After a night at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi — a gorgeous hotel on the beach, a lovely suite, and great service for a short stay — I headed back to the Abu Dhabi airport for the relatively short flight to the Male, the capital of the Maldives.
- Introduction: The Most Luxurious Uses of Miles and Points, and Two New Airlines Under My Belt
- Etihad First and Business Class Lounge, New York JFK
- New York JFK – Abu Dhabi Etihad First Class Apartment
- St. Regis Abu Dhabi
I was already checked in for my flight and headed straight to the business lounge, which I won’t review as I’ve covered it several times before. After a quick breakfast it was time to head to the gate, and as usual the Male flight received a bus gate although Etihad does run a separate bus for premium cabin passengers.
The last time I flew Etihad to Male it was in a widebody with fully flat seats. This time I was flying a regional Airbus, but business class is still better than domestic first class on a US airline — foot rests, catering, leg room, and service. And Abu Dhabi – Male is 40 miles shorter than Charlotte – Las Vegas.
Business class seats are large and comfortable, albeit somewhat reminiscent of domestic first class.
Leg room is meaningfully greater, though.
Menus and predeparture beverages were distributed, and I settled in for the flight.
All the while more bused passengers continued to arrive at the aircraft and walk through to the back of the plane.
I’m pretty sure that (1) every bus gate departure I’ve ever had from Abu Dhabi has been late, but (2) every such flight has arrived at least close to on time at its destination. So it feels as though the process takes forever, but it’s captured in planning.
Once fully boarded we were on our way, and business class flight attendants were quick to begin service. Towels were distributed:
Meals were served quickly, in courses. My wife and I had different starters:
And we each had different entrees.
After the meal I closed my eyes for about 30 minutes, and then I got up to get my laptop out of the overhead bin. You aren’t allowed to store anything at your feet during takeoff and landing in this configuration of aircraft. I plugged the computer into seat power (which I didn’t really need to do for the short-ish flight) and watched some downloaded tv shows and soon enough we were descending into Male.
The Male airport is unique in that it can handle only a single takeoff or landing at a time, you land and taxi to the end of the runway and then turn around and head to the terminal to park.
We were bused us the very short distance to the immigration hall.
All in all a pleasant flight, though immigration took longer than I’m used to and bags were already on the belt by the time I was through.
In Male you pick up your bags and then walk them through customers where each bag, including your carry on, is x-rayed. So don’t bring alcohol or pornography into the country.