AE: Etihad Airways.. DOH.. AUH..

Last weekend I went to Abu Dhabi (AUH) - renewing my visa. Every three months, I have to fly out of Qatar to get my business visa renewed. And I just love doing it. First, I cna collect miles and second, I can travel... Normally, I just go to Bahrain for a day. This is the cheapest fare around QAR670 on weekend (on week days, it can reach up to QAR1000 return fare - mostly cater for business travellers).

Searching the internet, I found Etihad Airways offering fare of QAR710 to AUH. Wow.. that was cool. QR is charging QAR790 for the same sector. Since I never try EY product, I grabbed the chance to fly with EY's only B767-300ER.

Sector time from DOH to AUH is only 40 minutes. Snacks were served - dates, chicken pie, coleslaw, cheesecake and orange juice. For both DOH-AUH and AUH-DOH, the same captain pilot the aircraft and both sectors also were serviced by all famale cabin crews.
A short hop so nothing much to write about. Inbound into AUH, the flight was around 40% full with majority of guests (yup.. EY defines the passengers as Guests) were transit guests to Manila. Outbound from AUH, most guests were South Asians going to Qatar for work.

Check in at DOH was abreeze. Only two check in counters for EY and only 3 guests were checking in when I reached there. It took me around three minuets to complete the check in procedures.

Queuing for immigration and security were a bit unpleasant. While I was in the queue, suddenly the Immigration Office decided to close the lane. Apparently, at that time, it was a change of shift. Hmmm..

I handed over my passport and Exit Permit to a female Immigration Office - no kidding this officer has a very thick make up on her face!. She muttered that there was something wrong with the system and ignored my Exit Permit. Ok.. no issue to me as long as I can go out and come back without any hassle!

Security is another issue. Frankly, I do not know what's wrong with my belt. It always "beep" whenever I go through the metal detector at DOH departure hall. And it only happens in DOHA Airport! Kidding you not! Since I am flying Economy class, I have to take out my belt and went through the detector again. [If you are flying Business class, just ensure your boarding pass is visible to the officer - u might get away easily - I have done it!]

It was a surprise to see the improvement that has been made to the airport. A huge passenger area is now available on the upper level. A generous space of Prayer Room is also available. Another food court is now open, thus pulling some passengers from the existing congested food court. A Flight Information Display (FID) is now installed and the departure gates have been refurbished!

A step towards getting accreditation by the US FAA I guess - I read somewhere that FAA does not "recognize"/"approve" Doha Airport - thus preventing QR to fly to US destination. Surprise isn't it?

Coming back from AUH, I checked myself in at the AUH City Terminal. A deserted building - am the only passenger! As I was flying Economy, I have to pay Dhs70 for the service - an exclusive Etihad Guest coach to the airport. My advice, it is not worth it!

The landside of the AUH is cleaner albeit small. A dedicated area for premium passengers to check in is under construction. As per most airports in the Middle East that I have been (DOH, DXB, JED), the check in area is exclusively for passengers only. You need to scan your luggage before entering the check in area. The airside is a different story - with a with a weird low curve design made me claustrophobic! To make the thing worse, the whole terminal turned out to be smoking area where people lit their cigarettes whenever they want, wherever they want! Hmm.. so much about civilized Westerners!
Anyway, I have updated some photos in my fotopages... check it out and please, do leave a comment.. :-) [if you don't mind]

~ MT @ UAE
~~ Le Meridien, Abu Dhabi

~ To Travel Is To Discover Oneself ~


zali said...

great detail report... hehehe...

btw, where do u plan to go for the next trip??? Iran?? Syria?? Oman??find somewhere more exotic... and perhaps u can fly with different airlines... :)

MT said...

Thanks for reading. Plannye nak buat proper Trip Report, tapi tak de masa (excuses, excuses).

Next trip? Balik M'sia for raya, then M'sia again for raya haji. After that, probably in March. Where? Tak tahu lagi... (if I am still in D0ha)..