Trip Report Flying Etihad Pandemic
Trip Report Flying Etihad Pandemic

Trip Report: Flying With Etihad During Pandemic

As part of the launch for my new book (Air747) I recently travelled from Abu Dhabi to Athens, on Etihad.

Video of My Flight

COVID-19 PCR Test to Fly

A COVID-19 PCR Test is required in order to fly on Etihad Airways to Europe, the COVID-19 PCR test can be taken in several places in the UAE. For the latest entry restriction information to the UAE, please visit here.

Abu Dhabi Airport

At Abu Dhabi Airport, I was impressed with the new technology that they have installed. There was a sanitising booth at the entrance to the airport, the booth checks your body temperature and sanitises you in 10 seconds.

At check in, Etihad is in the process of installing new "Fit To Fly" kiosks; these kiosks will scan your body temperature and ask you some simple questions, to confirm that if you are fit to fly. The kiosk will also check you in and issue you your baggage tags.

a machine in a building
a machine in a room

The elevators are now operated by a hand wave, with no need to touch any of the surfaces.

Etihad Premium Lounge

The Etihad Premium Lounge is open in Terminal 3, however the days of the crowded lounge scene here are long gone. There were very few other passengers during my visit, also social distancing has been applied to all seating areas inside the lounge.

Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi
Etihad Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi
a man standing behind a bar
a door with a sign on it
Six Senses Spa is closed

The buffet is now back, however it is for display purposes only. You can pick and choose any food items on display, the staff will then proceed to bring them to you at your table.

Etihad Premium Lounge Food Option
Etihad Premium Lounge Food Option
Etihad Premium Lounge breakfast buffet items
Etihad Premium Lounge breakfast buffet items

There were 3 hot breakfast options available when I was at the lounge.

Etihad Premium Lounge breakfast hot items
Etihad Premium Lounge breakfast hot items

The staff brought a generous portion of the breakfast of my choosing. The covers have been removed for the below picture.

a tray of food on a table

At times, I felt like I was the only person in the lounge. There are certainly more staff in attendance than passengers at the moment.

a man sitting in a chair in a room with chairs and a mask

In my opinion, the Etihad Premium Lounge is one of the better lounges I have visited during COVID-19. There is plenty of seating and there are good food and beverage options available. Currently the Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi Airport remains closed.

EY91 Abu Dhabi to Athens

The flight from Abu Dhabi to Athens was operated by an A321 (also a B787 on some days). This was my first Etihad flight since the COVID Pandemic began and I was eager to see what efforts had been made to make air travel safer for passengers.

a couple of people wearing face masks and standing in an airplane

The A321 has 8 recliner Business Class seats and a new slim line Economy seat. The target market for the A321 is short to medium haul, such as the Indian sub-continents, Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Etihad A321 seating configuration isn't ideal for long haul flights, but it is still manageable for around 4-5 hours medium haul. The seat pitch in Business Class is around 50" and I recommend row 1, as there is no one to recline into you.

Etihad A321 Business Class Seat
Etihad A321 Business Class Seat
Etihad A321 New Economy Class
Etihad A321 New Economy Class

The new slim line seats do not have an IFE screen; in their place there are tablet holders, where you can place your own device and stream to that instead.

Every seat had a wrapped pillow and blanket placed on them.

The Wellness Ambassador, a flight attendant named Sarah who was adorned in PPE, presented me with my wellness kit (this is a replacement for the amenity kit).

Etihad Wellness Ambassador
Etihad Wellness Ambassador

The wellness kit included: a surgical mask, gloves, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a black face cloth. Despite making me look like a Ninja, or some kind of bandit, the black face cloth was actually surprisingly comfortable to wear inside the plane!

We took off on-time from runway 13R, watch the video of the takeoff from the cockpit. The flight was lightly loaded with around 60 passengers, give or take.

a group of airplanes on a runway

After take-off, a hot meal was offered in both the Business and the Economy Cabins. I personally felt that my meal was excellent. In Economy, there was a choice between lamb, chicken and vegetarian.

a menu of a restaurant
a person wearing a face mask and holding a tray of food
a plate of food on a table
Beef tenderloin as main course
a plate of food on a tray
Bread are served sealed and individually packaged

I asked Sarah whether it was challenging for the crew to have to work in their PPE and wearing visors; she admitted that it can be challenging on longer flights, especially with the heat and steam from the mask (watch how she answers it in the video) but she was glad to be back to flying and serving customers again.

Sarah is an excellent crew member, she took her time to offer customers their meal choices and patiently listened and explained the current on-board restrictions to all passengers.

a woman wearing a mask and holding a tray of food
Etihad Cabin Crew wearing PPE, mask, glove and visor
Etihad Cabin Crew wearing PPE, mask, glove and visor


I landed in Athens after 4 hours and 40 minutes, without incident.

Overall, the flight was very smooth. It was rather sad to see the flight was so lightly loaded; however it is only to be expected due to the current travel restrictions and border closures, that have prevented many from traveling. The mood on the flight was quite sombre.

I am glad to be have been able to fly Etihad again after 7 months, it was good to see that they have retained their hot meal service in all classes.

Video of my Etihad Flight