ETIHAD Airways EY 24
Düsseldorf – Abu Dhabi (DUS – AUH)
Departure : 11:30 Actual Departure : 11:34
Arrival : 20:15 Actual Arrival : 19:53
Duration : 6 hours 45 minutes Actual Duration : 6 hours 19 minutes
Aircraft : Boeing 787-9 Dream)Liner
Registration # : A6-BLH
Seat # : 25 A
Wednesday, 7th September 2016
A while back I wrote a post about how excited I was to have booked my first ever flight on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. You can follow the link to read more about why it was a big deal for me. But I’ll summarize it here a bit. The 787 is a revolutionary, modern aircraft which boasts a fantastic design, passenger comfort, efficiency, and safety. The first ever aircraft to be made of mostly composite materials, this lightweight aircraft is also quieter than most older aircraft.
The developers at Boeing have definitely taken passenger comfort into consideration. With more headroom, spacious cabin, and larger windows, it truly gives passengers a warm welcome. The lower cabin pressure and special air-conditioning system keeps the air inside more fresh, healthy, and humid. This helps passengers feel more comfortable, fresh, and reduces the jet-lag significantly. Because of the special features of this awesome aircraft, it has been my dream for a few years to fly on it. And on 7th September 2016, that dream finally became a reality 🙂 Let’s check out whether the aircraft in reality fulfills its promises!
I flew on Etihad’s Boeing 787-9 (which is kinda longer than its shorter counterpart, B787-8) from Düsseldorf to Abu Dhabi. And here is my review of this flight. Unfortunately I was a bit sick and had a bad soar throat. Just less than two days prior I arrived home from Astana in Kazakhstan. So while I tried my best to enjoy my flight, the annoying cold didn’t let me feel fully awesome. Nevertheless it was definitely a great flight and I hope you enjoy reading this special review!
At Düsseldorf Airport, I was one of the first passengers to check-in. After which I requested the very nice and friendly Etihad agent for a priority boarding. After all, it was my first time on this aircraft and I really wanted to experience the interior and take pictures before the cabin was full of passengers. She kindly granted my requested and told me to report early at the gate. Yeaaahhh!
After clearing security and passport control, I made my way towards gate C40, which is Etihad’s usual assigned gate at Düsseldorf airport. The beautiful plane was already parked and waiting for me there 😉
The Bravo Lima Hotel (A6-BLH) is Etihad’s 8th Boeing 787. And it was only and exactly 2 months old on this day! Which means that this was probably the newest aircraft I have ever flow on, sweet!
I had my camera ready in my hand. The official boarding was supposed to be at 10:30, which frankly I think is kinda early. But I wasn’t bothered much about that because the earlier I could board the plane, the happier I’d be. The actual boarding started at 10:42 and I was let in first. This is the moment I have been waiting for! I presented my boarding pass and the moment I stepped on board, I immediately fell in love with the interior!
Maria the cabin purser as well as other friendly cabin crews welcomed me warmly! I boarded through the second door so I asked if I could visit the Business Class cabin for a bit. Btw, this was a 2-class aircraft – meaning Business and Economy Class only, no First Class. Upon consent I visited the business class cabin, which looked really fantastic! But to have an idea of how Etihad’s business class is configured on board this aircraft, here is a seat map.
Named ‘Business Studio’ by Etihad, the seats have a unique design. As you may have noticed, there are both forward and rear-facing seats. Now I’m really not a fan of rear-facing seats, on trains for example. So I’m not sure that even for a business class seat, I don’t fancy the idea of flying ‘backwards’. But that’s a matter of taste I suppose.
Of course, the ‘Business Studio’ suits offer greater privacy and individual access to aisle. The 22-inch wide seat transforms into a fully flat bed and aisle seats also feature a privacy sliding screen. Hopefully someday I will get to try this great business product. But I wouldn’t like to fly business class on a medium-haul flight, after all its just about 6 hours.
After my short tour of the business class, I made my way towards where I would be seating, the economy class. When entering the cabin, the view I got was simply neat! Perhaps it was because everything was arranged as good as new and there were no passengers. But I would definitely declare this as one of my favorite economy cabins out there. Why? ….
….Well for starters, Etihad’s economy seats on their 787 Dreamliners feature a very unique headrest which provides a ‘shoulder’ to lean on and relax. I don’t think any other airline has adopted this innovative feature yet..
Etihad calls their economy seats on board the 787 Dreamliner as ‘Economy Smart Seat’. Indeed they are smart and innovative seats. Not only they feature this awesome headrest, but also a brand new seat-back entertainment and connectivity system. The whole economy seating and cabin is completely a new design and feature which are absent in other/older Etihad aircraft.
Between snapping photos and enjoying myself to the interior, I also had small conversations with some of the friendly crews, they were curious about my passion and found it quite interesting 😛 Then I decided to find my seat because other passengers were starting to board the plane already. And if anyone is blocking the access to my seat or if I’m blocking anyone’s seat, neither me or they would be happy about it 😉
My (window) seat was located at 25 A. With 32-inch seat pitch, these seats really do have a generous legspace! Another thing I found awesome was the seat pillow on this aircraft. They are not only comfortable but can also serve as neck pillows which is something I always wanted in a plane! This should definitely make sleeping in an economy class more comfy. Other than that, the seats had green-turquoiseish blankets but no headphones, which I assumed would be distributed later on.
As soon as I sat down, my reaction was like “this is one super comfyyy seat”! The material and upholstery used on these economy seats would definitely make your journey comfortable. And yes, they were better than Emirates economy seats. Etihad says it reclines 6 inches which I had to try out and I was simply impressed with the seat recline! In most airlines you unfortunately don’t get this much recline on an economy even. I tried to take a picture to show how far it reclines and hope it gives you an idea.
In front of me, there was a 12-inch in-flight entertainment screen known as ‘Ebox’ that looked very much like the ‘third-generation’ ICE screens on Emirates. There was also a secondary smaller screen on the controller as well as USB and headphone ports, power socket, and coat hanger. What I really liked was the design of seat pockets. With one large and two smaller pockets, there were plenty of space to store your things. And unlike many other airlines, the seat pockets didn’t bulge out to restrict your legroom!
I took a moment to look above me at the PSU (Passenger Service Unit) where lights and air vents usually are. I realized that it looked slightly different than mainstream PSUs. Individual air vents were missing and were rather placed at one side of the aircraft. The ‘No Smoking’ sign has been ‘permanently’ placed instead of a light but beside it, there were additional warning lights for ‘No Laptops/Phones’ – to be turned on when required. The individual reading lamps were actually LEDs so that was a really nice touch!
You may have noticed by now that there is a ‘Brightness’ adjusting switch below the windows. Yes, Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the first aircraft to feature large ‘smart windows’ which, instead of plastic shades, have a button to adjust the light and visibility. How cool is that! You can make it darker or lighter according to your taste, and for this is a window seat a must-have on a 787!
By this time, the cabin was starting to fill with passengers. Although there are 271 economy seats in total, there were only about 160-170 passengers on this flight, which was heavenly both for me and the flight attendants! With about only 63% occupancy, many of the rows remained completely free and fortunately the also the seats next to me!
Boarding was complete in about 25 minutes, after which the cabin crew distributed us with headphones. The headphones were really good and looked like proper headphones which were comfortable on your ears. I especially liked the headphone ‘plug’ which had magnetic attachments instead of ‘fingers’ to plugin.
Damn we are still on the ground! This is one long review for sure…
At 11:20, the captain (Miguel) announced that our flight would take 5 hours 55 minutes as well as other usual information about the weather and flight path. His announcements were nicely detailed and had a friendly voice. Afterwards we were distributed with lunch menus.
At 11:34, we started pushback with a travel prayer. Etihad is one of the few airlines out there which plays a ‘travel prayer’ from the Holy Quran on board before departure. Then safety videos started playing throughout the inflight entertainment system.
I should mention at this point that as the engines were being started during push back, I concentrated on how loud it could be. After all, the Dreamliner promises a quieter cabin. And guess what? it was indeed quieter than other aircraft I flew on so far! But don’t expect it to be completely noiseless or silent because that would probably never happen as long as the engine is running 😉 Quietness level – check!
Another interesting feature was that the names of the Captain, Cabin Manager, and Cabin Senior are displayed on your screen! And funnily in this case, all their names started with M… just like me 😀
After a 14-minute taxi, we lined up the runway and were immediately cleared for takeoff. At 11:48 we were airborne. Let’s enjoy the takeoff through the lens.
Seatbelt signs were turned off just 6 minutes into takeoff. It was my turn to check out the Ebox and the movie selections. I found the Ebox to be more interesting than Emirates’ ICE for example. I think it’s cuz the airshow was very interactive and detailed. You could actually move the map in different directions with the touchscreen! I’m not sure whether its a Boeing 787 system or its an actual feature of the manufacturer of the inflight entertainment system. In addition to prayer (Mecca) direction, it also showed the times for five daily prayers; first time I noticed such an informative feature.
Oh the flight attendants of course came from different countries such as South Africa, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, India, and Romania among others.
Drink + light snack service started 25 mins into the flight. I chose an orange juice while the snack was just a small pack of crackers. After browsing the movie library, I started watching ‘The Nice Guys’ about half and hour into the flight. Like always, I used the secondary screen to keep the airshow on so I can follow my flight.
Before lunch was being served, I paused a bit to visit the lavatory. I heard (seen pictures) before that 787 Dreamliner actually has a nice bathroom, so wanted to check it out myself. It looked definitely like a fancy bathroom with its wall patterns and you didn’t have to turn the tap left or right to get hot or cold water. You can simply press a switch and adjust the level of warm or cool for water.
Lunchtime was approaching fast so I headed back to my seat. Lunch was served about an hour into the flight and this is how the menu looked like. Unlike Emirates, it was just a simple page but the beverage section is more detailed with the types of drinks they serve. Also unlike Emirates, there is a choice of three meals on Etihad economy, one of which is always a vegetarian option and I think this is a great concept! Emirates on the other hand, has only two choices – none of which are (usually) vegetarian.
Those who have been following my blog or trip reports would probably know by now what I’m gonna choose 😉 Yep that’s right, lamb it is for me! The lunch was served with a warm bread (for the butter), which was crispy and delicious!
I was done in about 25 mins. The mixed vegetable pasta salad appetizer was okayish; there was hardly any vegetable though. The main lamb course was not bad – the meat was actually tender and delicious but the rice was disappointing; I think it lacked salt and/or spices. The lemon posset dessert was slightly bitterish but good. I’ve had better desserts inflight. I mentioned earlier that I was kinda sick so it didn’t really matter at this point about the meal. Important was that I wasn’t hungry.
3 hours into the flight, I finished the movie. It was good I would say but due to some scenes and lines being censored or cut, it was a bit annoying to watch. After the movie, I dozed off a bit for about 45 minutes. Given the warm, comfortable seat, it is actually pretty easy to doze off on board this aircraft.
After I woke up, I went out of my seat to take some pictures and have a chat with the lovely crew. The flight was still going very smoothly and the engine noise level was still good inside the cabin. I talked with the cabin crew about my passion for flying and travelling and like most other conversations with flight attendants, they were pleasantly surprised at how much I know about planes and aviation 😛 I also got to know a bit more about cabin crew life. I definitely mentioned about Thousand Miles to Touchdown and by now they probably visited my blog already. Unfortunately I haven’t got to write about this flight until now so if you visit my blog again, hope you guys read this piece 🙂 They kept offering me tea due to my cold as well as juice and snacks, which was very generous of them. At this point, we were already over Iranian airspace.
After a while, I received a surprise ‘gift’ from one of the flight attendants at my seat. She gave me an amenity kit and some kids stuff in an awesome Etihad-labelled plastic bag 😀
Throughout the flight, there were just light turbulence twice, which unfortunately forced me to break up my conversations with the flight attendants and go to my seat to buckle up. But the turbulence itself was hardly even felt. Kudos to the 787!
At this point, 1 hour 30 minutes was left to destination. If you look at the bottom of the meal menu, you will notice that there is a café service, where a light snack would be served before arrival. This was done about 1 hr 15 mins before arrival. The snack was actually a chicken pizza sandwich, which was actually very good and rather spicy.
I didn’t bother watching another movie as there was only an hour left. When I was talking with the flight crew, I asked whether I could take a picture of the galley because the galley really looks amazing! My wish was granted after the crew finished with their food and drinks service and had to stow away everything to prepare for landing.
As the sun was setting and evening drawing closer, the pilots and flight attendants were preparing for landing. The First Officer came on the P.A. 37 mins before arrival and announced our estimated arrival time at 19:44.
We started our descend around 34 mins before the estimated arrival time. The cabin lights were dimmed at this point and finally, the colorful LED mood lighting was turned on!
We touched down at 19:53 local time in Abu Dhabi and after a 15 min taxi, stopped at a remote parking stand away from the airport terminal building but right next to another 787 of Etihad. I literally had less than an hour to catch my next flight to Muscat with KLM’s Boeing 787 Dream)Liner! One of the cabin crews offered me to show the flight deck of the 787 but unfortunately due to my very limited time, I had to decline this great offer 🙁
To Sum Up
It’s time for the verdict. But if you have read it so far, then you are probably sure about what I will say anyway. Apart from the fact that I had a sore throat which made me physically uncomfortable at times, this flight was perhaps one of the best flights I ever had.
From the moment I stepped inside until I left the aircraft, I was totally in love with this stunning aircraft. A huge thanks to Boeing for producing such a wonderful machine and to Etihad for offering great products on board the aircraft for its guests! Etihad’s revolutionary economy class is certainly one of the best economy class cabins out there. The ‘Smart Seats’ are perhaps my favorite economy class seating until now and because of that, I would definitely not mind flying even long or very long haul on board this aircraft 🙂 Of course the ’emptiness’ of the aircraft played a role for this, but the seat width and legroom is quite good.
Many thanks to Etihad staff and cabin crew who warmly welcomed me onto this flight and kept me company, you guys are all awesome! 🙂 The aircraft itself lives up to its promises of what it offers. The cabin air was indeed fresh and humid because I didn’t feel any ‘dryness’ at all! More importantly, I suffered no jet-lag after my flight! Really can’t wait to fly with the Dream)Liner soon again, one of my favorite aircraft out there now 🙂