Since a long time, I haven’t been as eager for a flight as when flying Etihad Regional (F7) last Friday. Why? Because I didn’t ever have the chance to fly with a propeller plane before. Moreover, flying Etihad Regional was something I was also looking forward to, as the airline is known for its good service and nice catering.
Okay, a flight at 6 am is not the kind of flight I really like, but sometimes you have to make a compromise to fulfil a dream. That dream was flying a propeller flight, the airline that made this possible was Etihad Regional.
The subsidiary of Etihad Airways (that holds a little less than the majority stacks of Darwin Airline, the operation carrier) is known for a high level of service and nice catering.
All these aspects made me choose Etihad Regional even though the flight time was not that nice. Anyway, I was a little frustrated a day before the flight was departing. There is no online check-in available when departing from Dresden. That means that you have to arrive at the airport earlier (at least only 40 minutes before departure), even when you are travelling with hand luggage only.
The boarding process was managed quite well by Etihad Regional. As the plane (ATR 72) is not really big, we had to take a bus to get to the airplane. One was enough as the flight was only chosen by 35 passengers. The boarding on the tarmac went smooth as well. The seat (brown leather) looked really comfortable and the first impression was not wrong.
I really liked the seating comfort even though the seat pitch was a bit small (nothing special in a plane that small). The configuration of the ATR 72 of Etihad Regional is 2-2, so the seats are perfect when you are flying with a partner. The other aircraft type (an even smaller Saab 2000) in the fleet of Etihad Regional has a 2-1 configuration.
Even though I liked the seats, something else was really disappointing for me: The catering. I expected something special (maybe the kind of regional catering of Turkish Airlines), but was given a catering that is not any better than what is offered by other European carriers. Drinks were unlimited and free but the complimentary snack was so little that I was still hungry after eating it.
I expected more than a mini cake when flying Etihad Regional. At least, there was a mini chocolate bar for every passenger that was handed over before landing. To name something positive: The stewardesses are very well dressed and extremely kind.
The flight F7 286 on the day I was aboard that Etihad Regional plane was a little special. We departed with 30 minutes delay due to bad weather conditions in Zurich (and were offered water meanwhile) and circled above the Zurich airport for another hour. Finally, we landed in Basel and would have been transferred to Zurich by bus (with three hours delay).
The crew did a very good job by serving drinks on request while in the air above Zurich, the ground handling in Basel was poor (several guests didn’t make the bus to Zurich as they just didn’t find it). The experience makes my impression of Etihad Regional bitter-sweet, but as I prefer “safety first” instead of “arriving in time”, I do not want to make my special experience part of the overall review.
In conclusion, I would recommend flying Etihad Regional. I was a little disappointed due to high expectations, but the overall experience was good anyway. Catering may be better departing from other airports, online check-in is available at bigger airports as well.
The seats are very comfortable, the stewardesses extremely helpful. Compared with other European airlines the experience was not as special as I hoped it to be, but it was good anyway. So if you get the chance to try flying with Etihad Regional, take it!