We've all been victims to good and bad first impressions and with each first impression we tend to take notes for the next time around (or at least we should) and Etihad Airways I believe wrote a book. From the moment you are greeted at the ticketing counter the agents, although somewhat cold (professionalism, I get it..), they make an effort to let you know it's classy; handing your items with both hands, slightly bowing in confirmation, etc...

Walking through JFK International Airport to Etihad Airways gate.

The plane (Boeign 777), although a bit old, was pretty clean. Female flight attendants kept their lips and tips, male flight attendants shirts tucked in, all that. Once again, a bit on the cold side. Business class not quite as lovely as some of the photos of the newer planes in their fleet and first class was kept well hidden as attendants in butler-style attendant suits guard the entrance with a smile, needless to say, I couldn't get a peek. 

The flight itself was very multicultural and diverse with many American tourists, Middle East natives and to my surprise, A LOT of Indians. There were small children running around the plane after the flight took off, women dressed in very traditional clothing caring for their babies towards the front of the plane on what appeared to be a built in cradle holder, and plenty of languages being spoken as you walk through the isles. An older Indian lady asked for my window exit-row seat so she could stretch out her legs since just recently, she explained, had knee surgery done to them. Being that I actually paid a little extra ($150 USD) to get an exit row seat I was a bit hesitant but I suggested she seat next to me since there appeared to be no one occupying the seat. She explained that many people stop by Abu Dhabi on their way to Mumbai.

The attendants were a mixture of Indian, Middle-Eastern, and Asian as well as the hot meals during the 13 hour flight. (1) small snack with juice followed by a small but filling three-plate meal (rise, beans, steamed vegetables, fruit bowl, juice and sealed water), then your choice between a small vegie or chicken breakfast bun in the morning followed by another three-plate meal for lunch very similar to the day before but with a kit-kat bar as desert (strange, I know).

If you're looking to dive into the full experience of the middle-east, rather than booking through Delta, American or any other western airline, I highly recommend Etihad that is if you don't mind small children running through the isles, women standing around rocking their babies, or many languages being spoken all around. A small sense of a "old-world market" comes to mind when describing the experience.

Sebastian Cuevas Minotta

SEBU International