My impressions after 15 hours of Etihad…

Hello from New York, where I’m in the midst of a circle trip of sorts (I need to be in Florida by tomorrow yet I’m flying to the west coast tonight – I have no clue what I’m doing).

I just flew Etihad Airways Diamond First from Abu Dhabi to New York, the same exact route I flew last November, as some of you may recall from my trip report.

Map to New York

Last time I wasn’t terribly impressed by Etihad. While the seat was among my favorite in the sky, the service and food left a bit to be desired.

Diamond First suite

In a way today’s flight was like déjà vu. The flight left from exactly the gate as last time, and in many ways the flight was very similar.

Etihad A340-500 bound for New York

I will say the service and food were a bit better then last year. There was an onboard chef who was pretty knowledgeable about the menu and great at making recommendations, though I can’t say the same for most of the rest of the crew. They were friendly in a distant way, if that makes any sense.

Arabic mezze

Beef tenderloin


Nonetheless it was a very pleasant flight – I got some sleep, watched a few movies, and had a couple of good meals. I’ll have more on the flight with the trip report, though there’s one other thing I have to mention that drives me bonkers.

Bed mode

Why do non-US airlines keep their cabins so uncomfortably warm? You can always layer and use a blanket, though there’s only so much clothes you can take off. Foreign airlines consistently keep their planes at sauna-like temperatures, made even worse by the fact that they typically don’t have individual air nozzles. I’m almost tempted to fly US airlines longhaul simply for access to an air nozzle and a cool cabin, as it’s really tough to sleep if you’re sweating, no matter how comfortable the seat is.


  1. Well, FWIW, the UA flight I had the other day kept alternating between unbearably hot and too cold. So you could go to sleep under the covers during a cold spell only to wake up sweating from the heat. So it’s not just foreign carriers that have this issue.

  2. “I’m almost tempted to fly US airlines longhaul simply for access to an air nozzle and a cool cabin”

    – said no one.

  3. I just did LH First to FRA in a 747 and have to agree – was really difficult to sleep as I was melting in the heat!

  4. Isn’t that air nozzles I see by the head in the pic of the seat? Right at your noggin, when not reclined.

    I wonder if the warmer temperature is related to the dresses and skirts most foreign FAs wear, as opposed to what I assume are the warmer pants of the US FAs. I have never worn a skirt so I don’t know for sure…

  5. Ben, do you how the 77W cabin on EY compares with what you just flew? I know they operate on the LHR leg that I am considering…

  6. @ canuck_in_ca — It was technically an air nozzle, though no air came out of it. Booo!

    @ mike — I don’t believe they have a first class cabin on the 777s, so that would be the major difference.

    @ cindy — No, I didn’t want to pay the fuel surcharges for both directions.

  7. I might be wrong but as I understand it; Air comes in from outside and is superheated by waste heat o fthe engines. It takes tremendous cooling to cool it off.
    I have usually found temps to be too cool (related to body cycles during sleep) and have most been disturbed by huge swings in temperature. the swings seem to be related to cabin crew making setting changes back and forth as pax complain.
    Non-stop mideast to USA is very possible, LY has been doing TLV- east coast and west coast for years. It was a concern for early series 747, especially westbound.

  8. I flew in biz on the RGN-LAX jumbo at the beginning of the month. It was my first transoceanic flight in business class and was on KE’s 747. It was the most uncomfortable flight I have ever had (even worse than plenty of 12+ hour economy flights) because it was so hot in the cabin. At least when it’s cold, I can somewhat sleep, but no matter how much space you give me, I’m never going to fall asleep when it’s 85-90 degrees in the cabin!

  9. The way the AC packs work on aircraft is they have to create cold air from the hot engine bleed air and mix it with hot bleed air to get the right temperature. Lower cabin temps require more bleed air to be cooled by the packs and therefore requires more air to be bled off which lowers engine efficiency. So pilots frequently raise the cabin temperature as a standard operation to improve fuel burn. It seems counter-intuitive since the air outside is -40 degrees, but that’s the way it is.

  10. @ db — I did and it didn’t help.

    @ Lantean — I used American miles.

    @ mike — Ah, I wasn’t aware of that. Should be the same product in that case.

  11. RE: Curb Your Enthusiasm…

    I now know it’s not just #femaleproblems. I am a black woman! I suppose that’s the knockout duo for coldness. I am an 82 kinda gal. Seriously though. My thermostat is at 84 right now.

  12. Air nozzles mean nothing if nothing comes out of them. I just got off a miserable AA domestic flight where no air was coming out of those nozzles no matter how hard i tried.

  13. I have found it to be a problem on American too. In fact, the temperatures are very uneven – hot in row 12 on the 777 and quite cool in the kitchen in front of row 8!

    Best service ever – on SQ, on Xmas day a few years back, it was way too warm for me but that’s how my wife likes it so I didn’t ask to have it lowered. Instead I asked for some cold towels.

    So for the next SIX or SEVEN HOURS, I got two FROZEN towels, EVERY 15 minutes!

  14. I flew them in F on this route in Feb. The crew was good, but didn’t smile, and seemed indifferent. There were also a bunch of non-rev pax in F (yes, EY lets employees sit in F on this route for about $1500 if I remember correctly) which was not desirable as they kept chatting with the crew (though nowhere near as bad as ’employee class’ on UA). The food was great, and I didn’t think the cabin was hot at all, it was pretty mild. Overall it was a good flight!

  15. I flew business class with them using AA miles in March 2012. Business cabin first row. I think the temperature might be a gender preference as I detest how cold American carriers keep their airplanes. I think the temp on most airlines in Asia is just right. I tend to dress in layers, but as a I favor summer.. well, there you go.

  16. Lol. Lucky is ridiculous. Kid needs to get a job and stop complaining about the smallest things! This comment will likely be moderated but oh well!

  17. @BigA No problemo!

    @LA Hahah! If you have trouble thinking about/focusing on “First World Problems,” this is the LAST place you should be spending time 😉

  18. I’ve not flown on a US airline before but I was shivering when i woke up onboard TG J this month. Psychological maybe?

  19. @ BigA — No, 90,000 miles per person in first class.

    @ Chris S. — It is indeed awesome. Mentioned it in my previous trip report. 😀

    @ Chase — Interesting about the non-revs. That would explain some things…

    @ LA — No moderation here!

  20. @Paul S – Yes that is roughly how packs work but the idea that it cost more to keep a cabin cool is wrong. The amount of bleed air the packs use is controled by the the pack flow valve which we set to low when we have less than 115 pax on board. I am a U.S. major A320 captain and usually i keep the cabin a about 72 deg. depending on the load. but on the newer A320 the design was changed to give the FA’s control of the temp, which is how it works on large A/C. The FA/s tend to keep the cabin warmer than I would by 2 to 4 deg, because the galleys have limited airflow so they get cold on our transcons. So if you are hot just ask the FA to cool it down a little because if no one complains then they think everyone is happy.

  21. Oh no, not the temperature thing again. The world outside the Americas is comfortable with those temperatures.

  22. sadly, flying EY F is one of those great AAdvantage benefits that has a high chance of vanishing given QR joining oneworld.

    it definitely feels more classy that all those Trump-style gold trim that EK loves.

  23. Do you get the car service on both ends for trips booked on AA miles? Need to go to DXB for an MBA trip next year and don’t particularly want to pay for transport from AUH into Dubai.

  24. your seriously complaining? I’m about to board a MR/business trip which will take me from ORD-ATL-JAX-JFK-TLV returning TLV-JFK-BWI-DTW-STL all in coach or EC delta….bec i didnt have enough for a first award ticket and your complaining about your suite in the sky?!?!?!?

  25. I found Etihad on this route more enjoyable than Cathay or SQ or LH. I found the service was very efficient, courteous and quick. I really don’t need them to rub my d***, literally, emotionally or otherwise. For me the seat itself is the best in the sky especially when traveling with a partner. Sorry to hear about the heat problem, I did not get that on my EY flight but have had it randomly on other flights. I think it has more to do with the particular crew than any one airline

  26. @Troy. Recently used the car service to get to Dubai when flying into AUH with EY F using AA miles. It should work the other way as well as long as you’re flying either J or F. You’ll need to schedule the car pickup. If I recall correctly, I had to request the EY PNR from AA and I used that to book the car service.

    On another note, I had no temperature issues with my EY flight. Very enjoyable flight and great crew service.

  27. that is always my biggest complaint when the cabin is too hot. I bought a portable USB fan that I take with me on flights now for this very purpose.

  28. I hate to run down your favorite airline, but LH is one of the worst…NH is absolutely the title-holder in terms of air cabin temperature, which necessitates a few scotch-infused comments from me when I fly them….sometimes…okay, every time…

  29. I completely agree with Lucky. You can always add more layers but there’s a limit to what you can take off.

    FWIW, I flew Thai F a few times last year and found they kept the cabin comfortably cool.

  30. I am almost certain that keeping the cabin warm is a cost saving measure. In order to have cool air, they have to use air conditioning because the air they bring in from outside the aircraft at altitude has to be compressed to pressurize it which causes it to heat up to almost 300 degrees.

  31. Low humidity in flight. Adding moisture would drop the temperature without needing to cool the air. I wonder if this is how the 787’s work it?

  32. Funny that you would mention the hot air temperature and no air nozzle. I just flew Etihad from Abu Dhabi to New York yesterday. I realized at times during the flight that it was very hot (but at other times cold). At one point when it was hot, I looked around and reached up for what I thought was an air nozzle, but it was something covered with a plastic plate. I never realized before that Etihad does not have individual air vents and adjustable nozzles. Interesting.

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