He walked over with a brilliant smile and an ice cold face towel in a roll.
“Miss, may I also clean your sunglasses?”
Nakia and I caught each other mid-glance and smiled. We definitely were in the right place.
Rewind to Christmas Day when I along with what seems like the rest of the world awoke to a legit “too good to be true” deal from Etihad Airways that offered roundtrip flights to Abu Dhabi and select South Africa, Philippine and Asia locales for under $400. Truthfully I almost didn’t do it, as most glitches tend to disappear in minutes. But by 11am I had successfully had a Christmas morning margarita (a tradition!) and purchased two roundtrip tickets for myself and my travel bestie Nakia to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for less than one ticket to Chicago. Hey girl, we’re going to the U.A.E!
Both Nakia and I pride ourselves on being more travelers than tourists, so as we got closer to our travel time and started to see social posts and stories from fellow fare-glitch flyers we knew that if we were going to enjoy just six days in the Gulf region, we were going to have to maximize our time and do it a bit differently, with #TravelFly style.
No one, no matter the class of their seat enjoys a 13+ hour flight. And with our coach seats, the first order of business was to create an in-flight situation that wouldn’t leave us spending most of our time recovering from the journey. So soon after purchasing our original tickets I sat patiently on the phone with Etihad and purchased extra-legroom seats for $100 each way, per person. While on hold with Etihad and clicking around on their website, I also discovered that they also offer a two-tier meet and greet service for non-premium class guests for which the service is included. After a quick comparison, their top level Gold service ($55 pp) showed itself to be the best deal as it allowed us an express trip through customs and time to worry more about arrival duty free shopping* than waiting for and transporting our bags to our car.
The flight itself was long with two meals along with a series of snacks available (Klondike bars can happen if you ask the right person!) and complimentary beer and wine. Thanks to having no seats in front of us, a great pillow, makeshift foot/leg rests courtesy of our carry-on bags and an attentive flight crew that regularly freshened the bathrooms and cabin, the flight was largely enjoyable and gave us plenty of time to nap and stretch our way into the 8-hour time difference.
Upon departure we were greeted by the sweetest young woman and a porter who whisked us through the VIP customs line, retrieved our bags and then escorted us to our car. Instead of relying on taxi service for our 40 minute drive to Dubai, we booked a car through Blacklane and were welcomed by Assad and a fresh BMW 7 Series as opposed to the free shuttle offered by Etihad. For us, the idea of a 1.5 hour shuttle ride plus a taxi from the shuttle drop-off point to our hotel after such a long flight versus was okay, but a private ride directly to Dubai was way better and worth the $89 total spend. Taxis are also available for the ride to Dubai if that is your destination, for an average of $75-$90US depending on your destination.
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