Review: Etihad First Class A380 Abu Dhabi To New York

Filed Under: Etihad

I was fortunate enough to be on Etihad’s first ever commercial A380 flight, which was from Abu Dhabi to London on December 27, 2014. Naturally I was really excited to try the product again on a flight double the length, as it would allow me to fully enjoy the First Class Apartment.

Etihad 103
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – New York (JFK)
Monday, November 23
Depart: 3:20AM
Arrive: 9:10AM
Duration: 14hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 5H (First Class Apartment)

Entering through the forward upper deck door and turning left into the Etihad A380 first class cabin is an unmatched experience in commercial aviation. It’s the only cabin with just a single aisle, and everything about it is beautiful.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 2
Etihad A380 first class cabin

As you’ll see, the partition behind the front left seat is higher up than all the others, and that’s because The Residence is located there, which is Etihad’s three room private suite with butler service. Speaking of butler service, the butler on this flight was Georgina, the same one who worked the first Etihad A380 flight. It’s always nice to see familiar faces!

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 1
Etihad A380 first class cabin

In this instance I had reserved Apartment 5H, while Tiffany was in 5C. Those were the only two seats available when we booked. I shared my favorite Etihad First Class Apartment seats in a different post, and while row five isn’t my favorite, it was still a heck of a seat.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 3
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment 5H

The seats alternate between facing forwards and backwards, and between being closer to the aisle and closer to the window. 5H is a rear facing aisle seat. I’d say the one downside of the seat is that it only has a single window, not that you can even really look out of it when in your seat, given how far away it is. But some of the other seats have three windows.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 4
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment 5H

But I mean, seriously, what a stunning product. The seat was on the left, while on the right was a massive ottoman/bench, which converts into a bed when you’re ready to sleep.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 6
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment 5H

Across from the bench is the vanity, which is a pretty innovative use of space. The amenity kit was already waiting in the vanity, with all the individual contents in the compartments along the side.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 7
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment vanity

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 23
Etihad first class amenity kit

Then closer to the seat is a vertical storage unit, which pops out of the side of the vanity area.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 8
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment storage

To extend the tray table you first have to push the compartment forward, and then the tray can be pulled out. Above the tray table are the entertainment controls, as well as a USB outlet.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 9
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment tray table

Then on the right side of the seat were the basic seat controls.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 10
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment seat controls

Also below the left side of the seat is a storage compartment and a chilled minibar.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 11
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment storage

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 12
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment minibar

Anything which doesn’t fit in the storage compartment can be stored horizontally below the “bench,” as it’s tall enough to fit an average carry-on.

The suite is just brilliantly designed, and couldn’t be any more beautiful.

Also waiting at my seat was a plush, light blanket. I love these blankets, and wish there were a place to buy them.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 13
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment blanket

The entertainment screen showed the name of the captain, first officer, cabin manager, and inflight chef, which I find to be a nice personalized touch.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 14
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment entertainment screen

Within moments of settling in the Italian food & beverage manager, Roberto, came by to introduce himself and offer me a drink. I requested a glass of champagne, which was served on the usual tray, along with a hot towel, some dates, and a welcome note from the cabin manager, Rita.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 15
Etihad first class pre-departure champagne

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 16
Etihad first class dates, hot towel, and welcome note

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 17
Etihad first class welcome note

Shortly thereafter, the Spanish food & beverage manager, Alejandro, came by to offer me the menu for the flight, and explain the “dine on demand” concept. Based on the food & beverage manager and onboard chef alone, I could tell it would be a great flight.

Since this was an inaugural flight, there was a cute little souvenir waiting at my seat, which was a little replica NYC taxi.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 19
Etihad inaugural flight gift

Moments later the cabin manager, Rita, came by to introduce herself and offer me an inaugural flight certificate (which I now have three of from Etihad — I just have to figure out what I’ll do with them).

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 18
Etihad inaugural flight certificate and gift

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 20
Etihad inaugural flight certificate

Moments later Florentina, the other first class flight attendant, came by to introduce herself and offer me some pajamas and slippers. I find Etihad’s pajamas to be among the most stylish out there, even though they’re not hugely branded by the airline (in other words, they don’t have “Etihad” written in big letters on them).

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 21
Etihad first class pajamas

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 22
Etihad first class pajamas

At around 3:30AM the Canadian captain came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard, and give us more information about the flight. He informed us of our lengthy flight time of 14hr20min, and that we’d be cruising at 30,000 feet initially, and eventually be working our way up to 40,000 feet, as we burned off some fuel.

After that Rita made her welcome aboard announcement, informing us there were 23 cabin crew.

The first class cabin was completely full at this point — there were two passengers in The Residence (a middle-aged “local” couple), and nine people in the First Class Apartments (for what it’s worth, I believe three of them were “local,” while six of them were from the US).

At 3:35AM we began our pushback, at which point the travel prayer and safety video began to play. Time passed so quickly, as I couldn’t believe we had already been aboard for over 30 minutes — it felt like 10.

Our taxi to the runway took a while, and at 3:55AM we were finally airborne, after a long takeoff roll. I apologize for the glare from the screen, but it’s tough to capture the tail camera at night.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 24
Etihad A380 tail camera

While I’ve sat backwards on planes many times, there was something a bit odd about the sensation of sitting backwards but not being close to the window. Since I wasn’t able to look outside, my only point of reference was the tail camera, and that was sort of playing tricks on my mind, since every sensation you feel is the opposite of what you’re looking directly at (that’s easier to come to terms with when you’re looking out of a window rather than at a screen, in my opinion).

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 25
Etihad A380 tail camera

As we climbed out I switched from the tail camera to the airshow, to see our path for the night, which would take us over Europe, and then right across the Atlantic.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 26
Etihad A380 airshow

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 27
Etihad A380 airshow

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the crew sprung into action, including putting up the “rope” at the top of the staircase.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 28
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments cabin

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 29
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments cabin

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 30
Etihad A380 staircase

Florentina came by to take reservations for the shower. While Emirates has two A380 shower spas, Etihad has one to share among the nine passengers, so it’s a bit more important to reserve them in advance. I reserved a shower for about three hours before landing.

I took the opportunity to log onto the internet. Etihad charges just $21.95 for a 24 hour pass with unlimited data. I consider that to be an excellent deal for a longhaul flight, given how much some airlines charge. And I find Etihad’s wifi to also usually be quite functional.

Etihad A380 wifi cost

At that point the meal service began.

The wine list read as follows:

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 31

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 32

Ok, so confession time. For the first time in my trip reporting “career” I lost the menu for the flight. So I don’t have the exact menu for the flight, but Etihad’s menus are always similar. So instead I’ll share the menu from a subsequent Abu Dhabi to Sydney flight:

  • All flights have the biryani and “from the grill” selection, which is almost always what I have
  • All flights have the mezze
  • The breakfast menu is very similar on most longhaul flights

So the below is very similar to what the menu is like on New York to Abu Dhabi, though not exactly. Sorry about that!

Anyway, here is the Abu Dhabi to Sydney menu:





After takeoff I had another glass of champagne, which was accompanied by nuts, olives, and dried veggies/chips.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 33
Etihad first class champagne and snacks

Shortly thereafter Roberto set my table. Etihad does such a great job with their table setting, and I especially love their plates & glassware.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 34
Etihad first class dinner table setting

I was also offered a selection from the bread basket, and chose garlic bread.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 35
Etihad first class dinner — garlic bread

The meal started with a small amuse bouche, though I have no clue what it actually was. I do know it wasn’t especially good, though.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 36
Etihad first class dinner — amuse bouche

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 37
Etihad first class dinner — amuse bouche

For the starter I had the mezze, which was one of the better presentations I’ve seen of it. Before Etihad rebranded they had a gorgeous mezze setup, though for whatever reason they made it significantly less impressive. Emirates wins hands down when it comes to their mezze.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 38
Etihad first class dinner — mezze starter

After the starter I was offered a citrus granita palate cleanser, which was refreshing.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 40
Etihad first class dinner — palate cleanser

For the main course I had ordered the fish biryani, which was spectacular, and gorgeously plated by chef Alejandro.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 41
Etihad first class dinner — salmon biryani

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 42
Etihad first class dinner — salmon biryani

To finish off the meal I had the trio of desserts along with a cappuccino.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 43
Etihad first class dinner — dessert taster

The meal was done about two hours into the flight, leaving me over 12 hours left to enjoy before landing in New York. The food was fantastic, and the crew was on top of their game. I find Etihad crews are generally efficient, though aren’t always the most charming. This crew was engaging, attentive, and charming.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 44
Etihad airshow enroute to New York

At this point I was feeling a bit tired, so asked the crew to make my bed. While they did so, I headed up to the lavatory. There are two lavatories in Etihad A380 first class. The forward most one is the larger one, and is just a bathroom.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 46
Etihad A380 first class bathroom

The slightly smaller one has a bathroom and shower — certainly not as spacious as the Emirates facilities!

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 45
Etihad A380 first class shower

My bed was quickly made, and I managed to nap for about three hours. I should note that while I love the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, the bed as such isn’t the most comfortable in the world. It’s not all that wide and the padding isn’t amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great bed in absolute terms, but there are better ones out there, like on Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 47
Etihad A380 first class bed

I woke up as we were passing Helsinki. I wasn’t especially tired and wanted to also be able to enjoy the flight, so figured I’d get up for a bit.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 50
Etihad airshow enroute to New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 49
Etihad airshow enroute to New York

We headed back to The Lobby, which is the lounge located between first & business class. The galley behind first class is massive (it’s used for both first & business class service), so it can be a bit of an obstacle course to walk between first class and The Lobby.

The Lobby has a total of six seats along with a coffee table and a live TV (which is a bit awkward when all the news was covering were airplane bomb threats), and is a nice space. It’s not quite as social as the Emirates A380 bar, but that can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on where you’re headed or what kind of a mood you’re in.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 51
Etihad A380 Lobby

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 52
Etihad A380 Lobby

Across from The Lobby is a drink display, though you can’t actually serve yourself beverages there. I really do wish they’d set up a self serve bar of some sort, maybe just with some light snacks. Fortunately this crew was really good, so as soon as we sat down in The Lobby they came by to offer us drinks and snacks.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 53
Etihad A380 Lobby

While it might not have made sense timing wise, we ordered some afternoon tea and cappuccinos to start. Because… why not?

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 54
Etihad A380 Lobby afternoon tea

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 55
Etihad A380 Lobby afternoon tea

After that it was a round of champagne. I guess the flight attendants realized we might have needed some hydration as well, so they brought us a pitcher of flavored water. 😉

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 56
Etihad A380 Lobby champagne

Then we switched to gin & tonics, and they brought out some more snacks, including nuts and chips.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 57
Etihad A380 Lobby gin & tonic

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 58
Etihad A380 Lobby snacks

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 59
Etihad A380 Lobby snacks

We had so much fun in The Lobby, though I figured it made sense to go back to my seat and get some shut eye at some point. When I returned to my seat my bed had once again been refreshed.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 60
Etihad A380 first class bed

I woke up from my nap with about five hours until landing in New York, though managed to go back to sleep a bit longer.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 61
Etihad A380 first class bed

At this point I got to watch a gradual sunrise over the next couple of hours, which was beautiful.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 62
Sunrise enroute to New York

I’ve never actually used the entertainment system on the Etihad A380, though I did browse the selection, which was extensive.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 63
Etihad flight info enroute to New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 64
Etihad entertainment system

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 65
Etihad entertainment system

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 66
Etihad entertainment system

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 67
Etihad entertainment system

Who needs any other entertainment when you can just watch the tail camera? 😉

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 68
Etihad A380 tail camera

As a snack I decided to order some strawberry ice cream.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 69
Etihad first class ice cream

At this point it was time for my shower appointment, so the flight attendant fetched me to bring me to the shower and explain the “features.” The actual shower on Etihad is very similar to Emirates, in that you have five minutes of water. However, the bathroom setup as a whole is much nicer on Emirates than on Etihad, in my opinion.

Etihad A380 onboard shower

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 70
Airshow enroute to New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 71
Airshow enroute to New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 72
Airshow enroute to New York

About two hours before landing the breakfast service began. I had some muesli with milk to start.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 73
Etihad first class breakfast — muesli

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 74
Etihad first class breakfast — muesli

That was served with a croissant and danish on the side.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 75
Etihad first class breakfast — croissant and danish

I also had a cappuccino.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 76
Etihad first class breakfast — cappuccino

For the main course I ordered scrambled eggs well done. They were prepared perfectly, and I loved that they had Tabasco to accompany it.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 77
Etihad first class breakfast — scrambled eggs

Before descent I took another picture of the cabin.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 79
Etihad A380 cabin

I also headed back to business class to look at that product, but the cabin was still dark at that point, and I didn’t want to disturb.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 78
Etihad A380 Business Studio

As we began our initial descent, a “Discover America” video played throughout the whole cabin. It was intended to be a “welcome to the US” video, though the music was painfully loud, and the whole theme was a bit cheesy. I was amused that they were showcasing the diversity in America, including a same sex couple with a kid — not every day you see that showcased on a Middle Eastern carrier!

At around 8:55AM ET we began our descent into New York, and within about 15 minutes the seatbelt sign was turned on. I stowed all my carry-ons and turned on the tail camera for the entire approach.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 80
Tail camera on approach into New York

Our approach into New York was quite rough, and felt a bit weird with the backwards facing seat away from the window.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 81
Tail camera on final approach into New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 82
Tail camera on final approach into New York

Eventually we had a rough as hell landing on runway 31L at 9:25AM.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 83
Tail camera on landing in New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 84
Tail camera on landing in New York

From there it was a 15 minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 4.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 85
Tail camera taxiing at JFK

There we parked next to a China Southern 777, and just a couple of gates from a Singapore Airlines A380. Come to think of it, I’m not sure what a Singapore Airlines A380 plane was doing on the ground in New York, as the flight only lands from Frankfurt at around 11AM, and doesn’t depart till later in the evening.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 86
Tail camera taxiing at JFK

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 87
Tail camera taxiing at JFK

Upon pulling into our gate we exited straight into the terminal, which is the benefit of a Pre-Clearance facility. It’s nice to arrive as a domestic passenger (though with Global Entry, immigration isn’t that much of a pain nowadays either).

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 88
Tail camera taxiing at JFK

The views of the plane on arrival were gorgeous, including from the AirTrain as I was headed into the city, just a few minutes after arriving at the gate.

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 89
Etihad A380 upon arrival in New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 90
Etihad A380 upon arrival in New York

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 91
Terminal 4 JFK upon arrival

Etihad-A380-Apartment - 92
Etihad A380 upon arrival in New York

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment bottom line

Etihad’s A380 is a stunning plane, and it was so nice to finally fly it on a longer flight, where I could really enjoy the seat, bed, and all the amenities. This truly is a revolutionary product, one which changed so many aspects of the seat “concept.”

I love most things about the product. The amount of personal space is insane. The design of the cabin is breathtaking. But there are also a few downsides, which I covered in my recent post comparing Emirates and Etihad A380 first class. What’s less great about the product?

  • While it’s awesome that Etihad has a shower, the shower experience isn’t anywhere close to what Emirates offers
  • The Lobby is a nice concept, though I prefer the Emirates onboard bar, which I find to be a lot more fun
  • While the amount of personal space in The Apartment is fantastic, the bed itself isn’t the most comfortable in the sky
  • It’s nice to have both a seat and a bed, though there’s not really a “middle” setting; the seat doesn’t really recline down much and the bed doesn’t recline up at all, so you can basically only be fully upright or fully reclined

Those are just some minor thoughts, in the interest of being as detailed as possible. All things considered I still think the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is among the world’s best first class product. With a great crew, the experience is unbeatable.

I’m so happy to see Etihad flying this plane to the US.

  1. When I flew it internet was complimentary in FC… there’s a card with a first class code that was easy to miss. I can’t remember where it was located.

  2. Awesome review! Cant wait to fly this route in October with a friend.

    Can I assume a 24 hour flight pass would also be valid for a connecting flight? I’m flying SIN-AUH-LHR in F and would consider an internet pass if that’d be the case.

  3. Thanks for the reminder. I just called them for a seat assignment and got 4A for my flight.

    Lucky, do you remember if it was dark or bright outside when you woke up near Finland? Just wondering if it is dark outside for maybe a better chance to see the aurora borealis

  4. @Lucky, I see EY still needs some work on menu variation. I flew AUH-SYD last month and that was the same exact menu! Really surprised that on a different route on a different month they would still keep it the same. I wonder if all the AUH A380 the menus are the same. Anyways, I think this menu was on the disappointing side overall but I will say the afternoon tea on mine had a lot more variation and had 2 towers of snacks instead of your one plate. What I like about EK F is their menus change monthly.

  5. @Dave, I guess you missed the part where Ben said that he lost the menu, so he posted the AUH-SYD one instead.

  6. @ Dave — Indeed, this was indeed the menu from Abu Dhabi to Sydney. That being said, wouldn’t be surprised if they’re very similar in general, as I doubt there are many people flying from Abu Dhabi to both New York and Sydney in a given month.

  7. @ Tyler — It was in this case as well, but just for two hours. Figured it was worth paying a reasonable amount to have wifi the whole flight.

  8. Great post!

    I just did LAX-AUH on their 777 which I thought was fabulous. Could use more IFE choices, and the seat wasn’t as wide as CX F, but still fantastic.

    Can you say a little more about the recline? Is it only as much as a domestic F 738 seat? In that case, I will probably prefer the hard product on the 777. Especially if routing through JFK is needed for A380.

    Also is the bed harder than their 777 F seat?

  9. If you deplane directly into the terminal to catch a connecting flight, what is the minimum connecting time?

  10. Great report! Lots of great pictures and descriptions, it all looks so wonderful. And that’s the nicest hot towel I have ever seen. 🙂 Can hardly wait for my trip.

  11. @ Beachfan — I’d say the bed is roughly the same as on the 777 in terms of comfort. As far as recline goes, the seat itself has domestic first class recline at best. Probably a bit less, even.

  12. @ Nolan — It varies based on which airline you’re connecting to, but it’s shorter than if you had to use immigration.

  13. Hi Ben, great post as always. Was recently on this flight and the crew was quite “meh”. Certainly not on the level of CX F service wise.

    Little things like i wasn’t offered a quick tour of my seat to go over features etc, no palate cleanser between starter and main, and no ever mentioned the free wifi for 2 hours. Is the 2 hour free wifi free for all f pax? Or did they only offer on your flight because of inaugural date for route?

    Thanks and great post as always!!

  14. @Lucky, great review. My wife and I will be on AUH-JFK segment next week on our way back from MLE. I was really excited about the flight, but after reading your review, I can’t wait! Kind of interesting, I am looking forward to the flight as much as the vacation in MLE 🙂

  15. Great trip report, as usual. Question: are those real tiles in the lavatory? Or just a wallpaper made to look like tiles?

  16. Oh, just realized that you wrote one about EY A380 seat map. Last time, I flew in 1H (LHR to AUH), but this time I reserved 4K (AUH to LHR). Personally I was quite OK/satisfied with 1H seat cos’ it was the closest one to shower room so very convenient to me (I remember, that day I was the only female F passenger and the only person who showered.. lol)

    @Lucky, quick question: I will fly soon from East Asia to Doha, and I have two options (Biz class): QR 777-300 vs. QR 787-8. I flew multiple times with QR 77W but never with QR 787-8. Any opinion on the latter one?

  17. When we flew EY F on the 787 recently free WiFi passes for the whole flight were tucked into the headphone cases. Was pleasantly surprised to see them there. Travelers with fancier headphones probably never see them.

  18. The Discover America TV spot (FB: Visit the US) is created by the oldest ad agency in the world, J. Walter Thompson, New York. I worked on this account, mostly the digital creatives. I was at the shoot by Manhattan Bridge and met Rosanne Cash, the songwriter/singer of the spot, who also autographed her CD for me. She’s the daughter of Johnny Cash. Discover America is an initial by Obama to promote US tourism to other countries, especially Germany, Canada, UK, Japan, Korea and Brazil. If you fly airberlin, you’d see co-branded print ads and bus wraps by AB and Discover America.

    Full length music video here:

  19. Obama “initiative” — can’t spell. And yes, the Muslim girl and gay couple are intentional to show diversity and richness in the melting pot–something Trump doesn’t appreciate if he wins. So let’s please make sure he doesn’t win so this tourism promotion can continue with budget from the government. We do need tourist money.

  20. “For the starter I had the mezze, which was one of the better presentations I’ve seen of it. Before Etihad rebranded they had a gorgeous mezze setup, though for whatever reason they made it significantly less impressive.”

    Isn’t that…contradictory? It was one of the better presentations, but its less impressive than that they had before?

    One thing you should point out: the seats like yours, where the seat isn’t next to the window, does have a slight advantage in the when they set up the bed, your pillow/head is next to the window. In the version with the seats next to the window, the set-up leaves your head next to the aisle door…

  21. Are you able to access the lounge upon arrival? I have a long lay over coming up and was wondering if I could access based on having pre clearance in Abu Dhabi. Any info would be appreciated, thanks and as always a fantastic review!

  22. How does one convince an AAgent that a preclearance flight is “domestic” for calculating minimum connecting time? They absolutely would not ticket a 1:20 connection from EY to AA at LAX. The woman had apparently never heard of preclearance and repeatedly lectured me in a condescending tone: “Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles are in different countries, sir. You must go through immigration anytime you enter a different country” !!!

  23. Great review, Lucky – thanks.

    The blanket looks very similar to one I’ve got that I bought at IKEA a couple of years ago, not sure if they still sell them or not.

  24. @Charlie — The AA rep is correct since the airlines have filed for a minimum connect time of 2:00. I agree with you that it’s too much, so you might want to contact AA Customer Relations to see if their route planning or alliance group can file a shorter minimum connect time for it.

  25. I always love your trip reports! I’d love to see you make a list of the 3 most comfortable beds in the sky (or 5 or 7 or 10).

    Cathay Pacific’s first class was the best sleep I have ever had on a plane, but I haven’t flown any where near as much as you or as many products. On a long haul flight I am less interested in the shower or the bar (they can be noisy!) or if they have caviar what I most care about is: is the bed /seat comfortable enough to get some good sleep. Which comes down two things: the bed and the temperature of the cabin.

    Love to hear your thoughts and as always thanks for all you do love your blog read it every day.

  26. EY has a Special A380 Crew who only flies on this plane. I was quite surprised as one flight attendant told it to me, as QR also has a specially trained crew (Around 700), but they also Fly other aircrafts.

  27. Ben, I’ve flown this 6 times now and love it, but completely agree that there are improvements to be made in the areas you highlight. They also recently changed their steak sandwich and for the worse.

    On their 787 they offer free 24 hours of wifi to F passengers, so on SIN>LHR I could use free wifi the entire way as it continued to work on the A380. With the blanket they also will just let you take them. We find their lounge very cold so always ask the crew if we can take a blanket with us and they always say yes.

  28. Hey Lucky, what do you think about their olives pre-departure? I think they are not tasty at all and very bitter. I love olives, but I cannot eat them.
    I’ve flown them twice in F (not apartment though), but I think the food is the same.
    From my experience, the Etihad food is not really great, only the desserts are always very nice.

  29. So the seat was backwards, you didn’t even have a window near the seat, even the bed had only one window instead of three, the bed was small and less comfortable than other F beds, and the seat didn’t even recline as much as domestic Y+.

    But the hard product is great because there’s only one hallway?

  30. Great report, Ben. Wondering if the apartments—ignoring the luxury aspect for a moment—would be a good and practical way for a couple to travel? Seems like each has to be in a separate apartment isolated from the other.

  31. Hi Lucky,

    I just got to say thanks man for pointing out the EY 3 seats availability a few weeks back! Either way, if we are ever on the same flight I will be happy to buy you a drink! 😛

    I was able to book 3 F (O class) apartments for the same a380 flight early August AUH-JFK using my AA miles. I called the AA European Call center (via the NL number) and was able to hold them and then a few days later put them on request fine (Jan 2).

    Then it took almost 2 weeks to finally ticket!! A bit of nail biting from my perspective.

    I had called back twice and both times got the “don’t worry it will take a while longer” response. I was able to find the 3 seats by looking for the Etihad Guest seats being open on the Etihad website.

    Either way got my “Ticketed” emails today and was able to pick the seats on Etihad today also. So I think we are good to go!

    Fingers crossed we don’t get bumped but happy I could get the family together on one flight. Thanks again!

  32. I wish the decor and lighting in the bathrooms wasn’t so dark. I kept looking for a light switch ;-). It’s like using the facilities by candlelight.

  33. Lucky, what are your feelings on EY F on the A380 when traveling with a partner? My girlfriend and I are looking to travel paid J from LHR-AKL get a lead of miles to put towards our honeymoon. My head says Etihad with it’s family account and good credit card is the way to go but my heart says Emirates, the bar and Dom P might be a more fun experience.

    I realise this is the very definition of a first world problem

  34. @AKTCHI Certain pairs of seats can have the divider lowered, which is fine for a couple traveling together . You can also dine together

  35. Great trip report! You think Etihad will open up first saver awards to AUH from JFK anytime soon?

  36. Thanks for great review.

    No caviar? The food doesnt look as tasty, Turkish economy has better considering its first class Etihad. Considering all, its look sound like value for your money

  37. Mr S, Thanks for the reply, well since points is another currency in one or another, then your report has credibility. EY famous for giving any blogger freebies, anyone can get on the ‘band wagon’ just set a website as long as the author prases and kiss EY (you know where) then a F ticket return is waiting for you, don’t even have to fly on any airline just writing away and slam the alliance airlines.

  38. Great review, as always. I’m really looking forward to being on this flight in a few weeks. I’ve read similar comments regarding the lack of recline and the firmness of the bed. There’s not much I imagine they can do about the seat recline but it seems the bed hardness would be an easy fix with better bedding. A quick question regarding seats. I know that 3A/4A or 3K/4K are considered the best choices for couples. Do you think one pair is preferable to the other?

  39. travel4b, maybe you can figure out which side offers better views for you and consider whether or not you want to be on the sunny side of the aircraft. That’s what I did to nail down my choice.

  40. That pile of nuts you got given in the lobby looks huge. They must have thought you love nuts. Agree on the bed it’s not very comfy. I’m opposite to a previous poster. I found the food good except the desserts. The trio of desserts was very poor both times I tried it. I didn’t even bother trying the shower looked far too cramped. Service was great.

  41. Lucky, I’ve been having trouble booking Etihad first with aadvantage miles. I’m searching for GuestFirst availability on Etihad’s website, and I can find two seats available in GuestFirst on EY101 (for example) on a particular date, but when I call AA, they claim there are no seats available. Have you recently had issues with Guest seat availability not being reflected with American?

  42. @Will – It would be worth giving a ring to the Australian AA call centre line (+61-2-91011948 outside Australia) via Skype. It appears that for the last few months US based AA agents have been unable to see Etihad award space but just about every global call centre outside of the US can see them e.g. Australia, Singapore, Europe, etc. Give that a shot and see how it goes?

    Theres also a thread on the AskLucky page about it linked here >>

  43. Flew the product and enjoyed everything but the food. In general, airline food gets a 7/10 at max so I always avoid eating on aircrafts – but the food on their flagship product was extremely disappointing in my opinion which I had due to the long journey. Oh, I also had the salmon biryani and regardless of what they call it, that is not a biryani.

  44. Were you able to use the chauffeur service at JFK arrival on this route? I know it says under 24 hour connections are ineligible but is that applicable when the next flight is non EY?

  45. I did EY 102/103 in the last couple weeks then on to Delhi. Fantastic experience!

    I tried but failed when I requested Chauffer service from Midtown hotel to JFK as I was on an AA connection from the previous day. They could easily see that I had AA connections on both ends. The service was great on the other end though. Driver met me at the appointed time and place at Delhi airport and called my residential location for exact directions. I had told them a hotel that was nearby when I placed the reservation (The folks at the Etihad Lounge at JFK did that for me before I boarded). On my departure from Delhi I had not requested a car as I wasn’t sure about the time it was only an $8 taxi ride anyway. And yet the Etihad both called and texted me that he was waiting at that hotel to bring me back to airport though I didn’t get the message until I was in a taxi.

    Both ways the Residence was vacant, the other 9 Apts full. Therefore what I assumed was the Butler (bald French/British men both ways) provided very professional, helpful and conversational service.

    Seat 4A to AUH was great as has been reported. 3A on the JFK flight was just as good. Perhaps because it was a late night flight I never even realized I was flying backwards until final approach to JFK. The A380 is so smooth and quiet on takeoff, climb, descent and landing that it’s hard to even tell you’re facing the rear.

    I found the food and service (dine on demand) to be at or beyond what I’ve had in F on LH,Thai,ANA, Asiana, and CX, (and CA, UA, AA…) though the alcohol is not the top shelf stuff.

    The shower was great for me at 5’9”. I thought the bed was the best yet, firm is my preference, topping CX F. Maybe not quite LH 747 comfy, but much more private with the doors closed. And LH TATLs aren’t long enough for a full sleep anyway.

    I hope that I can be impressed with Emirates F next month but Etihad has set a pretty high standard! Please tell me the Hennessey Paradis is still flowing!

  46. The Rosanne Cash/Land of Dreams is a great piece of work, one of the very best campaigns ever ( Malaysia Truly Asia and one for Australia are good as well).
    Unfortunately the great campaign is a bit undone by first impressions: an hour or longer waiting to get through immigration after a long flight is not the best welcome.
    Lucky is a man of very good taste with the notable exception of his preference in coffee. The ubiquitous cappuccino…a dreadful milky concoction for children.

  47. Can you try to be on the inaugural A380 route of Etihad from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi. You might also get to experience the new terminal T2 at Mumbai…

  48. Can you try the inaugural A380 flight of Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai. You might also get a chance to see and review the new terminal T2 at Mumbai…

  49. Hi Lucky – I have an upcoming flight on Etihad’s A380 from AUH-JFK in the business studio. It seems that the flight is pretty full at the moment and when I called in to select my seat, the only seats available were 18K (window seat, but near the lavatories) or one of a number of rear facing aisle seats. Which would you choose?

  50. Just stumbled upon your site. Nice review. I will be taking my fourtt Sydney/London rtn trip in first on the A380, and as someone who flies first class Sydney/London a couple of time a year this product has taken all the pain out of the flight. The minor drawbacks you mention are spot on though. I think the loung area on Etihad personifies them when compared to the more glitzy brother in Dubai. More undersated and classy. Overall just exceptional hard product.

  51. Alright then its time to move to Qatar Qsuite inside of the terrible EY business studio. This is a baaaad idea by EY.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *