Girl Takes Flight with Etihad

I’m going to put it out there, my recent experience with Etihad was bad, very bad. I don’t know whether it was because I had high hopes for my flight with Etihad, whether I am just used to flying in premium economy or whether it was just a bad experience. I am inclined to go for the latter due to the fact I took 4 flights in total with Etihad and every single one of them was a let down.

Ok, so as you have probably guessed, this is going be quite a negative review. I really don’t like to be negative and can usually find the positive in everything, but on this occasion, finding the positives has been extremely difficult. Although I should point out the main one, the pilots were amazing and we arrived at our destination on time and in one piece!

It’s true, I had high hopes for this flight, what with Etihad being a 5 star airline with great reviews and I had spoken to some others who had flown with them before and they also gave glowing reviews, so maybe I was just incredibly unlucky….four times over….


This was relatively straight forward and so, not much to say here. We were able to select seats around 24 hours before hand and for our Manchester to Abu Dhabi and then the return Abu Dhabi to Manchester flights, we were able to bid for a ‘neighbour free’ seat. This essentially means you can bid a certain amount to have a free seat between you. We bid £70 for this and were successful for both legs. I have to say for £70 (£35 each, each way) this was worth it for having the extra space to stretch out.

The Seat

This is where it started going downhill. The legroom was considerably less than I expected, I am sure the likes of Virgin, Emirates etc offer more space. The seats were also rather narrow and I was not at all a fan of the head rest. Please explain why only one side sticks out on some of the seats? I like to rest my head both ways, as I am sure most people do!

The Manchester/Abu Dhabi journeys were comfortable enough due to the extra space thanks to our neighbour free seat bids, but the Abu Dhabi/Japan legs were uncomfortably cramped.

The seats didn’t have a foot rest, which seems to be becoming pretty standard on flights of a similar standard, so I was surprised Etihad didn’t provide this. In addition, the seats felt very dated, especially on the Manchester/Abu Dhabi legs.

The Food

This was the worst bit of my Etihad experience, the food, or rather lack of it. On our 7 hour flight from Manchester to Abu Dhabi we were served ONE meal, this was accompanied with a limited drink service and not much else.

The Abu Dhabi to Tokyo flight at least included two meals for this 10 hour journey, but the two meals on offer were exactly the same. Quite a few passengers were complaining when we were woken up from our overnight flight and offered the same as what we had for dinner from the night before. No, I do not want fish with rice or chicken and veg for my breakfast. What is this?

Then came the worst flight of them all, Tokyo to Abu Dhabi. On this 10 hour flight I didn’t get a meal. Onthe first dinner service they had RUN OUT OF FOOD. How on earth does that even happen? Although, I felt somewhat grateful for not having been fed as there was a pretty off smell spreading through the plane and later into the flight, a few passengers fell sick. I’m not saying they were linked, but it’s a bit of a coincidence.

I have to say, the air stewards really looked after those who had fallen ill and I will praise them for that. They acted calmly and professionally and helped put those who were ill at ease.

Anyway, onto the second meal service, which was, surprise surprise, the same offering as the previous meal, this time they did not run out of food, but had only the fish with rice left. I really didn’t fancy that, especially as for the last hour, one of the passengers, who was being sick, had been sat right in front of me. That certainly takes away your appetite!

The final flight from Abu Dhabi to Manchester was probably the best of the 4. We got two meals, the first a basic sandwich and snack pack, which did the job at midnight and then a good old cooked breakfast an hour or so before we landed. In addition, we ended up with an entire row of 4 seats to ourselves, so I was able to fully stretch out and sleep on this flight.

The Temperature

This is a category I haven’t felt necessary to comment on before when reviewing a flight, however, the flight from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo was uncomfortably hot. I am used to planes being cold thanks to the air con blasting, so I always come prepared with a jumper and a scarf/blanket and cosy socks but on this flight, I was striping layers off.

For some reason, their planes don’t have individual air vents for you to adjust, so you are stuck with whatever temperature the rest of the plane is. On this occassion, the air conditioning must have been broken. As we made our way to Tokyo the cabin got stuffier and stuffier to the point it was unbearable, myself and other passengers resorted to fanning ourselves with the safety card and trying our best not to pass out. It was awful.

Noone made any announcements to say the airconditioning was broken, but my other flights were not that unbearably hot, so I am guessing (hoping) that was a one off.

The Amenity Kit

The amenity kit offered was pretty good. It came with a toothbrush and toothpaste, ear plugs, socks and an eye mask. I particularly liked the eye mask as it had two sides to it, one asking to be woken up if the food service comes round whilst you’re asleep, and the other side clearly said ‘do not disturb’. I loved this idea and made full use of it on my flights.


As you can tell, I had a pretty bad Etihad experience and despite other people saying good things, I really don’t think I could bring myself to fly with them again. If it wasn’t for the fact I had 4 flights, each with something wrong, I’d just assume I was unlucky, but to have 4 bad flights?! Starting to think it maybe wasn’t me…

I’d be interested to know if you have flown Etihad before and what you thought? Who’s your favourite airline?

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  1. February 12, 2018 / 1:32 pm

    We flew Etihad Manchester – Abu Dhabi – Bangkok return 7 years ago and loved it, apart from the entertainment system not working on the return Bangkok – Abu Dhabi leg which was just bad luck I suppose. We then flew Manchester – Abu Dhabi return in November just gone and we had similar experiences to you. I don’t think the colour scheme that Etihad use help – the horrible 70s mix of beige and brown just make the planes look old and dowdy. Space was an issue too and we noticed that other airlines offer larger seats and more leg room. But it was the food that was the real kicker – 1 meal on an 8 hour flight. We arrived in Abu Dhabi with out stomach’s rumbling. We normally take snacks for flights but didn’t as we assumed we would receive two meals. For £250 though it was OK but just OK.

    • girlgoesto
      March 2, 2018 / 12:09 pm

      Yeah I was told by people who flew a few years ago that they were really good, seems it must have gone down hill. Yes, the 1 meal on an 8 hour flight was shocking! I was starving when I arrived in ABD as well!!

  2. February 12, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience. 4 times? That’s something! I have flown with Middle Eastern carriers (Etihad, Emirates and Qatar), and I have both good and bad experiences. The last time I have flown with Etihad was 3 years ago from Singapore to Abu Dhabi. It wasn’t good nor bad, just ok.
    If you don’t mind, I will share my knowledge and experience of flying with Middle Eastern carriers not just Etihad as they seem to have similarities.

    1. Leg room
    I THINK (I am not sure, just assuming) it depends on the aircraft. A350 has less legroom compared to B777 coz they are trying to put more seats. I remember this because I made a complaint. That’s why I always prefer B777. But a B777 with 400 passengers is really cramped! Well, it is economy.
    As far as I know, the newer models of airplanes like B777 and B787 have no foot rest. I remember 8 years ago, A330 has foot rest. Again, i think it depends on the Aircraft and airline.
    Anyway, I am glad atleast you got the whole row or neighbor free seats on some sectors.

    2 The food
    The meal service and number of meals depends on the number of flight hours. If it is 6-8 hours, they will serve one meal plus a sandwich and beverage. If it’s more than 9 hours, they serve 2 meals and/or snacks in between. That explains the number of meals served on your flights.
    Meal choice i think depends on your luck. No airline carrier will bring 100% of all choices. For example 400 chicken, 400 beef, 400 veg and 400 fish. They wont fit in the galley. The galley is small and they have to fit everything for that certain flight. Plus they throw uneaten food so that’s a lot of waste. Depends on their research on every flight, it could be 60% chicken , 30% beef and 10% veg. So it depends on your luck.
    The menu is almost the same on all flights. So what you had on Manchester could be the same menu on Tokyo flight. Menu are being cycled every 3 or 4 or 6 months. Unless you’ve flown one sector in December and the return is in January, then you will have a different menu. That’s why it is called airplane food, just like other people don’t like hospital foods (i like them though).
    Also, the menu depends on the time. Serving chicken for breakfast – what was the local time in Abu Dhabi? or in Tokyo? It could be breakfast time according to your body clock, but is it breakfast time to those destinations?
    I can understand running out of meal options, but no food??? That is unacceptable. They should always have extra or come up with something to feed you! YOU paid for it!

    3 Temperature
    The pilots or stewardess should have explained. That must be uncomfortable! And no individual air vents??? Again, unacceptable!

    4 Amenity kits
    Glad you like them. It’s like a light at the end of the tunnel. right?

    Those are just my two cents. Sorry it’s so long. It’s so sad you won’t fly with them again. But I totally understand. I haven’t flown with them since 3 years ago. I am a frequent flyer for 8 years, and I love flying with these Middle Eastern carriers. Etihad is just not my favorite.

    • girlgoesto
      March 2, 2018 / 12:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your comprehensive reply, it’s really interesting to read! I am giving Emirates a go later in the year, so will see how they compare! leg room (or lack of) I can cope with, it’s part of being in economy, but the lack of food and the crazy temperature really weren’t acceptable. Such a shame as I had high hopes!

  3. March 2, 2018 / 2:17 pm

    It all sounds quite nightmareish! I’ve flown with Qatar and have had quite positive experiences with them, and would definitely recommend them for long-haul flights headed east of the UK! x

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