Introduction: A Hop to the Maldives
Review: Park Hyatt New York
Review: Emirates Lounge JFK
Review: Emirates First Class A380 JFK-DXB
Review: Park Hyatt Dubai
Review: Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Review: Emirates First Class 777 DXB-MLE
Getting to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa
Review: Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Review: Etihad Business A330 MLE-AUH
Review: Etihad First Class Lounge
Review: Etihad First Class A380 AUH-JFK
Review: American Business A321T JFK-LAX
It was hard to say goodbye to Hadahaa, but after a week in paradise it was time to head home. Getting back to Male airport from the Park Hyatt involved a reverse of the same ordeal as getting there: a boat to Kooddoo followed by an hour plane ride to the capital on a Dash-8. You can read about what it was like the first time around here. Thankfully, the return was much less eventful – the weather was calm, it was a beautiful day, and the Park Hyatt sent us back on a bigger, slower boat.
We arrived at Male airport around 5PM, and a Park Hyatt representative escorted us from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. The airport was a bit of a zoo – it’s relatively small, somewhat a maze, and very crowded. But, overall, it’s air-conditioned and clean, so it did the most important things well. By the time we got through security and customs we had about an hour to kill before boarding our 7:30 PM flight, which we killed in the Leeli Lounge. It’s nothing to write home about, so I won’t.
At 6:45, boarding began!
As excited as I was for each different piece of this trip, it was probably the flights home that were at the top of my list. I had been blown away by the whole concept behind Etihad’s A380 First Apartments since they debuted in 2014, and largely built this trip around finally being able to experience them.
Even the short flight from Male to Abu Dhabi had much to be excited about. When I booked the ticket, we were scheduled to fly on a single-aisle A320 for the three and a half hour flight. About a month later, the flight was upgraded to an A330-300. Unlike the A320, the A330 has First and Business Class cabins, but, because of ticketing issues on the side of American Airlines, I was never able to get our tickets reissued to give us seats in First. No problem. I saw this as an opportunity to review another class of service on Etihad!
Etihad’s A330-300 divides Business Class up into two cabins: a one large, and one small, with only 8 seats, just behind First Class. We were in the forward, mini-cabin.
Business Class seats are in a forward-facing 1-2-1 layout. We had seats 5C and 6A, window seats that alternate, one closer to the aisle, the next closer to the window.
Being in the smaller of the Business Class cabins meant that we had a ton of privacy and there were not many people moving through the aisle, even with every seat full. I was offered a glass of champagne, which I gladly accepted, and I got ready for our short hop back to the Arabian Penninsula.
The seat itself was a mixed bag. I had never before flown on this sort of business seat setup, and I enjoyed the ample personal space. The seat laid flat into a fantastic bed with more than enough room in sleep mode. But when upright, I could feel a metal bar underneath me through the seat cushion, which was incredibly uncomfortable. Danielle could feel the same in her seat. It’s clear that these seats have seen better days, and I imagine that the same seat type on newer planes (like the A380) don’t experience this.
Takeoff was smooth and quick, and in no time the flight attendants were back in the aisle offering dinner service. I wasn’t that hungry, so I decided to only try the Arabic Mezze, which I had read much about prior.
The mezze plate consisted of hummus, tabouleh, dolma, olives and the like, and was served with pita and a bread basket. The tray came with adorable magnetized salt and pepper shakers, which may have accidentally found their way into my carry on.
I wasn’t that hungry, so I nibbled on the mezze and decided to pass on a main course. I did find room, however, to try the dessert, a pair tart with vanilla sauce. For my readers!
At this point I decided to try to get some shut eye. We only had a short few hours left in the air, but we would be arriving in Abu Dhabi at 10:30 PM, and then not leaving for New York until 3:30 AM, and I had a ton I wanted to do in the airport during those wee night hours. A nap would help ensure that was possible.
I reclined my seat into bed mode and, like that, was out. I’m sure the champagne helped!
I woke up as we were starting our descent. There wasn’t much to see out the window, as we were flying over desert at night. But we had a smooth touch down and were soon enough saying goodbye to our final moments with the commoners in Business Class, as we were transitioning from this moment forward into the exclusive club of Etihad Apartments First Class.
First Class Lounge, here we come!
Coming up: The most extravagant lounge in the world, my night in Abu Dhabi, and an apartment in the sky.