Next was Etihad Airways A380 Apartment service to Melbourne. However being in Doha I needed to make the short haul across the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi. This flight was on Etihad's Airbus A320.
Note on Doha transits: There is a transit fee to enter Doha of about $28USD. However if your transit is Qatar Airways in and Qatar Airways out, you can go to the Qatar Airways website and apply for a free transit assuming your connection is the next day or sooner.
Doha's Hamad International airport is a short $8 Uber ride from Old Town where Hilton has an excellent DoubleTree hotel. The airport is brand new, having opened in 2014 and it's beautiful, which one would expect.
This view is once you enter inside the facility. The architecture is stunning.
After an easy check-in at the Etihad counter to verify my Australian visa and a breeze through the no line at security, I took the escalator down to the departure level. Prominent in the center of an expansive gate-wing transit area is this 6.8 million dollar stuffed teddy bear.
Plenty of huge TV screens showing your favorite ads make the airport look like a futuristic arcade.
But then for a moment I thought I was in an Apple store.
As you can tell the airport was mostly empty this morning. Most Middle Eastern flights depart during the overnight hours due to the extreme heat that is typical for the area.
The ride was prepared and offered a picturesque view of the gulf.
Note to US and European airlines:
This is business class.
This is business class legroom:
And this is a true business class seat:
And away they go.
The 34 minute flight offered enough time to snap a few photos of the seat.
Plenty of legroom.
And some zzz's if you so desire.
Note to US/European airlines #2:
I repeat, this is a 34 minute flight at 10AM.
It ended as quickly as it started.
And the less fortunate.
And now the fun was to begin.
Abu Dhabi airport is the stark opposite of Doha International. It's old with small walkways and low ceilings. The signs confused me as well, but I found it.
Up the elevator to the 2nd floor and I was warmly greeted by an attendant who checked my carry-on bag. Then I was seated with a concierge who explained all the services and did a walk around tour. Before showing the facility it is time to dine.
Breakfast #3 for the day so far.
From my breakfast table, a view of the front dining room as well as the entrance. (I was mostly the only patron in the lounge for many hours.)
The lounge is shaped like a U. The entrance and front dining room being on the right side of this "U". The area also has more dining tables as well as one of two bars and the kitchen.
The bottom of the "U" views the airfield as well as having a room with relaxing chairs on one side and the 2nd bar on the other.
For those wishing to plane watch.
The left side of the "U" is another dining area that is more secluded.
Interspersed throughout are private rooms where one could catch a nap. There are no sleeping rooms with beds at this lounge.
You can relax and watch some TV.
This Relax and Recline room featured 5 or 6 lounge chairs that fully reclined. They provided a nice warm blanket and I decided it was time to snooze.
Other rooms included a fitness room, playroom for the youngsters, a cigar lounge and the special Residence Lounge which I'll never see, unfortunately.
So when one wakes they usually have breakfast, #4.
Now it was time for a shower and to check out the spa.
When traveling on an Etihad first class ticket you are entitled to a complimentary 15 minute treatment at either the Six Senses Spa or Style and Shave by Etihad. For whatever reason I chose a manicure at the Style and Shave room. You could get a short massage or a hair trim for your complimentary treatment as well. Plenty of other services are available for longer periods at a cost.
Rested, clean and manicured with a couple hours to go I couldn't think of anything else to do, but eat.
Here is the dining room menu.
And the Emirates Palace 5 course menu.
While contemplating what to eat I sat down in one of the lounge chairs. A waiter provided a menu.
A different menu.
And then I took a seat at the bar and...
A different menu.
Now I faced a most critical dilemma. Do I have a full meal in the dining room and risk not being hungry for the first class extravaganza that awaited at gate 61? And if I pass on a full meal, which menu do I order from, the bar or lounge menu?
There was only one way to decide.
A nice glass of Bollinger "La Grande Anne", vintage 2005.
Decisions. Decisions. In retrospect I made the wrong one. But it's not what you think. Find out flying to Melbourne next.