed from Abu Dhabi and reached cruising altitude, the passengers were served the first meal, which came in a paper bag…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

…and the bag included a sandwich; a bag of apple slices; a small bag of what looked like miniature Ritz crackers; a small bottle of water; and a cookie.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

From what I understand, other passengers had some sort of mystery meat on their sandwiches. Because the special meals I ordered were seafood, I received a tuna sandwich with sliced cucumber on it.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

It looked disgusting. I inspected it. I sniffed it. I took a bite.

Believe it or not, it was much tastier than it appeared. I finished it off. It was actually rather decent.

I expected the green and red apple slices to be dented and have brown spots on them. I opened the sealed plastic bag. Unbelievably, there was not one imperfection on any of the apple slices; and they were crisp and cold. The apple slices were excellent. I was quite surprised.

The crackers and cookie were nothing special — just items with which to help try to fill the stomach.

Approximately two hours before landing in Johannesburg, I was served breakfast. The aim of the overhead light above my seat was drastically off, as you can see in the photograph below.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

After I moved half of the tray off of the tray table to get more of it under the misaimed light, I then unwrapped everything…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Although my meal was a seafood meal, I could not tell you what that eggy thing was or what was in it, as I did not eat it.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Although I do not like mushrooms, they were surprisingly good — as were the potatoes and the tomato. Breakfast is my least favorite meal; but the wrapped chocolate cake, the roll, the apricot jam, the strawberry yoghurt and the fruit — which consisted of a lone chunk of pineapple surrounded by pieces of watermelon — were all good to very good.

I never did use the “stick” of milk; and I saved the orange juice cup for later in case I needed it for my long drive from Johannesburg to Lesotho.

The service was not as good as on the first flight I flew as a passenger on an aircraft operated by Etihad Airways; but perhaps that can be attributed to the fact that this flight departed at 2:00 in the morning local time in Abu Dhabi and was considered an overnight flight, as it landed at approximately 8:00 in the morning local time in Johannesburg…

…which may also be the reason why there was significantly less food served on this flight than my first flight — but as the flight lasted approximately eight hours, I would have preferred more food and actual gate access directly from the airplane.

Although the flight went well, I was somewhat mildly disappointed overall when I compared this experience to that of the first flight, as Etihad Airways is supposed to be known for its superior quality versus its competitors — including in the economy class cabin.

I suppose I was spoiled by the first flight…

All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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