Between the ME3, Etihad Airways operate just a modest 1x daily flight to Singapore compared to Emirates (4X daily) and Qatar Airways (3X daily).
When the opportunity arose to fly Emirates or Etihad, I decided to go for Etihad Airways as I figured I would get more opportunities to fly Qatar Airways or Emirates given their more frequent schedules from Singapore.
After meeting the nice Etihad flight attendants and experiencing the friendly Etihad inflight service, I didn't regret my decision!
Operator: Etihad Airways
Route: Abu Dhabi to Singapore
Operating aircraft: B777-3FX/ER
Departure from Abu Dhabi: 9.50pm / 11.09pm*
Arrival in Singapore: 9.55am / 10.25am*
Flight time: 8h5 / 7h16*
(*denotes actual timings)
Truth be told, I did regret not choosing Emirates during my arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport. We had been bussed to the terminal, only to get a rude shock when we found ourselves at the end of a huge sprawling mass of transit passengers queuing for security clearance.
The sardine can situation was bad enough that people moving up the escalator from the bus disembarkation hall to the security check queue found themselves pushed against an already tight crowd at the top of the escalator. I thought it was somewhat dangerous, being caught in a situation of than being tightly squished against others as more and more people coming up the escalator pushed against me from behind. Fortunately, I survived this Abu Dhabi transit experience!
Other than this sticky situation with the escalator, this massive horde of diverse nationalities (several flights worth of passengers - probably a few A380s to boot) were orderly and generally tame but nevertheless, it was a patient struggle to get to the other side of the security clearance.
I proceeded straight to my gate 60 in Terminal 3, which was a far, far trek, passing through the massive duty-free shopping area. I was glad to have shut off my senses against any duty-free shopping temptation and I actually arrived at my gate just in time for boarding, with a few minutes to spare for a toilet break (the lavatories were a flight of stairs down from the departure gates level).
I had 1 hour and 25 minutes scheduled transit time in Abu Dhabi between my flights, but more or less, had to go straight to my gate from my previous flight, which arrived on time, nonetheless.
Phew, that wasn't the most pleasant transit experience for sure. The life of an Economy Class passenger.
Catching my breath, I proceeded for boarding and was welcomed very warmly onboard by the smiling cabin crew - from now on, I was going to feel more relaxed as I realised the Etihad cabin crew would be taking good care of us onboard.
Not to mention, the calming ASMR effect of the truly beautiful and mystical Etihad Airways boarding music, which reminds me of the magical star-lit Arabian night sky.
I was directed to my seat on 45A - note that for some reason, I had been unable to select my seat online but was grateful that I was assigned a window seat on a two-seater - even if it was on the last row of the aircraft.
There was already a pillow, blanket and entertainment headsets set on the seat.
Nice that Etihad Airways still uses headsets over the cheap earphones even premium airlines like Singapore Airlines are providing these days.
The Etihad E-BOX entertainment is touchscreen and has a decent selection of recent movies to enjoy. I like how it actually has a privacy design so your seat neighbour can't see what naughty show you are watching.
The AC power port is definitely God-sent for all of us with power-hungry smartphones.
After all the passengers boarded, water and towelettes were distributed, which was actually a very nice service touch, and which I feel should be adopted by other airlines. I'm sure many passengers are able to appreciate some water upon boarding - whether to take their medication or just to quench their thirst. At the same time, it sort of presents an opportunity for the cabin crew to "introduce" themselves to the passengers, which makes a nice start to the passengers' journey.
The safety video was then played in Arabic and English, after a pre-recorded Islamic travel prayer was screened.
Unfortunately, the flight deck announced a 40 minute delay due to air traffic congestion in Muscat. Upon this announcement, the cabin crew came through the cabin to offer more water. Passengers were able to enjoy the entertainment system during the wait.
Some of the passengers were concerned about their connecting flights and were asking the cabin crew for advice. I liked how the cabin crew were able to professionally handle their queries in a calm manner and allay their worries.
Finally, we pushed back and took off into the night sky about 1 hour 20 minutes late. The entertainment was temporarily shut down for the take off - I don't see many airlines doing this either, even though it would ensure everyone is observant in the event of an emergency.
After the take off, the entertainment system is switched back on for everyone's pleasure, and an introductory video to Etihad's new "Sweet or Salty" retail menu where passengers can opt to purchase additional snacks/meals/drinks on top of what is offered complimentary.
This is then followed by the dinner service.
Note that menus are not provided onboard but you may view the dining menu for your Etihad-operated flight here, before your flight.
For my flight EY470, there are three choices. Etihad typically provides a vegetarian option as a choice in its dining menu - which I thought is, well, thoughtful of them.
Here is the menu for my flight:
Chicken in green curry sauce
with jasmine rice, aubergine, marrow
tender lamb with boukhari sauce,
rice and garnish
with puttanesca sauce, olives
and grated cheddar cheese [V]
Lemon drizzle cake
For me, the choice was clear: the local "lamb boukhari" option enticed me most - I always go for the local cuisine onboard the airline I am travelling with - can't go wrong with the local cuisine.
I was mentally prepared that I may not get the choice I want though, as I was practically the last to be served - given my seat at the last row.
Thankfully, both the lamb and chicken choices were still available when the meal cart came to my row.
This Etihad's new dining concept features a bistro-style meal served on a meal plate (which is designed from the inspiration of Abu Dhabi's heritage). More details can be found in Etihad's press release here.
The main course is definitely larger, with truly huge chunks of lamb - something I wouldn't usually see in Economy Class.
To celebrate this delightful dinner, I opt for a Gin and tonic.
The lemon drizzle cake and bread-with-a-fancy-name weren't nothing much to shout about.
After the meal plates and trash were cleared (I think without the meal tray, it is more tricky for the cabin crew to clear the plastic wrappers), hot beverages and water were offered.
I opt for hot tea to relax for the night.
The lights were then turned down, and like most other passengers, I found myself falling sound asleep.
Waking up over the Indian ocean, the lights had been turned on again for the refreshment service.
When asked for my drink, I opt for hot coffee and was offered a chocolate chip and vanilla biscuit to go with my coffee.
My seat neighbour had a juice and was handed a packet of pretzels (?). I guess whether you get a sweet or savoury snack depends on your drink choice.
The flight stewardess (I think she's Filipina from her accent) working on my row was really nice and you could tell she endeavoured to make everyone's flight a pleasant experience with her cheerfulness and courtesy. I truly appreciated her services. Thank you!
Even though I wanted to try out the "Sweet or Salty" menu - which was actually quite affordably priced (starting from USD3 for a can of chips or a pack of nuts), the filling dinner and subsequent snack didn't allow my tummy space to indulge.
There was also inflight Wi-Fi available onboard but I didn't get to try - the E-Box entertainment sufficed.
After the snack service, it was more or less preparation for landing.
Singapore immigration forms and health advisory leaflets (on H7N9 and MERS-CoV) were distributed. Headsets were also collected back (as the entertainment system would shut down anyway).
After the cabin was prepared for landing, we landed into Singapore Changi Airport on a bright sunny day.
It had been such a nice experience flying with Etihad Airways - friendly and welcoming cabin crew, excellent hot main course and decent inflight entertainment - definitely Etihad is a bang for your buck!
For the full flight video experience of my EY470 flight journey from Abu Dhabi to Singapore: