Limo to Heathrow
The 'free' Etihad Airways limousine picked us up from The Dorchester just before 10am. Muhammad was the driver/owner of the Mercedes and a pleasure to chat with. The journey to Heathrow is so much easier than to JFK.
At Heathrow the dedicated Etihad Airways First Class check-in was not open but the Economy check-in guy we got was great.
The Terminal 4 Fast Track security was slow, with intense scrutiny of bags for liquids & explosives.
The First Class & Business Class Lounge
In the First Class & Business Class lounge reception showed me around and I went to make an appointment for a shoulder massage in the Six Senses Spa. Unlike with the British Airways Elemis Spa, appointments were easy to get. I then had a glass of champagne, using the WiFi.
My shoulder & back massage was undertake by Nicole and slow to start but became excellent.
After this I moved to the A La Carte dining area to try their lunch menu. My mezze and then chicken breast were uninspiring and I left most of it.
Boarding of the A380 was quick and well-handled. My First Class 'Apartment' was as stunning as I expected. The only problem was I was backward facing. I was 'oriented' around my 'Apartment' with its vanity closet, mini bar etc by charming Karim.
After take-off I got a glass of vintage Bollinger before looking at the cocktail list and finding I could get a Grey Goose martini.
There were problems with the WiFi and, when it did work, I was shocked to find you have to pay for it in First Class. With it not working, I watched Adele: Live in Concert in London. Etihad Airways have a rather limited range of TV and movies when compared to British Airways or Qatar Airways.
Lunch started with an amuse bouche and then marinated prawns. After a sorbet, it was a medium rare rib-eye steak with mashed potatoes, the chips on the menu were not available, and Béarnaise sauce.
I ended with Scotch whisky and a double espresso. During lunch I watched 'Everest' - which had me near tears - my brother was right about that 'must see' movie.
Once the WiFI started to work again I paid for it and spent some time working on www.sifrew.com.
Shower on the Plane
Towards the end of the flight Karim prepared the shower for us. The shower room is small but I was impressed by the water pressure. You get 5 minutes of water but can stop and start the water, while you lather up etc. It was a really fun experience to have a shower in the air.
I ended the flight chatting to Karim (F&B Manager) and Paula (Cabin Manager). They are both excellent members of staff and lots of fun to talk to.
Abu Dhabi International Airport
It was rather a shock to be treated like cattle on arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport and the Etihad Airways Premium Lounge I am currently in looks more like a refugee centre.
🐻🐻🐻🐻🐻 (5 out of 5 ‘teddies’) - Etihad Airways only started flying in 2003 and I was impressed as soon as I learnt about their hotel pick up. The crew on the A380 (especially Karim) could not do enough for you and the First Class 'Apartment' has to be seen to be believed. All this, and the shower on the plane, meant they did not drop a 'teddy' for charging for WiFi in First Class. My tips: remember to book the 'free' hotel pick up, and drop off, 48 hours before you fly, ask for a forward facing 'Apartment' and try the shower.
Having had dinner with a friend from Shrewsbury School in Gaggan in Bangkok, who had flown in the First Class 'Apartment' on Etihad Airways, where you have a 'living room' and use of a shower on the plane, I decided I had to try their A380.
Si Frew has lived in the UK, Bermuda, Qatar, Cyprus & the Cayman Islands. During this time he met Whoopi Goldberg (in Claridge's), Mike Tyson (in the Concorde Lounge at JFK) , Gordon Ramsay (in the Doha Four Seasons), Chris Eubanks (in The Dorchester), Cherie Blair (in Bermuda & again in the Doha Four Seasons) etc. There are funny stories attached to all these interactions, feel free to ask Si about them when you meet him.