Etihad Now Serves Caviar In A380 First Class

Etihad Airways has been doing a ton of cost cutting lately, given the financial situation they’re in. While I can appreciate their need to cut routes and disinvest in (unprofitable) partner airlines, I’ve been disappointed by the degree to which they’ve been cutting back their own product. We’ve seen some significant cutbacks in all cabins, both on the ground and in the air.

That’s why I think it’s noteworthy that Etihad seems to be improving their first class service in a pretty major way. Etihad publishes the menus for all of their flights online, and it would appear that all A380 flights now have caviar service in first class.

This is a new addition, and the service is described as being a “signature caviar service,” consisting of Russian Oscietra with traditional garnishes. It would appear that non-A380 routes aren’t getting caviar, so I guess they’re differentiating the A380 soft product.

Historically Etihad hasn’t served caviar in first class, though they have served it in The Residence, which is the private three room suite with butler service located at the front of the A380 upper deck. When I flew The Residence last year from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, I did indeed have caviar service.

I’ve always found it odd that Etihad didn’t serve caviar, especially as Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest caviar factory (or at least it was as a couple of years ago). So along those lines I’m also surprised that now that they’re serving caviar, they’re offering Russian caviar, rather than Abu Dhabi farmed caviar, as you’d think they’d want to feature a product from their home (not to mention that they could probably get it much cheaper). Not that I’m complaining, I just find it odd.

Some will say “caviar, yuck, who cares?” While it’s true that this won’t materially alter the experience for most, airlines spend a lot of money trying to create the impression that they’re premium, and this is part of that. Most people perceive caviar to be a really premium offering given how expensive it is, and it’s a fairly significant investment for an airline to make.

Has anyone experienced Etihad’s first class caviar service yet?

(Tip of the hat to Joseph)

Comments

  1. I’m hoping to in the next couple of months. I currently have seats in J on AA partner award ORD-AUH but if A380 F opens up a couple days prior to departure I’m going to see about changing our booking. Question: assuming EY opens the space a couple days out (seems common right now) how long does it take for AA partner award miles to credit back to the FF account in your experience? I don’t have enough to do a new booking we would be relying on the miles crediting back to complete the new JFK-AUH booking and this is the only uncertainty I have with trying to make the switch last minute.

  2. Not impressed… ok, the caviar service +1… but all the extreme cuts leading to significantly reduced crew morale, ground services, amenities, lounge & onboard catering/amenities don’t exactly elevate EY. This many cuts can’t be justified alongside a tragic decline in ‘guest’ retention. Introducing caviar service at this juncture seems like a bizarre attempt to prevent more premium pax from jumping ship. QR (except breakfast service) and EK F have been serving caviar for years. EY is indeed behind the curb.

  3. You said it is served only on A380 “routes”. So if there is a route where they operate an A380 along with another aircraft with first class (such as a 787) will that other flight get it too?

  4. I just flew Etihad F Apartment and they were serving Charles Heidsieck, a downgrade from Billecart. Flew China Southern a week later in BUSINESS, and they were serving the same champagne!

    Etihad F soft product is a nice J product at this point, and certainly not first class.

  5. I am curious whether EY runs out of caviar from time to time. I recall EY F is notorious for running out of food choices.

  6. @UAflyer, what Charles Heidsieck were they serving? If it was the Blanc des Millenaires, that’s a lovely Champagne and is worthy of a first-class cabin. If it was the non-vintage that would indeed be a shocking downgrade from vintage Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs.

  7. Is the caviar offered to pax on award tickets and upgrades as well or only to those on paid tickets?

  8. Lol, I love these misspellings of foreign words. It’s not “oscietra” by any means, it’s “osyotr”, “osetr” or “ossetr” at least. Read a book.
    Embarrassing, really.

  9. Why not shaming lucky? There is too much “fake it till you make it in American culture”. And mostly liberals in NY, LA or SF.

  10. These caviar and champagne stories always remind me of Oscar Wilde…”the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable “, said in respect of fox hunting but could equally apply to the pretentious wannabes who insist on eating this unsustainable and repulsive product. Vile.

  11. I had an Air India flight in first Mumbai-Paris about 15 years ago where I was apparently the only passenger eating caviar. Tray had a 1-lb can, but I couldn’t handle that much. Offered to take it home with me but no go.

  12. The thing is most caviar is not expensive at all and some of the stuff the airlines serve is downright cheap. Maybe less expensive that some other appetizers. So it’s about perception for sure and perhaps a little trickery hoping that those who don’t know better just assume that all caviar is expensive.

  13. Will be on EY 101 in a few days and will let you know. The endless recirculation of the EY runs out of food deal was tiresome a couple of years ago, apart from the fact that it simply isn’t true.

  14. @BrooklynBoy: TI asked flight attendants upon boarding what the champagnes were, and she had not clue and said “Brut or Rosé.” Once I got the menu, I confirmed that they were serving Heidsieck Brut and Rosé, both non-vintage.

  15. Was just in EY 101 the 1st of July and had the caviar. The service was what you would expect and was surprised that only 2 people ate in on the flight.

  16. Have never came across caviar anywhere I’ve been, I must not fit the scene, demograph or have simply just never had it in my surroundings.
    Do they offer shark fin soup in any of the chinese airline F soft products??

  17. Just had the caviar on both CX and TG F ..have to say the caviar experience on TG was amazing.

  18. Caviar is one of those items alongside champagne has bizarrely been associated with exclusivity and status, though in both cases the actual taste is questionable. It amazes me that airlines will offer you expensive bottles of bubbly but then offer you just a Heineken for a beer. I would much prefer a deeper selection of beers to a rose any day of the week.

  19. If caviar was cheap and undesirable you wouldn’t eat it Lucky. You only want it because you think it’s a status symbol. So very sad…

  20. @ Sean S

    thanks for setting me straight. Up until this moment, I thought I loved champagne. But am convinced that mine and it’s taste are questionable.

  21. Just back in Aust after an excellent F round trip to LHR. 3 of 4 legs on A380 with the last AUH/MEL on a 777. It’s MEL’s loss that a) they lost the 380 earlier this year and b) will lose F late this year when the 777 is replaced by a second 2-class 787.

    On return we had an outstanding flt with caviar and 06 vintage Heidseik (brut and rose), plus the new loungewear (much cooler and more comfortable) from LHR with the most personable, relaxed crew ever. Even transit at AUH was quick and organised – thru in 5 mins both ways. In 40-odd years of intl travel, one of the best trips of all.

    So for all the critics and bad news stories out here: there’s still plenty of life and enjoyment flying up the front of EY..

    S

  22. Russian caviar is considered to be higher quality as it is from wild sturgeon. OMG! Lucky didn’t know this?

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