Mehtihad: Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong on EY834

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At the Airport

I transferred onto this plane in Abu Dhabi. It left from gate three, a few yards’ walk from the transfer point. The airport terminal was far more manageably sized than those in Doha or Dubai, and I had an excellent curry there which put me in a good mood.

The boarding was a bit of a melee, but completed fast.

However, I had checkin in for this flight at Milan and my checkin experience left me unimpressed. I asked the agent to assign aisle seats for both flights and add a frequent flyer number – she gave me window seats (aisle seats were plentiful) and did not add the number. I was checking one cardboard carton, which contained several well wrapped bottles of wine. The ground staff refused to take it unless it was wrapped in film, which was a chargeable service nearby for ten euros (they also said that they did not have to take cartons at all, as they should go in cargo). I had never heard this from another airline but their attitude was intransigent (I went to the supermarket downstairs in Milan airport and bought my own roll of cling film for under three euros). When I asked for their name or number to write a complaint to Etihad, they point blank refused.

Etihad’s ground staff said that their conditions of carriage did not permit cartons. When I looked at the luggage page on their website later, I did not see mention of this. What annoyed me most was the attitude of the staff, but if you plan to travel with Etihad it would be good to know this approach to checked luggage apart from cases. Although this subsequent flight was fine, the airport checkin experience put me off Etihad for good.

Equipment

This flight from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong was operated by an Airbus A330 (registration number A6-EYK).

The interior was decorated in a combination of browns, ochres and teal which I found rather restful. The finishes felt a bit run down.

The seat was decently comfortable and had a powerpoint and USB port.

The entertainment system touchscreen did not work but the selection was good. I was also impressed that it had a number of useful features rarely seen, such as a search function and also the ability to watch a film at the same time as one’s seatmate, for example.

Flight

The flight had a lot of empty seats, including the one beside me. It was a smooth ride over and we had an ontime arrival close to the immigration gates in Hong Kong.

Service

The crew was a mixture of nationalities although like Emirates, Etihad seems to have less east Asian crew than Qatar. I didn’t notice any Cantonese crew in my cabin and announcements were in English and Mandarin. The crew were friendly and helpful and came through the cabin occasionally.

Food and Drink

Shortly after takeoff the cabin crew came around with the meal trolley. There was no menu, but the option was rice and spicy pork, fish or pasta. I had a South African red wine which was strongly acidic.

The meal was a bit more basic than I expected but tasty. An hour and a half before landing the crew offered a simple filled roll snack.

Conclusion

The flight was fine though unremarkable. The checkin was horrible with the arbitrary threat to refuse the checked baggage and especially the ground staff’s attitude. Etihad had their chance to impress me as a passenger, but they blew it and I won’t be back.

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