As an avgeek, of course, I'm always keen to look for interesting flight experiences to fill my logbook. In my recent backpacking trip to Morocco, I was considering Qatar Airways (via Doha and operated by Royal Air Maroc B788 on DOH-CMN), KLM (on their B747) and Etihad Airways (via AUH on A346). I decided to go for Etihad, not only because they had the best deal, but I could also have a taste of their A346s in the last month of commercial flying!Flight Information
Date: 5 Oct 2017
Origin: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Destination: Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-243
Aircraft: A6-EYNDeparture from HKG
I did my check-in at Airport Express Hong Kong Station hours ahead of my flight. It was efficient and untroubled. The boarding at T1 was, again, quick and pleasant, in spite of the fact that the flight was fully booked.
A6-EYN being towed to gate after a long sleep at HKG
A6-EYN at the gate preparing for boarding passengersIn-flight Experience
Etihad Airbus A332 had a typical 2-4-2 seating configurations in Economy Class. The seating was quite comfy and the cabin decoration was pleasant for long haul flights. E-BOX IFE system with touch-screens together with paid Wi-Fi connections were offered. There were a wide variety of video and audios in E-BOX, while I particularly loved the live TV feature where BBC, CNN, NHK, etc, were available in 40,000 ft. USB and AC power in-lets were available on their A332. I believed that the aircraft received refurbishment not long ago.
Cabin view of A332
E-BOX AVOD system and the seat-back amenitiesIn-flight Catering
They had snack-and-drink service after departure followed by a hot dinner with three choices of entree. I picked beef with rice in Arabic style, which was nice yet not the best. They also offered breakfast service before arrival at AUH, with a choice between cup noodles and pastry with lamb. In fact, this arrangement was quite welcomed by the passengers, especially the mainland Chinese guests. They enjoyed to have cup noodles a lot.
Dinner served after departure: Beef with Rice in Arabic Style
Breakfast served before arrival: Lamb Ratatouille Arabic PastryConnection at AUH
Our flight arrived at the gate in the newer Terminal 3. The environment in T3 (air-bridge gates) was quite nice, having comfortable seats for passengers to have rest waiting for the next leg. It was not too crowded even at AUH's mid-night peak. However, the experience was quite inconsistent in their aging T1, where my flight to CMN departed from. There were actually more shops and cafes. However, it was too cramped.
Te icon view of AUH T1Flight Information
Date: 6 Oct 2017
Origin: Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)
Destination: Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport (CMN)
Aircraft Type: Airbus A340-642
Aircraft: A6-EHJ (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix livery)
I'm lucky enough to be a passenger on this Grand Prix A346In-flight Experience
Etihad offered similar amenities on their Airbus A346 as A332. Yet, USB and AC power in-lets were not available. The seats were again very comfortable. No complaints as long as they gave me an A346!
Passengers were boarding the plane
Seats in coachIn-flight Catering
They began with express snack service quickly after take-off on this 8-hour red-eye flight. The express snack packs included apple slices, some breads and a bottle of drinking water. Before descent into Casablanca, they offered a hot breakfast service, with a choice of scrummed eggs or vanilla bread. Most passengers chose the former one, as the latter one didn't look impressive.
Express Snack Bag distributed after take-off
Hot breakfast offered before arrival to CMN: Scrummed eggs with sausage and baked beans
Approaching CasablancaArrival at CMN
Nice angle to view this super-stretch
Our flight was assigned to the remote bay. It was a nice arrangment to me as I could have a close look of the A346. There were only a limited number of air-bridges and almost all of them were assigned to Royal Air Maroc (RAM). CMN was reported by other travellers as a unpleasant airport, but my experience in arrival was fair. The immigration and baggage claim was the most efficient, but still acceptable.Overall Comments on Catering Service
I very appreciated the catering service delivery, which was quick and efficient. Passengers could have a long sleep between the meal services. The food was not the best, but still good. The portion might be a bit small for some of you, but I thought it was okay for night-flying. They also provided self-service drinks bar in the galley, but snack was absent. It was acceptable in an eight-hour flight.Bottom Line
I was very happy to fly with Etihad Airways, especially on their A346 (I was worrying that they would change it to A333 in last-minute. But fortunately, they didn't!). To be honest, their in-flight products and services, as well as their hub hardware, were not as good as their award-winning competitor Qatar Airways. I hope everything would improve after their new terminal commencement, and more state-of-the-art aircraft coming into service (of course I liked their oldies
, but from the views of ordinary passengers). I would still recommend Etihad especially they often offered very good bargains!