Etihad Is Now A Skytrax 5 Star Rated Airline

Etihad has just become the 9th 5 star Skytrax airline. They have made a video about getting the rating, it can be found below.

As I said Etihad is the 9th airline to join the list and it’s quite surprising because they left Skytrax in 2014, but congrats to them. Thier rebranding and change of service has helped them immensely.

It’s pretty hard to be this!

It’s pretty hard to beat this! © Zac George

 

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Etihad receiving a painting of their A380 © Etihad Airways

 

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Etihad receiving their Skytrax award © Etihad Airways

As an Etihad fan, I am very happy for them and they truly deserve to become part of the small group.

This was the previous list.

All Nippon Airways (Star Alliance)
Asiana Airlines (Star Alliance)
Cathay Pacific (Oneworld)
EVA Air (Star Alliance)
Garuda Indonesia (SkyTeam)
Hainan Airlines.
Qatar Airways (Oneworld)
Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)

screenshot-2016-10-13-16-37-18

One thing I’m interested to know is how does Emirates feel knowing their two biggest competitors are on the list, I’m sure that they want to be there.

Bottom Line

I’m very happy for Etihad to become 5 star rated and truly believe they deserve it, good job Etihad!

Coming Up – Virgin Australia Long Haul Business Class + More!

A few days ago I received an invite to an event in the U.S, and of course, I said I’d love to attend! Now came the hard part deciding how I’d get over there.

Virgin Australia New Business Class

Virgin Australia New Business Class

Virgin Australia New Business Class

At first, I looked at Virgin Australia’s website and well behold there was business class availability exactly when I needed to go which surprised me as it was quite a few weeks out, so I booked it immediately for 95,500 velocity points.

I’ve flown the product a few times now domestically, but now I’ll be able to test it long haul.

American Airlines 787-9 Business Class

While I’m In the U.S I hopefully requalify for Qantas platinum while the ability to do so is still there. I looked at the flights and saw that one of the legs will be operated by one of American Airlines’s new 787-9 aircraft featuring their brand new B/E Super Diamond seat which I am very excited to compare to VA’s.

American Airlines B/E Diamond Seat

American Airlines B/E Diamond Seat

Etihad 787 First Class

 

cs_etihad_787_fc_00

Etihad 787 First Class

 

And lastly to get home, I decided to go a bit crazy and book flights that made the journey even longer and because I’m a diehard Etihad fan I’m sure you can guess who I chose to fly home 😉 These 2 flights were booked with a mixture of AAdvantage miles and Etihad Guest miles transferred from Amex.

I’ve flown Etihad first many times now but never on their 787, so I’m very excited to try it.

 

On top of these, there will be a lot more posts and reviews so there will not be a shortage anytime soon.

Bottom Line

I’m very excited to try all of these products and review them. I’ve decided to improve my efficiency and uploading to be faster so hopefully I can get them out within a few hours of taking the flights.

Etihad Gets New First Class Amenity Kits

Etihad has unveiled their new first class amenity kits that will be added to all current A380 routes (London, New York, Sydney Melbourne and Mumbai) and will eventually be rolled out fleet-wide by early 2017.

Below are the new designs:

Etihad First Class Amenity Kits

Etihad New First Class Amenity Kits

Etihad has chosen to go with fashion designer Christian Lacroix and Hungarian skincare brand, Omorovicza replacing their previous Le Labo which I found to be awesome.

Etihad Le Labo First Class Amenity Kit

Etihad Le Labo First Class Amenity Kit

“The new kits perfectly balance fashion and style with beauty and wellbeing,” said Calum Laming, Etihad Airways’ vice president guest experience. “By forging partnerships with these two innovative lifestyle brands, we are once again able to demonstrate Etihad Airways’ continuous commitment to first class travel, and to providing unparalleled experiences at every phase of our guests’ journey with us.”

The kits come both in a women’s and men’s style and contents vary.

Etihad New First Class Men’s Amenity Kit

Etihad New First Class Men’s Amenity Kit

 

Etihad New First Class Women’s Amenity Kit

Etihad New First Class Women’s Amenity Kit

The bags contain four anti-ageing and rejuvenating items by Omorovicza, hand-picked from the brand’s ‘Gold’ collection. The anti-inflammatory gold in the luxurious creams, serums, oils and scrubs heals micro-damage and strengthens mature skin, and also achieves maximum efficacy with only pure ingredients and no harmful agents

The inflight essential products include a perfecting lip balm that soothes and nourishes dehydrated lips; a facial moisturiser with cooling gel-cream that absorbs instantly and provides long-lasting hydration; a nourishing, lightly scented hand treatment; and a refreshing cleansing wipe.

Bottom Line

I’m quite impressed with the new kits but always loved the original Le Labo products. I’m flying Etihad first again in a few weeks so I’ll grab some and might do a giveaway.

How To Fly Etihad First Apartments From/To Australia With Points

Without a doubt, my favourite product I’ve flown is Etihad’s first class apartments on their A380. I’ve done the product 4 times now, and I thought I’d share how you can fly this amazing product.

What points to use?

AAdvanatge

Despite the devaluation this year American Airlines AAdvantage miles are still very valuable. American charge 100,000 points one-way from Australia. It used only to be 60,000.. oh how I miss those days.

Virgin Australia

Velocity charges a massive 203,000 points one-way for Etihad first class. On top of that, they now charge a $300USD seating fee. Sadly Velocity points aren’t the best value for Etihad redemptions anymore.

Etihad Guest

Etihad’s own program ‘Guest’ charge 103,521 points one-way for first class. They also charge a $285AUD booking fee.

Searching for Availability 

To search for Etihad first class availability, it’s best to use the Etihad availability search.

screenshot-2016-09-19-10-24-24

Etihad is very unpredictable with availability, however, most of the time you’ll see space generally from 24 hours before departure up to 5 days out. Although sometimes they do release space a few weeks or even months out so it’s worth keeping and eye on.

screenshot-2016-09-14-20-27-30

You want to make sure you find “Guest First” seats as these are at a saver level. AA and VA can only book Guest First however if you’re using Etihad Guest you can book normal “First.”

The 777 will often have a lot more availability than the A380 as it’s not in high demand and nowhere near as popular as the A380.

To book these redemptions you have to ring AAdvantage and Velocity but if you’re using Etihad Guest, you can book online. Note: The AAdvanatge Australia centre often can get more Etihad awards than the others for some strange reason.

AAdvantage – 02 9101 1948

Velocity – 136 789

Once you book your tickets, you’ll receive both an AA and EY reservation code or record locator. The AA one will let you change or cancel your ticket and the EY one will enable you to select seats, meals, etc. Sadly award tickets can not use the chauffeur service anymore.

And once you’ve booked your ticket now you have to do the hard part, Wait 😉 The excitement is incredible.

Etihad A380 Apartment

Etihad A380 Apartment – Image – Zac George

And if you’re flying out of Abu Dhabi you can enjoy the new stunning first class lounge!

Etihad First Class Lounge Image

Etihad First Class Lounge Image – Zac George

Bottom Line

Etihad apartments are fantastic, It is worth every point you spend on the redemption. The whole experience Is great from the moment you check-in to the arrival at your destination.

Australia To Abu Dhabi On Sale In Business And Economy

As you might have seen by my latest post Cheap San Fransisco Flights the Australian dollar hasn’t been performing well especially for traveling to the USA, However it’s the opposite situation for travel to Europe, Asia and the Middle east.

Etihad is currently having a sale for travel to Abu Dhabi in both Business and Economy.

Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne/Perth – Abu Dhabi for $AUD 999 Roundtrip

Sydney/Melbourne – Abu Dhabi for $4999 Roundtrip

All fares must be booked by August 14th and you can travel any dates from August 2nd till the 23rd of May 2017.

Fine Print courtesy of the Etihad website:

1. The fares mentioned above are ‘starting from’ fares and are valid for booking between 1 August – 14 August 2016.
2. The fare levels quoted above are all-inclusive Economy Class and Business Class fares from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth to Abu Dhabi. These are special fares and are subject to availability.
3. Fares are inclusive of applicable taxes, the break down will be shown during the online booking process. Fares are correct at the time of publication; however, the levels may vary based on fluctuations in the tax amount.
4. Valid visas and travel documents are the responsibility of our guests.
5. Please check the individual fare rules for detailed terms and conditions.
6. Blackout dates for inbound travel are from 16 – 23 December, 2016 and 02 – 27 January, 2017.
7. The airport taxes are subject to change without prior notice and will be confirmed at the time of booking.
8. Weekend surcharges may apply.
9. A380 services will incur an additional surcharge.
10. Other terms and conditions apply.

All flights are operated by older 777-300ER aircraft which feature Etihad’s older business product. I recently flew it to Melbourne and found it comfortable but the A380 is miles ahead.

I would also recommend to fly out of Melbourne instead of Sydney to utilise the brand new lounge which is very impressive.

Etihad 777-300ER

Etihad 777-300ER

Summary 

This is a fantastic deal for people wanting to travel to the middle east, Etihad have some fantastic connections all around the world so this is great if you’re wanting to also visit Europe.

Review – Etihad A340 First Class Tokyo Narita To Abu Dhabi

As you can probably tell by now I am heavily obsessed with Etihad Airways. I’ve flown them 6 times in first and business all on their A380 and 787 however I hadn’t flown their older first class product or an A340 before so this was a perfect opportunity.

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

Booking

For this flight I used 60,000 AAdvantage miles. To find Etihad availability you go to Etihad Guest Availability Search. The seats you want to look for are ‘Guest Seats’. All Etihad redemption through American Airlines have to be done over the phone. If the agent can’t find it on the phone ring the Australian line on 02 9101 1948, For some strange reason the Australian line can find more Etihad first award space than others.

Etihad Guest Availability

Etihad Guest Availability

Lounge

For premium passengers Etihad uses the ANA business class lounge. Interestingly first class passengers cannot use the ANA first lounge.

The lounge was very crowded as all premium passengers on ANA, various Star Alliance airlines and Star Alliance gold members use the lounge.

I made my way to the gate to then find out we were delayed by 30 minutes. As I looked out the window I noticed the A340-600 operating my flight was the Formula 1 livery which looks amazing!

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

A6-EHJ Formula 1 Livery

Soon after boarding started the excitement was getting pretty high. At check-in I checked the loads and saw I was the only passenger booked in First which was pretty cool however 3 more passengers arrived in the cabin just as the doors were about to close.

I was given seat 1A which I was very happy with.

Suite 1A

Suite 1A

As I sat down the cabin service manager Belinda came around and welcomed me onboard and introduced the crew who would be looking after me.

IFE Screen

IFE Screen

As with every first class flight on Etihad you get a welcome tray with dates, a hot towel and a signed welcome letter. A few minutes later the menu’s were handed out.

Dates, Hot Towel and Welcome Letter

Dates, Hot Towel and Welcome Letter

Etihad also provide Pyjamas, Slippers and a Le Labo styled Amenity kit.

The ottoman storage can hold my 22’’ suitcase and still has a lot of room to move around.

Underseat Storage

Underseat Ottoman Storage

The suite also has a minibar. The minibar drinks are warm not chilled, so it’s basically a storage compartment for water.

Minibar

Minibar

Etihad provide noise cancelling headphones however I prefer to use my personal Bose headsets.

Etihad Headphones

Etihad Headphones

In Seat Power, IFE Controller

In Seat Power, IFE Controller

Light Controls Panel

Light Controls Panel

Seat Controls Panel

Seat Controls Panel

Each suite has sliding doors providing maximum privacy for passengers in first class. Interestingly these type of suites are fitted on 777-200LR, 777-300ER, A340-600/500 and selected A330 aircraft.

Coat Storage

Coat Storage

Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors

Closed Suite

Closed Suite

Mood Lighting

Mood Lighting

As our takeoff was at night I wasn’t able to grab good departure photo’s so I’ll skip to the dinner service.

Inflight Menu’s:

À LA CARTE – FROM THE GRILL – TASTE OF JAPAN – ALL DAY DINE – JAPANESE BREAKFAST – CHEESE – DESSERT – DESSERT WINE

Alcohol list. (Sorry for the Japanese menu, that what they handed me)

To start off I was given a tray containing Arabic coffee, Mixed nuts, Olives and Vegetables. I also had a ginger ale.

Arabic Coffee, Dates, Mixed Nuts, Olives And Vegetables

Amuse-Bouche

Amuse-Bouche

Spicy Arabic Bean And Tomato Soup

Spicy Arabic Bean And Tomato Soup

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin

Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin

Dessert Taster

Strawberry And Chocolate Ice-cream

Strawberry And Chocolate Ice-cream

After the beautiful food I wanted to get some sleep and the crew came and made the bed.

I managed to get around 9 hours of sleep which I was very happy with. Considering the age of the seat it’s extremely comfortable and find it on par with the bed in the A380 apartments. I woke around 2 o’clock and didn’t really feel like eating but ordered something just to fill me up slightly.

Scrambled Eggs

One thing I love with mood lighting is the LED stars. They may be hard to see in the photo but it’s a pretty cool effect.

LED Stars

LED Stars

IMG_3862

I love the windows in the bathroom, what a view!

I was surprised at the size of the bathroom, it’s quite spacious and a lot of space to move around if need be.

Sink

In first Etihad offer my favourite amenity brand Bergamote 22. I absolutely love the product and always keep the small tubes included in the amenity kits.

Unfortunately the flight was faster than usual and our decent started as I finished taking pictures of the washroom. At 3 in the morning there isn’t too much to see in Abu Dhabi however I do love looking out at the lights and seeing how different the scenery is to other cities I’ve flown into. As we arrived in Abu Dhabi we taxied to a hard stand as gates were taken. I was hoping for a BMW tarmac transfer which they do sometimes for first passengers, platinum and exclusive members however not this time.

The best thing about the hard stand is the view, what an amazing aircraft!

Summary 

I absolutely loved my time on the A340 and cannot wait for another opportunity to fly on one. I was very satisfied with the onboard service by the crew and how comfortable the seat was. I find Etihad to be constantly consistent and amazing in first class.