Flight Test: Etihad

The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller

18 June 2016

 

Reviewed by Tatyana Leonov

THE ROUTE: Abu Dhabi to Sydney

THE PLANE: Boeing 777-300ER. Etihad has 25 of the extended range (ER) 777 in its fleet.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME: Etihad Guest Miles can be redeemed with Virgin Australia’s loyalty program on Etihad flights and when flying with various other Etihad partners.

CLASS: Economy, seat 32A. It’s an exit row seat that I pay an additional fee of $US150 for, however I end up moving to my own row of three seats for extra space.

DURATION: Thirteen hours, 55 minutes. We leave almost an hour late but arrive into Sydney 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

FREQUENCY: Daily

THE SEAT: The 282 economy seats are in a 3-4-3 configuration that turns into 2-4-2 towards the back. The pitch is 31 inches (79 centimetres), the width is 17.5 inches (44 centimetres).

BAGGAGE: Economy passengers can take on a generous 30 kilograms of checked- in luggage and seven kilograms carry-on.

ENTERTAINMENT: All ‘‘Coral’’ economy passengers have a 30-centimetre slanted screen with hundreds of movies and television sitcoms plus radio channels and games. The touch- screen system is simple to use with large icons and an easy-to-navigate menu. There is Wi-Fi on board (for a fee), but I go internet free.

COMFORT: The plane is half full so most passengers have at least two seats to themselves. The blanket is warm and soft and the pillow provided works as a standard or a neck pillow. The amenity kit includes a toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, socks and an eye mask. The reversible ‘‘Do not disturb/Wake me for meals’’ eye-mask is nifty.

SERVICE: Customer requests were met efficiently and the service was good. When I did get hungry in the middle of the night (I blame the eye mask; a fellow passenger told me I missed out on a delicious panini), I asked for popcorn but was told it was 20 minutes away from being served. I fell asleep again... so unfortunately missed out, but breakfast wasn’t too far away.

FOOD: My vegetarian option of pasta and cheese (no vegies in sight) was a little bland. I ended up asking for the other vegetarian choice – satay tofu and vegetables teamed with rice vermicelli – and it was delicious. About one hour before landing I enjoyed a tasty tomato- based ragout.

ONE MORE THING: Etihad offers hot chocolate as part of the drinks service. Vegetarians receive fresh fruit instead of the normal dessert. However, if you ask nicely, staff will bring you the standard dessert option too.

THE VERDICT: Overall a great flying experience. Even if the plane was entirely full, the seats, comfort packs and efficient service all combined for a top-notch flight.

Reviewed by Tatyana Leonov, who flew courtesy of Scenic Tours.