I arrived at Oliver Reginald Tambo International Airport — which serves the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area — for a flight operated by Etihad Airways, which was scheduled to depart just prior to 10:00 in the morning.
There was a line which wrapped around in a queue several times. It was probably between 15 to 20 minutes before I was able to check in, which really was not all that bad considering how long was the queue — and I dislike waiting in lines.
The agent behind the counter handed me a card printed on a heavy coated stock, which is shown below on the right. The message on it was as follows:
Thank you for choosing to fly with Etihad Airways
We have recently increased out capacity on this flight and we now fly an aircraft leased from Jet Airways.
You will be boarding a Jet Airways liveried aircraft. We have ensured that the service delivery, onboard experience and hospitality remains familiar and consistent with the exact same standards of Etihad Airways
- Fully flat beds in Business Class
- Over 750 hours of on demand entertainment
- Onboard crew will be answer any questions and assist you
We wish you a pleasant flight.
The aircraft with the Jet Airways livery was an Airbus A330-200 aircraft whose seats were not equipped with any Universal Serial Bus — or USB — ports. No outlets were available to plug in electronic devices. No amenity kit was given to any passengers seated in the economy class cabin. These items were absolutely not consistent with my experiences on the first and second flights on which I was a passenger of Etihad Airways.
I could do without the amenity kit; but for a flight whose expected duration is greater than eight hours, this does not bode well for electronic devices which either need to be plugged in — or, at least, recharged sometime during the flight.
Amongst what was consistent was that there were no air vents overhead and no snacks offered in the rear of the aircraft on long-haul flights, which was my experiences on the first and second flights on which I was a passenger of Etihad Airways. Fortunately, the in-flight entertainment system was basically the same — which helped to compensate for the loss of USB ports and electrical outlets — but there was no forward camera or landscape camera options to view.
The red seats were obviously different from the gold and brown color scheme used by Etihad Airways. Unfortunately, there was a metal box in the middle which gave me less room for my legs and feet to be comfortable — again, not something I encountered before with Etihad Airways.
There was an extra pocket on the back of the seat; but it was flimsier than the ones found aboard aircraft operated by Etihad Airways.
There was one feature that was interesting: on the left of the back of the seat was this button…
….which — when pushed — a miniature light for the tray table protruded from the back of the seat. While it was not an incredibly significant feature, I thought it was something with which I would not mind seeing other airplanes equipped.
Many of the features and functions on the back of the seat were similar to aircraft operated by Etihad Airways…
…although on the right side of the back of the seat was this indentation with a small hole. It did not appear to have any functionality and seemed to simply be a waste of space.
Shown below is an overview of the interior of the aircraft, which had a seating configuration of 2-4-2…
…with a photograph of the entire back of a typical seat in the economy class cabin.
All of the passengers received a hot towel before being served a small bag of savoury snacks — resembling miniature Ritz crackers — not long after departure; along with beverages.
Because I ordered a special meal — seafood was my choice — I and others who ordered special meals were served first, as has been protocol on other flights operated by Etihad Airways.
Once again, the food was delicious: fish in a tomato-based sauce with rice and vegetables; a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce; cheese and crackers; a roll sealed in a plastic bag and butter; a bottle of water; and dessert.
During the middle of the flight, a bag of caramel corn was served. While it is not my favorite snack, it was tasty.
Approximately five hours later during the flight and 90 minutes before arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport, a snack was given out to the passengers by the flight attendants.
Mine was a seafood snack, which was a wrap of minced fish with a sweet spicy sauce that had a nip to it. I enjoyed it.
This was also the flight where the passenger who was sitting next to me spent most of the time we were aboard the airplane fidgeting; tapping his hand on the window; shaking his legs to the point where the row of seats were consistently vibrating where it felt like non-stop turbulence; bumping his elbow into me while attempting to straighten himself out; and slapping his hand on one leg every time he tapped on the screen of the in-flight entertainment system, which he tapped so hard that the person seated in front of him would turn around and glare at him. While that was not the fault of Etihad Airways, that did not help matters any for me.
Once again — as with the last flight before taking off for Johannesburg — buses was needed to transport all of the passengers from the airplane to the terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where I had a long overnight layover; and the buses were crowded. Also as with the last flight, I would have preferred that more food was served.
If I were to rate the first three flights on which I was a passenger of Etihad Airways, the first flight would rate the highest; followed by the second flight; and then this flight — primarily due to the aforementioned reasons. That is not to say that this was a bad flight, as the flight was fine overall; but it was not up to the first two flights which I experienced. Once again, I was somewhat mildly disappointed overall when I compared this experience to that of the first flight and second flight, as Etihad Airways is supposed to be known for its superior quality versus its competitors — including in the economy class cabin.
All photographs ©2015 by Brian Cohen.