My Flight to Abu Dhabi

After two months of anticipation I finally made it to Abu Dhabi! It wasn’t easy. I sold my car on Sunday (some paperwork still pending!) and said goodbye to Boston on Monday evening, August 17th, 2009. I arrived in Abu Dhabi Airport on Thursday at 9pm Abu Dhabi time (~1 pm east coast time).  My flight Monday was cancelled for “mechanical” reasons and there wasn’t space on another flight for me until Wednesday night. Fortunately I there are plenty of warm couches for me to sleep on in New York City.  I lived out of my two carry-on bags for two and a half days, each of which contained a random assortment of clothes, books, and toiletries.  But neither of which contained a complete outfit other than that which I had worn to the airport.

I flew Etihad Airways, THE National Airline of Abu Dhabi.  I hadn’t seen my checked baggage for two and a half days when I returned to JFK airport on Wednesday afternoon. Nor could anyone in the airport or from the airline tell me with any confidence whether or not my bags were in New York, Boston, Abu Dhabi, or at the Salvation Army.  However, the woman from Etihad was able to inform me that the maximum weight of any carry-on baggage is 7 kilos, or 15 lbs. Each of my carry-on bags weighed nearly 8 lbs each, empty!  So I combined as many things from one bag into the other, paid the $140 to check a third bag, and walked through security to my gate with a practically empty carry-on bag.

The airplane was surprisingly nice with big personal TVs behind each seat.  Each TV was a touchscreen that contained an endless supply of movies, games, TV series and the like, plenty to keep anyone visually stimulated for a 12 hour flight. The food they served was very good too, and included free alcoholic beverages, even in coach! No wonder the flights cost so much.

Upon arrival, customs was very quick and easy.  The first shock I got was entering the bathroom and seeing a prayer room one way with the toilets the other. Amazingly, after not having seen my checked bags for three days, all three made it safely to Abu Dhabi.  One of the student research assistants that had been doing research at the makeshift Masdar Institute for nearly a year already picked me up at the airport and whisked me away to our villas in Khalifa City ‘A.’

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