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Delayed with Etihad

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Etihad’s service when handling delays below the airline’s standard

History and recent development

Founded in 2003 and established by Royal decree as the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier, Etihad is a relatively young airline. Its name refers to the United Arab Emirates, ‘Etihad’ being the Latinised form of Arabic for ‘union’. On November 5, 2003, the airline flew to Al Ain as an initial ceremonial flight. Regular services from Abu Dhabi to Beirut – the first scheduled route introduced – commenced a week later. Initially Etihad went through an astonishing development, having become the fastest growing airline in all of aviation history. In 2012 alone, the number of passengers carried increased by 23% on the previous year, having carried 10.3 million passengers in that year. Etihad also announced the largest new aircraft purchase in history, having acquired up to 205 aircrafts at the 2008 Farnborough Airshow. In the course of expansion, Etihad has bought shares in numerous airlines worldwide, including Air Berlin (29%), Air Seychelles (40%), Serbian Jat Airways (49%) and Jet Airways (24%). Aside from passenger transportation, Etihad also operates a cargo airline, Etihad Cargo, and the tourist enterprise Etihad Holidays. Etihad is currently the fourth largest airline in the Middle East and the second largest in the U.A.E., after Emirates.

Major destinations

As the company’s slogan suggests, “From Abu Dhabi to the world”, Etihad’s main hub is Abu Dhabi (AUH). The airline currently operates a route network that reaches 80 destinations world-wide and all six inhabited continents. The network has a focus in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, serving all major destinations in these regions, including Frankfurt (FRA), Mumbai (BOM), Beijing (PEK) and Beirut (BEY). As a new route, daily direct connections to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) were introduced on October 1st, 2013. Etihad also serves major destinations in North America, Oceania and Africa, such as New York (JFK), Sydney (SYD) and Johannesburg (JNB). While Etihad is not a member of a major airline alliance, it does have code-share agreements with 45 airlines and the French railway company SNCF. It also offers its own frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest.

Services and quality of service

Etihad, a four-star airline on SKYTRAX, has been elected ‘World’s Leading Airline’ at the World Travel Awards for four straight years from 2009 to 2012, due to its excellent service. The airlines service is even rated 4.5 stars in the first class. Customers frequently note that service is better than comparable airlines on the same routes, especially concerning the in-flight entertainment, which generally runs smoothly. Occasionally, the selection of movies is criticised for poor quality of the movies on offer. The food is described as above average by most passengers. However, it is sometimes noted that the ground staff service is not helpful in cases of problems with reservations, delays and cancellations.

Delays and Cancellations – average performance, below-standard service

Etihad’s on-time performance, according to flightstats, is considered average with 81% for arrivals and 78% for departures. Of the roughly 20% delayed flights, 10% are delayed by less than 30 minutes and 7% are excessively delayed, meaning by more than 45 minutes. Cancellations are rare, with a quota of 1% cancelled flights. Delays frequently occur in some North American, Australian and Indian airports, while they are scarce in, for example, Singapore, Athens and Cairo. In total, the airline receives 3.5 stars in the rating of delays. This shows Etihad’s performance concerning delays and cancellations as being above average, however, as noted, its services in the handling of delays and cancellations does not live up to Etihad standard.

What rights do I have?

Under EU law, you can get up to 480£ compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking of your flight.
This is true regardless of the ticket price and up to 6 years retrospectively.


What to do when delayed?

  • gather information
  • Take photos
  • You are entitled to vouchers
  • Keep documents from the airline, such as letters, tickets, vouchers
250 €
< 1,500km
3H Delay
400 €
1,500km - 3,500km
3H Delay
600 €
> 3,500km
3H Delay
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I'm glad I made the decision to make a claim through you! The 843 EUR has arrived! With this money we will treat ourselves to an unplanned getaway. Thank you so much - we will drink a toast to you!

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annoying and unpromising

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simple and straightfoward

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expensive and complex/effortful

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