Now I’m taking you back to last October’s Europe trip, where on the way to Dublin, we stopped over in Singapore and had a wonderful rendezvous with the Ritz-Carlton Millenia.
After getting drunk on yummy cereal prawns in Singapore, it was travel blogging mode. We were, after all headed to one of the biggest travel blogging conferences, TBEX ’13 in Dublin.
I’ve had nothing but fantastic experience with Etihad when I flew them to London, Abu Dhabi and New York in 2012, so for this trip it was almost a no-brainer that we use them. (I know I must try out other airlines too!)
The aircraft from Abu Dhabi to Dublin was a Boeing 777, in the new black and gold business class product. (I am unsure if there are still routes with the old turquoise/cream business class cabin, such as the one I took from New York to Abu Dhabi)
What I truly love with the Etihad business class cabin seat plan – all seats have access to the aisle! It’s in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Each seat has a hardback shell, and it transforms into a fully lie-flat seat at a…(cliche coming up)…click of a button..
One thing I have to say about the obsession about seats that lie fully flat- in my personal experience, I never make the seat go all the way flat because it is actually uncomfortable. The best sleeping mode for me would have abit of an angle (like above).
And to the very observant, yes we swapped seats later on. The cabin crew suggested that Zombie and I take the middle pair seats at the very back (otherwise we would be sitting an aisle apart- not a tragedy but it’s nice that the crew thought of it!)
This particular flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin was a red-eye, and there were 1.5 meals served. The .5 comes from the “Kitchen Anytime” menu, which was really handy for a flight that left at 2 in the morning.
The “Kitchen Anytime” menu, I would describe as everyone’s dream pantry. You know those late nights when you’re up watching tv, a dvd series, YouTube-ing, you name it. And you want that perfect midnight snack or munchies? Well. Here comes Etihad’s “Kitchen Anytime” menu. From steak sandwiches to ice cream, cookies, and potato chips, (and more!).
And as the name openly suggests, you can order these snacks at anytime during the flight. I was so sleepy during takeoff that I fell asleep right away. And when I woke up, the cabin lights were already dim and almost everyone was asleep. I felt a pang for something salty. So I ordered a bowl of Cheese and Onion potato chips while watching a documentary on Anna Wintour (Grace Coddington on screen)
I fell asleep (again!) and who wouldn’t really? The stars shine down on you:
I loved the very dreamy and relaxing ambience. As Zombie finished the last Harry Potter movie, I tuned on to the Audio selection, selected “Relaxing Sounds”, and was fast asleep soon.
Goodmorning! A few hours later, it was time for a very early breakfast.
I’m not a very big breakfast person. I had the simplest in the breakfast menu- Omelette with mushrooms. And the personalised breakfast extends to how you want eggs to be done. I do not like runny eggs so I asked for the eggs to be very well done (well I want the very toasted crunchy type but I doubt they have a scorching WOK inside the aircraft), and it’s as good as I want it to be 🙂
Zombie on the other hand had a full Farmhouse breakfast that consisted of scrambled eggs, beef sausage and baked beans.
I truly appreciate fantastic customer service. I was once a cabin crew myself (and currently in the travel industry) and I know that sometimes this can be a very thankless and exhausting job.
So when I encounter exceptional service, I really make sure I go out of my way to thank and appreciate people who go beyond their job description and show real passion and interest in what they do.
Such as this flight , EY45 from Abu Dhabi to Dublin. The cabin crew assigned to our zone was exceptionally attentive (but not intrusive), and I liked that he was very particular about safety. When we reached a turbulent area and the captain announced to fasten seatbelts, not only did he walk around to make sure everyone was buckled, I saw him actually fasten Zombie’s seatbelt (who was so oblivious from sleep) – I’ve seen cabin crew who would wake passengers up to fasten their seatbelts, but this guy quickly did what needed to be done without causing a stir.
He also spoke to us about our meal choices , and this is why I was able to request my extra toasty scrambled eggs, (and runny for Zombie). He took the time to know our preferences. This to me is one of a kind because on my past business class Etihad flights (and also on our flight out of Paris for this trip), we were just asked what we wanted in the menu, no other questions.
And he also gamely took photos for me and Zombie. Even after Zombie and I said just one shot was fine, he was very enthusiastic in trying out different angles, lighting, and poses. Such a trooper this guy 🙂
His name is Deepak Pokhriyal, In-Flight Food and Beverage Manager. He used to work for a major hotel chain as F&B manager too, and moved to Etihad when the airline decided to have in-flight Food and Beverage managers on their flights. And we were lucky to encounter one who had exceptional customer service! He explained to us that while he was a qualified in-flight F&B manager, he was also trained as cabin crew.
If you ever have the good luck to fly with him, I am sure you will enjoy your time.
It wasn’t just him though. The entire business class crew on that particular flight just had a good vibe overall, and the Cabin Manager, Salah Kermoud, also went from seat to seat to engage passengers and ask them how they are finding the flight.
Such exceptional service from this team!
GROUND/ARRIVAL SERVICE (the downside)
While I enjoyed amazing in-flight service, the Dublin Etihad arrivals ground crew brought me back to reality by being a downer. See, I left an entire plastic container’s worth of travel and conference documents in the aircraft (my fault, I know). And I realised this as we were getting out of Dublin airport.
I of course ran back inside the airport in full speed to the arrivals counter of Etihad. As I explained to the lady in the counter what happened, she gave me a standard answer of “if anything was left in the aircraft, it would have been surrendered to us”. And she said all they were given was a pocketbook. I asked if I myself can check the cabin, and understandably this was denied (for security) , and she told me that the passengers from Dublin to Abu Dhabi (return flight) were already boarding.
She didn’t offer any solution so I asked if someone can check again all overhead compartments in business class, particularly the seat I was in. I explained again and again it’s just a thin plastic box of documents so it may have been overlooked. She was hesitant to do this, but agreed in the end. So while someone else checked, she asked me to wait and after 15 minutes, she reported that nothing was found.
And almost as a consolation line, she said that if I want to, I could file a report for a missing item, etc. But I know that it’s either they really didn’t see it, or another passenger may have mistakenly taken it. And while all the documents there were very important, they were replaceable thankfully! I didn’t bother reporting because the wonderful staff at our first hotel in Dublin, the Fitzwilliam Hotel, helped us re-print all the documents.
And it’s not Etihad’s fault for my carelessness yes, but I’m calling the arrivals service a downer because of the lady’s attitude of non-urgency towards the situation. Standard one liner answers, not an active listener, and most of all not proactively offering a solution.
All of Etihad’s aircraft are equipped with a camera attached to the plane’s exterior. And you can always view them from the in-flight entertainment system.
I still overall enjoyed my experience with Etihad, and while I will remember my initial experience at Dublin airport with lots of panic and running, I will remember our flight experience quite fondly.
This is NOT a Sponsored trip or affiliated post. We paid full price for a business class upgrade. I write about fantastic things (and the not so fantastic), whether they are hosted or not.