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My review of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment (Part 2)

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This is the 2nd part of my review of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment on a flight between London and Abu Dhabi.

Part 1 of my Etihad A380 review is here and my review of the Etihad lounge at Heathrow is here.

Etihad’s dedicated A380 First Class website is here.

Food and drink is a key part of the First Class experience but it is an area where Etihad falls a little short.  I still think that Lufthansa and SWISS serve the best First Class food in the sky.

My welcome drink was Billecart-Salmon 2007 Vintage champagne, which is about £40 in the shops.  The NV Rose was also available, which retails for around £60.

The wine list is equally unexciting.  The Craggy Range sauvignon blanc, for example, is £14.99 in Waitrose.  A typical red from the list, the Marques de Murrieta ‘Reserva’ rioja is around £14.  Whilst price and taste are not always aligned in the wine world, I would expect something a little higher end in First Class.

Breakfast in Etihad’s First Class Apartment

As we had a 9am departure, breakfast was served first.

You can’t knock Etihad’s presentation.  The crockery is lovely and really complements the food.  Even a croissant, an omelette and various accompaniments looks classy in the right hands.

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

That said, they could only offer me a cheese omelette – no meat was available – and no pain au chocolat were loaded, only croissants.

If you didn’t want eggs (cooked however you wanted them), the breakfast options were limited to a fruit platter and cereal.  As I’d just eaten in the lounge, I ordered mainly to check out the quality.

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

Lunch

Etihad has pioneered the concept of a ‘proper’ in-flight chef.  By ‘proper’, I mean a chef who can actually cook you pretty much whatever you want – from a defined list of ingredients kept onboard – as opposed to the Turkish Airlines ‘chef’ which is simply a standard crew member who is made to dress up!

It started badly, when the chef asked me to place my lunch order immediately after take off.  This was before I had even had breakfast.  I was even asked to confirm which wine I wanted to drink four hours later with my lunch.  This felt a bit odd.

The a la carte lunch menu is good:

  • foie gras, with plum, beetroot, chanterelles and thyme jus
  • Gulf mezze
  • chickpea soup
  • tomato soup

followed by …

  • lamb loin, wtih celeriac, root vegatable, jus
  • chicken breast, with beluga lentil, baby carrot, ratte potatoes, sauce foyet
  • chicken biryani
  • sea bass with baby turnip, beetrot, radish, asparagus, potatoes, fish veloute
  • pocino and parsnip risotto

followed by

  • ‘Textures’ of beetroot jelly, marshmallow and micro sponge
  • chocolate and pistachio sphere with mascarpone and orange
  • cheese selection
  • ice cream

In reality, whenever I fly Etihad the chef proposes something different which he recommends as his signature dish, and I agree to it.

In the end, I had an amuse bouche of egg and parmesan pannacotta:

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

skipped the appetiser, had a lemon jelly ‘palate cleanser’:

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

followed by the crispy chicken chefs special! :

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

and the chocolate desert:

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

It looked great and tasted good, although it wasn’t necessarily ‘high end’.  Of course, you don’t necessarily want ‘high end’ either but Etihad could raise its game.  Emirates has a token caviar dish, for example, as does Lufthansa First Class.

The on-board bar

Last time I flew the Etihad A380 I was very impressed by the on-board bar.  You still can’t argue about the style and the space.

You can’t also can’t argue, unfortunately, about the fact that it is TOO DARK!  See below, if you can:

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

and with the flash on:

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 food drink

If you look at the video you can see how dark it was.  I went down there and it was deserted.  I had taken a magazine with me but reading was impossible.  There was no-one else there at the time, even though the bar is also accessible to business class passengers.

It is a world away from the light, airy spaces that are the Emirates and Qatar on-board bars.

Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment in video

You can see more about the food and drink, plus the on-board bar, in the short (only 2 min 13 secs!) video I shot.   This is the same video I linked to yesterday, if you watched it then.

If you can’t see the link above, click here to visit our YouTube page.  You can also sign up to our channel on that page.

Conclusion

As I said yesterday, Etihad’s A380 First Class is something that you really should experience if you get the chance.  The sheer scale of the First Class Apartments is worth trying.

The food and drink, however, didn’t match up.  It is better than British Airways manages to serve in First Class, as it should be with a dedicated chef, but it wasn’t hugely better than you’d expect from your average branch of, say, Cote.

It is worth noting that there was only one other passenger on my flight in First who may or may not have paid for a ticket.  My return flight on Emirates was 75% full despite having a larger First Class cabin, although you never know how many of those are mileage upgrades, oversell upgrades or Skywards redemptions.  The Etihad product has been available now for couple of years and I would have expected loads to have picked up by now if they were ever going to.

You can find out more about Etihad’s First Class Apartment on their website here.


Earning Flying Blue miles from credit cards

How to earn Etihad Guest miles from UK credit cards (December 2020)

Etihad Guest does not have a UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cardsThese are:

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles which is an attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile. The Gold card earns double points (2 per £1) on all flights you charge to it.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, reviewed here).

Comments (48)

  • Guy says:

    OT – thanks for any help (normally always Ghenghis who comes to the rescue!)

    Was hoping for some clarification if possible. I’ve earn’t my companion voucher when holding the BA Premier Card, when it was credited to my BAEC account I downgraded to the normal amex to get the rebate. Since then I’ve held the normal card but wanted to cancel, when speaking to Amex they told me I would be forgoing the voucher as even though it had been issued I would not be able to use it as when I make the booking I would have to use the exact card/account that it was earned with. Can anyone verify if this is the case?

    I had intend to apply for a Amex Platinum Card then another BA Premier before actually using my redemption, would I be able to use either of these cards to pay the taxes and surcharges for example, or does it have to be the account specifically that the companion voucher was earned with?

    Small other question, think I’ve hit my 7k Lloyds target, anyone know where I can check if the voucher is there or not?

    Thanks if you taken the time to help!

    • Sam says:

      The voucher will stay in your BA account after you cancel. You need to use an Amex when you book but it doesn’t have to be the same one so if you open a platinum or another BAPP then you can use those.

      • Genghis says:

        Correct. There have been stories about an extreme minority losing the voucher but I have always done it no problem. As Sam says, you can use any Amex (directly issued or MBNA / Lloyds). Remember you get 3 avios/£ on BA spend with BAPP so a good tactic I employ is for me to say earn the voucher and then spend £1k on my wife’s card for the next voucher and to earn c.3k avios.

        If you’ve hit the £7k spend on the Lloyds voucher, you’ll receive an email to let you know. The voucher then sits in your avios.com account under ‘My account->Vouchers. Unfortunately there isn’t a counter so you don’t easily know how much you’ve spent apart from doing the calcs with your statements.

        • The Original Nick. says:

          Lloyds Avios upgrade voucher will show up on AW too.

        • Guy says:

          Thanks Genghis, tried to send a Mongolian version but guess the comments are filtered for language content!

        • Optimus Prime says:

          I can confim this too.

          Last weekend I called Amex bluff and cancelled my BAPP. Vouchers are still available on my BAEC account.

      • Guy says:

        Thanks Sam

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Surprised to see such negative comments on the EY F food. I was very impressed by my single experience in late 2015, perhaps it’s not what it was. Onboard chef was definitely a proper chef. Had the pleasure of the chef enthusiastically giving us a tour of the 777 kitchen – amazing what they can turn out in such a tiny space. Great food, beautifully plated and definitely had a real feel of ‘we can cook you whatever you want’. Still my best airborne dining experience to date and lightyears ahead of BA F.

    I think the ‘high end’ comment is a bit unfair – seems there was ‘token’ foie gras to match the token caviar you propose.

    • Yuff says:

      It is definitely a great experience, and bearing in mind where it’s being cooked it’s very high quality.

  • Brian says:

    I expect the chocolate ‘desert’ must have been a bit dry…. :))

  • Choons says:

    James Nicholson in Northern Ireland has the 2006 for around 44 before taxes, fwiw

  • ankomonkey says:

    Semi OT: Etihad Guest has just appeared as a redemption option on my e-rewards account. So too have Eurowings.

  • Mike says:

    How much in £ would you say it’s worth over J? (What would you pay?) The upgrade cost typically seems to be about £1k – hard to justify that (for me) when J is so good!

  • Paul says:

    Has anyone flown Thai recently in j? Some attractive fires from Rome but second leg on 747 and old style business.

  • Paul says:

    Fares that should be!