Blogger trying to raise $25,000 so he can fly (once) in Etihad residences class

Kickstarter
Here’s a kickstarter campaign you don’t see every day.

Ben Schlappig, the talented blogger behind the One Mile at a Time site, is asking for donations on the popular crowdfunding platform so that he might review the new Etihad Airways “residences” product.

You know the one. It’s something of a train compartment on an Airbus A380. You get a living room, bedroom and private bathroom with shower. The whole thing is 125 square feet.

Want a double bed on an airplane? Ethiad might be the airline for you. Photo: Associated Press.

Want a double bed on an airplane? Ethiad might be the airline for you. Photo: Associated Press.

Schlappig wants to review the product for his blog. He is asking for small donations amounting to $25,000 so he can buy a ticket. As of this writing, he has eight committments for about $630. But don’t count the man out. He has a big following, and his reviews of airline products are pretty darn good.

“What I propose is flying the Residences product within the first week it’s in service, so I can report on all aspects of the experience,” he writes. “Chances are it would otherwise be a long time before we get an unbiased review of Etihad’s new product.”

You can donate to his Kickstarter campaign here. And if you think he’s nuts, you can also tell him that.

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Etihad Airways becomes official airline of Major League Soccer

Etihad is now a Major League Soccer partner. Photo: Etihad

Etihad is now a Major League Soccer partner. Photo: Etihad

In another sign that Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, is serious about the United States market, the company announced Tuesday that has become the official airline of Major League Soccer.

According to the release, this means Etihad will advertise on “pitch-side” LEDs, as well on television and digital properties affiliated with the soccer league. Etihad sponsors a bunch of sports properties throughout the world, most of which are unfamiliar to Americans. They include the Manchester City Football Club,  the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, the Harlequins Rugby Club, and the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Not to knock MLS, but my guess is that partnership rights for the league are relatively reasonably priced. Presumably, we’ll now see Etihad advertising at Stubhub Center, where the L.A. Galaxy and Chivas USA (soon to change its name) play soccer games.

Starting in June, Etihad will fly daily between Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi. According to the release, the carrier is working on building its own lounge for premium customers at LAX. For now, the airline serves New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. It is also adding Dallas in December, three times per week.

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Etihad Airways refutes New York Post story saying it discriminates against Israelis

Is Etihad discriminating against Israel, as the New York Post suggests?

Is Etihad discriminating against Israel, as the New York Post suggests?

Etihad Airways, the growing Abu Dhabi-based airline, is pushing back against an “exclusive” New York Post report that the carrier has ” has wiped Israel from its flight map.”

The story first appeared online Monday. According to the Post, there are two issues. The first is the map. The story said  Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus are all identified by name in-flight, but not Israel. The second issue concerns whether Etihad is willing to sell tickets to Israelis, who are not permitted to visit the United Arab Emirates, according to the story. Here’s what the Post said:

Etihad also has refused to transport any Israelis, who aren’t allowed in the UAE. In 2010, it even began teaching its flight agents how to identify Israeli travelers by their “accents and traits,” the BBC has reported.

Today we got a response from Etihad’s New York public relations firm via email.

“Etihad Airways emphatically refutes the claims made in yesterday’s New York Post,” the airline said. “Last year, Etihad carried more than 1,000 passengers travelling with Israeli passports. In fact, we do not discriminate in any way and welcome passengers of all faiths and religions, carrying valid documentation.

“Our in-flight maps are industry standard and do not identify countries by name. Our website lists “Israel” as one of more than 150 country options for passenger documentation when booking flights.”

In the United States, Etihad flies to Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK and Washington Dulles and Dallas Fort Worth. (The Dallas flight has been announced but has not yet started.)

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Airlines for America criticizes proposed U.S. customs facility in Abu Dhabi

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering building a facility in Abu Dhabi. But Airlines for America is considered that would give an unfair advantage to foreign carriers like Etihad Airways.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering building a facility in Abu Dhabi. But U.S. airlines are concerned that would give an unfair advantage to foreign carriers such as Etihad Airways.

Should U.S. Customs and Border Protection be allowed to install a pre-clearance facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport?

No, says Airlines for America, the major lobbying group for U.S. carriers. And with a new campaign, the group is making its views very clear. The group says the facility would give an unfair advantage to foreign airlines.

Under the proposal, the government of the United Arab Emirates would reimburse customs for the cost of running the facility. It’s potentially worth it for the UAE because it would make flights to the United States considerably more convenient. As they do elswhere, including in Canada, Ireland and Aruba, customs would clear passengers in Abu Dhabi, rather than in the United States. (A full list of pre-clearance airports is available on wikipedia.)

When flights from those airports arrive in the United States, they’re essentially treated like domestic flights. Passengers tend to like pre-clearance because it  means  no crazy customs lines after long flights. 

But U.S. carriers generally don’t fly to Abu Dhabi, so they wouldn’t benefit. Instead, the new system would help Etihad Airways, which operates the bulk of international flights there.

Airlines for America doesn’t like that.

“The establishment of this facility in Abu Dhabi primarily benefits only a foreign emirate and its wholly owned national carrier, giving it a competitive advantage over U.S. airlines, their employees, and their customers who pay $1.5 billion in annual user fees,” Airlines for America wrote on its website.

A4A, as it is commonly called, has created a full website to criticize the proposal. You can find it at: http://www.drawthelinehere.com/

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