It all started with an email from Etihad stating that the flight out of Hyderabad, India is delayed by about 1 hour (5.40 AM instead of 4.40 AM). Given that the connection time at Abu Dhabi is only 1 hour 35 minutes for transit and Pre-clearance, it is certain that we will miss the connecting flight to Los Angeles.
Pre-Clearance at Abu Dhabi:
The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3 is a purpose-built facility that allows passengers on certain flights to the U.S. to undertake all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi prior to departure. Having cleared CBP, passengers can check-through their baggage to their final destination in the United States. On reaching the U.S., passengers will be treated as domestic arrivals, which allows for faster processing at their arrival airport.
While there are some concerns about the processing times for this facility, It is a good concept that the passengers arrive in USA as a domestic passenger. At LAX, In the past, we were able to go the baggage claim area directly and meet our family within 30 minutes of landing.
Alternate Plan offered by Etihad
We kind of panicked and called Etihad Customer service center regarding the delay, phone agent quickly reviewed the itinerary and mentioned that Etihad is aware of the situation and are working towards a solution. we were requested to go to the airport as per plan and the Chauffer would come and pick us as scheduled.
Etihad offers complimentary Chauffer service to First and business class passengers. We hopped on to the Mercedes Benz and enjoyed the 1 hour ride to the airport and proceeded to Etihad-Business class counter immediately. Agent requested us to seat at the waiting area while they were finding alternate options. with in a few minutes, Etihad agent offered us to travel with Emirates in the same cabin (business class). We are super excited as Emirates operates Boeing 777-300ER from Hyderabad to Dubai and Airbus A380 from Dubai to Los Angeles. we gladly accepted the alternate option. Etihad agent escorted us to the Emirates check-in counter and issued the boarding passes.
Etihad Airways did a fantastic job of handling the delay and making alternate arrangements. we noticed at least one other passenger being re-booked on the Emirates flight. The only thing Etihad could have done better is, transferring our meal preferences to Emirates. we had limited food options on our flight to LAX.
What makes Etihad even special is their customer service, after our flight, we sent an email to Etihad complimenting how the delay is handled and mentioned our little inconvenience. Etihad focused on the feedback regarding the inconvenience and did a through investigation. Etihad also sent an apology note and offered 15,000 Etihad guest miles for the inconvenience. Etihad won us as customers, and would be happy to give our business in the future.
Emirates is another middle-east carrier that has a significant presence in India. we quickly settled in our Business class seat from Hyderabad to Dubai in the B777-300ER. Emirates makes it real easy to find the menu and the services offered in the flight. Emirates also has an excellent choice of In-flight entertainment options including films in local language.
Emirates A380 from Dubai to Los Angeles is fantastic, the lie flats and the onboard lounge makes the flying experience truly memorable. Flight to Los Angeles has Business class and First class seats in the upper deck, while the lower deck is all economy.
I will not bore you with all the details of the flight, you can find a numerous videos in YouTube abut the flight and lounge.
Both Etihad and Emirates offers exceptional service and hard product. we truly enjoyed the service of both airlines and looking forward to our next flight.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analysis and any calculations shown are authors alone. Information in this post is not reviewed, approved and endorsed by any airlines, frequent flyer programs or financial institutions.