Flying High... Etihad Airways!

Flying has always been something that I have enjoyed doing, but my most recent flight wasn't for pleasure because I escaped the Coronavirus lockdown in China! Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to book a flight back from Beijing to England, my new job would need to wait. Thanks to the resilience of Etihad Airways I was made it home before UK lockdown! Phew! 


Staying away from alcohol, sugary foods or caffeinated drinks 48 hours before my flight took off allowed me to keep my body temperature down. I had found some news out that meant I would need to retreat back to my home country of England, making use of Etihad's continued Beijing to Abu Dhabi connection allowed me to leave China before more airlines could suspend their services into China due to the Coronavirus. Check-in was fine although Beijing's Capital Airport felt eerily quiet due to major flight suspensions and cancellations. After signing my health declaration form and exiting China Customs gave me some serious piece of mind, I just hoped that my temperature wouldn't go above 37 degrees! Knowing that I wasn't infected with the Coronavirus I boarded my EY889 flight, onboard it was very somber with the whole crew and passengers wearing our face masks it gave me a real sense of the situation. Let's fly!

My Etihad Dreamliner soared above China onto its Abu Dhabi hub, that would take me halfway where I would connect with another flight to Manchester, UK. I managed to sleep for six out of the eight hours from Beijing to Abu Dhabi, we were all reminded of the virus came back to us all after our B787-9 parked at its remote stand. After the mandatory temperature checks I was allowed to disembark the aircraft to make my connecting flight to Manchester. The energy of Abu Dhabi Airport was so refreshing to experience, it was a far cry compared with the desolate sights that I saw in Beijing. Taking my mask off, I made my way towards Gate 53 within Terminal 3, I changed up my RMB for GBP, getting some whisky for my brother had to be done. Seeing life within the terminal in AUH gave me life, the last month had been practically silent within my Shunyi, Beijing shutdown bubble. With boarding called at the gate, another sense of relief washed over me. Thankfully, it was home time!


My Manchester bound flight was parked at a remote stand away from Terminal 3, that Etihad Airways EY21 flight was ready for me! Capturing the photo to the left had me acting fast, I wanted to catch a nice shot before time wasn't on my side. I was genuinely excited to be flying on their new Boeing B787-10 Dreamliner jet to Manchester, UK. Feeling half normal after my slumber on the first flight from China enabled me to get familiar with Etihad's 'E-BOX' in-flight entertainment system, I went straight for the three episodes of 'Very British Problems' to begin with. Moving onto a few episodes of 'Will & Grace' was the ticket to keep the seven hour flight ticking by nicely. The turbulence during the first half of the flight was bad, so it was great to have something to focus on as the flight deck crew ensured our Dreamliner B787-10 flew to calmer skies. It was a relief to not see crew wearing face masks, I was homeward bound!

I won't lie, I threw caution to the wind by having my first red wine in almost four days. I was well away from China at that point and to be honest I didn't expect any potential temperature checks to be taken at Manchester Airport. Relaxing into my Dreamliner economy class seat onboard one of Etihad's B787-10 felt amazing! Half way into my Manchester flight the turbulence grew stronger, the crew acted professionally as they had no choice but halt cabin duties upon the captains orders. The vibe during the second flight was more lively, as strange as it sounds it was a relief to see my fellow passengers go about the cabin. The somber vibe from my Beijing Coronavirus fleeing flight was traded for a slice of normality, I was relieved to be going home for what would be a short stay until the China resumes its normal way of life. I had never envisaged that I would be going back to England so soon, having two flights on two different Boeing Dreamliner jets made everything much better!


Departing from Beijing at 01:25 am on the 25th of February 2020 meant that I had already had my final meal in China for that stint, before the cabin lights were dimmed after take off the crew served a light bite in the form of a cheese and cucumber sandwich. Staying away from alcohol was wise, making mine a water had to be the one until I had boarded my Manchester bound flight later on the same day. I definitely know my limits whilst I'm flying, that AUH bound flight had to be very sober indeed! After waking up from my deepish sleep during the PEK-AUH sector of my journey, it was time for breakfast to be served before my flight landed into Abu Dhabi Airport. My omelette breakfast with a strong coffee had be ready to navigate my short transfer between flights in Abu Dhabi. I would definitely be ready for my Manchester bound in-flight complimentary meal. Honestly, I was ready for a few red wines! Easy EY!

I wanted to try some of the snacks and drinks onboard, part of the 'Sweet & Salty' range I couldn't because I do not have a credit card. I hope that in the future Etihad Airways will find alternative payment methods to extend their 'Sweet & Salty' in-flight treats to passengers who don't have access to credit cards. In between the intermittent turbulence during my Manchester bound flight with Etihad Airways the crew tried their best to conduct the meal and drinks service. I chose the lamb and rice option, I enjoyed another red wine as the aircraft was slightly rocked by the turbulence. I must admit that the meal tasted better than it looked, the chocolate mousse was lovely. As the flight soared closer towards the British Isles it was time for the sandwich and hot drinks to be served, I really enjoyed the cheese and tomato toasted sandwich with my coffee before landing into the United Kingdom. Considering the movement onboard, I tried my best to get that airplane meal photo.


Like their UAE cousin Emirates, the crew onboard my Etihad Airways flights were immaculately presented with their white, orange and scarlet purple uniforms. Being one of the only remaining international airlines operating from Beijing, China throughout the Coronavirus epidemic meant the crew were all wearing masks during my first flight to Abu Dhabi. Things were very quiet during that first flight, aside from that the crew passed through the cabin during services onboard that limited overnight flight. The crew during my second flight were more present within the cabin, it was great to hear the Mancunian accents spoken by the British crew who were flying to their home city of Manchester. The female crew member who passed through my section of the economy had a wicked sense of humour, she knew how to deal the passengers who were not listening to the crews words. Her realness gave me life! Slay, E!

Feeling that one more wine wouldn't hurt, I made my way to the rear galley to ask for some red wine. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines crew weren't allowed to take a photo with me, due to a social media policy from their head office the crew politely declined my request. Whilst on Etihad I got talking to Katrina, from Manchester she agreed that having home crew onboard any flight makes things much better! I asked Katrina if she would accept a photo with me, after explaining about my 'Flying High...' blog series. Thankfully, Katrina accepted my request, we posed our best 'Instagram' poses at 36,000 ft in the skies! Katrina was so friendly, it was great to speak with a crew member who was so bubbly and easy to talk with. Retreating back to my seat for the final stages of the flight it was such a relief to land into Manchester Airport. From the near deserted Beijing Capital Airport to the lights and energy at Abu Dhabi it was so nice to clear the automatic passport lanes at MAN Airport! Yes!

Dreamliner Done!

Joseph Harrison

Comments

Popular Posts