Best Etihad A380 First Apartment Seats?

Filed Under: Etihad

There are abundant opportunities at the moment to redeem miles for Etihad’s incredible A380 First Apartments.


This is the case both between Abu Dhabi and London, as well as between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, once that route begins to be operated by an A380 starting in June.

So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked on a daily basis what the best A380 First Apartment seats are.

Etihad A380 First Apartment seat layout

Etihad’s A380 First Apartment cabin is innovative, as it features just a single aisle.

Etihad A380 First Apartment cabin

It’s not often you see that on a widebody aircraft.

The layout is scattered by design, to maximize both space and privacy for each passenger. Here’s the seatmap:


The seats alternate in two ways:

  • Location of seat in relation to the window/aisle – while there are only two seats per row (one on each side of the aisle), the location of the seat in relation to the aisle varies. Sometimes it’s closer to the aisle, other times it’s closer to the window.
  • Forwards/backwards facing – in Etihad’s First Apartment, you have a seat and a separate fold out bed. In some Apartments the seats face forwards (meaning the bed is in front of the seat), while in some cases they face backwards (meaning the seat is in front of the bed).

Etihad A380 First Apartment seat 5H — rear facing aisle seat

With that in mind, which seats face which direction?

  • Seat 1A: Residence, not a First Apartment 😉
  • Seat 1H: rear facing aisle seat
  • Seats 2C & 2H: forward facing aisle seats
  • Seats 3A & 3K: rear facing window seats
  • Seats 4A & 4K: forward facing window seats
  • Seats 5C & 5H: rear facing aisle seats


Best First Apartment seat for solo travelers

I really loved my seat in row four, and do think it’s the best seat in the house. Not only is the seat forward facing, but it’s closer to the window. If you have one of the seats closer to the aisle then it’s basically impossible to look out the window during takeoff and landing.

Etihad A380 First Apartment seat 4K — forward facing window seat

Furthermore, you have a lot more privacy when you’re seated by the window, since you really don’t even notice what’s going on in the aisle.

Etihad A380 First Apartment seat 4K — forward facing window seat

So row four would be my first choice, followed by row three. The one caveat with row three is that if you easily get motion sickness, sitting backwards may not be for you…

But since rows three and four have seats closer to the windows than the aisle, I do think they’re the best bet.

Best First Apartment seat for couples

While First Apartment seats can’t turn into double beds, there are a couple of seats that connect.

As you’ll see in the below picture, there’s a “shield” between rows three and four, and that can be lowered if you’re traveling with someone. So if you’re traveling as a couple, your best bet is two seats behind one another in rows three and four.

Etihad A380 First Apartment bed

I should clarify, though, that the shield only lowers by where your head is, and not for the entire bed. In other words, if you’re trying to be naughty, expecting kissing at most — no mile high club. 😉

Other notes on First Apartment seating

In general I’d avoid row one if possible. You’re right by the shower and toilet, so there’s going to be quite a bit of foot traffic, and once in a while even noise. Furthermore, you’re right across from The Residence, so you’ll feel very second citizen. 😉

In all honesty, the butler will just always be there yet won’t serve you, so I’d avoid it in general.

In general I’d also avoid row five. It’s not bad or anything, but keep in mind that the one downside of having only one aisle is lots of foot traffic through that aisle. So it helps not to be right by the galley, or else you’ll see a lot of light from the galley. Furthermore, row five only has one window on each side, since the seats are closer to the aisle.

Bottom line

Rows three and four are where it’s at. You want two seats behind one another in rows three and four if traveling with someone. If traveling alone, I’d choose row four followed by row three. But if those are occupied, don’t worry, you’ll have a great flight no matter which First Apartment you’re seated in.

So, who has an Etihad A380 First Apartment booked, and which seats did you select? 🙂

  1. Please stop. I am really trying to save 22.5k AA miles and fly nonstop in J, but all your incessant talk about these apartments are making it awfully tempting. More miles, more time, more money, but look at those damn pictures.

  2. I’m booked in November, but do you have to call Etihad to reserve a seat because I’m not able to it through their website?

  3. @ lucky – You listed 1H as a rear-facing window seat. It looks like an aisle seat based on the diagram, so just wanted to point that out.

    I have 4K booked AUH-SYD in November. I am way too excited given that my trip is 11 months away. I’m with you on row 4 – I wanted a window seat and I’m not too sure how I feel about the whole rear-facing thing. I figured this shouldn’t be the flight to find out.

  4. Ben from what I gather from seeing pics, seems like all seats have different colors… Did you remember which one has which color? I care about color quite a bit. I will fly it in a few weeks.

  5. I picked 4k for flight in November. Not sure how I would feel in a backward facing seat for a long flight.

    @ Todd Yes, you have to call Etihad for seat selection.

  6. I completely agree, 4A and 4K are indeed the best seats too choose. Good job Ben for securing 4K for the inaugural! 🙂 My second (and last!) choice would be 2C or 2H, even if that would mean only one window in the apartment, and really far from the seat, quite annoying! The thing that makes me more worried is being on a rear facing seat, i have never experienced it before and honestly it makes me really scared of feeling sick. And that would be a really bad thing, paying for a first apartment ticket and being unable to enjoy the experience because of sickness! I don’t know if that’s an unrational fear, is flying backwards really different from normal?

  7. I was in 3A from LHR-AUH a few weeks ago and I liked it. It was my first time in a rear facing seat, and tbh it didn’t feel much different from a forward facing seat.

  8. but what if the shield between rows 3 and 4 is fully lowered, couldn’t you just turn your bed around (so that your pillow is at the window end of the bed) and be connected below the waist and get into the mile high club that way? that would work, no?

  9. additional notes:
    Seat 1H is aisle rear facing.
    Seats 1H and 2H are also great for couples plus the divider is on the window side (not by aisle side like seats 3 & 4)
    Seats 3A and 4A are coffee/beige colored leather whereas seats 3K/4K are chocolate colored leather.

  10. I have an apartment on AUH-SYD and later SYD-AUH and requested 4K for both (though, not yet confirmed: @etihadhelp seems slow).

  11. Easiest way to select seat is to call 1- 888- 8ETIHAD and follow the prompts for English and then First Class reservations. Seat selection showed up immediately after the call under Manage my bookings.

  12. How private are the privacy shields when they are up? The only thing that seems like a plus about Row 5 is that there’s no one sleeping directly on the other side of you.

  13. @ concorde02 — Yes there were two different colors, though don’t remember which seats had which color… hah.

  14. @ Darren — They’re cross trained as onboard chefs and food and beverage managers, so they simply work another role. There are actually a couple of butlers per “trip,” but only one works the position each flight.

  15. It looks like during takeoff and landing couples are pretty much completely separated though, right? That does seem like it would be a big downside to this configuration, especially in cases like a honeymoon or something.

    How comfortable is sitting on the “bench” when not in bed mode?

  16. @ Bgriff — I’d call that a first world problem. 😉

    The bench is actually quite comfortable. There’s not much back support, but it’s spacious and well padded.

  17. @Lucky — First-world problems indeed, but it is kind of annoying how many premium cabin (business class especially) designs are becoming less and less good for traveling with a companion. I can’t blame the airlines for it in the slightest, since the business traveler flying alone prefers more private configurations, but it is definitely an unfortunate trend for those times one is traveling with someone else.

  18. Lucky, i want fly First Apartments with my wife because we have the dream having xxx in the plane, but, is it possible really in the apartments or only in The Residence?

  19. Oh my god if anyone has a “dream of joining the mile high club” … you need to get better dreams. Roaches copulate anywhere and everywhere. Do you aspire to be a roach? And do something that millions and millions of other roaches have done before you? lol

  20. @RH – Thanks for the suggestion, but it didn’t work. I received the following error:

    Technical Error
    We encountered a technical issue and will not be able to proceed with this transaction. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest you call us on 02 599 0000 from within the UAE or +971 2 599 0000 from elsewhere for assistance.

    I ended up calling, as others suggested, and got 4K in less than a minute. It now reflects my seat choice in my record on EY’s site.

    Thanks all.

  21. Any information on when Etihad will start A380 service to JFK? I was planning on aiming for F in their new 787 out of Washington, but it looks like F in the A380 is significantly nicer.

  22. @ Mike — It was originally supposed to be by late 2015, though I believe it may be delayed somewhat. Not sure, sorry.

  23. My favorite part of flying is looking out the window. So for my trip in Oct I’m in Row 4. I called Etihad’s US # after ticketed for seats. Not sure about flying backwards for motion issues, but don’t u look at the wing?

    So for Oct all in 1st. IAD-AUD seat 2A on EY’s 789. AUD-LHR seat 4A. LHR-AUD seat 4K. AUD-IAD seat 2K on 789. Using 260K of my Hubby’s AA miles 🙂

  24. @ Bill n DC — Awesome, enjoy! You don’t necessarily have a better wing view from a rear facing seat, given that the wing is so far back. You’ll just see the tip of the wing either way.

  25. I’d previously booked 4A for both of my flights as I’d realised that 4A and K were the only forward facing window seats in F.

  26. In reply to Darren asking “what the butler does when no one is booked in the residence,” Lucky said “They’re cross trained as onboard chefs and food and beverage managers, so they simply work another role. There are actually a couple of butlers per ‘trip,’ but only one works the position each flight.”

    Does this mean that on each flight there are two people trained as butler/chef/F&B Mgr, and if the Residence if occupied, one of whom will be the butler and the other will be the chef and F&B Mgr, but if no one is in the Residence, then one will be chef and the other will be F&B Mgr?

    What does a F&B Mgr do, and how much of the flight is there something to do? I found a job description for it but it doesn’t really say much about actual duties:

  27. @ Randy — Yes, that’s correct. On most trips there are two butler trained crew members, and they’ll simply be the onboard chef or food & beverage manager in one direction. The food & beverage manager basically helps people pair wine and food, makes suggestions, etc. More show than anything else.

  28. Hi Ben,

    I was wondering if you could enlighten me on the following.

    I was searching for flights from Rome to Sydney, Australia. In business class (Etihad airways) I was quoted 75K AA miles for a one-way because Rome to Abu Dhabi is 30K and Abu Dhabi to Sydney is 45K, they were counting it as two-individual one-ways even though when I search on the Etihad website it shows as one itinerary that just so happens to connect in Abu Dhabi. When I called last night regarding JFK to Sydney and I had found a flight in First connecting through Abu Dhabi (JFK –> AUH –> SYD) the guy quoted me 90K one-way instead of 90K + 60K (JFK to AUH and AUH to SYD), the lady said the guy last night had misquoted me and it should’ve been 150K from JFK to Sydney. Who is in the wrong here?

  29. Thanks Ben! So pretty much if I’m going from NYC to Sydney either via the Middle East or via Asia (NYC to HKG, HKG to SYD) I’d have to be charged for 2 one-ways?

    Is the exception if I manage to find the golden unicorn (Qantas) that goes from NYC to Sydney connecting via L.A. or something?

  30. @ Brandon — That’s correct, unfortunately. If you do manage to find a Qantas flight straight to Australia that would be allowed on one award since you’re not transiting a third region.

  31. Thank sucks so muchhhh, pardon my language. So as long as I’m not transiting a third region I’d be ok, got it. I’m looking at the AA chart and it shows Europe to South Pacific as 60K one-way in business, I saw your other post and it showed Asia 1 and Asia 2 as an allowable third region to transit when coming from Europe so Europe to Hong Kong to Sydney would be possible for just 60K one-way in business? Sorry for all the questions, just want to make sure 🙂

  32. @ Brandon — That’s correct, you could do something like London to Hong Kong to Sydney on a single award.

  33. @Lucky

    As far as the forward facing seats go why is Row 4 so much better than row 2? I hate being in the last row of cabins because of the possibility they run out of my first choice meal option. What do you think?

  34. @ Dan — I prefer that the seats in row four are closer to the window, rather than closer to the aisle.

  35. In The lounge @ Sydney airport now, soon to be departing in 2C. Tried for your seat, yet already taken… Slightly peeved, albeit, from what I’ve heard and read, I doubt it will dampen the experience much.

    On a secondary note, the etihad lounge in Sydney is crap…

  36. BTW; Etihad’s A330-300 is single aisled in business class.
    Did you find it better than Singapore’s R overall?

  37. Ben,

    I’ve got the choice of 3K or 4K for a flight in June MEL-AUH. Direction I’m facing isn’t a concern; I’ve done both and have no problem with either. I’m leaning towards 3K for the following reason: planes cruise at a slightly nose-up attitude, which means that there is a slight (but often noticeable) angle in the cabin sloping from front to back. With the bed located “down” (i.e. aft of the seat), as is the case in the rear-facing seats, you’d have a wall to “lean” into if gravity was inclined (pun intended) to move you. In the forward-facing seats where the bed is “up,” if gravity had the same inclination, it would roll you out of your bed. While I’m sure this doesn’t actually happen, the sensation itself could be enough to make it less pleasant.

    Could you comment on this?

  38. I wonder what the noise difference is between 3 and 4. I remember sitting in the front most cabin on Emirates A380 Economy, 42 row, and the noise levels were significantly less when I went to the restroom all the way by the cockpit! Still, A380 is far superior to 787.

  39. Lucky- what do you think the chances are Etihad FAs/GAs would help my wife and I switch seats with a solo traveler in order to get into row 3/4 to be together? Looking at switching a flight to a day later (which I would prefer all else equal) except only seats open on the later flight are in row 3 and 5 (the otherwise blocked seats), whereas in my current itin I have 3/4 locked up.


  40. Hello! Just booked 2 first class AUH-JFK for January 1 2018

    Got 3A and 4A

    Can the seat be set up as “double beds”?


  41. Just redeemed my AA points (my last award as a Platinum before it is ingloriously ripped from me in a week *sigh*) for my, and my EY points for my partner’s flights from ZRH-AUH-MEL in January 2018 & took your advice – 3A for me, 4A for my partner. Cannot. Freaking. WAIT.

  42. Hi @Marcos,

    No, you cannot set up two Apartments to have double beds. There is a partition at the head of the beds which can be opened so that when the two of you are in your beds, you can see each other and talk, and even kiss (if you stretch a bit).

  43. @Lucky Thank you again for this post (and others like it). This type of extremely detailed information is what sets you apart from many of your peers. I booked EY F for late next summer in seat 4K, thanks to you!

    (Incidentally, I booked this online myself by transferring Amex MR points to Etihad Guest when AA CSRs in the U.S. and Trinidad, by way of the Australia phone line, could not see nearly all of the award space I could see on Etihad’s website. The ability to use AA miles to book EY F and J has been a problem for several weeks, I’ve read–and now experienced firsthand. Not sure if this is a temporary technical issue, like when Alaska had limited access to EK award space early in the summer, or if this is new EY policy to block AA from accessing its seemingly fairly wide open award space in 2018, maybe to further cost cut or in response to the pretty recent codeshare breakup.)

  44. @Cameron – You made a great point about the bed direction. Did you feel row 3 was better given the cruise at a slightly nose-up angle? I have a choice between row 3A and 4A.

  45. Hi Gautam,

    I can’t say it was better, because I’ve only done the one, but I was very happy with my seat selection in Row 3.

  46. @Cameron – That’s great! Yes, the window seats on the apartment won’t disappoint at all! I have the option to choose either 3A or 4A and had the same thinking as you did. I’ll probably go with 4A then:)

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