Etihad Airbus A320 Business Class : Colombo to Abu Dhabi EY265
I've only ever flown Etihad the one time before this trip, and that was in first class from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne last year. On my recent trip to the USA I decided to take advantage of a triple miles offer and fly Etihad business class. The first leg of the Etihad ticket started in Colombo. Flight EY265 is one of two daily A320 flights to Abu Dhabi. Competitor Emirates run a B777-300ER on their flight to Dubai, a significantly larger aircraft with a much bigger seat. However, since the flight is only around 4 hours I was fine to be on one of Etihad's 'regional' birds.
Despite hearing rumours that Colombo airport wasn't too great I found it quite hassle free, Etihad has a dedicated counter for those travelling in business:
Since my ticket had a 11 hour transit in Abu Dhabi I asked for my bags to only be checked through as far as there. I planned to use the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi airport to get some rest along the way. This did seem to raise some suspicions with the check-in agent and in fact the supervisor was called over. I was questioned as to whether I intended to fly onwards to New York with this ticket, I suppose they suspected I was using 'throw away ticketing', but I had every intention to fly the whole ticket and when I explained my schedule the supervisor approved the 'short check' of the bags. After a lot of head wobbling and discussion amongst the check in staff my boarding passes were eventually printed and bags tagged. Priority tags were added and we were sent on our way.
Immigration and passport control were quite pain free and it wasn't too long before I was settled in the 'Araliya Lounge'. A very simple facility with basic chairs, but at least the beer was cold:
Most of the other passengers were on a Jet Airways flight to India, scheduled to depart a short time before our flight to Abu Dhabi. Eventually the Etihad flight was called to board and we headed to the gate. The security check is done at each individual gate in Colombo, and it was a quick and easy process. Before long we were on board in seats 2D and 2F. Here's a few shots of the cabin:
As far as A320 seating in business class goes, this is one of the better products. The leg room/seat pitch is quite generous and the seats very comfortable. The colour scheme I found pleasing to the eye. The seats had pillows and lovely plush blankets with leather headrests. The controls are fully electronic and include a fairly nice foot and leg rest that extends out. The AVOD screen pops out of the centre arm rest.
|Looking across at a Sri Lankan A330 - our A320 is a newer one with sharklets on the wings|
A fairly simple three course dinner was on offer for this flight with a choice of 2 starters, 3 mains and 2 desserts. A full bar was available and the Champagne on offer on this regional business class flight was 'Lallier', not one of the more prestigious brands I don't think.
The crew came around with hot towels presented on nice metal trays and a selection of non alcoholic drinks. I had a refreshing mint drink.
The flight was quite full but we managed to depart the gate 7 minutes ahead of schedule at 9.08pm. We were soon speeding down the runway and into the tropical night sky. During the climb the seat belt sign was initially turned off and service briefly commenced, however we soon encountered some fairly significant turbulence as we passed through an area of stormy weather. The crew and all passengers remained seated as we spent about 15 to 20 minutes passing through the area. I don't enjoy turbulence and I was very pleased when we eventually found some clear air.
I pulled out the AVOD 'Ebox' screens and browsed through the menu's. The screens are a good size and fairly good quality. There is a fairly extensive selection of movies and tv shows to choose from.
The tray table comes out of the other arm rest, where the seat controls are also located:
|Seat Controls - Tray Table|
Then the meal service started. For this flight the starter and main came on the same tray. In the photo below you will see the arabic mezze plate served in a bowl at the top of the tray, and my choice of main being the chicken mandi:
The food was quite tasty, and the bread roll was particularly nice. It came with both butter and a balsamic vinegar with oil. The dessert was offered and I had the mango mousse cake. It tasted ok but seemed a little 'cheap'.
My travelling companion opted for the fruit plate instead:
All in all we were both happy with the food quantity and taste. The service on board was also friendly and we got regular top ups of wine during the meal. I don't recall much of the rest of the flight, as I dozed off after a particularly long day of sight seeing around Colombo. The next thing I heard was the captain announcement of our descent into Abu Dhabi. Despite the fact that the seat is only a recliner I managed some pretty solid sleep.
Soon enough we made our midnight approach and landing in Abu Dhabi, parking at a remote stand at 00.03am. It was good to see business class passengers shown to a dedicated bus and transferred to the terminal ahead of those in economy class. That is something Thai Airways should replicate since they insist on using remote stands so often.
|Our A320 having a rest|
Fortunately the arrivals hall was pretty quiet and we were soon through and on our way to the Premier Inn for a rest before the next flight, a B787-9 ride to Washington!