Flight Review: EY 203 Mumbai – Abu Dhabi, Etihad, First Apartment (A380)


Like Ajay wrote a couple of days back, we are currently on underway on our trip to Australia. Earlier this year in May, Etihad Airways started flying the A380 from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi, making it one of the 5 markets the A380 flies to. The other places include London, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. This was the perfect opportunity to plan another long trip in the First Apartments, and we decided to fly Mumbai – Abu Dhabi – Melbourne through and through in the EY A380.

Our travel experience started with a complimentary chauffer pick up right from our doorstep in Mumbai that Etihad offers to most First Class passengers anywhere in the world. Our commute from home to the airport was a very comfortable one in a black Mercedes E-class sedan.

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After completing check-in and immigration formalities we headed off to the GVK First Class Lounge. I hadn’t eaten lunch from our busy packing schedule all day long and headed straight to the restaurant section, while Ajay was happy catching up on last minute work and lounging around before boarding began. Ajay has already reviewed the GVK First Class Lounge and we noticed that nothing much has really changed from the last time we visited.

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Chaat Sampler at GVK First Class Lounge

The Pranaam folks picked us up from the lounge and dropped us to the gate 40 minutes before take-off. There was a Residence guest on board, and hence the butler for him was waiting at the boarding gate. She tried peeping into our boarding pass to note if we were the Residence guests.

Etihad Airways EY 203
Mumbai (BOM) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Monday, December 19, 2016
Departure: 21:25 hours
Arrival: 22:45 hours
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Seat: 4A (First Apartment)

The First Apartment Experience

The Apartments are located on the upper deck of the plane and we boarded through a separate aerobridge only reserved for the First guests. As soon as we entered, the crew welcomed us with a Welcome Back, which makes me think that they were aware of our travel record with the airline.

This was not the first time we were flying Etihad First. We started the year 2016 with a trip from New York and flew Etihad First Apartments from JFK to Abu Dhabi. In spite of being familiar with cabin, my first thoughts as soon as we were ushered in were, “OMG! This is just beautiful. “

The ceiling and entrance doors to the apartment are beautifully carved giving the entire space a nice middle eastern vibe.

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First Look at the cabin interiors

It’s quite clear why Etihad decided to name these as First Apartments. They are huge, as compared to any other First Class cabin I’ve  travelled in so far (Not even the Singapore First Suites). If I wanted to have a little party or chat around with people my apartment could comfortably accommodate 3-4 people.

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The window partition between 2 First Apartments which can be opened up

As I sank into my super large seat, I noticed that most apartments are wall side and cover three windows. Opposite the seat is a 24-inches television screen and a separate bed which also served as an ottoman. By eliminating the double-aisle format that most airlines still follow, Etihad was able to bring out more space per seat.

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The seat and the side bed that also serves as an Ottoman

I was in 4A while Ajay had apartment 3A. There was a partition window between the two apartments which we could slide out whenever we wanted to.

It is quite clear that Etihad has put in a lot of thought and detail into designing the First Apartments. There are multiple compartments to stow your stuff when you fly with them. Right at the entrance of every apartment was a large coat closet.  Inside, underneath the bed is ample space to stow my rollerboard and hand bag.

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Storage Space

A side drawer for a reading book or a note book and your spectacles. Accessible from the bed while you are sleeping as well.

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Side Drawer

The seat also had separate storage which was perfect was my personal effects such as watch and phone. There was also a minibar which was stocked with water and soft beverages. Although the crew will bring you one in a glass anytime you want.

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Every First Apartment has its own mini bar

Then I opened the best compartment; a small dresser right inside my cabin. I was simply awed with the attention to detail, every lady hopes that she doesn’t have to queue outside the toilet to remove / use her makeup and here I was with an entire dresser all to myself. The dresser had all amenities I need for my flight.

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There is a fully stocked dresser inside the First Apartment

After we settled in our apartment, the onboard chef came and introduced himself. He offered us three choices of welcome drinks and we went with the lime and mint cooler.  The welcome drink arrived with a welcome letter from the cabin manager, and had a small bowl of dates. We were also offered some Arabic coffee, which Ajay and I both had, and we got ready for take off on Etihad’s shortest A380 sector.

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Welcome letter and drink served with some dates and Arabic tea

Mine was a forward facing seat. All the seat controls were on the side panel of the armrest. But that’s not all , inside the armrest I found an advanced cabin control system from where I could control the lights, adjust the window blinds etc. I was quite intrigued to notice that the windows had two layers of blinds, just like the hotels.

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Electronic control panel on side of the seat

After take off Ajay and I kicked off the trip with a glass of Billecart Salmon Rose champagne that was served with some olives, artichokes and assorted nuts.

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Rose Champagne (Billecart Salmon) served with Olives, Artichokes and Nuts

Since this was a very short flight (2.5 hours), we started off with the dinner service quite soon. We wanted to eat together so the crew set up a table for two in my apartment; another thing you can choose if you are travelling with friends and family. The dining service on Etihad First is on demand which meant that we could decide when we would like to eat. Here is what the First Dining and the Bar Menu had to offer.

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There was also a variety of herbal tea on the menu to choose from.
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As I’d eaten well in the lounge, I stuck to a lentil soup, a small main course portion of tandoori chicken served with some grilled vegetables.

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Dal Shorba or Lentil Soup

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Tandoori Chicken, served with grilled cauliflower and corn

Ajay triedsome  of his favorite papadi chaat which he said tasted average, followed by some chicken biryani.

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Gulf Chicken Biryani

For dessert I had the kulfi parfait with kala jamun. It tasted as good as it looked and Ajay chose to savor some icecream which was plated with a chocolate coin on top of the scoop. What we could not understand however was how did a chocolate/strawberry ice-cream request turn into a vanilla/strawberry ice-cream.

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Dessert : Kulfi Parfait with Kala Jamun

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A scoop of Vanilla and Strawberry icecream

By the time, we finished dinner we were about 40 minutes from landing, not enough time to catch a nap. Since it was a short flight, we were not give sleeper pajyamas and slippers. I snuggled in the blanket and went on to reading my book sipping some jasmine tea. Before I knew the captain announced descent and the crew came with landing cards and fast track vouchers.

We arrived in Abu Dhabi in time, and quickly walked through immigration to get a quick cuppa at the Etihad Arrivals Lounge. From there, we picked a cab and headed to our hotel for the night.

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Abu Dhabi Arrivals Lounge

Bottomline

Overall, I feel that the Mumbai to Abu Dhabi sector is really short to experience the true potential of Etihad’s First Class product & service. There isisn’t enough time to catch a sleep on that 6 feet long bed, enjoy a shower on the plane and there isn’t even time for the crew to put their best foot forward. While I enjoyed the flight, the entire flying experience was more like a teaser that left me longing for more.

Have you tried Etihad’s First Apartments?  Tell us about your favorite First Class experience. 

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Pros

+ Great Hard Product
+ Impressive Food and Beverage Menu

Cons

- Truncated service experience due to short flight time

Rating

Comments

  1. Very nice review Shipra 🙂

    Reviews of this shortest Apartments sector are very far and few in between, and now we have another data point.

    I have got 2 questions :
    1) You mentioned “There isn’t enough time to [..] enjoy a shower on the plane”. Did you at least ask and received a no? As in, do they even have the provision if one intends to use the facilities?
    2) If you would advice as to how this flight was booked (revenue, miles from AA/EY/9W) and the ease of booking process or otherwise, it would be very helpful.

    Enjoy your travels and keep up the good work.

    • @Deo : By the time the dinner service finished it was close to 45 mins before landing. Having used the shower on my earlier trip, it takes about 30 mins for the crew to prep & to complete the shower.

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