They Ran Out Of Food In Etihad First Class… AGAIN!!!

As many of you may recall, I flew the inaugural Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles in first class.

For the most part I love Etihad first class — the seat is quite comfortable and private, service is fairly good, and the food concept is well thought out (in theory), with their onboard chef and dine on demand menu.

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Etihad 777-300ER first class seat

The problem is that they don’t load enough food.

Etihad has a “dine on demand” concept so you can eat what you want when you want, but on my flight to Los Angeles had almost nothing left four hours before arrival. That’s a bit embarrassing for an inaugural flight, but I figured I was just really unlucky, as there’s no way that can be the norm on one of the world’s top airlines.

I flew Etihad Airways first class from Abu Dhabi to New York yesterday, which was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. The advantage of the 777 over the A340-500 is that it has only eight first class seats rather than 12.

I was the only passenger booked in first class a couple of hours before departure (the flight was “F7,” so they were still selling seven of the eight first class seats), but then there were seven operational upgrades to first class.

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Etihad 777-300ER first class cabin

The flight was way oversold in economy.

Way oversold.

There were roughly 20 operational upgrades to business class, and then another seven to first class. So the first class cabin went out full.

I had a crazy week of travel, so initially just wanted to sleep. Before takeoff I placed my order with the chef — I said I’d like the arabic mezze, a beef filet, and then the warm date and apple pie for dessert. I explained I wanted that about five hours into the flight, after sleeping for a bit.

They gladly complied, and after a nice nap I did wake up and was served my meal.

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Etihad Airways first class arabic mezze

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Etihad Airways first class main course

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Etihad Airways first class dessert

The flight was over 13 hours, and the wifi was fast, so I spent the next several hours working.

Then about three hours before landing I figured I’d have my pre-arrival meal. I was tempted by the spiced spinach and white bean soup,  fish biryani, and dessert taster.

After my last Etihad flight where they ran out of food, I went to the galley and said (jokingly, I thought), “so, do you guys have any food left, by chance?”

The crew giggled, I figured because they thought the concept of running out of food in first class was preposterous (as did I, till I last flew Etihad Airways).

“We were just talking about that. We actually don’t really have anything left. We have fruit and chips, if you’d like.”

So it’s not the crew’s fault — they were actually lovely — but I mentioned to them that this was my second longhaul flight in a row with them where they literally ran out of food. I asked if the reason was because the cabin filled up last minute, though they explained the cabin was actually catered for eight passengers.

And they still ran out of everything!

Etihad: this is totally freaking unacceptable.

I’ve flown roughly four million miles, and on no flight on any airline have they ever run out of food in a premium cabin. And that doesn’t just apply to first class, but business class as well. Now on two flights in a row you’ve run out of food in first class.

Should Etihad’s Diamond First passengers really expect just one meal on a flight that’s 14 hours gate-to-gate (plus an extra two hour delay for US pre-clearance, which I’ll cover in a separate post)?

Yes, I partly accept fault. I should have learned from my experience last time and ordered all my food upon boarding. It’s absolutely ridiculous that one has to do that in order to get a second meal in Etihad first class, and the crew does nothing to suggest that there’s a need for that, but I guess that’s what it comes down to.

Well, unless you just want a three course meal and then chips and fruit before landing. And if I had ordered another meal, I guess that means another person wouldn’t have been able to eat a second meal.

Etihad advertises a “dine on demand” menu and even has a “Kitchen Anytime” menu, with a selection of “items to enjoy any time during the flight.”

It’s actually amazing how big of a selection they have. Freshly made salads, sandwiches, bagels, chicken tortillas, fish and chips, afternoon tea, ice cream, baklava, etc…. and that doesn’t even account for the actual meal menu!

Etihad-Food-1 Etihad-Food-2

Etihad-Food-4 Etihad-Food-5

But it’s an absolute farce.

And it’s sad, because the product is great otherwise — the hard product is solid, the crews are good, but the catering situation is just an embarrassment.

And this doesn’t even begin to address how horrible the pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi is.

It gets worse by the month, which I hadn’t thought possible.

Based on talking to about a dozen Etihad employees about the pre-clearance facility, not a single one of them has worked even one on-time flight since the program started. But according to Etihad’s CEO, the program couldn’t be operating any better.

I find the entire situation absolutely mind-blowing.

I don’t even have a gif to express how ridiculous this is.

Oh well, I guess I’ll have to fly Etihad’s The Residence. Really they shouldn’t just be advertising that The Residence comes with a personal butler, but should also advertise that it comes with a private pantry. Now if only I could figure out a way to fund a ticket in The Residence! 😉

PS: Gary and I were recently asked by Flightfox to rank our top first class products. I ranked Etihad first class as number nine, Gary ranked it as number four. Gary, I was being generous with number nine, and I’m sticking to it. 😉

Comments

  1. Unbelievable!!! I can’t believe that either …. unless the pilots and first class crew members ate some of the first class food? I know crew gets their own ration of food but hey, if there is unordered food in first class, I’d think they can eat them? Just a thought.

  2. Obviously they shouldn’t run out of food. They designed the program, they should figure out how to make it work.

    That said, it does seem nearly impossible – with limited storage space – to make a menu that giant available on an as-desired basis. The number of combos, times, options – I do’t get how it would ever work perfectly.

  3. wow… just wow. at least they should have suggested to you to reserve the meals in advance to have picks over the operational upgrades.
    simply unacceptable.

  4. does the AUH pre-clearance have priority lines for First, biz, or US citizens ? i’m kinda scared now cuz i’m flying AUH-JFK in Dec

  5. I’m sorta leaning with @joey above. Just based on the math. There are 9 “mains” listed on the menu and 8 pax. Even only two of each item would have provided 2 mains – of something, even if not first choice – for each passenger, with a couple mains to spare. I can’t imagine they’d cater singles of an item in F.

    And that’s in addition to the fish&chips, steak sandwich, turkey bagel sandwich, chicken tortilla and “sandwiches to order”.

    Unless Lucky was travelling with a team of sumo wrestlers, I’m betting it wasn’t all consumed by the F passengers.

  6. You know what I’d say is mind-blowing?

    An airline that’s well regarded in the industry and by bloggers for their premium product is flying planes where they sell ZERO F seats to a market where you have a huge concentration of rich people (NYC), and where they fill the plane’s J AND F cabins by overselling Y.

    I’d say that within 18-24 months there will be partner award space in the Residences. You heard it here first. 😉

  7. @ Neil S. — Agreed, but it’s one thing if they run out of some options, but totally different if they run out of EVERYTHING. Maybe they need to rethink the concept and simplify the menu if they can’t deliver on it.

  8. Unbelievable! I hope you Tweet/email Eithad about this. My guess (as other noted) is that the crew eat some of the food. Otherwise it is a complete failure of their “Dine on Demand” program. I was supposed to fly AUH-IAD in December with my wife and kids (2 in F and 2 in J) but between this and the pre-clearance horror stories I’ll be switching to EK from DXB in J.

  9. I have a paid first class ticket on Etihad later this year from Abu Dhabi to New York. I just emailed my travel agent to see if he can switch me to Emirates. I’m not paying $15K+ for this.

  10. @ Anthony Thomas — They were well aware of the first incident as I had convos with several people at Etihad over it. Will reach out to them about this again.

  11. Strange this keeps happening to you, it has never happened to me on EY (it has on SQ).

    Something is fishy about it, though. If they were fully catered, with that menu, there’s no way 8 passengers could have cleaned them out. The math doesn’t work. Which suggests either (1) others ate the food, too or (2) they dumped the food too early after the main meal.

    Meanwhile, it may not have been 7 op ups. Very few airlines are as aggressive selling F buy ups as Etihad. Whenever I check-in at IAD there’s a sign telling passengers to ask about it. And the cabin goes from empty to full one way or another, without a full J cabin, so certainly not filling F for operational reasons.

    All that said, it’s pretty insane. You really ought not go hungry in F. Did you ask about food from another cabin?

  12. Next time as soon as they close the door you should order all the food you believe you will consume during the flight and store it on your “own pantry” next to your seat 🙂 At least you can guarantee you will not be hungry. Shame on you Etihad!!!!!!

  13. It actually does surprise me how airlines handle food sometimes. I don’t eat meat, which I always clearly indicate in my requests. I was flying business on United CUN-NYC last year and, by the time, the flight attendant got to me to take my order, they were out of the non-meat option. The flight attendant gave me the option to buy a snack box from coach, which is what I had to do. But… SERIOUSLY?

  14. Thats really risky of them. They have absolutely no idea how crazy and moody people get when they are hungry. I could take a 6 hours delay as long as I had bubbles and enough food for it. I couldnt take, though, a 02 hours delay without any of it. Damn it etihad.

  15. Ben, I have travelled F AUH-NYC once and AUH-SYD return twice in the last 3 months and EVERY time they have run out of food. One time they mentioned J was under catered and the food used there – unacceptable and last time they had to service economy breakfast to 3 F passengers that woke late – beyond unprofessional. I usually love Etihad but this seems to be a trend rather than an anomaly. Why do they have an on board chef of there is not enough food? I have complained as I am a statu FF but no reply

  16. My wife and I recently flew Etihad F AUH-JFK. We were pretty disappointed by the whole experience given all of the hype. We started off with a 2 hour delay due to the pre-clearance back up. They ran out of several food options immediately after take-off. The crew was friendly but pretty much absent during the duration of the flight. For a 13 hour flight we would have expected them to at least pass through the cabin and offer water on a regular basis. Aside from the hard product, the flight was a big letdown.

  17. its all those operational upgrades. They were like holy shiiiettt i get steak? omg i want two! and pour me another glass of champagne! oh and brandy and salad and more champagne.

  18. “totally freaking unacceptable””
    absolutely mind-blowing”
    “absolute farce”
    “ridiculous”
    “embarrassment”

    All of this for not getting a “pre-arrival meal”, or rather just being forced to have fruit and chips? Overreaction, much?

  19. @Johnny It sounds like you have no idea of how much it costs a ticket at Etihad First Class. We gotta consider that every passenger flying them actually paid what they charge.

    “Its all of this” and even more for not having a pre arrival meal, another bottle of champagne, and the list should never end for this.

  20. Flew Etihad AUH-LAX last week, had a tight connection coming in from Manchester and had to wait in that awful room for pre-clearance because my bags were not yet in the visual identification system. Then on the flight that was F 5/8 they ran out of almost everything by the time I ordered 2hrs outside LA. The chef had to come back 4 times to tell me something I had ordered was out, I eventually asked what do you have. Other than that the food was good and the service exactly the way I like it, mostly absent from the cabin except every couple hours and instantly there when I press the call button. Ii

    Now I think about it, I should have complained to Etihad so that they are aware that they have a real problem on their hands, especially at the pointy-end where fares aren’t the key driver for traffic

  21. Something has been out of the ordinary on your flights. Either:
    1. Undercatered
    2. Eaten by staff
    3. Eaten by other cabin
    4. Absolute hoggish F pax

    My whole family of 7 flew AUH-JFK in F on the 777-300ER and had 7/8 seats. The eighth was occupied by someone else. We ate a LOT. We each had two meals plus multiple snack menu stuff each. They ran out of CERTAIN popular snack menu items, but never ran totally out of any menu.

  22. the important and really the only Q is did they run out of champers (as you like to call it?) … cause if not, I see no travesty committed by EY here, despite the over-reaction 😉

    but you know who DiD run out of champagne, pretty much at the start of the flight and committed grave sins against humanity?! freakin’ AA — that too in Flagship F. why? cause apparently they were only given 1 bottle… for a completely full F cabin :/

  23. @Harry – Yes, he did using miles. If that is not an option or if the wan’t to have a different type of service for pax flying on an award ticket, then they should mention that. If not, you should receive the exact same service as any other passenger flying in F. The whole “you shouldn’t complain because you didn’t pay cash” is absurd. Now, I’d be even more pissed if I paid out of pocket, that’s for sure. Again, unacceptable!

  24. It sounds like you have spoken with people at EY. What was their response?
    Also, there should have been, when you sat down, a card with a comment e-mail address. I’d say send in your detailed comments and include a link to this blog. they need to take notice of this.

  25. While I can understand the negative sentiment towards OpUps for possibly eating all the food, it’s really quite irrelevant. The OpUps don’t know how much food the flight is catered for. They simply were upgraded to a J/F seat. A seat that Etihad sold/gave to them.

    If Etihad cared at all about their “valued” J/F pax, then the matter of whether certain passengers “deserved” to be in F or not is entirely irrelevant. Etihad promises to ensure there is proper food for their First Class cabin. Period. Etihad is not delivering, regardless of whomever else is in the cabin.

    Etihad is cutting corners for the passengers that pay the most.

    Not smart.

  26. On a separate note, has the preclearance process gotten any better? Additionally, they do have GE kiosks now, don’t they? I’m curious to what the wait time is like for GE; I’d like to spend some time in the lounge and not head to the gate 2 hrs prior to boarding

  27. Literally just got off the auh LAX flight in ethidad F and had the same two hour delay you did. People could not clear customs and they had to find the bags… I could see this getting really bad.

    Luckily they had food for all of us. I had three meals in the 16 hour flight.. The chef was great.

  28. I should fly Etihad because? What’s the reason again? Why should anyone spend X miles for First class on this airline? There are too many other, better choices…..

  29. Glad I flew Emirates instead of Etihad last time I went to Abu Dhabi. Their F service is great. (I like the bling.) And you’re not blowing it out of proportion because a big selling point of first class is the food and drink. In any class I would have been pissed if they ran out of food on a flight that long. Simply unacceptable. Maybe they shouldn’t have spent (WASTED) all their money on Alitalia.

  30. I book my suite up front to order first. I order everything on the menu to discreetly insert into plastic baggies in my carryon. Repeatedly. During the second half of the flight, I sell baggies to starving passengers (keep a menu and add pricing with a pencil).

  31. That’s sound ridiculous for first class service. Lately I flew Qatar airways Doha – Buenos Aires in Business class with 18.30 hours flight. They also have dine on demand concept on that flight and I saw people ordering food all the time. I myself had 4 meals on the flight. Upon landing in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires , I still can order anything from the menu.

  32. The preclearance in April was a complete nightmare and really ruins the ground experience as you have to leave the First lounge over an hour prior to departure. I figured it had to get better. I heard they had at least Global Entry kiosks working this time?

    My connecting flight from MLE-AUH had non-working lavs for the entire 4-hour flight (they even knew about it before departing). That was unacceptable. They gave me 10,000 EY miles credit for the fussing…and even AA was sympathetic and offered me compensation since it was booked on AA miles.

  33. A) You didn’t pay for the flight
    B) it’s not like you didn’t have any meal service
    C) it’s more important to take care of paid versus free (especially when your on OAL miles)
    D) maybe there were a few people who were trying to get as much as possible for free (sound familiar?)

    Whining like a big Nancy is very unbecoming. If you actually paid for the ticket with cash or THEIR miles (as evidence of a being loyal Etihad customer) then you could throw a hissy-fit. You do realize that staff knows who’s on what type of ticket so maybe it’s more advantageous to look after paying guests. Or maybe they’ve just got your number by now. If it’s such a worldwide tragedy, use your stash and fly on another carrier. Johnny was right!

  34. Ben

    As you have travelled on both Emirates and Etihad over the past week in First Class, who is your pick and why?

  35. You sound ridiculous and are losing credibility fast. I take many redemption F flights and would never think of complaining either onboard or post flight about no food. In fact, if they are running low on one item I will say “give me what is left, no problem” I, like you I am sure, get plenty to eat in the lounge beforehand regardless. Stop your complaining – or at least mention it and move on. Yes,Johnny WAS right.

    P.s. Maybe some of the pax from the us air lounge pocketed your extra meal.

  36. I can’t imagine F was catered for 8. How on earth is it even possible to prepare and board at the last minute that much additional F food for the op ups?

    I would suggest that for op ups they present the Y>J or J>F passenger the larger seat with the understanding that most of their meal (and possibly beverage) is of the original class of service.

  37. Forget the food. The fact that the preclearance thing is still not working is just a joke and an embarrassment. In an ideal world an intl F passenger should not have to leave a lounge in advance to make a flight — they should be boarded (either via escort, car service, or direct to the plane a la Emirates) just as the door is closing. A poor ground experience can ruin the start to a good trip and it is a shame they bungled it so badly here.

  38. To those folks who are complaining that Ben is over reacting: I don’t read this post as “whining.” It is a report that for the second time in a row, an airline that markets its first class product as being superior in part because of its expansive menu and dine on demand service has flat run out of food. It is an important bit of information, and very surprising. I read this blog because I work hard at accruing miles, and I hope to get the best value out of them when I use them. Others are spending their cash for these tickets. If the airline is regularly failing to deliver the level of service it advertises, I am very grateful to know about it in advance.

    To those who feel the need to add personal insults: come on, you know your mom taught you better than that. 😉

  39. Johnny is wrong. He should go to the trip advisor website and rebuke every single negative feedback there.

    I value feedback whether positive or negative. It helps me gauge if I want to stay at that hotel or take a certain flight. I know how to read between the lines if the feedback is warranted or not. As you can see in the comments above from others that they have observed the same problem with the food. It is common sense to know that a person’s comments are subjective.

    Thank you Ben. Keep up with the great reviews!

  40. I agree that the math is off and there should’ve been food left; assuming that, even if you think the cabin crew was friendly and attentive, you have to fault them for parceling out F food to the other cabins, which would probably have been under-catered. It’s unacceptable from a service standpoint.

    P.S. Lulz Ben, troll much?

  41. “Now if only I could figure out a way to fund a ticket in The Residence!”

    Oh, just come out and ask people to try a second Kickstarter campaign already.

    If Etihad is posting a comment on here directly, it makes me wonder how many other companies are monitoring your blog?

    Lucky’s tone might or might not have been a wee bit over the top, but he does bring up a valid point. It is embarrassing for an airline to run out food in a premium cabin, especially for an airline that advertises itself the way Etihad does. Running out of an option or 2, I can understand, it does happen…but not having any food at all? That is embarrassing. As others pointed out, they either need to rethink their meal plan or monitor who exactly is eating this food…I wouldn’t be surprised if the crew was snacking on it or maybe even serving “wasta” passengers in business.

  42. Can imagine why some in the comment section think that only people on revenue tickets get to be treated seriously. I mean if I’m op-up I’d certainly shut my mouth, but there are things first class passengers are entitled to, award ticket or not. And it’s not like the miles come for free, we earn it the hard way (well maybe some paid for them, but hey they PAID) It’s just totally unacceptable that they can’t deliver what they advertised. Chips for breakfast, seriously? I bet people in coach eat better than that.

    And I don’t think Ben is whining here. We take his experience in so that we know what to avoid and how to get the most out of our trip, award or not. And he brings the matter to the attention of Etihad, which will certainly helps to improve passengers’ experience in the future, even if they don’t read OMAAT.

  43. Funny that all the ppl that doesnt agree with you reviewing it negatively will post an anonimous comment. I wonder if its just one person or more….

  44. Agree that the airlines clearly made an error in the food which is unacceptable in all classes IMO. Whether it was an error in estimation or an accountant clearly wanting to cut costs, it isn’t right. The airlines sell a premium product with amenities and expectations, it’s not like the US where you need to BYO. All you were asking for is to meet the expectation of being fed which sounds fair to me.

    I need to order a special meal when I fly so am stuck with what they give me which is why I always travel with a snack bag in business and first (yes, I am that person eating a sandwich and cookies with a side of wine or champagne). I’ve been on JAL when they ran out of bottled water in J (luckily only an hour out of JFK) and on a self serve SAA flight in J when the crew was nowhere to be found and I was unlocking the bins in search of water.

  45. just flew Etihad yesterday on F and was worried about food supply but ended with zero issues. Service is great and a lot of food on demand- all in great presentation and super delicious. So not everyboday as “lucky” and dramatic ad you are.

  46. To those above who continually say “you didn’t pay for it”, I think you misunderstand how mileage redemptions work. If I’m spending 100k miles one way (like I will be soon on an Emirates flight) I absolutely am paying for that flight. Those miles have real value to me and real value to the airline. And considering that the vast majority of non-award first class passengers had their employer pay for their ticket, I would argue an award passenger has much more of a reason to complain.

  47. If you actually paid for the ticket with cash or THEIR miles (as evidence of a being loyal Etihad customer) then you could throw a hissy-fit.

    If you book Etihad F with your Amex points doesn’t Amex send an actual cash payment when those miles are transferred?

  48. @ Charlie — I think they cater for a full cabin regardless, and the crew did confirm that. It seems like they were anticipating the op ups based on how oversold the flight was.

  49. Wow, interesting post indeed!

    It does bring up an interesting topic of whether there are (and whether there should be) hierarchies within a class?

    Even in premium cabins, there are full fare paying passengers and discounted ticketed passengers. Then there are those who paid for the ticket themselves // their company paid // they paid with miles // were upgraded by the airline.

    I wonder if the crew prioritize within these passengers, either explicitly or subconsciously.

    @ Charlie: “I would suggest that for op ups they present the Y>J or J>F passenger the larger seat with the understanding that most of their meal (and possibly beverage) is of the original class of service.

    That’s a good idea indeed.

  50. Ben, I’m with you 100%! It should not matter if you paid cash or green stamps… Running out of food in 1st is unacceptable. I flew 1st on Ethad and when we boarded (after waiting for over an hour at the gate, BS) my wife had to use the loo. The Chef would NOT let her in the toilet as the plane was being fueled. Okay I’ve been flying for a long time and never herd this one. Either way there was an indigenous woman in there and he let her go and he let her stay there and just about rubbed the fact in our face. (not to mention she was in business) Pretty shocking to see that treatment. I bet there was indeed food for some and not others, if you get my drift.
    They do not honor the One World policy’s well and are in insult to the program.
    Never mind the prison pillows!

  51. I really have no interest in accruing miles as I fly quite often on business; thus, I read OMAAT for the flight reviews. Ben had a very negative experience on an airline that markets itself as an uber-premium carrier. His reviews are extremely helpful when I’m determining my future travel plans.

    I don’t really understand all the livid critics on here. I’m sure, though, the airlines are happy to see so many people willing to put up with and justify mediocre service.

  52. John- AX pays a very small fraction of what the average airline mileage program sells miles for. They do not pay a percentage of the fare, never have, never will. The sky is falling because of a pre-arrival meal, period and it’s not like there wasn’t any food at all, and, there was (by his account) some food remaining.

    Obviously everyone thinks that award seat holders should have the very best royal treatment. From an airline perspective, maybe those award passengers with miles from their own program might be fawned over is one thing – but a partner award ticket where the passenger has not a single dollar of loyalty with the carrier being used – that’s another. Not that they’re mistreated but that passenger isn’t valued as much. Face it, close to a majority of people on awards, especially in first class, are there because of cc churns and the like. The airlines know it and it’s pretty easy to see during the boarding process too.

    It’s laughable so many posts have to do with “poor him” blah blah blah (there was a meal service, just not the prearrival one he would’ve wanted). On that flight, a person sitting in the back of the bus had more value to the airline than the one bitching like a little girl about a missed prearrival meal. The airlines know it and I’m surprised few people posting here can grasp that. If the airline is so bad, then why in the world fly with them??? Maybe all the good lines should adopt the LX premium policy. I’m glad they have it, another reason they’re a joy to fly with every time.

  53. Ron: you make a point of those in F who had their employer pay. You do realize the airline received full funding (be it a negotiated contract rate or a full C fare with a confirmed upgrade at time of ticketing or a full F fare) so you’re misinformed as to which passengers are more valued, by ANY airline. Let’s see: a full fare paying passenger, an award ticketed passenger using miles from the airlines own mileage program or award passengers using miles from another airline (translates into a non-rev/pass rider). Not too hard to calculate the pecking order, is it?

    Regarding those upgraded, those upgrades would’ve been determined by the ticketed amount paid and/or by status of any kind with Etihad, that’s ground staff s.o.p. – with any airline.

  54. CT –

    I am in no way misinformed, although you appear to be incredibly arrogant in your opinion.

    I was speaking to who has more of a right to complain, not who the airline values more.

    You should spend less time spouting the obvious as if it is an original opinion and more time listening and understanding. It will serve you far better in life.

  55. I am not arrogant and it’s unfortunate you think that. I am stating how, in the airline world, value is placed upon passengers. Sure, everyone has value but there is a pecking order. The fact you state an award passenger has so much more reason to complain than a passenger actually paying to sit in that first or business class seat is a mystery. They may have a reason to complain, but not an inflated reason to complain. Sorry you don’t understand how the airlines operate or their mindset.

    And if the airline in question is such a miserable, unbearable way to fly, then all those aghast and so severely offended really should select another carrier. It’s a prearrival meal. it’s not like there was NO meal service or NOTHING left in the cupboards. Suck it up.

    Oh and by the way, thank you so very, very much for the life lessons Ron. So very kind of you to be so caring.

  56. @Lucky, when the crew told you there wasn’t that much food left, did you ask them how they could have possibly run out of food? If so, what did they tell you?

    In addition, do you know whether the business class menu is similar to the first class menu (i.e. like Malaysia Airlines.) If so, perhaps a few passengers in business class ate 2-3x more than the others and by doing so ate some of the first class food.

  57. @ CT — so, your argument, distilled down to its essentials is: “a partner-award ticket holder has the least value of all passengers to the operating airline (save true non-revs), so therefore a person has no right to complain if he or she is short-changed on the promised experience.”

    In case you don’t see the patent ridiculousness of that assertion, including the fact that no airline CoC of which I’m aware makes a distinction between an award and a revenue ticket when it comes to the onboard experience, perhaps an analogy is apropos.

    Perhaps in the course of grocery shopping you’ve accrued enough points/credits to be entitled to a free meal (which entails, of course, items A, B, C, and D) at the internally located restaurant. You proudly take your free-meal voucher, present it to employee, he smiles and gives you A and B, not mentioning at all C and D.

    According to your logic, you have no right to complain, because… you got the voucher “for free.”

    Just sit there, shut up, and eat your A and B, despite the crappier experience with reduced benefits… benefits that were promised, and benefits that you *earned.*

    Yeah, sounds asinine to me, too.

    (Yes, people who spend on their CCs *earn* the miles, just as much as, if not more than, someone who earns them via BIS. Take a gander at the latest airline filings if you’re the least bit dubious of that claim.)

    Furthermore, despite what you apparently think, and as has been posted by others, there are people who read this blog who actually reach into their piggy banks and shell out $$$ for premium cabin tickets. These reviews are a service to those who do, because when it comes to forking over $13K for a revenue F ticket, I’d want two meals on a 14 hour flight, too.

    Sheesh.

  58. It’s a drag to run out of food and have to be hungry for awhile.

    Any thoughts on those on our earth who do this on a daily basis? Most of these comments show people who are fortunate enough to be entitled beyond most of human’s belief.

    I used to read this site, when I was a newbie. Now I only read it for the “mental flick” I like in order to keep me sane and grounded.

    I’m happy, happy beyond your ken, to not be a part of this greedy, selfish, entitled group of the worst of humanity.

  59. @ Hungry — Would love your thoughts on this scenario. You sit down in a restaurant, order a five course tasting menu, and after the third course they say “oh sorry, we don’t have the fourth and fifth courses.” Then they still charge you full price. Would you be okay with that?

  60. @lucky/hungry.

    But Lucky, there’s a slight difference. When you buy a five course meal, you’re paying for, and expect a five course meal. Indeed anything other than that would be a breach of contract. When you buy a First class ticket, you expect to be fed and pampered but the primary contract is still to get you from A to B; there is no contract that passengers are entitled to X number of meal courses.

    Having said that, I think people are taking this thread way out of context. I think Lucky’s point (sorry if I’m putting words in your mouth) is not that he was inconvenienced or that this happened to him, but rather, that in this hyper competitive environment, that an airline can run out of ALL food– not one dish, but everything; and on not on just one flight but two, is something to note.

    So, whilst I agree that in the larger scheme of life this is a non-issue, it is interesting from a travel perspective.

  61. And @ hungry, just to add, I may not be the arbiter of personality assessments, but I would hardly call our dear Lucky greedy or selfish.

  62. ———
    Adi-T says:
    It does bring up an interesting topic of whether there are (and whether there should be) hierarchies within a class?

    @ Charlie: “I would suggest that for op ups they present the Y>J or J>F passenger the larger seat with the understanding that most of their meal (and possibly beverage) is of the original class of service.

    That’s a good idea indeed.
    ———
    No, it is not.

    It’s absolutely irrelevant *how* someone got into first class. If they’re in First Class, they deserve First Class service.

    Quite simple.

    If Etihad cannot provide First Class service, then they should not call it First Class. There’s already a level of service where they give you extra leg room while still avoiding a food service. It’s called Economy+.

  63. AJK: thanks for your sane, even tempered comments. Here are my replies numbered to match your comments:
    1. I did not say there was no right to complain but to carry on like a lunatic over a pre-arrival meal is something altogether different, and he knows it. And if in fact the airline reads the flaming comments of indignation/revulsion, they will look to the source and I’m certain roll their eyes at the very least. Again it’s not like the guy had absolutely no meal service and they did have at the very least fresh fruit and the like. Never mentioned any consumption in the lounge…

    2. Not once did I state an airline makes a distinction in the level of service provided between an award passenger and a revenue passenger. Perhaps they didn’t have sufficient menu items or perhaps some people overindulged. Who knows. He knew it happened before, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to think perhaps preordering at once might be the clever thing to do. Don’t forget, a long time ago, someone, without mentioning names, would fly all over the country with super tight connections only to pick up thousands of miles and status by complaining.

    3. This is perhaps a bad example because if the in-house grocery store restaurant you mention ran out of items C and D, staff could just run down the aisle and pick up C and D, bring back to the kitchen, prepare and serve. Right? And if the waiter failed to mention items C and D, then the customer could simply say something to the waiter. The experience might have been slightly disappointing but to carry on like a drama queen is unjustified, unless the aim is to generate a mileage refund which wouldn’t be surprising.

    4. Yes, the airlines might bring in $$$ for selling miles via banks and cc issuers but the people who spend those miles for award seats (given away by those same banks and cc companies) really do not EARN those miles, they SPEND the miles.

    5. Yes, there might be some who participate in various blogs who spend money for tickets but you have to be completely honest – even if only silently to yourself – the vast majority of those participating in these blogs fly on at least F award tickets gained from sign up bonuses, churns, coin purchases and a plethora of other mileage earning schemes. And some regular legitimate cc spend as well. The guy knew is happened on his last award flight so chances are he was gambling it would happen again for reasons he alone knows but never will admit.

    And for the few who actually pay $10K+: Any intelligent, cosmopolitan traveler who’s planning an amazing vacation to include paid first class seats is not, if they’re even slightly with it, going to rely on blogs such as this. And those traveling on business would have input/guidance from at the very least their travel agent or corporate travel department. So the poster who’s stated he’s paying $15k obviously needs a real travel professional and not a blogger.

    Lastly, regarding the poor checkin/screening set up: the guy knew how abysmal it was way ahead of time so the overly dramatic claims of dismay, displeasure, blah blah blah is pure BS. Drama queen anyone?

  64. @lucky…

    I think it’s quite beyond your comprehension how gauche your attitude and comments are, but I’ll try to educate you.

    Let’s start with your moniker, “lucky”. Now, did you select this because in the beginning you were quite wealthy and could pay to travel anywhere first class?!
    Nope, you picked it because you felt lucky to have found loopholes in life that allowed you to travel like this even though you weren’t wealthy.

    This ridiculous attitude of entitlement that you have, even though you’re using loopholes and not actually paying the thousands of dollars normally charged for this, is one of the things that rub me (and many others who won’t comment) wrong.

    The second thing that rubs me wrong is that you GOT food! You just didn’t get enough for your greedy sense of entitlement!

    And for you to respond with your hypothetical, ‘but what if I had paid for…’ just shows how far down the rabbithole you’ve gone. No, YOU DID NOT PAY EVEN CLOSE TO FULL PRICE FOR THIS, even though you have greedy acolyte yes-people that will argue.

    To put your given example accurately, if I had won a trip to a restaurant with plane food, and I had filled up once, and then (because I wanted to pig out again, since it was free and I wanted to push my greed to the limits of greed) they had run out of the best (plane!) food, what would I do?

    1) I would feel fortunate that I had, through a loophole of life, gotten much, much more than for what I had paid.

    2) Realize that it was plane food and not a 5- or 4- (or even 3-) star restaurant.

    3) Feel fortunate that I had gotten a bunch of food already!

    4) Realize that sometimes the Universe sends one life episodes from which one can learn and become a better person.

    I’m sorry, LUCKY, but you, and apparently much of your remaining readership, have turned into an entitled jerk(s), who despite getting travel for a tiny fraction of the price, have decided you’ve both worked for and earned it, and all the rights that come to one who has paid full price (even though griping that you only got one meal and not two is beyond anyone’s “right”!).

    You should travel with me sometime, I’d work the humble right back in where it belongs.

  65. I don’t believe I behave in an entitled way. I wouldn’t dream of sending a dish back at a restaurant, for instance. I’ve gratefully eaten small dried fish in a Thai village far off the beaten track and all manner of “gross” things most Westerners would turn their noses up at.

    The key point the critics are missing is the difference between personal entitlement and measuring advertised services vs. actual services. Lucky does not once make a comment that shows feeling personal entitlement. In a number of others posts, he greatly emphasizes this fact that he doesn’t feel sorry for himself and that he has it super-nice already and he’s not complaining, just explaining. OTOH, it is perfectly appropriate for him to provide an honest accounting of how the advertised First Class experience differs from the actual First Class experience.

    (Tangentially, it does not matter how he’s in F. He paid for it fair and square, whether with miles or cash or operational upgrades or employee travel or whatever.)

  66. @Hungry

    Don’t you have better things to do than stand on an internet soapbox?

    Nobody gives a s**t about your rants.

  67. I think what a lot of the haters (I’d like to use many more descriptive expletives but I wont for the sake of blog decorum), anyways what a lotta folks are forgetting is that they didnt just run out of food for Ben… they ran out for EVERYBODY. it is fully conceivable that perhaps most of the cabin did not get a pre-arrival meal.

    so it IS an issue no matter how you slice it. thats the bottom line, EY’s service did not meet their own standards or advertised prowess for being the best, most premium, world-class airline. esp now that it’s happened more than once.

    I disagree with the premise that award ticket travelers are any less of a customer or any less loyal than someone who pays full retail (besides only fools pay full retail for anything) … the airlines make no distinction nor should they for diff fare classes as far as advertised service in that cabin goes. not to mention, EY willingly ‘sold’ this seat to Ben. it could very well have gone empty and thus EY collected some revenue, which is better than none since the plane would fly either way… the beauty of choice is that Ben could’ve flown EK or QR or any number of other airlines. he chose to fly EY and that is patently and definitively loyalty. a ticket is a ticket. business is business. I mean there’s a reason Pursers/FAs in your cabin dont look at your boarding pass and start treating you differently cause they see a certain fare class printed.

  68. Lucky is right for various reasons:
    1.This is what he does!compares airlines!
    Their service, their consistency etc…so it must be pointed out!
    2.Some of you were saying “he didnt pay for the flight so he cant complaint”
    I clearly dont get this!
    Its not like he was selected for this flight on ethihad charity event…
    He earned them thro collecting miles and it nowhere means he is lesser than those who paid full for the ticket..

    And one more thing ,Its not like he made any racist comments or degraded anyone!
    This is a travel/leisure blog so take it easy.

  69. Sorry I got a upgrade and this was my first time first class in any airline and I wanted to try everything and the crew never said No they were really awesome and suggesting menu items may be they thought I was a paying customer :-).Ethihad FC Food was awesome though sorry first timers maybe only timers eating all the food.

  70. I think we all try to be understandable when a first option is not available but to completely run out of food is rather ridiculous.

  71. Lucky, f$&@ing ban Hungry. He’s not a hater, but a spammer with a lot of damn time on his hands. Probably never went through college and he wants to “educate” you? HAHAHAHAHA

  72. Is this a real comment from Etihad ? Did you reply ?

    Etihad Airways says

    September 4, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Ben,
    We are sorry to hear about your recent experience with our first class service, please send us your booking details so we can look into this and get back to you.
    Email Socialmedia@etihad.ae
    Thanks*DP

  73. I think it is most likely the FAs that consumer the food as I also do not believe that they under-cater by such a substantive amount. Additionally, what blows my mind is that you’re the only so-called “rev” passenger even though may have been with miles, you should still have priority over the UPG passengers. The crew should have left something for you regardless. When traveling in F (on TG, SQ, LX, LH, CX, UA, QF, and NH) they always leave something (even small) for F pax when they’re sleeping. It is actually quite embarrassing for a company like Etihad to provide such poor catering service to F pax. I would actually blame the FAs as they did not plan properly as everyone should have 2 meals on such a long flight.

  74. I was actually an inflight chef for Etihad until the end of 2014. I complained to catering on every flight that I didn’t have enough food loaded to give the guests a decent choice. Catering took no responsibility as they are told the quantities they are allowed for certain destinations and number of guests. I made reports after every sector about quantities and quality and no one gave a damn… Just not interested. I was told to be more creative!!! What with… Fresh air?? Totally embarrassing on many occasions when I couldn’t even give guests their choice for just one meal!!!

  75. Silver Star’s comment is very interesting! As Lucky has pointed out, the discrepancy between striving to be truly great yet running out of food is alarming. Etihad has invested huge sums in the Residence and Apartment. They runn multi-page ads in major papers (I saw one spread in the Sydney Morning Herald) touting their exceptional first and business service. They brag about the chef on board, the chauffeur service, etc. How can they then fail to execute, and not seem to care?

  76. I am having the same experience on the Etihad flight I am currently on. Thank you for this helpful blog post — seems this is a long running problem. I’m in business from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles and asked for something 2.5 hours to Los Angeles. Am told I can have cookies and that’s all they have. I gently asked why they don’t stock more food for such a long flight, and I am told “Passengers haven’t stopped eating for 14 hours.” Seemed kind of rude to me, considering it’s a daytime flight and 14 hours (plus all the time we spent in the pre-clearance area thus not eating in the lounge) is a long time to have only one (mediocre) meal. I have also emailed them but don’t expect anything to come of it. And for all the people talking about it, I am a paid business class customer.

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