Browsing "Samra Muslim"
Jun 27, 2012 - Samra Muslim, travel    7 Comments

and off we go to Abu Dhabi

For as long as I can remember, there has been one thing that has not changed about me – my desire to travel. I want to see things that others around me don’t get to see, I want to experience life in all its varied shades and I want to meet people from every corner of the world because they reiterate my faith that despite all the differences, we are essentially the same with similar aspirations and ambitions in life, so when I get an opportunity to travel – whether it is to China or Charsadda, Tando Allahyar or Tripoli – I take it and run with it. 
Earlier this year, Samra Muslim from Etihad Airways contacted me about a project where they will take an assortment of people – photographers, lifestyle journalists and a blogger or two – to their headquarters in Abu Dhabi and show them how the airline works and the city that is home to it. As I have never been one to say no to travel (during my younger days, my most cherished wish was to become a travel writer) I thanked her for the opportunity and said yes to it. For some reason or the other the tour got delayed, but when it happened, it was definitely worth the wait. 
The Etihad tour – or LivEY as it is called across the social media platforms – is an experiment where they put together journalists, photographers, bloggers and social media enthusiasts and they experience Etihad hospitality and get to see the city of Abu Dhabi – courtesy Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. 
So we packed our bags and went to Abu Dhabi last week from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Despite being a seasoned traveler, I checked the time and flight number and printed out my ticket, I was in for a surprise when I got my boarding card and discovered that I have a business class ticket! As I rarely get to travel in business class, I was very happy with this unexpected surprise. Even before I embarked on the journey, I was already in love with the Etihad people in general and Samra Muslim in particular.
It would not be wrong if I say that flying business class in Etihad was quite an experience and I am wondering how will I go back to my old ‘economy class cheapest ticket’ life. It started off with me falling in love with the seats that come with their own foot rests – they can be stretched after taking off for maximum comfort– and discovering the in-seat massager. I couldn’t wait to take off and start the massager – yes, I was that excited about it. The aircraft was a Boeing 777 – beautiful and spacious – and the hospitality was exceptional, but I would like to state that Etihad had perhaps the best coffee that has been offered to me by any airline, as I have traveled in airlines from 4 different continents – North America, Europe, Asia and Africa, I think my recommendation should carry some weight. In addition to the regular cabin crew that took care of the passengers, the first class and business class have a Cabin Manager who not only take care of food but also go and chat with all the passengers about something of their interest which is taking hospitality to another level. On my Abu Dhabi bound flight, I got to chat with Melna – the cabin manager – who came to my seat when I was watching This Means War and we ended up discussing the film and weighed the pros & cons of falling for guys like Tom Hardy and Chris Pine  (come on, no matter what you do and where you are from, girls do discuss romantic comedies and the good looking actors in it, we are programmed that way). We both thought Pine is way cuter but Hardy wins it with his tattoos and British accent.  We also agreed that things like this – two handsome men fighting over a girl – never happen outside cinemas.
Once we landed in Abu Dhabi, I met Samra and the rest of the gang, and after putting our stuff in the hotel, we were taken to Etihad HQ for a tour and a briefing. We were greeted by Calum D. Laming – Head of Guest Experience and Lee Shave – Vice President Guest Experience. Both the gentlemen took us around and showed us what it is like to be part of the Etihad family. I felt like I was back in school and was visiting a place which will help me decide about my career and what I want to do in future(I wanted to become an ice-cream maker after visiting an ice-cream factory – yes, I am that easily impressed), unfortunately I am too old to change professions otherwise I would have totally jumped the ship and tried to inveigle my way into the company.
Here are some shots from the trip.

The simulators where Etihad pilots practice, I so wanted to get in one but they were not free

Calum Laming with the group

The photographs of Etihad graduates – ranging from flight attendants to chefs to food & beverage managers.

The flight attendants during training in an Economy class cabin model

The super private First Class seat

The Business Class

Training Day

For First Class Passengers

For the Business Class

For Economy Class
Training room for emergency situations

And we have a model amongst us!

For those who want to try their luck with LivEY, they should check out the LivEY facebook page, who knows, you could be part of the next group.