Trip Report: Etihad Airways (B787-9) Business Studio AUH-MLE

The Details

  • Flight: EY278
  • Aircraft: B787-9
  • Class: Business Studio
  • Seats: 6A and 8A
  • Route: Abu Dhabi International (AUH)-Male Velana International (MLE)
  • Distance: 1,929 miles
  • Flight time: 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Departure: 1:33AM
  • Arrival: 5:29AM

The Preflight

After arriving from Chicago onboard EY150, my significant other and I had about an eight hour layover. We spent the majority of the time in the transit hotel but with two hours until boarding, we made our way to the Etihad Business Class Lounge.

Due to COVID-19, Etihad has significantly cutback their route network and limited the number of flights. Therefore, the lounge was eerily deserted when we were there.

Roughly half of the seats were blocked with signs to promote social distancing.

While all of the buffets have been closed, there was still an open bar staffed with masked bartenders.

There was also a barista staffed espresso machine.

Due to COVID-19, Etihad has removed all of the buffets in the lounge. Instead, there was an area were a selection of food was available to pick out. Lounge staff would retrieve the food we selected and then plate it on a tray for us.

Cold options included yogurt, fruit salad, cheese, Arabic Mezzeh, lettuce salad, orzo and bean salad, and tuna salad. Dessert choices included sbrisolona, Arabic sweets, and chocolate cake. There was also a variety of packaged bread.

Hot food choices included saag paneer, fish mandi, stir fried noodles, lamb boukari, and pan fried chicken. The two soups were harirra soup and chicken barley soup.

I had the Arabic Mezzeh with the lamb boukari and a cheese plate. The food was excellent and very flavorful. My significant other had the mixed fruit and chicken barley soup which she enjoyed.

At 12:20AM we left the lounge and made our way to the gate area. Our B787-9 carrying us down to the Maldives today, registration A6-BLK, was leased from BBAM by Etihad and delivered brand new in January 2017. She was painted in the “Choose Japan” livery.

Boarding began promptly at 12:40AM and was done via door 2L.

The Seat

Etihad currently has two cabin configurations onboard their B787-9s. One configuration offers a first class cabin in addition to a business class and economy class cabin. The other configuration only has business and economy class. Our Dreamliner today was one of the latter with 28 business and 271 economy seats. The 28 business class seats were all located in a single cabin between doors 1 and 2.

Unlike on our previous flight, this time my significant other and I opted to select window seats so that we could get some views of the Maldives upon landing. The Business Studio seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration that alternate between forward and rear facing.

The even numbered window seats are closer to the windows and forward facing while the odd numbered seats are closer to the aisle and rear facing.

Designed by Zodiac and Stelia, the Business Studio seats are 22 inches wide and offer 73 inches of pitch.

There was a ton of space at the seat for me to stretch out.

The inflight entertainment screen was large, fast, and responsive.

Below the screen was the large footwell which had the bedding and a menu.

I personally love the Business Studio footwell which is massive. The length of the footwell was more than enough to accommodate my five foot ten inches frame. The height of the footwell was also more than enough to fit my size 11 feet.

Below the footwell was a small storage space perfect for shoes.

I appreciated how the seat was designed and all of the seat features were in convenient locations.

Directly adjacent to the IFE screen was a coat hook. Below was where the tray table was stowed.

The tray table was a large sturdy single leaflet which could be pushed forward and pulled backwards.

There was a large tabletop space to the right of the seat. This was also where the seat controls, IFE remote, and two USB ports were located.

The seat control monitor was touchscreen and had options to adjust recline, lumbar support, firmness, and forward/backward movement. The window shade could also be adjusted from this screen.

The IFE remote also doubled as a second screen.

Below the tabletop were buttons that controlled two pre-set seat positions, the reading light, and cushion firmness.

I found the entrance to the seat a bit narrow but still easy to enter and exit the seat. One thing I found to be lacking was any sort of privacy divider to shield me from other passengers. If I turned my head, I could see all the way down the row to other other side of the aircraft.

Right next to the seat was a stylish mood lamp.

At the top was the reading light.

The armrest doubled as the top of a storage bin. There was also a literature pocket in front of the bin. Directly below the armrest was the headphone hack and a small bin which I used to store my glasses.

Within the storage bin was a deep bin, shallow bin, and a thin deep bin.

On the floor was the universal power outlet.

The Flight

Immediately upon boarding, we were greeted by our super friendly flight attendant who offered us either water, orange juice, lemon mint juice, or champagne. I had the super refreshing lemon mint juice.

Once the predeparture beverages were served, our flight attendant came by with a bottle of water.

Five minutes later another flight attendant came through the cabin with a tray of headphones, Wellness kits, and menus.

These headphones were identical to the ones we had on our previous flight. I found them to be comfortable for the short four hour flight down do Male.

No amenity kits were distributed on this flight. However, each passenger was given a Wellness Kit which included a face mask, gloves, snood, and sanitizing gel.

The pillow and blanket came in a sealed plastic bag.

The pillow was fairly basic but comfortable.

The blanket was warm and comfortable as well. No mattress pads were provided.

Once we were settled into the seats, our flight attendant came by to take our breakfast orders.

Boarding was completed just 20 minutes after we got on the plane as the aircraft was probably only 30% full. The doors were closed but then we sat at the gate for about 10 minutes. Our captain then came over the intercom to announce that our departure was delayed due to paperwork. Finally at 1:33AM, we pushed back and taxied towards runway 31L.

The taxi took about 10 minutes and at 1:44AM we were on our way towards the Maldives.

Forty minutes after takeoff, the table was set for breakfast. The food was all served on one tray along with my cappuccino.

I went with the delicious foul medames with manakish, sumac labneh, and halloumi. It was served with a side of fresh fruit, mango yogurt, and a warm croissant.

My significant other had the cheese omelet with mushrooms and potatoes. She asked that the flight attendant prepare her breakfast without the chicken sausage.

She also had pancakes topped with a tasty berry syrup.

Once we finished breakfast, I watched the air show as we passed over the tip of Oman and made our way into the Arabian Sea.

There were two forward lavatories on the Etihad B787-9 and they were kept immaculate by the flight attendants.

Amenities included some sanitizing gel and Acqua di Parma branded soap.

Since Etihad Airways does not offer turndown service, I made my own bed before trying to take a nap.

I also turned on the “Do Not Disturb” light which highlighted my seat number.

I tossed and turned for an hour and a half before giving up and deciding to watch the stunning sunrise over the Indian Ocean.

Just as we began our initial descent into Male, I had an Americano to enjoy with the view of the ocean.

It was served with a small chocolate cookie.

As we neared Male, the various atolls and islands came into view.

The cabin was prepped for landing about 45 minutes out and we began our final descent at around 5:18AM local time.

I had a great view of downtown Male just as we touched down on runway 36.

After landing we had a six minute taxi to the remote stands. Deplaning was done via air stairs and there was a dedicated air conditioned bus for business class passengers.

Thanks for the ride!

Once we pulled into the immigration building, all passengers received a temperature scan. Prior to departing Abu Dhabi we had filled out the Health Declaration Form which also required us to upload a copy of our negative COVID-19 PCR tests. This greatly facilitated the immigration process since the officer simply scanned our passports and stamped them immediately before letting us enter the Maldives.

Trip Report: Etihad Airways (B787-9) Business Studio ORD-AUH

The Details

  • Flight: EY150
  • Aircraft: B787-9
  • Class: Business
  • Seat: 9E and 9F
  • Route: Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)-Abu Dhabi International (AUH)
  • Distance: 7,686miles
  • Flight Time: 13hrs 11min
  • Departure: 7:09PM
  • Arrival: 5:40PM (+1)

The Preflight

This trip was the first time that my significant other and I would be travelling internationally since the COVID-19 pandemic started 14 months ago. We were both super excited but also a bit anxious due to all of the travel restrictions in place around the world.

Our final destination, the Maldives, required a negative COVID-19 PCR test with 72 hours of departure, proof of tourist accommodations and return tickets, as well as a health declaration form that we had to fill out within 24 hours of departure. We spent the previous three days scrambling to get our tests and making sure we had all of our requirements completed before arriving at the airport.

We decided to get to O’Hare three hours before our scheduled departure time in anticipation of long lines at check-in for document checks but found the check-in area fairly empty. Check-in took about 10 minutes with the agent verifying all of our documents and ensuring we were cleared to fly into the Maldives.

We both had TSA PreCheck and quickly made our way down the lines to the deserted security checkpoint.

Etihad Airways offers their premium class passengers access to the Air France/KLM Lounge at O’Hare which is also part of Priority Pass. To say that this was an average lounge is an understatement. It was terrible.

The lounge was one long room that lacked restrooms (the nearest one was outside in the terminal).

All of the windows were covered by black boards and the lounge had zero natural light. Half of the power outlets did not work and the tables were packed very close together.

Drinks options included various canned juices, sparkling water, Coke products and tonic water. Alcohol options included beer, rose, chardonnay, and sparkling wine. Cold food items included sandwiches, carrots, yoghurt, and fruit cups. There was also a self-serve espresso machine.

Other snack options included chips and bars.

Hot food choices included cup noodles and oatmeal.

There were also three types of red wine and various liquors.

My significant other and I spent a good hour and a half in the lounge which thankfully had fast Wi-Fi before making deciding to walk around the terminal a bit before boarding was scheduled to begin.

Our flight was aboard one of Etihad’s B787-9s, registration A6-BLI. She was delivered brand new back in July 2016 and was painted in the “Choose Saudi Arabia” livery.

Boarding began promptly at 6:15PM an hour before our scheduled departure time of 7:15PM. All passengers used door 2L for boarding.

Gate agents verified our PCR test again and also incorporated facial recognition in the boarding process.

The Seat

Etihad currently has two configurations onboard their B787-9s. One configuration features eight first class seats in addition to 28 business and 199 economy seats. The other configuration only has 28 business and 262 economy seats. Our aircraft was the later type and the 28 business class seats were all in one cabin between doors 1 and 2.

The Business Studio seats designed by Zodiac and Stelia are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. The window seats alternate being close to the aisle or window while the seats closer to the aisle also face backwards.

The center seats alternate between being closer to the middle or the aisle. We were seated in row 9 which meant our two seats were closer together in the middle while also facing forward.

The seat itself was very roomy and had an excellent amount of space.

The touchscreen inflight entertainment screen was built into the seatback in front. The definition and responsiveness were excellent.

Below the screen was the massive foot cubby. This pictures doesn’t really do the size of the foot cubby justice but I had more than enough room to lie flat completely straight (I’m 5 foot 10 inches for reference).

Below the footwell was a small storage space perfect for shoes.

Right next to the entertainment screen was a coat hook.

Below the coat book was where the tray table was stored. It popped out when the release latch at the bottom was pulled.

The tray table was absolutely massive although it was a single piece instead of a bi-fold.

Closer to the aisle was the table top space.

The table top surface area very large. Built into the wall was a mirror that also double as the seat controls, a remote with screen, and two USB ports.

The seat control options included the ability to adjust recline, forward movement, lumbar support, firmness. There was also a massage function. At the seat there were also a total of four separate lights which could have their brightness adjusted as well.

Below the table top were buttons to adjust firmness, toggle the reading flights, as well as two pre-set seat options.

I did feel that the entrance/exit to the seat itself was a bit narrow. In addition, my seat lacked a privacy shield which meant I could fully see the passenger in 9C across the aisle from me.

The seat itself was 22 inches wide and offered a total of 73 inches of sleeping length when fully flat.

Just next to the seat was a beautifully designed mood lamp and a small reading light at the top.

The armrest doubled as the cover to a storage bin and offered additional table top space. There was also a literature pocket.

Inside the storage bin was a deep pocket perfect for headphones and tablets, a shallow pocked and another pocket which fit a water bottle.

Below the armrest was a very small storage bin which I used for my glasses. The headphone jack was also located below.

Just below the literature pocket above the floor was a universal power outlet.

Since we were in the two seats closer together in the middle of the cabin, there was a privacy partition which could be raised and lowered. The bottom half of the partition was rigid and did not create a full double seat (such as like on Qatar’s QSuites).

The Flight

Upon boarding, our flight attendants immediately greeted us and asked if we would like to have water, orange juice, mint tea, or champagne. Each passenger was also provided a wellness kit and an amenity kit.

Due to COVID-19, Etihad has introduced Wellness Kits which include PPE such as a face mask, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a fabric face covering.

There was also a standard Acqua Di Parma branded amenity kit. Contents included a dental kit, eye mask, socks, lip balm, hand cream, and a small cologne sample.

Each passenger was also provided a full sized water bottle.

The Etihad branded headphones came prepackaged and were OK. Not the best quality but still comfortable for the few hours I wore them.

There was also packaged bedding awaiting us at our seats.

The pillow was comfortable but unremarkable.

The comforter was heavy and warm. Unlike other Middle Eastern competitors, Etihad does not provide a mattress pad or additional pillows. In addition, Etihad has also cut pajamas from their business class service.

30 minutes after boarding, our flight attendants came by to take both our dinner and pre-arrival meal orders.

At 6:55PM the captain introduced himself over the intercom and gave a brief overview of our flight. The purser then introduced herself and welcomed all the passengers aboard. She also reinforced the need to have a face covering on at all times throughout the flight.

The boarding door was closed at 7:07PM and we pushed back two minutes later.

The taxi to runway 10L took 20 minutes and finally at 7:29PM we took off. There was a good amount of chop on the climb out from Chicago and service was delayed a full hour.

An hour after takeoff, the table was set for dinner.

The entire meal was served on a single tray including appetizer, main, dessert, and drink. The bread was served warm in a bag and the sides were covered in plastic. To drink I had a glass of the excellent Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut.

There was only one choice of appetizer which was an Arabic Mezze that consisted of hummus, tabbouleh, a stuffed grape leaf, and some olives. For my main I had a delicious lamb machbous with fragrant spices including cardamom and over a bed of tender basmati rice. The only dessert option was a mango cheesecake that was excellent.

My significant other went with the chicken breast served with potato gratin, asparagus, and tomatoes which she liked. The chicken was cooked perfectly and had crispy skin.

After we finished dinner, I decided to watch the air show a bit and then browsed the Etihad entertainment system. They actually had a good selection of both Western and international movies and shows. There was also live TV available.

There were two lavatories just behind the cockpit which business class passengers could use. While not the biggest, I appreciated how the flight attendants kept them clean throughout the flight.

Toiletries included Acqua di Parma branded soap and sanitizing gel.

After using the lavatory, I decided to get some sleep since it was now almost 10PM CST in Chicago. Etihad also does not offer any turn down service as I made the bed myself.

Again, I have to say that I really liked the size of the footwell. My size 11 feet could fit comfortable upright and I did not have to sleep on my side.

I also turned on the “Do Not Disturb” light which underlined the seat number.

As a poor sleeper on most flights, I was surprised to wake up almost six hours later as we passed over Genoa, Italy.

The moment the flight attendant noticed that I was up, she immediately offered me some coffee or tea. I had a black coffee that was served with a cold turkey sandwich, dates, chocolate, and nuts.

I also asked for another water bottle.

For the next three hours, I watched a movie and browsed the live TV channels. I also sneaked a peak out the emergency exit window as we were cruising over Turkey.

Two hours prior to landing, the pre-arrival meal was served. Again there was only one option for a starter and dessert.. The appetizer was a mixed salad with roasted fennel and grilled courgette (zucchini). Dessert was a decadent dulce de leche tart with sea salt caramel sauce and roasted macadamia nuts.

For my main I had the signature Etihad steak sandwich which was excellent. A warm pretzel bun was also provided. To drink, I had both orange juice and a cappuccino.

My significant other had a very fragrant rigatoni pasta with sautéed forest mushrooms in a parmesan cheese sauce.

I watched the airshow for the rest of the flight and wished I could look out the window as we passed over Iraq.

Flight attendants began prepping the cabin for landing 45 minutes prior to landing in AUH. The purser also came over the intercom and announced that the deplaning process would occur one row at a time.

We began our final approach into Abu Dhabi International at 5:26PM local time and landed on runway 31R at 5:40PM. The taxi to gate 60 took just nine minutes and soon we were on our way to security.

Thanks for the ride!

Since we were transiting Abu Dhabi, we made our way to the security screening instead of the immigration.

The security area for transit passengers was completely empty and we were through in under five minutes.

Since our layover in Abu Dhabi was almost eight hours and we could not enter the Emirate due to COVID-19 restrictions, we booked a stay in the transit hotel.

The room was very similar to a standard double room in any hotel. Upon entering there was a luggage rack, coat hangers, and a table with complimentary coffee, tea, and water.

The room itself was large and featured two full size beds. There was also a small table, chair, and television.

The bathroom was well stocked with toiletries, shaving kit, make-up kits, and had a shower with good water pressure.

We ended up both taking a three hour nap and with two hour until boarding was set to begin for our next flight, we headed to the Etihad Business Class Lounge.

Trip Report: Virgin Atlantic (B747-400) Upper (Business) LGW-MCO

The Details

  • Flight: VS27
  • Aircraft: B747-400
  • Class: Upper Class (Business)
  • Seat: 1A and 1K
  • Route: London Gatwick (LGW)-Orlando International (MCO)
  • Distance: 4,349 miles
  • Duration: 9hrs 42min
  • Departure: 10:47AM (delayed 15min)
  • Arrival: 3:02PM

The Preflight

To say that I was excited for this B747 flight would be an understatement. I was positively bursting with excitement as my SO and I made our way from St. James in London to Gatwick International Airport.

We made sure to arrive three hours before the 10:10AM departure in order to take full advantage of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. There was a dedicated check-in area for Upper Class passengers which was packed. It took us about 10 minutes until a counter opened up.

Virgin Atlantic also gives all Upper Class passengers access to the Gatwick Premium Security Lane.

Virgin Atlantic Checkin

We quickly made our way to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse on the upper level of the terminal.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

The front desk staff escorted us to dining area where we were presented with a dining menu. I started off with the Virgin Redhead drink while my SO had a cup of Earl Grey tea.

Virgin Redhead and Earl Grey

Virgin Atlantic offers an expansive breakfast menu including a full afternoon tea set for brunch.

Breakfast Menu
Brunch Menu
Drink Menu

We decided to share the Mile High Brunch which was beautifully presented on a silver tray.

Mile High Tea

While the salmon and truffle scrambled eggs were phenomenal, the cheese scone was cold, and brioche roll a bit dry.

Mile High Brunch

My SO and I both decided to partake in the complimentary spa treatment offered at the Wellness Spa. We both had a refreshing facial which was the second one I have ever had. The very first being in Abu Dhabi.

With 45 minutes to go we made our way to the boarding area. Our bird was the majestic B747-400 “Barbarella” registration G-VROM. She was delivered to Virgin Atlantic in 2001.


No plane is more gorgeous than the Queen of the Skies.


Boarding began promptly at 9:15AM.

The Flight

Virgin Atlantic offers 14 herringbone Upper Class seats in the nose of their 747s. The upper deck features 20 premium economy seats in a 2-2 configuration and 33 economy seats in a 3-3- configuration.

747 Upper Class

Such a beautiful business class cabin.

747 Nose

I was lucky enough to snag the very front seats 6A for myself and 6K for my SO in the nose.


Each herringbone seat offers 78 inches when fully flat and has a width of 22 inches.


The IFE screen and controller popped out from the left side of the seat shell.

The ottoman doubled as a tiny buddy dining seat.

Footwell and buddy seat

Another nose shot…

On the left wall of the seat was the IFE screen, reading light, and drink holder.

IFE Screen

Below the IFE screen was the remote and literature pocket. I am happy to report all of the buttons worked unlike my first class seat aboard Virgin’s competition.

IFE remote

The left hand armrest was adjustable with a small storage space perfect for phones and passports.

Adjustable armrest

Behind the armrest was a bottle holder and large storage area.

Bottle holder

On the right wall of the seat were the controls.

Seat controls

The IFE screen itself was dated and had poor resolution with glare.

I happily touched it…

Touch me

Our flight route from London Gatwick to Orlando.

Moving map

I appreciated that I could have the flight map pulled up while watching a movie.

Double screen

At each seat was an amenity kit made of recycled material. I loved that Virgin Atlantic also gives passengers a stylish pair of socks.

Amenity kit

There was also a pair of standard noise cancelling headphones.


The center piece of the Upper Class cabin was a bar area with two stools. Some chilled champagne and water were available during boarding.

Menus were also presented. The drinks and food options are below.

Predeparture beverages included champagne, water, and orange juice. I had a glass of sparkly.

Predeparture beverage

I had a great view of our neighbor G-VNAP, a A340-600 delivered in 2005.


We pushed back almost 40 minutes late due to dreary weather around the London area and had a brief taxi to the runway. We passed by the awesome Star Wars themed Millennium Falcon Virgin 747.

Millennium Falcon

The ride out was a bit bumpy due to the poor weather. Once we cleared the clouds it was smooth sailing.

Service began with another round of drinks and a small bowl of chips (or crisps).

Champagne and Chips

We passed over some dramatic clouds on our way across the Irish Sea.

I decided to switch over to a Bloody Mary which had a spicy kick.

Bloody Mary

My SO and I decided to dine together at my seat. The flight attendants set up a very stylish dining arrangement.

Dining for two

I loved the salt and pepper shakers.

Salt and pepper shakers

Warmed artisan bread was served next. Options included rye, sourdough, and fig rolls.


To start I had the citrus seared prawns with watermelon salsa. It was incredibly refreshing and the sweet chili lime dressing was excellent.

Citrus seared prawns

For my main I had the Cumberland sausage and mash with some peas, baby carrots, and onion gravy. This dish was excellent and probably the best sausage I have had aboard a plane.

Cumberland sausage

My SO had the seared honey and thyme chicken linguine. It was topped with a delicious pistachio and mint pesto sauce.

Chicken Linguine

We shared the cheese plate featuring a Stilton, Brie, and cranberry cheese.

Cheese plate

I was on a mission to try as much food as I could so I also ordered both of the dessert options. The chestnut and vanilla sponge cake was served alongside a delicious blackcurrant macaron.

Sponge cake and macaron

The chocolate lava cake with anaglaise crème was very decadent.

To finish I had an Americano.

Flight attendants offered a turn down service and set-up our beds. Both the mattress pad and comforter were top quality. My SO decided that she needed an extra pillow and so commandeered mine. The flight attendants went out of their way to try and find me another pillow. They ended up being creative and stuffed two economy pillows into a pillow case.

Upper Class bedding

I had some tea served in a playful mug.

Virgin Atlantic mug

The one quirk of the herringbone seats is that your feet faces the aisle instead of your head. It was definitely weird to stare at my SOs feet while I tried to fall asleep.


During the flight, cabin crew set up the bar area with self-serve drinks. There was also a variety of snacks including chips, chocolate, and fresh fruit.


With about an hour and a half to go until arrival into Orlando my SO and I decided to have some afternoon tea. To start I had the hot smoked salmon in a beetroot wrap and ham hock malted roll. In addition, I had a fresh scone with packaged clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Afternoon Tea

My SO had the patisserie option which included a chocolate and salted caramel éclair and passionfruit and yuzu macaron. Both were very tasty.

In comparing the quality of scones to Virgin’s competitor I’d have to say that British Airways has superior scones.

Afternoon Tea

As we were nearing the coast of Florida I made my way to the lavatory. The window near the galley provided beautiful views of the two CF6-80C2B1F engines.


The Upper Class lavatory was fairly clean and tidy.

There were some incredible views of Kennedy Space Center on our landing path.

Kennedy Space Center

Our landing featured a few clouds with the usual Florida sunshine.

We taxied for a few minutes to Terminal B. I managed to catch this gorgeous shot of the 747 with the blue sky reflecting off her hull. Thanks for the ride!

Any flight aboard a 747 is very special for me and this one was no exception. I loved being able to dine with my SO in Upper Class while also sitting at the very front of the nose of the Queen of the Skies. The food was excellent, service friendly, and overall across the board great experience. Truly, one of the most memorable flights I’ve taken.

Trip Report: Etihad Airways (A380-800) Apartment (First) AUH-LHR

The Details

  • Flight: EY25
  • Aircraft: A380-800
  • Class: Apartment (First)
  • Seat: 3A and 4A
  • Route: Abu Dhabi International (AUH)-London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Distance: 3,432 miles
  • Duration: 8hrs 15min
  • Departure: 11:06AM
  • Arrival: 2:35PM

The Preflight

After spending an amazing New Year Eve night at the W Hotel on Yas Island, my SO and I taxied to the airport at around 06:00AM for our 10:45AM flight on New Years Day.

Check-in was quick and efficient. It took about 20 minutes to get through security as all business and first class passengers were directed to use the general security lanes.

The Etihad First Class Lounge was directly after security. We were pointed to the elevator upstairs by the front door attendant and then greeted warmly by the receptionist. Feeling a bit hungry, we had breakfast first and were immediately seated in the dining area.

Breakfast Menu

Our waiter recommended I have the nasi goreng which tasted authentic. My SO had the pancakes with wild berries (sorry no pictures again!)

Nasi Goreng

All first class passengers are offered a complimentary 15 minute spa treatment at the Six Senses Spa within the lounge. Today was the day that I would get my first facial treatment.

Six Senses Spa

With about 45 minutes to boarding, we made our way to the gate. Our massive A380, registration A6-APG, was delivered to Etihad in 2016.


After a document check, we were invited to the pre-boarding area separate from the general waiting area. All priority boarding passengers were allowed into this smaller seating area.

Waiting Area

Once boarding began at 9:45AM, all first, business class, and elite passengers boarded at the same time. We waited on the jet bridge for about five minutes before stepping onto the plane.

Our plane was beautifully decorated in the special “Choose South Korea” livery.

Choose South Korea

The Flight

The superb purser Drogon greeted us at the door and then personally escorted us to our Apartments.


My Apartment, 3A. =)


The Apartment was simply stunning. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Apartment 3A
Apartment 3A
Apartment 3A

At 30″wide, the seat was more than enough for my SO and I to sit together on.


My SO was seated in 4A which was separated halfway by a wall and there was a divider that could be lowered.

View of 3A from 4A

There was a massive vanity set directly next to the door.


Below the vanity was a 110V outlet and a small tray table with a dedicated cup holder.

Tray Table

There was also a medium sized drawer.


And below that was a chilled minibar stocked with Coke, Sprite, and water bottles.

Directly next to the vanity cabinet was a small storage shelf that popped out.

Storage Shelf

On the wall was the IFE control. Below were two USB ports, HDMI input, and headphone jack.

USB Ports

Beneath the arm rest was an additional seat control panel and deep storage compartment.

There was a literature pocket on the left side with a stylish lamp. The tray table popped out from the armrest on the right side of the seat.

There were electronic window blinds with two separate layers. The second layer was very thick and blocked out all of the bright sun.

Window Blinds

The IFE screen was massive at 24 inches. It was a crisp touch screen.

IFE Screen

Across the seat was a 78 inch long bench that converted into the bed. I sat on my SOs bench later when we dined together.

Below the bench was storage space for carry on luggage.


My standard sized carry on was able to fit below.


Awaiting at each was a pair of Etihad branded headphones. These were OK but not as comfortable as my own pair of Bose headphones.


Our amenity kit, slippers, and pajamas were also waiting for us at the seat.


Etihad’s amenity kit was a large Acqua Di Parma black case. It was stocked with a toothbrush, socks, eyemask, lip balm, hand lotion, and a small vial of eau de cologne. The male and female kits were identical.

Amenity Kit

The pajama set was quite comfortable and light weight.


The slippers were well padded.


There was also a plush blanket at the seat.


For the first class cabin there were two lavatories. One was a large lavatory without a shower. It was stocked with facial mist, hand wash, hand cream, and cleanser.

Large Lavatory

The other lavatory doubled as the shower room.

Shower Bathroom

After Drogon escorted us to our seats, our flight attendant came by and welcomed us aboard. We had a choice of beverages and both selected the 2006 Charles Heidsieck Brut. It was served on a metal tray with a warm towel, olives, and Wi-Fi card.

First class passengers each received 90MB of complimentary Wi-Fi.


Next we were given the wine and beverage menu.

Drogon came by with traditional Arabic coffee served from a Dallah. The coffee was strong.

Arabic Coffee

Vikram, the inflight chef, presented us with the menu. He explained the concept of dine-on-demand and the Chef’s special.

We began our push back on time and the first officer announced our flying time of 7 hours and 39 minutes.


Etihad presents passengers with three different views from outside cameras. There were tail, forward facing, and downward facing cameras.

Tail cam

Takeoff was smooth and we had some hazed views of Abu Dhabi.

The IFE remote had a 4 inch screen.

IFE screen

Each apartment had three large windows. Stunning.

15 minutes after takeoff our flight attendants came by with a a lovely tray of snacks. My SO had a glass of the Charles Heidseik Rose.

I stuck with the Brut. The snacks included mixed nuts, olives, and pickled vegetables.

We decided to have lunch immediately after takeoff. I joined my SO in her seat and our table was set. The table was massive and large enough for both of us to dine comfortably.

Dining Table

Drogon came by with a warm bread basket. I had a crunchy pretzel bread and pita.


To start my SO had the pumpkin soup which she enjoyed.

Pumpkin Soup and Caviar

I had the signature caviar service. The presentation was elegant and a mother of pearl spoon was provided.


There were five blinis which were fluffy.


The garnishes included finely diced red onions, cilantro, Crème Fraiche, and diced boiled egg yolk and egg white.

Caviar garnishes

Next we shared the traditional Arabic mezze. The hot Arabic appetizers included a sambousek (meat pie), two warmed pitas, and a meatball (not sure what it was called).

Hot Appetizers

The cold appetizers included fresh tabbouleh topped with pomegranate, hummus, and muhammara (roasted red pepper dip).

Cold Appetizers

A fresh mango sorbet served as the palette cleanser before the main course.

Mango Sorbet

My SO decided to have the Gremolata Chicken Breast for her main dish. It was served skin-on and over a lentil sauce.

Gremolata Chicken Breast

I went for the Beef Tenderloin. Vikram had asked how well done I would like it and I asked for medium rare.

Beef Tenderloin

It was phenomenal. This was hands down the best piece of meat I’ve been served on-board any flight. Just as good, if not better, than what I’ve had at certain restaurants on the ground.

Medium Rare

Stuffed, we decided to save dessert for later. Our glasses were topped off and we were given another warm towel.

Warmed Towel

A small box of chocolates was also handed out. My SO had both hers and mine; must have been good.


Drogon and our flight attendant then asked if we would like to have our beds turned down. They set up the double bed while we went to change into our pajamas.

Turn down service

We were each given a nice plush large pillow and a smaller pillow. There was a thin mattress topper and a comforter.

Double Bed

In between the beds were additional light controls and a headphone jack. The IFE screen could fold out for viewing while we were in bed.

Light controls

I watched the tail cam while my SO fell asleep pretty quickly.

Tail Cam

The main cabin lights were switched off while the mood lights were turned on.

Mood Lights

Halfway into the flight I had an Americano. It was served with a bowl of mixed cookies.


With about two hours to go until we landed in London, the shower was set up for me.

The shower was stocked with a foot towel and a body towel. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion was also provided.


The dial on the left side indicated how much water was left to use. Each passenger is allotted five minutes worth but the water could be turned off and on. Surprisingly, the water was warmer than expected.

Just as I was about to get undressed we hit a spot of rough air and the captain switched on the seat belt sign. I went outside but the flight attendant said it was OK for me to continue to shower. “Just hold onto the railing!” As I began to shower, the turbulence got worse and the first officer came on the PA and instructed flight attendants to take their seats. At this point I was butt naked but decided to finish showering with one hand on the wall railing….

Shower controls and Amenity

My SO showered after me and afterwards we decided to have our pre-landing snack.

Vikram suggested we share the Beef sliders. These were delicious with crispy fried onions, fresh arugula, Monterrey jack, and a sriracha mayo dressing.

Beef Sliders

We both ordered a dessert. The yoghurt and white chocolate cake topped with berries was great.

Yoghurt and White Chocolate Cake

But the star of the show was the warm date pudding with vanilla crumb and hazelnut crunch. It was warm, gooey, and just the right amount of sweetness.

Warm Date Pudding

With 30 minutes to landing, the flight attendants came through to prepare for landing. Drogon the purser, Vikram the chef, and our flight attendant came by to personally thank us for flying Etihad.

Clouds over london

We were presented with a Fast Track pass for immigration.

Fast Track

We had a very smooth landing and taxied for about 10 minutes before arriving at the gate.


Thanks for the amazing flight Etihad!

Next to our plane was a China Southern B787-8.

China Southern B787-8

This was the most memorable flight I’ve flown on. It was surreal to be able to have a lovely meal sitting across from my SO, cuddle, then have a hot shower at 36,000ft.

Our purser Drogon was extremely friendly and welcoming. Vikram our chef was out of this world. His steak was superb and rivaled steaks on the ground. I am forever thankful to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity and hope that this wasn’t my one and only time aboard the apartments.

Trip Report: Etihad Airways (B777-300ER) Business MUC-AUH

The Details

  • Flight: EY6
  • Aircraft: B777-300ER
  • Class: Business
  • Seat: 13E and 13F
  • Route: Munich (MUC)-Abu Dhabi International (AUH)
  • Distance: 4,585 miles
  • Duration: 6hrs
  • Departure: 10:52AM
  • Arrival: 7:35PM

The Preflight

After arriving on our flight from CLT at 06:30 in the morning at Terminal 1; we had four hours until our next flight departed from Terminal 2 at Munich International Airport. The entire transfer process was sterile and there was an airport shuttle bus that directly linked Terminal 1 and 2.

Etihad Airways partners with Lufthansa so we had access to the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at MUC. It was fairly basic but my SO and I both had a chance to shower and freshen up.

Boarding began promptly at 9:45AM. We boarded in Group 2 after First Class.

Our bird A6-ETO was delivered to Etihad in 2013 and was only six years old.

Etihad B777-300ER

The Flight

Etihad has three versions of the B777-300ER and the version we had featured eight first class seats, 40 business class seats, and 282 economy seats.

The 40 business class seats were arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. The seats are Stelia Solstys seats which I experienced before on Iberia’s A330s. We picked a pair of seats in the middle rows to be closer to one another.


The IFE screen was fixed into the seat in front. There was a spacious footwell below it.

IFE Screen

Below the foot well was a medium sized storage area perfect for shoes.


Next to the seat, was a desk area that had a bottle holder, reading light, literature pocket, and small storage area.

Seat Storage

Below was the IFE control and seat controls.

IFE Remote and Seat Control

To the right of IFE screen was the tray table and a coat hook.

Coat Hook

The tray table was fairly large and sturdy. Unfortunately, if it was folded down I was unable to get out of the seat.

Tray Table

Below was another thin literature pocket, USB port, and 110V outlet.

USB, Outlet

Awaiting us at our seats was a silky smooth pillow in addition to a packaged blanket. The blanket was nice and heavy.


Amenity kit were provided on this flight as well. There was a dental kit, eye mask, vial of cologne, and a small Acqua Di Parma hand lotion.

Amenity Kit

Noise cancelling headphones were also provided. These were inferior to my own pair of Bose headphones.


Upon boarding we were offered a predeparture beverage from a tray. Options included a Lemon and Mint juice, sparkling water, or still water. Warm towels were also handed out.

Lemon Mint Juice

Menus were also placed at our seats. Etihad has a dine-on-demand service which meant we could have anything on the menu anytime during the flight.

We pushed back on time at 10:45AM for the six hour flight down to Abu Dhabi.

Flight Map

To my knowledge, Etihad is one of the few airlines that installed both forward and downward facing cameras on the B777-300ER.

It was awesome to get a forward facing take-off view.

Forward Camera

And also to get a downward facing camera view after takeoff.

Downward Camera

Once we reached 10,000 as signaled by the double chime, flight attendants came through the cabin to hand out bottled water.

Bottled Water

Service began with a beverage service. I had a glass of water served with a small ramekin of cold mixed nuts.

Mixed Nuts

The flight attendant suggested I try the Bellini which I happily tasted. It was very sweet.


To start I had the Arabic Mezze. It was served cold including a cold pita and savory puff pastry. Definitely not as good as Qatar Airway’s Arabic mezze.

Arabic Mezze

While I had elected to eat my meal immediately after take-off, the service was quite slow. I ended up being served my main halfway through the flight with about three hours to go. Flight attendants started from the very front of the cabin and made their way backwards, individually serving each passenger row by row.

The lamb kabsa was flavorful and topped with fried onions and cardamom. However, it was also cold (possibly due to the slow service) and the fried onions had become soggy.

Lamb Kabsa

The flight attendants turned on the mood lighting during the flight. I managed to dose off for about an hour after finishing my meal.

Mood Lighting

With 45 minutes until landing; the cabin lights were turned on and the crew came through to prepare for landing.


It was a treat to watch the entire landing approach on the forward camera. Enjoy!


We deplaned quickly and were through to customs in no time. Thanks for the ride!


This was a perfectly fine business class flight from Germany to the UAE. While I appreciated the concept of “dine-on-demand”, on this flight it back fired and I got some cold, disappointing food due to the extremely slow service. I was a fan of the cameras that Etihad and installed and liked the Solstys seat.

Trip Report: Spirit Airlines (A320neo) Big Front Seat (Business) SAN-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: NK564
  • Aircraft: A320neo
  • Class: Big Front Seat
  • Seat: 2A
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 1,815 miles
  • Duration: 3hrs 52min
  • Departure: 1:40PM
  • Arrival: 7:01PM

The Preflight

I was returning home to Chicago for our dogs 6th birthday after four days family in San Diego for the Christmas holidays. I booked this one way ticket on Spirit with an upgrade to the Big Front Seat and priority boarding (group 2) for less than the price of a economy ticket on either American or United….

Since I collect boarding passes, I paid $10 for airport check-in. 

SAN check-in

Spirit Airlines departs from Terminal 1 at SAN. Terminal 1 is where low cost carriers depart, such as Southwest and Frontier, while Terminal 2 is where most other airlines depart. These two terminals are only connected land-side with an outdoor walkway.

There is no TSA PreCheck at Terminal 1, however the airport was relatively empty and I was through into the terminal within five minutes.

Next to our gate there was a Southwest B737-800.

Southwest B737-800

The inbound flight from Chicago was on-time unlike the last time I flew Spirit. Our bird was a brand-new A320neo, registration N916NK, delivered to Spirit in Sept 2019 making her only three months old.

Boarding was smooth, efficient, and prompt at 1PM. Group 1 was reserved for passengers that had purchased carry-on luggage and Group 2 for those who purchased early boarding.

The Flight

Spirit Airlines offers a total of eight Big Front Seats aboard their A320s in a 2-2 configuration across two rows. In addition, there are 174 standard economy seats. This aircraft featured Spirits newest Big Front Seat that was designed by HAECO Cabin Solutions and introduced in Sept 2019. There was 36″ of pitch and 20″ of width. The cushion was made of memory foam and was much more comfortable than the previous iteration of the Big Front seat. Each seat is also “pre-reclined” and not adjustable.

Since this plane was relatively new, the cabin felt very fresh and did not have any signs of wear and tear.

Big Front Seat

There were no power ports and no IFE screen. Between the two seats was a shared cocktail table.

I was originally seated in 2A but the passenger in 1A needed a seat which could accommodate a seat belt extender and so we swapped. Even in the bulkhead seat there was plenty of legroom.

1A legroom

Each seat also had a small bi-fold tray table with a drink holder.

It was fairly flimsy.

We pushed back five minutes early at 1:40PM and quickly made it to the runway 27 without delay. Enjoy!

The take-off was incredibly scenic with views of the Pacific Ocean and downtown San Diego.

San Diego Coast
Downtown San Diego

It became dusk quickly and soon turned into night.


Spirit does not offer any complimentary in-flight service even for those sitting in the Big Front Seat. I decided not to get anything to drink or eat.

We had a very low visibility landing at Chicago O’Hare and missed out on the great city lights of downtown Chicago.

As usual for O’Hare we had about a 20 minute taxi from the runway to our gate making one full lap around the airport. We arrived at Terminal 3 which is also co-habited with Alaska Airlines and American Airlines. Thanks for the ride!

Spirit’s Big Front Seat is probably one of the best deals in commercial aviation domestically. To be able to sit in the comfort of a seat similar to American or United’s Domestic First class product for less than an economy ticket on those carriers is truly a bargain. I look forward to purchasing a Big Front Seat in the future!

Trip Report: Spirit Airlines (A321) Big Front Seat (Business) SAN-ORD

The Details

  • Flight: NK564
  • Aircraft: A321
  • Class: Big Front Seat
  • Seat: 1A
  • Route: San Diego International (SAN)-Chicago O’Hare International (ORD)
  • Distance: 1,832 miles
  • Duration: 3hrs 26min
  • Departure: 4:41PM (delayed 2hrs 39min)
  • Arrival: 10:06PM

The Preflight

Spirit Airlines departs from T1 at San Diego International Airport. T1 is the old part of SAN which is where most of the low cost carriers at based at including Southwest.

Spirit Airlines

Our flight was supposed to depart at 2PM local time but the inbound flight from Chicago was delayed. We ended up departing two hours and 40 minutes late. Our bird N680NK, an A321, was delivered brand new to Spirit in November 2017.

Spirit Airlines

Boarding began with those passengers who had purchased priority boarding or the Big Front Seat.


The Flight

Spirit Airlines features eight Big Front Seats aboard their A321s in two rows of 2-2. Each seat has 36″ of pitch and are 18.5″ wide. The seats are pre-reclined and do not recline any further. I was seated in 1A the bulkhead row. In the bulkhead was a small literature pocket

Besides a bi-fold tray table and shared drink table there were no other features in the seat. The seat itself was fairly well-padded and there was a comfortable headrest.

After a brief taxi to the runway we blasted off for Chicago O’Hare. There were some great views of North Island Naval Air Station and downtown San Diego.

North Island Naval Air Station

Also some views of Naval Base San Diego and the ships of the Pacific Fleet.

Naval Base San Diego

Being a low cost carrier, Spirit Airlines does not offer any complimentary inflight service. Flight Attendants did pass through the cabin taking orders from their buy-on-board menu. I decided to try the infamous BuzzBallz mixed drinks. For $17, I got two BuzzBallz and one large snack (M&Ms).


We were treated to a gorgeous sunset while crossing over the middle of the country.


The rest of the flight was uneventful and we touched down around 10PM local time; three hours after our scheduled arrival time. We taxied for about twenty minutes before pulling into a gate in Terminal 3 at O’Hare. Thanks for the ride!


Overall, Spirit Airlines offered a very competitive seat for a fraction of the cost compared to the traditional full service carriers. Despite the three hour long delay, I had an enjoyable flight. I love the Big Front Seat and it represents an excellent deal.