Melbourne to Abu Dhabi.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Etihad Guest, with miles also able to be redeemed on airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, South African Airways and American Airlines.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?
Economy, seat 33C
Thirteen hours, 19 minutes from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi, UAE.
THE SEAT STUFF
31.5-33-inch pitch. The seat slides forward and lies back. It's a 3-4-3 layout for 384 Coral economy class seats.
Checked baggage up to 30 kilograms, one piece of carry on, up to 7 kilograms.
All seats have personal video screens, with 100 movies and 200 TV titles, 16 on-board radio channels, 400 music albums and 60 games. We are able to watch the Argentina-Netherlands World Cup semi-final as it unfolds due to a live sport TV feature. There is in-flight Wi-Fi and mobile service at a cost.
Squeezy, with two very narrow aisles running through most of this economy cabin. Attendants call out "Watch your elbows" as they pass with trolleys. The final five rows, 41-45, have two window-side seats rather than the three further up. If seeking an aisle, snaffle one back here, unless you enjoy things that go bump in the night. A lot. Five hours into our flight, just as we're settling to sleep, the cabin lights come on full bore. The attendant comes by with a soft drinks service trolley and when I ask why the lights are on, she explains they came on because the cabin was too dark for her. Bonus: Etihad gives economy passengers an eye mask, ear plugs and toothbrush and paste. There's a universal power point for each passenger but the combination of slide-back seat and cramped room means it's impossible to have a laptop open on the table when the seat in front is fully reclined. During the post-breakfast toilet rush, a request to replenish toilet paper in an aft loo is met with, "We can't get any. It's up the front and we can't get past the service trolleys." I suggest maybe someone could pass the toilet roll from one side of the trolley to the other and that toilet paper is a basic customer requirement. To no avail.
Very busy, not particularly attentive or friendly.
Dinner looks promising on the menu: entree of Moroccan spiced chickpea salad with cucumber and tomato vinaigrette; main choices: Moroccan beef tagine slow braised beef with courgettes and Arabic cous cous; roast chicken with mushroom and leek sauce, vegetable medley and roasted potatoes; and a vegetarian option of nasi goreng. Sorry to say I can't detect any spice in the chickpea. It tastes straight out of the can. My chicken choice is not much more appetising. I skip most of it. Breakfast is a pleasant surprise, the scrambled eggs tasty and fluffy, accompanied by a nice chicken sausage, mushrooms and tomatoes. (The lunch meal on our second leg, Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam, was a whole lot better.)
ONE MORE THING
The crew offers one glass of wine with dinner, but no pre-meal or follow-up drinks service. Same goes for morning coffee.
Etihad Airways has won many awards. This experience of its Coral economy cabin did not live up to the hype.