Return to the Maldives: Kooddoo-Male-Abu Dhabi, Maldivian and Etihad Business Class

Trip Report Index:

  1. Introducing and Strategy
  2. New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, Etihad First Class
  3. Park Hyatt Dubai
  4. Touring the Burj al Arab
  5. Tea at the Burj al Arab
  6. Abu Dhabi – Male, Etihad Business Class
  7. Male – Kaadedhdhoo, Maldivian and Transfer to the Park Hyatt
  8. Park Hyatt Hadahaa Maldives
  9. Kooddoo-Male-Abu Dhabi, Maldivian and Etihad Business Class
  10. Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
  11. Abu Dhabi – Dusseldorf – London, Etihad First Class and British Airways Club Europe
  12. London Heathrow – San Francisco, British Airways New First Class

The hotel needed us out of our room at 2pm to arrange for new arriving guests Last year we kept our room until the very last minute with a mid-afternoon departure, but with the hotel at 100% occupancy that wasn’t possible for this trip. So they offered to move us to a spa bungalow so we could have air conditioning and shower if we wanted prior to departure. We were moved to what appeared to be the least used bungalow, though, the air conditioning didn’t get very cold and there was a bit of a mildew smell to it. But better than sweltering outside!

When it was time to depart we were collected from the villa and brought to the boat dock. We were traveling on the same flight as another couple from Houston that was living in Doha.

Fortunately we were heading to Male on the Kooddoo non-stop flight, so no brief touchdown on another island and no need to take the longer boat ride to the farther off airport. As a result, we made it to the airport in just half an hour.

The Kooddoo airport is brand spanking new, and barren as can be. When our boat pulled up we were met by a golf cart which took us and our bags to the terminal, which is all white and basically unadorned. Our bags were checked and we were given our boarding passes and I realized there were no vending options here at all.

Unlike the boat ride on the way to the resort, we hadn’t been given any water on the journey to Kooddoo airport and I was getting pretty thirsty in the afternoon sun. And looking forward to an hour long flight without much water, I asked the man who drove us to the terminal whether it was possible to get anything to drink? He took a quick trip on the cart and brought back a couple of waters (and I tipped him generously).

Thirst quenched I went through security and found that there were a total of seven of us that would be boarding the plane. Plenty of people got off when the aircraft arrived, but the majority of passengers stayed onboard and we joined them for a perhaps 50% full hour-long journey to Male.

The flight itself was uneventful. On arrival in Male we collected our bags, then walked outside the baggage hall where a Park Hyatt representative was waiting to assit with our baggage into the terminal This part is truly unnecessary, and he really just guided us from the domestic terminal back to the international one, where our luggage would be screened. We had made the reverse trip just days earlier…

There’s baggage screening on the entrance to the terminal, and once through saw that Etihad had its check-in area to the far right — they’re the only carrier with seated check-in, something they offer for first and business class passengers (the flights departing from Male have business class only of course but presumably they don’t want to minimize the importance of passengers connecting in First so they brand the area appropriately).

We walked inside and were greeted and told to wait — it took about 10 minutes while the staff dealt with the party that was already inside. Then our bags were taken and tagged and we were given boarding passes and sent back into the terminal.

Interestingly there’s a woman whose job it is to stand in the entryway to the check-in area. Presumably she greets everyone, but she spend the entire time that I observed her talking or texting on her phone.

Then we proceeded through passport control and security formalities, through the duty free shopping area to the shared Plaza Premium lounge. There’s plenty of comfortable seating there, working internet, clean bathrooms, and a modest buffet that I didn’t find especially appealing. No alcoholic beverages though, they have a sign indicating those are illegal to serve in the airport!

After catching up on some email they announced boarding — but as is the custom, it seems, with Etihad they did so way too early … so I just sat there a little while longer. Once it was about 35 minutes out from departure I headed downstairs to the gate, and walked across the tarmac to our waiting Airbus.

Now, the flight was going to be pretty familiar because we had a similar plane and similar service on the way out. There were two things striking about this flight, though — First was the negotiations one family undertook to try to get a portion of their party upgraded (business class was actually already full, but hadn’t fully boarded yet). Second was that the cabin had a heavy cloud of mist. I’ve heard that Etihad pilots keep the temperature settings quite low in the cabin when on the ground in Male, and as a result the warm air coming in through the engines changes form. I’ve even heard stories of it ‘snowing’ inside.

The menu for the flight was as follows:

Country Style Bread
Onion and olive focaccia bread
House butter, extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Arabic mezze
A selection of Middle Eastern hot and cold appetizers

Grilled tuna and marinated prawn salad
Mixed lettuce, coriander salsa and cherry tomatoes

Grilled snapper fillet
Lyonnaise potatoes, buttered carrot and pumpkin with Bernaise sauce

Chicken tikka with vegetable chutney
Onion rice, carrot and papaya chutney
With tikka sauce

Spinach penne pasta
With creamy cheese sauce
And Mediterranean tatatouille

Selection of cheese

Arabic coffee cheesecake
Cardamom sauce, strawberries and whipping cream

Seasonal fresh fruit with fruit coulis

Providore natural ice cream – selection of flavours

Meal service was perfectly fine, though not especially memorable.

I took a nap for most of the flight, and landed in Abu Dhabi at about 11:45pm. Quickly through customs and immigration, and into the waiting car that would take us to the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “and I tipped him generously” Americans always have to ruin it for the rest of the world 🙂

  2. The mist? Condensation due to the very cool air inside meeting the very warm, moist air outside. You see it all the time on inter-island flights in HI.

  3. Over at Million Mile Secrets they did a very similar trip and their flight mist also, so I guess it is a common thing.

  4. Hi All

    The “fog” you see always happens on the Airbus in high humidity areas when you are on the ground and the cabin door is open. The aircraft PACS ( Pneumatic Air Conditioning System) uses bleed air from the APU which is very cold and dry when it gets to the cabin, when this cold dry air hit’s the warmer humid air that is in the cabin from the open doors it creates the fog you see. Happens all the time in Florida in the summer. But it wont happen unless the A/C is running it’s PACS, if it is connected to the ground air conditioning system the air coming from it is not cold enough to create the FOG effect.


  5. I totally forgot to take a photo of the plain settings of GKK. Now that you reminded me, what are the odds to see an airport with nothing but open spaces? Ha.

  6. @Tony… plain settings with an airplane (no S). The building itself has a check-in counter, a scanner, and a few benches, maybe a toilet facility. That’s it.

  7. Gary,

    Greetings from the couple from Houston living in Doha. Crazy I have been following your blog for about a year now, and your blog is the reason we stayed at the Hyatt on 4 Chase reward nights, but did not initially read the trip report until now as we had already traveled to Maldives and I wasn’t interested in learning more about the Maldives. It wasn’t until your recent post with your videos did I realize this was your blog and went back to read your trip report to find a pic of us in the report. I actually mentioned to my wife I thought you probably worked in the travel industry and/or had a blog due to all the top Tier FF luggage tags you had on your lap top bag and the fact you were taking pics of the lounge in Male.

    This will make following your blog more interesting now that I know who you are.

    One thing you may want to add about the new Kooddoo airport in is that the toilets do not have Toilet Paper, your wife and I had a laugh over lack of this basic requirement for a toilet.

  8. @Keith and B – too funny/awesome! I recall at the Kooddoo airport that staff handed me your passports, and you ours. We had a laugh that to them, we all look the same 🙂 It was great to meet you!

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