GTHQ Jaunt Journal – Flight: Etihad Airways A330-300 – First Class Suites
Route: Geneva (GVA) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) – 6H15M
Etihad Airlines has won the Skytrax Best Airline – First Class award for 4 years in a row and I can definitely understand why. We thoroughly enjoyed Etihad’s Diamond first class service.
We were picked up by Etihad’s limo service which in our case was a Mercedez S class AMG. The chauffeur was 5 minutes early which is great for someone like me who appreciates to be on time. Waters and refreshing towels by Bulgari were offered to pass the oh so long 15 minute drive to the airport. Beginning of trip: so far so smooth… check.
We whisked through check in using the 1st class lane. However, due to the fact that we left from Geneva there was no special ground services treatment besides expedited security screening lanes and lounge access. Etihad’s lounge in Geneva is shared with other airlines (dnata Skyview Lounge) and has 2 large rooms with a small variety of snacks and drinks. The rear room used to be the first class lounge but has been opened up to all lounge members.
We boarded the plane where we were greeted and led to our suites. Two crew members came over immediately to introduce themselves. We met the personal chef and cabin manager, Nagwan, and our flight attendant, Theodora. They took our coats and provided us our sleepwear and slippers. The sleepwear consists of a zippered long-sleeve top and a pair of track suit bottoms. Although they’re made from stretchy material they don’t feel as smooth as Thai’s first class pajamas against the skin.
This was followed by hot towels and pre-departure champagne or whatever drink you fancy. The dinner and breakfast menus, beverage selection menus and tea menus were already placed on the middle divider with a box of chocolates for our perusing.
The attention to detail was impressive as was the service that was offered. It’s always great to listen to the list of languages that the crew can speak which numbered around 11 on this flight.
Etihad’s first class amenity kits are elegant and well designed. There are two versions: one for men designed by Harley Smith and one for women designed by Swarovski. The men’s is a Cufflink-inspired black soft leather box with jewel-toned lining. The women’s is a zippered clutch bag with a Swarovski pattern. They contain toiletries by NYC’s Le Labo (eau de toilette, lip balm, body cream), toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, eyeshades, ear plugs, comfort socks, mints, pillow mist, pulse point oil, cotton buds, pads and emery board.
The crew offers a turndown service where they come to convert your seat into a bed and provide blankets and pillows and will even add a signature pillow oil fragrance that supposedly helps guide you into the arms of Morpheus…
Etihad’s first class suites and interior win hands down for its size, space and privacy. Additionally, it’s not gaudy but elegant with Italian leather, dark wood and beige colors.
The Airbus 330-300 has 8 first class seats in a 1-2-1 layout. Our flight only had 4 passengers in first and we were seated in 2D and 2G. These center suites have a divider between them which can be brought down if you want to socialize with your neighbor or mate. The seat is 6 feet 8 inches (203 cm) long, 30 inches (76 cm) wide and lies a flat 180 degrees.
The center console has the seat controls and includes a variety of functions with 4 preset positions plus massage and a memory position button. The TV is 23″ and the e-Box entertainment system includes a good selection of movies and channels. Also on the interior side of the suite near the IFE there is a minibar that is filled with some drinks and snacks.
There are power and usb outlets to charge your electronics. The tray table comes out of the center console and is large and can accommodate multiple electronic devices comfortably. The bathrooms are double sized and are big enough to change into the pajamas provided but didn’t offer much in the way of toiletries to freshen up. There are no overhead bins as carry-ons can fit under the foot rest. Any light coats and sweaters can go in the personal closet which is next to the suite door.
One of the highlights is that you can close the suite doors and have your own private room 30,000 feet up in the air. The crew will close them and you have a Do Not Disturb button in case you don’t want to be bothered. As you lay back and the cabin lights are turned off you look up and see that the ceiling of the plane has small lights arranged to represent stars. Nice touch!
The Food and Beverages
The reason that first class is superior to business is that there is a much wider menu selection. You can also choose whatever you want to eat and drink as often as you like throughout the flight.
We started out with the pre departure champagne (Billecart-Salmon Brut 2000). After about 30 minutes into the flight the dinner service started. For an appetizer, I chose the Arabic mezze which was a selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold starters.
I selected the Chef’s special for dinner which turned out to be surf and turf – lobster and steak. I’m still impressed at the quality of the meals at 10,000 meters up but having a personal chef on board does help.
This was followed by a selection of international cheeses. The last course was dessert and we chose a dessert taster. There were four mini desserts: vanilla crème brulée, spiced stewed fruits, cheese soufflé and ice cream. The Royal Tokaji sweet dessert wine from Hungary was a nice touch and complemented all 4 desserts well.
Throughout the meal there was a choice of 8 different reds and whites from Italy, France, New Zealand, Argentina, South Australia, Spain and California. Additionally, there were many fine whiskies and other liquors. As usual I had a cognac Camus XO for a nightcap.
I ended up skipping breakfast which was served about 3-4 hours later and decided to choose from their Tea Menu which had 11 different varieties with an explanation of flavor, what to add, which meals to pair with and when to drink.
Overall this flight met our expectations and what I had read about Etihad. From the chauffeur service to having an onboard personal chef that creates amazing meals to the service and suites, this counts as the best overall flight experience I’ve had. When we arrived into Abu Dhabi we stopped in the first class lounge which has a huge selection of food and drinks but more importantly, a 15 minute massage, facial, wellness, scrub or wrap is offered. Thirteen options to choose from.
I highly recommend to try this at least once in your life.
The Good: Excellent service & meals; Normal Cost: ~$5,675 USD – Our Cost: ~$31 USD + 20K American Miles (I was going to Maldives so this was 1 of 2 flights for 40K one way)
The Bad: Sleepwear is not very comfortable
The Ugly: We could only enjoy 6 hours of luxury!