Trip Report: Umrah in the last 10 nights of Ramadan 2015
- Didn’t see this coming! Umrah in Ramadan Overview
- Muslim friendly Zurich: An evening in Zurich & what to do on a short layover
- Hotel Review: Raddison Blu Zurich Airport
- Etihad Business Class Studio Dreamliner 787 Zurich – Abu Dhabi Review
- Etihad Airways Arrivals Lounge Abu Dhabi
- Review Aloft Hotel Abu Dhabi
- Gulf Air Nightmare
- Gulf Air A320 / A321 Abu Dhabi / Bahrain / Jeddah Business class
- Hyatt Regency Makkah Hotel Review
- Intercontinental Hotel Dar Al Tawhid Makkah
On our way from Zurich to Abu Dhabi for Umrah I decided to take advantage of the miles I had accumulated and experience the hyped up Etihad business class studio.
They had just announced they were devaluing their program and I wanted to book some flights so I can use them before the devaluation. The Ramadan Umrah was the perfect trip for this and sounded too much fun to ignore. Initially I was looking into flying from Abu Dhabi to London on the A380 in first class but I could not find availability up until January 2016 for the dates that worked for me.
I wanted to avoid the taxes and pay the maximum cash I could on these flight since I didn’t have all the miles for first class. Unfortunately first class was not available even from London to Abu Dhabi and the one day I did find came with a hefty £500 in taxes. Considering I didn’t have enough points nor did I want to spend so much on taxes, I decided on the second best option. Etihad’s business studio on the Dreamliner 787 from Zurich to Abu Dhabi was only £50 in taxes and 36,000 miles each; which was less taxes than London; plus it was also only available on the day I wanted which was great.
As I posted before we spent an evening in Zurich and the night at Radisson Blu Airport hotel which I reviewed recently. In the morning we set out for our Etihad experience. From the hotel to check-in it was about a 10 minute walk. We checked in pretty fast and went to immigration. Getting through immigration in Zurich was a breeze and we were within the terminal in less than 10 minutes.
Our seats were 6E / 6F in the smaller cabin of the plane just behind first class. I much prefer this cabin as it is more private with only 8 seats; there was only 1 seat available in First class and the plane did seem pretty busy elsewhere too.
The seat was big and comfortable, plenty of space to store your luggage and I did like the luxury finishes. It is definitely a comfortable seat and it does offer some good privacy for hijab travellers like myself.
Staff are polite but not overly intrusive. My service was very good and the cabin member was a good laugh too. We talked about Abu Dhabi, the places to visit and life in the air. On the other hand my husband’s cabin staff was pretty much absent and if we needed something we always had to press the button and wait and wait. I know that service is on demand but I would like to have a little bit more of it. It leaves something to be desired.
Food was good. Much better than I expected. I love the fact that I can have a halal steak in the air. I love steaks, but many good steak-houses are off-limits due to them being non-halal.
One thing I was not impressed with and I think it comes back to being proactive with customer service is the fact that we did travel as a couple. However we ate separately. I would have liked if we can eat as a couple since we were sitting next to each other enjoying the flight while one of us was eating at a time. Orders for food were taken at the same time or with 5 minutes difference yet my husband was on his dessert stagewhen my starter arrived. I think it comes down to the fact that they take orders by row but still I am sure it would have been easy to serve us together. Or again it might just be me.
Another thing that made an impression on me is the fact that when I asked for slippers they said they don’t offer any for flights less than 12 hrs. Even AirBerlin offers slippers in business class. I mean how much more expensive would it have been? If you are a Muslims who needs to make ablution you will know it makes your life so much easier because of the fact you need to wet your feet. I usually carry my own slippers but I thought it wasn’t necessary this time.
My favourite part of the flight was being able to pray. I love the feeling of praying in the air. It is truly magical to see the clouds and feel “closer” to your Creator. The staff were nice and offered me a prayer mat and some privacy with a curtain. A very nice touch.
I did sleep during the flight for about 1,5hrs. The bed was comfortable and the blanket was nice and fluffy and for a 6 hours flight it was a short and sweet trip.
Overall I liked the flight. Definitely much better than economy and a good treat before devaluation. Now the same flights would have been almost double. We arrived fresh in Abu Dhabi and we had our chauffeur waiting for us after a short stop in the Arrivals lounge.
The flights cost:
London to Zurich – £35 taxes + 8,000 Avios for two (In cash £300 with British Airways)
Zurich to Abu Dhabi – £209 taxes + 60,000 Etihad miles for two in Business Studio, cash and points. ( In cash for two £4,700 as above)
I had accumulated the miles via the Etihad credit card sign up bonus two years ago and also transferring Amex points with the 25% bonus points.