Flight Review: Etihad First Class (Jet Airways Config) Abu Dhabi To San Francisco

a seat in an airplane

***This is part 15 of my “Big Fat Indian Wedding” trip report detailing a recent trip to Singapore and India***

1. Introduction
2. United Global First Lounge at SFO
3. Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Lounge at SFO
4. Singapore Airlines First Class San Francisco to Seoul
5. Singapore Airlines First Class Seoul to Singapore
6. Conrad Singapore
7. Eating Singapore Part 1 – Flowers, Supertrees, and a River Safari
8. Eating Singapore Part 2 – Hawker Stands, Chili Crab, and Kouign Amanns
9. Dinner At Singapore’s Best Restaurant, Restaurant Andre
10. Premier Lounge at SIN, SilkAir Economy Class to Hyderabad
11. Part Hyatt Hyderabad
12. Exploring Hyderabad
13. Etihad Airways Business Class Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi
14. Etihad Premium Lounge at AUH
15. Etihad Airways (Jet Airways Config “Jetihad”) First Class Abu Dhabi to San Francisco _______________________________

As I wrote about here, it seemed like I was the only person in the frequent flyer community that was actually excited to take this flight. On the plus side, because I’d heard so many negative comments about Jetihad, the bar had been set really, really low.

After a few final stretches in the Etihad US Premium Lounge, we headed over to the gate and on-board our 16-hour flight back home to San Francisco. It was well past midnight and I was half-asleep, so I remember having to do a double-take when I saw the exterior of the plane showing the Jet Airways livery rather than Etihad’s.

etihad jet airways first class sfo boeing 777 plane

It was a completely full 8/8 on our flight today in First Class. As we got settled in, I took a look around and my initial impression was that the cabin and seats were actually pretty darn nice. I think the words “run down” and “old” were often used in people’s reviews, and I honestly didn’t get that feeling at all. In fact, these seats were probably in better shape than the Singapore Airlines ones we’d taken on the way over.

etihad jet airways first class sfo suite

Overall, I found the seat to be incredibly comfortable, and was definitely well-cushioned, which was important when your butt was going to spend the next 16 hours in the same place.

The colors and finishes were understated compared to the standard Etihad product, and especially when compared to Emirates, but I don’t think that necessarily makes it worse. The only major difference that may matter to some folks is that these were cloth seats, whereas many others have leather.

etihad jet airways first class sfo seat

We had booked the middle seats in the 2nd row.

etihad jet airways first class sfo middle seats

The suites were massive, and had plenty of legroom even for the tallest of travelers.

etihad jet airways first class sfo legroom

That’s just plain mean to advertise the Etihad First Apartments while someone is sitting in the Jetihad First Class seat!

etihad jet airways first class sfo tv screen

The handheld screen was really the only thing that was showing some wear and tear, and the Jet Airways logo was still prominently displayed.

etihad jet airways first class sfo seat control

This device was used to control the seat as well as the lighting.

etihad jet airways first class sfo seat controls 2

The flight attendants started to come around with goodies, and I was anxious to see what would be provided. First up, the usual Bose noise-canceling headphones.

etihad jet airways first class sfo headphones

The amenity kit bag itself was rather sad, just basically just a thick cloth bag with a zipper.

etihad jet airways first class sfo amenity kit

The contents inside were pretty decent, and featured some Bergamote-branded lotions and soaps, along with a toothbrush and shave kit, ear plugs, and eyeshade.

etihad jet airways first class sfo amenity kit contents

And last but not least, the pajamas. These were certainly not the best quality we’ve ever received on a flight, but were perfectly fine for lounging and sleeping in.

etihad jet airways first class sfo pajamas

Next up, the menu. It had been really hard to find a reliable menu for this flight in advance, so for once I was actually reading through the menu in detail since I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first page featured the all-day dining options, even though technically everything on the menu was available at any point during the flight.

etihad jet airways first class sfo all day dining menu

The next page featured some of the Indian dishes that I was really excited to try.

etihad jet airways first class sfo lunch menu

etihad jet airways first class sfo flavours of india menu

And the last page was the “From the grill” section of the menu.

etihad jet airways first class sfo from the grill

And the dessert and wine sections.

etihad jet airways first class sfo dessert menu

etihad jet airways first class sfo champagne

etihad jet airways first class sfo white wine

etihad jet airways first class sfo red wine

etihad jet airways first class sfo cocktails

Shortly after take-off, the on-board chef came around to take orders. This was my first time having an on-board chef available, and while I guess the concept was cool, in practice I don’t think it really made an impact on the quality of the food.

It was nice to order with him directly though, since he’s fully aware of all the options available and with some general guidance on what you’d like to eat, mentioned that he would just “come up with something”.

The meal service started with a fresh spring roll with duck. This was just plain gross and in my head I started to get worried. What if all those bad reviews were true…

etihad jet airways first class sfo spring roll

Next up was the marinated prawn and crab salad which was much better. Looks like we’re headed in the right direction now…

etihad jet airways first class sfo shrimp salad

For this first go-around, since it was about 4AM local time I decided to go with a light meal, and ordered the chicken tandoori from the grill with some veggies. The chicken was accompanied with some tomato and butter sauces which were quite good.

etihad jet airways first class sfo grilled chicken

And of course my version of a night cap, a huge bowl of strawberry ice cream.

etihad jet airways first class sfo ice cream

I was ready to pass out and went to the bathroom to change into my pajamas. On the way I requested turn down service, and came back to a nicely made bed. I popped in a Benadryl and jumped into bed.

etihad jet airways first class sfo bed

The closed doors of the suites provided plenty of privacy, and thankfully they weren’t motorized as the ones on Emirates are.

etihad jet airways first class sfo suite doors

After dozing off for a good 5-6 hours, I awoke and as you can guess, started eating again. There was still over 8 hours left on this ultra long-haul flight, and over the course of that time I sampled a few more things.

The on-demand dining concept was perfect for a flight this long, since it wouldn’t be practical to force people to eat at certain times.  Overall, I went through 4 rounds of dining, and each time I called for the flight attendant, the response and subsequent dining service was extremely efficient.

I started with the lamb kabob entree which was my favorite thing on this flight.

etihad jet airways first class sfo grilled lamb

I also tried the lamb from the grill, which came with potatoes and vegetables.

etihad jet airways first class sfo grilled lamb 2

And the chicken masala curry entree.

etihad jet airways first class sfo curry

And another tandoori chicken just for good measure, this time with a cool salad and a different sauce.

etihad jet airways first class sfo chicken

And the panna cotta to cap things off.

etihad jet airways first class sfo dessert

So how was the flight overall? I’d probably give it a B-. The hard product was great, and I had absolutely no complaints there.

The food? It was pretty mediocre, and probably tied with Emirates for the worst I’ve had in First Class.

The service? It was OK, efficient when needed, but otherwise pretty apathetic.

But perhaps the most annoying thing is that this flight just didn’t get the little things right. For example, there were no slippers available which is a standard amenity in First Class, so that meant having to put on my shoes each time I needed to walk around.

Also, the headphones they provided only had a single plug, whereas the audio system required a dual plug. So essentially I was only able to get sound in one ear at a time, which was just ridiculous. I ended up rotating between the left and right sides every 30 minutes or so to keep from going deaf in one ear.

So in many ways, the negative reviews were consistent with my experiences, although I do think they are slightly blown out of proportion. The Jetihad product is perfectly adequate but certainly nothing to rave about. And given how long this flight is to begin with, I still believe that you’d have to be crazy to add an additional layover in order to re-route to the standard Etihad product.


  1. Excellent trip review with superb food porn! It takes a great eater, real commitment, and a camera. Reviewers who “save their appetite” or “get full” or skip desserts piss me off.

  2. I curious as to what YOU consider to be FC food up to your standards? Having flown these ( paid of course ) I consider EK to be a superior FC and Business product. But then I am not a blogger

    1. It may not come off from these reports, but I’m not a picky eater at all, and am very easily pleased.

      That said, my observation is that EK’s food is one of the most divisive topics out there. Many people rave about it and consider it to be among the best.

      But in my experiences, for whatever reason, I’ve gotten some food that was worse than what you’d get at a gas station.

  3. Thanks for the review! I’ll be taking the same flight in a month or so and this gave me some perspective. I have to decide between AUH-SFO on an award, or a mistake F fare priced at $1300 per person (x2) AUH-LHR-LAX-XXX, need to get off at LAX and travel on Southwest to SF. The mistake fare will allow me to experience EY F Apartment on 380 and also BA First which I’ve never tried. The main thing drives me to choose the former is the departure time at AUH being late in the night and the flight time is fairly short to LHR, we’ll probably be too tired to maximize the experience. I know I didn’t enjoy my Cathay First flight mainly because of the late departure time out of HKG.

    It’ll be a no brainer to choose the direct flight if it’s not operated Jet 77W, have read so many negatives so far. I don’t know about others but I often take the shortest path because my main goal for award travel is to tour a new destination instead of experience a new flight product. I try if I can but I definitely don’t go out of my way to chase a highly sought-after flight product if there’s a more straight-forward alternative. Believes it or not the most F I took is United GlobalFirst just because the award is available and travel has minimum connections. How does this compare to United First BTW?

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