بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The economy seating on an Etihad airways flight is fine. I’ll be honest and say that my butt hurt after about an hour, but there was plenty of room for my legs. The food served was probably the best that I’ve had on a flight (except for when I flew business class on Emirates). The provided a little care pouch with socks, an eye mask, foam ear plugs and a small toothbrush/toothpase. The pouch was a cute pattern, definitely something I will reuse. Overall, I would suggest Etihad to anyone who hasn’t flown with them before.
Walking down the aisle of the large plane that was to take me from New York to Abu Dhabi. Searching for right row and the right letter for my corresponding seat. Exit row: Yes! Man looking way too relaxed with his shoes off… I found a place for my bag and sat down in the seat. It was next to the nonexistent “window”, which is good for leaning to sleep, but the fact that the man with no shoes had already claimed my armrest and even part of my seat made me a bit uncomfortable. Suddenly, a small woman came to me and asked me if I wanted to change my seat. She said “there is a man next to me”. I was a little confused, but I’m not good at saying no in these kinds of situations, so I said “yes, okay”. I thought that she had wanted my seat, but apparently she wanted to bring me to sit between her and a small child. When I sat down she whispered, “It can be difficult to sit that long next to men”. To be honest, it was a kind gesture and I slept well for most of that near 13 hour flight. Before I left the flight I placed my hand on her arm and said “thank you”. She smiled and we parted ways.
Walking in the Abu Dhabi airport I felt a tap on my shoulder. “Asalaamu alaykum, you were on the flight from JFK right?” I replied and she explained that she didn’t know how to find the gate for her next flight. I smiled and asked, “Do you know your flight number?” She told me and I asked her to walk with me over to one of the TV screens that listed the departures.”Where are you going?” I asked her. She told me that she was going to Lahore, Pakistan. We found her flight and gate number, which was unfortunately not the same as mine. She thanked me and I wished her a safe flight.
Then while I was sitting at the gate in Abu Dhabi I saw a woman in abaya walking down the way with two small children and what looked like her home maid. She was fashionable with her matching shayla and black high heels. They sat down a little bit away from me in the same row. Her kids started talking to her as she gave them some snacks and some water to drink. Suddenly the small boy came running down the aisle row throwing himself down and sliding on the ceramic tiles. I watched him for about 15 minutes, he was laughing as his mother called to him. Again and again he did it. I smiled at the woman and she smiled back. Finally they had called for boarding. We all got onto a bus that drove us to the plane. I walked up the stairs, down the aisle and sat in my window seat. I saw the same woman come down the aisle holding her daughter. They stopped at the seats next to me. The maid and the small boy were in front of us and the woman sat next to me with her daughter at the aisle seat. I was staring out the window when a voice next to me said something like “Ante bint 3rbyah?” I smiled, “No, I’m American”. “Ahaaa” she said. She talked with me in English for most of the flight, asking questions, telling me about herself. It was a quick flight because of that. When we landed she asked me if I had a place to stay and if I had transportation. It is hard to describe how much that means to someone who is traveling alone. “Ma salaama” I said to her as we parted ways at immigration.
A lovely beginning to my journey.