As the post title indicates, I'm now on my long-awaited holiday, and in the UK [at least for now]!
My ticket is a Virgin Australia ticket, although the flights so far have been on Air NZ and Etihad. The route flown was Wellington [NZWN] to Sydney [YSSY] to Abu Dhabi [OMAA] to London Heathrow [EGLL]. All in economy with 5 hrs in Sydney and 7 in Abu Dhabi. 37 hours of travel, but I coped with it just fine.
Obviously I made it, although for the first time ever, not everything went particularly smoothly.
Firstly, I was [yet again] disappointed by Virgin Australia's [VA] practices - this time around communication. Basically, they had booked me on Air NZ for the NZWN - YSSY flight [fine], but had not told me they it was without a meal. No big problem, but why would you hide this from your customers? Secondly, I was unable to choose seats for the long haul sectors [YSSY - OMAA and OMAA to EGLL]. VA's social media did respond quickly, and suggested I would have to sort it out in Sydney... but... believe it or not, there was NO ONE airside at Sydney to assist customers!! Yes, Idid ask. I ended up sorting the seat after I reached Abu Dhabi with an Etihad rep...
Lastly, my bags did not arrive. Looking at the bag tag, it appears that Air NZ gave me my boarding passes through to London, but my bag only as far at Abu Dhabi. I can't be 100% sure, but there's no mention of London Heathrow on the original bag tag. Crap. Etihad did get it sorted the next day so I now have my bag.
Apart from that, the flights themselves. The Air NZ flight was short and fine. Not flash, but fine. It was an Airbus A320-232, ZK-OJC, as pictured below.
The Eithad flights were actually pretty good. The service was good, the crews friendly and helpful. The food was nice and the lavs were kept clean. On the 14/ 15 hour sector from YSSY to OMAA I was asked by someone if I would swap with her husband. I already had a good seat for that sector, but her husband was in an exit row. Score for me! Aircraft on this sector was a Boeing B777-300.
When I got my seat changed for the final sector in Abu Dhabi, I was given an exit row also [I only asked for an aisle seat], so I feel like a bit of a winner in that regard :-) Aircraft on this final sector was an Airbus A340-642, A6-EHJ. This aircraft is in the 'Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2014' livery, also pictured below. Nice.
Last up is a picture of the new Abu Dhabi ATC Tower. This is not only massive, but very flash!
The next posts will have a few photos from Abu Dhabi airport. For now, take a look at all those cranes. Yes, they are all on the airport and show only a tiny part of the redevelopment.