Free First Class Flight: Muscat to Tokyo!

Free First Class Flight: Muscat to Tokyo!

On Saturday, October 1, 2016, we headed to our first destination in Asia: Tokyo, Japan! Before we set out on our trip for the year, we budgeted enough American Airlines AAdvantage miles to be sure our “long haul” flights were in style. We had a nice business class flight into the Middle East on Qatar Airways, and this was our chance to experience Etihad’s amazing first class service for the first time. (We’ve budgeted enough for another go in a couple more months; we’ll definitely have a write-up for that flight after it happens!)

Thanks to planning ahead, we redeemed our miles a long time ago, before March when American Airlines changed the redemption prices for this route, and we paid 45,000 miles and a copay of about $22 for each ticket. It was a steal for so many hours in luxury!

First up, we had a short hop from Muscat to Abu Dhabi, a flight of just about one hour. This was a small plane, with the majority of passengers headed to Abu Dhabi just to make connections at Etihad’s hub airport. It was a comfortable flight, but certainly nothing spectacular to write about.

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Having a nice mimosa en route to Abu Dhabi

After arriving in Abu Dhabi, we headed straight to Etihad’s First Class lounge. If you do a quick search on YouTube, you can definitely find other travelers’ reviews and videos of the lounge, and we can attest that it is every bit as beautiful as it looks in those videos. Attendants were there to greet us as we entered and walk us around the lounge, making sure we were aware of the various amenities and where we could find things.

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The Etihad First Class Lounge in Abu Dhabi was beautiful, with a full bar available for socializing

We mostly spent our time relaxing, as we only had an hour or two before our second flight, but did notice there was a custom cocktail and food menu for the lounge. Cocktails were named after major world cities, and I made sure to try the Mumbai, a modern take on a Bloody Mary.

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We were trying to save our appetites for our upcoming flight as well, where we knew the food would be incredible, but I did snack on an appetizer of beef carpaccio to go with my cocktail. Interestingly, I had a seat at the bar for a bit after my snack and met another traveler at the bar who was on his own round-the-world trip for three months, with all flights and lodging paid for using airline and hotel points. Hi to Eric, if you’re reading!

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Cocktail and beef carpaccio to tide myself over until our flight to Tokyo

At 9:15PM, it was finally time to board for our 10PM flight to Tokyo, and we weren’t disappointed. Flight attendants personally walked us to our seats, and we were the only passengers in the first class cabin, allowing us a little time to take some pictures and videos and play with our seats a bit.

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These two suites will be home for the approximately ten hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo

At this point, Charley also discovered that he can put up a partition between our seats for privacy, while we both discovered that we have private minibars and coat closets:

After boarding was completed (and two other first class passengers boarded), the crew made sure that the cabin manager and onboard chef stopped by to introduce themselves, and they offered suggestions for how best to put together a meal for the flight. The Canadian lobster tail came strongly recommended, so I made sure to order it as my appetizer, as well as the wagyu striploin for my main course. Unfortunately, the other two passengers in first class also ordered the lobster tail, so it was all sold out by the time Charley had a chance to order.

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Dining menu for our flight to Tokyo

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Such an elegant dining experience – the champagne was fantastic. Sorry there wasn’t more light for better pictures!

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Like a fancy restaurant, the meal started off with an unexpected amuse bouche to whet the appetite. I can’t remember for the life of me what it was, though!

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The lobster tail appetizer was fantastic, though they forgot to bring me the white wine pairing to go with it.

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The wagyu loin was great, and as tender as you would expect from wagyu beef. The wine pairing was really nice as well.

Content from dinner (and tipsy from wine), we set the seat into bed mode, closed the doors to our suites, and rested ahead of our time in Tokyo. What an incredible flight!

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With dinner done, it’s time to get a good night’s sleep so we can be refreshed when we arrive in Tokyo. Good night!

Craig Chu

Craig Chu

Craig is a credentialed pension actuary who worked most recently as a software developer with Winklevoss Technologies, in Greenwich, CT USA, where he worked to maintain and develop ProVal, the world’s leading software product for pension valuation and forecasting analytics. A proud graduate of Caltech, he is a big fan of all things science-related, as well as (in no particular order of preference) beer, New York City, choral singing, and cats. He can be reached at craig@draftitinerary.com

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