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Etihad Airways EY450 Abu Dhabi-Sydney Pearl Zone Business Class

Posted in Airline News, Etihad AirwaysNo comments

Abu Dhabi is not a place where things are done in halves, so it comes as no surprise that the national airline of the United Arab Emirates follows the example of its government. Checking in for a flight in Etihad’s Pearl Zone Business Class at Abu Dhabi International Airport is more similar to checking in at a five-star hotel rather than at an airport counter. The Pearl and Diamond Zone check-in area is separated from the hubbub of the rest of the airport and a full complement of staff behind all counters assure that no one is kept waiting long. There is even a sitting area if you have a short time to spend between flights, with service attendants circulating to make the check-in process as smooth as possible.

Once check-in was completed, there was no need to search for the way to the gates; Pearl and Diamond Zone passengers proceed from the check-in counter directly to a private Immigration desk just metres away. Once through Immigration, the lounges await with complimentary internet access and an appealing array of periodicals and refreshments.

Like Schiphol in Amsterdam, security checks at Abu Dhabi Airport are conducted at each gate. The queue can stretch a bit of two flights are leaving from the same gate, but passengers on the earlier flight always have priority. Once through the X-ray machine, it was right onto the plane for the onboard welcome and pre-cocooning in a wonderfully private Pearl Zone seat.

The flight departed late due to the late arrival of (First Class) passengers connecting to this flight, but it arrived in Sydney fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. In between was a fine flight with the efficient cabin crew looking after the passengers with a quiet but dedicated work ethic. This flight was unusual in that it was a thirteen-hour overnight flight that leaves in the morning and arrives in the morning, so passengers occupied themselves with a variety of activities since they are all in different phases of their day. Further reinforcing Etihad’s internationality, flight attendants were from Africa, northern Europe, and Australia were on board to present Etihad’s fine cuisine and assist with passenger requests.

Have you ever seen stars on the ceilings of airplanes? Etihad’s ceiling panels look normal in normal light, but in a dimmed cabin, the stars come out. Lying back on the lie-flat seats evokes the feeling of flying on a magic carpet as the stars twinkle overhead. Seems like a detail based on style rather than practicality, but the stars are calming in their effect and thus serve an important purpose in setting a mood in the cabin. A special UAE-made blend of mint and spice tea helps move the imagination along the same direction.
Happily, arrival in Sydney was a snap. The walk from the aircraft door to the Immigration desk was the longest part of the arrival process. The bags were already appearing on the carousel as the first passengers to deplane were coming through Immigration; however the bags were moved off the plane so fast, it is commendable. No queue at Customs; it took less than ten minutes from exiting the plane to entering the taxi to go home.

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