Flight Report : Cheap Christmas in Germany with Etihad - Heading Home

Munich - Abu Dhabi

Munich's airport is quite a distance from the city compared to Frankfurt, but I couldn't find a cheap fare out of FRA, so MUC would have to do. The 40-minute ride in the early morning was uneventful, but I was not expecting such a huge line to get through the 1 immigration counter for non-EU passports open this morning.

45 minutes later waiting in a line that could not be discerened due to the small space, I got through. Good that I left some extra time today. Some of the folks ahead of me going to Turkey were a bit anxious about their flight being boarded with so many still ahead in line. We couldn't even get past the automated security gate with such a huge backlog of people. Interestingly, some people who scanned their boarding passes but could not squeeze in were still able to open the gate by scanning the same boarding pass again.

Etihad's departure time in the morning is not quite good compared to the alternative of flying Emirates. I scored a very cheap fare so should not complain. Welcome to the A340.

I wasn't going to make the mistake of boarding too early and watching them play the list of their destinations over and over again!

There are a few interesting birds here today, such as this Oman Air.

It was a bit chilly this morning, so the pilot decided to de-ice before we take off. We taxied to a spot near the take-off position and the sprayers arrived shortly.

With the markings of the colourful de-icing liquid still dripping, we set off into a sunny sky.

Vienna is nearby.

Snacks and a first round of drinks were served. I asked for a tea, but was told it could only be offered after the meal service. So much for a premium service carrier. I wonder whether they were trained to give these types of non-responses?

Looks like a very structured small town somewhere in Eastern Europe.

I kept an eye on the map for the Black Sea. The crossing didn't take so long. We were over Turkey in no time.

Lunch is served, and so was my hot tea. Service in general was consistently slow. The carts slowly creeped through the cabin, and took even longer to return to collect the trays.

We sliced through central Turkey and passed some stunning landscapes. I visited Turkey a few years ago and had a great time exploring its cities, history, and natural beauty.

This type of low-level fog/clouds was quite common throughout my stay in Germany. It seemed to have lingered over Turkey as well.

We didn't go anywhere near Syria and seemed to have skirted northern Iraq too and then headed south towards the Persian Gulf. Strangely, we climbed further up to almost 40,000 feet minutes before descending into Abu Dhabi.

They collected our small noise-cancelling headsets as we descended so I looked out for some views for the seemingly long way to the runway.

We landed at a bus gate (no surprise) and I had quite some time to kill before my connection to Hong Kong. I ventured into T1, breezed through security (laptop didn't need to come out), and headed to T3 to see if it was just as bad a hell hole.

This appears to be the vision under construction. Hopefully they will turn this old Doha into the new Doha very soon, and make arrivals and transfers more painless.

T3 is a new terminal that was far more comfortable and fit for a supposedly premium Middle Eastern carrier.

I didn't know CNN operates restaurants as well, but they do have a big studio in Abu Dhabi.

Unfortunately, my flight back to Hong Kong would leave from the ugly and old T1. Well ... at least we had a gate. You can wrap it all you want but crap will stay crap no matter how much dressing goes on top.

Abu Dhabi - Hong Kong

I received an email a few days before my departure to upgrade my deeply-discounted ticket to Business Class at a fairly reasonable price. I pondered for a while to upgrade just the red-eye from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong with an affordable minimum bid, hoping for a substantially better experience and a lie-flat bed. But I cheaped out in the end, saving the money for another trip a few months down the road for Chinese New Year.

Boarding was late but I took my time to be amongst the last to board and not have to sit and wait. The IFE wouldn't be turned on until after departure. We departed into the night sky for the much shorter 6.5 hour hop to Hong Kong. The headwinds must have been strong since the other way took 9 hours. Like the inbound, it was an A330 with new features compared to the A340 such as a socket and USB plug. We got a Mandarin-speaking crew on this flight, plus a whole slew of Eastern European languages.

We ascended right above Dubai, where I was able to see Burj Khalifa all lit up. But it was not possible to capture that on film in the night sky.

After dinner (seemed I ate airplane food all day), I took a few short naps and we landed in Hong Kong at 2am Munich time / 9am Hong Kong time. I remember eating the exact same main dish on the outbound.

Service Summary

Transiting in Abu Dhabi is not an appealing option when prices with Emirates are very similar. However, construction of the new terminal looks promosing so I will consider coming back to try it out in the future.

Etihad does not impress me at all. But I got a cheap trip to Europe for Christmas in reasonable comfort. I guess I got what I paid for.

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