Flight Review: Etihad A320 Shorthaul – Kuwait To Abu Dhabi

The big three carriers of the Middle East offer access to much of the world through their respective hubs. Etihad is one of those carriers and, as a current resident of Kuwait, I recently boarded a 4am flight to Abu Dhabi for a morning connection to Rome. This will be a review of the Kuwait-Abu Dhabi portion of the journey aboard an Airbus A320.

Our Airbus A320 parked at Gate 2. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Boarding

At the main terminal of Kuwait’s International Airport, every gate has it’s own security screening checkpoint. I finally realized that this was necessary because passengers getting off aircraft were offloaded into the main terminal departure area – the same area that other passengers would be boarding their flights from.

This setup is more common in domestic terminals. For most international airport terminals, passengers offload to another level which either takes them to arrivals or leads them to a transit security checkpoint. Anyways – I mention this only to say that boarding the aircraft requires going through a second security screening. In total there are two: One before customs and one at the gate.

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One great aspect of leaving Kuwait’s main terminal is that you’ll never have to board via a remote stand as all aircraft load and offload via airbridge (at least that has been my experience so far).

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Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
The economy class cabin. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Another angle of an economy class seat. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Space and seating

The seats were fairly basic but comfortable enough. I couldn’t find the recline button on these seats and, after looking around the aircraft, was certain that these seats didn’t recline as no one else had a seat angled back!

Every aircraft I have been on up to this point uses a circular button in the armrest for reclining – it was not present on this aircraft. Unfortunately, without reclining, the Etihad A320 seats are fairly upright and are not very conducive for sleeping. It was only near the end of my flight that I realized the recline switch was located lower, near the thigh, on the edge of the seat. If you’re flying on an Etihad narrowbody aircraft, take note of this!

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The button to recline these seats was down by the knee/thigh. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

 

Legroom was good. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
For simple economy seats, it’s nice to have in-seat USB power for charging devices. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

For most of the flight, the cabin lights were off except for a narrow strip of orange-ish lighting that ran along the overhead cabins. I thought this was a good compromise between being able to sleep and being able to safely walk around.

The cabin dimmed for sleeping. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Food and beverage

With such a short flight, there is only one service that passes through the aircraft. I must have been asleep for this as I woke up later to find a small bag of food and water in the empty seat beside me. Food consisted of a vegetarian sandwich packaged together with a sweet baked pastry. This one package was put into a paper bag with a small bottle of water. The items were nothing amazing but I think they would satisfy a light hunger for sure.

The inflight meal – not bad for a short-haul flight. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Arrival

This part of the journey seemed slightly chaotic and unprofessional. Our plane was parked at a remote stand. There was one bus that had arrived and collected the majority of passengers. However, there was no sign of a second bus. Thus, myself and around fifteen other passengers stood on the stairs waiting for a ride.

The aircraft crew were equally confused and could see their bus waiting for them in the distance. One of the crew even put forward the idea that they go ahead on their transportation while we wait for the bus – probably because they had subsequent flights to serve! I’m sure the small group of us could be trusted alone with an Airbus A320, but it also didn’t seem proper!

After 10-15 minutes of waiting, our transportation finally came and we were taken into the terminal.

The remote stand at AUH. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying
Our bus was nowhere to be found. Photo: Chris Loh/Simple Flying

Conclusion

Overall the short-haul service for Etihad is quite straightforward and the food is nothing to complain about. As one commenter said on a previous flight review, a short-haul flight like this is considered good when you get to your destination on time and nothing goes horribly wrong.

The service offered by the cabin crew was professional and polite. The main failing of this journey was the offloading process via remote stand and shuttle bus. The one benefit of this was a beautiful opportunity for sunrise photos amidst Etihad’s fleet of large wide-body jets!

What has your experience of Etihad been? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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