Post-Etihad Residence Blues…

Filed Under: Etihad, Travel

Hello from Sydney! As many of you probably know, I flew the Etihad Residence from Abu Dhabi to Sydney yesterday, and it was the best flight of my life. The Residence lived up to the hype, and then some. I want to write about my experience, and plan to do so shortly, but I’m just having a… rough morning.

Before I say anything else, please let me emphasize that this post is tongue in cheek, I’m not actually asking for any sympathy, etc. There are real problems in the world, and this sure as heck ain’t one of them.

I went to bed at 8PM yesterday and woke up at 3AM, and have literally been sitting in bed for three hours doing nothing. When I’m jetlagged I typically work nonstop when awake, but for some reason I just don’t have that motivation this morning.

Perhaps a contributing factor is that I got my first good night of sleep since I started this trip, so maybe I’m just in a state of zen. But usually when I get off a flight I’m super excited to write about it and share the experience, but not this time. I almost want to draw out the report as much as possible so I can keep reliving the experience. Once the trip report is published I feel like that chapter is closed.

But more than that, I sort of feel like my flying life has peaked and there’s nothing to look forward to anymore. 😉 The experience was just so damn good from the time I left my hotel in Abu Dhabi to the time I arrived at my hotel in Sydney, and it’s tough coming to the realization that I’ll probably never have it again.


Folks, be happy if you’ve never tried the Residence — you can’t miss what you don’t know.

Damn you, Etihad!

  1. Great to hear!!!!!!! On that note, I hope you save the Virgin Australia business class experience enroute back to LAX for another time as you may be underwhelmed given the last flight you just experienced!
    Enjoy your time in Sydney!

  2. Before I forget, I wonder whether you think the Residence is worth saving up 2.4 million Etihad guest miles? I think that’s how much an ultra long haul flight in the Residence would cost.

  3. I’m sure it is nowhere near the same kind of thing, but I had a similar feeling after splurging for the family to go to Europe in business class several years ago. It was an expectation destroying experience as we could never again fly in coach on long flights. Knowing what we know now, it would have been a lot cheaper over the years since then if we had never sampled the good life lol.

  4. Just gaze at the Shawn Mendes picture until you feel better.
    Really enjoyed the Instagram story. Good stuff.

  5. As a true avgeek you should review some economy flights without status perks now. Any true avgeek would love that just as much .

  6. Where are you staying in Sydney, Lucky?

    I’ll be on VA1 in a few days, I hope you make it on board!

    You should do a bit of internal Australia flying to reset your expectations. Could position for VA7 or VA23 😉

  7. @K has a good point. Time for a pallet cleanse… Take a few 16-hour flights in the middle seat in economy, and BA Club World will feel like the Residence!

  8. Now you should send someone that is not a blogger and not known by Etihad and ask this person to do exactly the same trip and share his experience. Just to make sure your experience was not above the average just because so much publicity before you flew it.

  9. Just fly Jetstar economy on the A320. Or fly a plane yourself to raise the bar even higher and achieve complete depression 😉

  10. Look at it as a job, not the trip of a lifetime. In a job, there are good days and bad days. Your trip on the Residence was one of the better days. We’ve all got to take the good with the bad.

    I hope you’re staying at the Park Hyatt Sydney at least – it would suck to come off the Residence and check into a third rate hotel…

    Can’t wait to read your review!

  11. Try out Virgin Australia, their new business is top notch, they open up space a couple days before very often…

  12. Aww Ben! I can relate to the feeling. You do something you really want to do that you have been excited for and are then sad once it’s over! Happens to me a lot with trips. What I’ll offer is this–life always bring new excitements and unpredictabilities and so you may as well savor what you can! I hope you feel better, we love and appreciate you!

  13. I never flew the residence. I can comfortably state that Varig flight 7 from LAX to GRU was even more thrilling for me in 1995 when I got to ride as pilot for 20 minutes over Porto Velho and land in the center jump seat on a 747 200 with all of the power that bird entailed. For me nothing ever compared to that!

  14. @Rob:

    I’ve flown LH F to Europe by myself on miles and (on a subsequent trip) AA Y with my daughter. It was what we could afford at the time. Both were amazing trips. I would be much the poorer if I hadn’t done them simply because I couldn’t lower myself to flying in coach.

    In the end, it’s a freakin’ airborne metal tube where all passengers in all classes land on the tarmac at the exact same time, flown in a world where millions of people fly coach for 10-12 hours and survive to tell the tale every year.



    So, someone just turned up the speed from “walk” to “run” on your hedonic treadmill, huh? I wouldn’t worry… I mean, really, it’s what, only a few thousand out of CAI? Heck, next time, you could bring Ford. 🙂

  15. As a side note, I wish you would consider doing some premium economy flight reviews. It would add some interesting perspective to the business and first class reviews reviews and provide some insight into one of the faster growing flight products.

  16. Ben, I was following your trip on Instagram stories. Keep it up! It was definitely interesting and fun to watch your adventures on the journey. I could really feel that you were super excited.

  17. It is really all perception – if something is better than what you have had it feels better. If you have only flown coach business class can seem a dream.

  18. Ben, I just want to let you know that you have experienced possible the world’s best product. I hope you enjoyed the experience but do not let that get in the way of your reviews of future, and probably inferior, products. Keep the objectivity in there. This is one of the main reasons I love your blog, and you definitely seemed excited in your Instagram stories. But please do keep the objectivity in your future Trip reports. I cannot wait to read your review of the residence 🙂

  19. You’ll be fine. Deep breaths Glad it was fun! And, yes. Next time take Ford!

    That could Top this trip

  20. Like going to the Super Bowl, the morning after can be very, anticlimactic. Don’t fret…maybe in a few years a ride on a “Boom” aircraft will be your next big adventure…or perhaps a day trip on Virgin Galactic. Who knows?

  21. P.S. And stop whining about the let down….as Maggie Smith, a/k/a The Dowager Countess Lady Violet on Dontown Abbey put it: …“Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class.”

  22. I think travel bloggers or reporters should be anonymous!
    Like all restaurant reviewers in history.
    All your posturing before the flight killed this review.
    I have flown in 1st on Etihad several times and it’s was a mixed bag.
    All your posturing online before the flight had you jacked!
    Just my opinion
    It’s NOT THE SAME for the rest of us.

  23. Definitely DO KEEP the INSTAGRAM STORIES.
    It was really great to see your excitement in every post and during the day and night, I found myself checking and looking forward to the next story post 😀

  24. Same thing happened to me! I was waiting for this dream trip on Cathay Pacififc First class with my uncle from JFK-YVR for about a year. Boi, it was insane, the food, the everything! Im used to flying coach all the time, so when i went on the one-of-the-worlds-best-damn-first-class i didnt even realize we were flying! At least your flight was 14 hours, 6 hours was not enough at all! Its okay though because im still young (very young) so i will have time to do it again. Safe Travels!

  25. This post has me wondering if other airlines are quietly working on products that would one-up the Ethiad Residence? Not sure what that would be but fun to ponder.

  26. While I don’t always comment (or I should say while I pretty much never comment), I enjoy reading your blog and I am really looking forward to reading your review. Thanks to you, I have had the chance to experience various first class products with my wife and while Singapore airlines suite class was awesome, so far, my favorite moment was when we flew Cathay from NYC-HKG and we enjoyed dinner in the sky facing each other (their first class seats are so big) like we were in a restaurant. But Emirates and Etihad are the two I really want to try and until I do, I live vicariously through your blog…

    So, that’s my long way of saying hurry up and post please. lol

  27. I can totally relate! I’ve had some amazing trips in my lifetime (to cities such as Paris, or to conventions where I’ve had amazing experiences) and coming back home and leaving it all behind always sends me into the blues. It’ll pass in a few days – just give it time. (Although if it persists, that’s something to watch out for – not meaning to get nosy here at all, but the kind of jetsetting, itinerant lifestyle you live can have its mental health repercussions).

  28. Ben, stop moping and start writing the trip report! Some of us (well, just me) need to know about Etihad’s version of Truffle Chicken!

    I kid, of course.

    I do empathize with your present feeling of depression. May I suggest that you set a new goal, one that gets you more out of your comfort zone? one that gets the adrenaline pumping? You loved your trip to Bhutan, so how about pursuing that angle and start traveling to more unique destinations. For example, Sao Tome & Principe is a staggering beautiful nation. Why not review TAP’s business class offering on its Lisbon to Sao Tome run? You then could also discuss the pleasures and challenges of a beach vacation in an off-the-beaten-trail destination, as opposed to a review of the latest sanitized Park Hyatt or Starwood offering in the Maldives. Yes, I know writing of destinations is not really your thing; but, perhaps you would enjoy the change of focus. And, besides, you’re actually pretty good at writing of your experiences on the ground. You’re no Tiffany but that could change with time.

  29. Can relate… did the same thing when I worked in airline sales flying non rev in the good ole days always trying to top the last trip and getting up front before the airlines own employees were boarded, it was a rush trying to/and actually cracking the code! Then along came the point and miles game when I left the industry. I figured it out on my own amazed myself and friends how to always get up front and this was when now one else was even talking about it that much. Once I had the same type of feeling on my first LH F class trip including the First class terminal in Frankfurt, limo on the tarmac, etc., It was something I felt was phenomenal yet I was so overwhelmed did not have any motivation to even try to describe it to others!? I too assumed it would be a first and last time experience and again a few years later we were able to do it all over again. Even better the second time. Anyway I guess what I am trying to say is take it all in , exhale, take another deep breath, put it in perspective and keep up the reviews. its part of the fame, the hobby, the rush, the flight hack, the job, whatever you want to call it, you gotta love it so keep doing it for all of us other junkies out here! The next time you pull it off you’ll enjoy it even more and I’ll be here to take it all in!

  30. I’m curious about the way you travel in a year. How many flights do you take and what is your average duration of stay? I travel like one or two times a year to international destinations and usually do around 3 1/2 weeks at a time. This leaves me pretty winded, but when I get to my destination I am usually moving around nonstop and dealing with in country flights/trains/seeing all the sights etc. Pretty much a high intensity holiday so I can maximize my time in any given country since I very rarely repeat a destination once I have visited (I’m making an exception for Tokyo this year).

  31. Look at it this way – if you did The Residence every day, it would become boring and predictable. I can relate in my profession with wine. A few years ago, almost by accident, I was included with a small group of leading wine critics into a special tasting of Petrus (one of the most expensive wines in the world, and at over $4000 per bottle something I could never consider purchasing). Well, it exceeded all my expectations and I was left with the feeling that I could never enjoy a regular bottle of wine again. But with a little time and distance, today I can again drink a $15 bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy it. And who knows, maybe next year I’ll get to sample a Bordeaux First Growth …

    I’m sure there will be a better product out there in the future and you will find it. And next time bring Ford along.

  32. Ben the experience you had is far more akin to a private jet than anything in commercial aviation. Of course going back to bog standard business class is going to seem depressing.

    My advice would be to investigate the possibility of some private jet experiences, even if its just for your own benefit and you don’t even blog about it. Sign up to that emptyjets thing SFO777 does where you can have a private jet to yourself for a fraction of the cost. You have the flexibility and spontaneity to make it work. Or else lean on some rich friends for them to take you on an experience somewhere – I’m sure you will get to know some Bravo folk pretty soon!

    PS speaking of that can we please have a post about your new Bravo TV show today – how it came about, how many eps, why you did it etc. Never thought you were the ‘in front of the camera’ type!

    PPS I think EY made a fundamental marketing error by giving you that Shawn Mendez photo during The Residence – all it did was show that they knew who you were, were monitoring all your expectations/dreams very closely and went far beyond the standard experience a normal Residence passenger would get. They showed their hand. This meant while Im sure it will be an entertaining blog report, this is not a review of the Residence – it will be a review of what a celebrity gets that a normal person doesn’t. I wish youd waited until after the flight to do all these blog posts – your readers didn’t have to know when the actual flight was.

    Just something to keep in mind when writing your ‘review’.

  33. I await the complete report with baited breath but unfortunately you have arrived in Australia near winter which will not improve your experience; I will insist that the Park Hyatt treat you in the manner to which The Residence has accustomed you and demand appropriate weather!

  34. If you could have another 14 hour flight in anything you wanted to, would you do the Gulfstream G650 or the Etihad Residence?

  35. Jesus, I know it cost more that you normally spend on review but stop milking this so hard.

    The millions of ridiculous posts in the weeks preceding this saga completely ruined the “review” value of this review anyway (not that it really matteres to your audience).

    Anyway, the review, please get to it before another last jerk of the udder.

  36. Young Benjamin, you should try doing something more adult, like volunteering an entire day helping refugees, or special needs kids, or the elderly.

    You’ll probably find that state of bliss coming from helping people in need lasts much, much longer than the selfish bliss you feel because you paid someone to baby you for a few hours.

  37. Oh Ben! You poor guy! You are simply going thru Etihad Residence withdrawal syndrome! Drink plenty of water, get lots of rest and breathe!
    You will recover! Lol!

  38. If only Etihad earned status on US airlines…would be an easy (albeit expensive) way to get some SWUs, Global Upgrade certificates, etc.

    Lucky — I’m guessing you credited the miles to AA?

  39. “Folks, be happy if you’ve never tried the Residence — you can’t miss what you don’t know” – PLEASE!
    Be happy if you’ve never flown your own private jet – you can’t miss what you don’t know! And be happy if you’ve never flown a bigger, more luxurious private jet…and the list can go on.
    People either are happy or not. A 12 hr flight – no matter how luxurious – will not make or break one’s happiness.
    For the record: indeed, I have not flown the Residence, but flew the Apartment several times (on paid tickets), and I do not think the value difference can justify the cost difference. Certainly nothing that could increase or decrease my level of happiness. You seem to forget that you can drink your Krug on the ground, too. And have even more luxurious bed and way more spacious shower. And that flying is a means to get to your destination (at least for most people), not the whole point of travel.
    I almost feel sorry for you. Seriously.

  40. @ Ryan “You have the privledge of staying in one of the most beautiful cities on earth. Enjoy!!”

    As a Victorian, I need to remind you that Ben was in Sydney not Melbourne

  41. @DiscountEconomyFlyer You live in a rathole where you’re forced to read blogs and respond to them? Man, that really sucks…

  42. I’m glad Lucky has made the most of this trip, in terms of posts here and elsewhere. Lucky always tends to approach every flight (or lounge) as his first time in that class/aircraft, full of joy and wonder (with only a few exceptions, where he is full of horror/sark lol).

    I suppose too, as someone who spent a lot of time with US carriers, who don’t exactly set high standards, it’s always a bonus to fly with more generous airlines.

    This one reason though why I take a lot of Lucky’s gushing and hyperbole with a large grain of salt though, as I often have flown (either previously or after) the same cabins/airlines, visited the same lounges, as Lucky and just have more down to earth, less stars in my eyes, experiences – which can be a bit disappointing if Lucky has talked it up I’ve had a chance to experience it.

    While I know it’s the nature of blogging (particularly the heavy Instagram bloggers) to always oversell (whether it’s a positive or negative spin), because that’s what attracts clicks, it does disappoint somewhat that it may not be a very good gauge in reality.

    For example, after Lucky’s rave reviews of Air France’s new La Premiere product and CDG Lounge, I went out of my way to fly it myself. And while it was nice in most ways, it fell far short of the reporting by Lucky, which was cited it as amazing, wonderful, etc (just like this extended Residence teaser). And in some areas both the lounge and cabin experience were not that competitive compared to other carriers – you just wouldn’t know it from his review.

    So in some respects, I wish Lucky was a bit more grounded and a bit less hard sell in his reviews (even if that runs contrary to his I’m so Lucky I get to have this amazing lifestyle Insta persona). Still a resource, but one I take with a big grain of salt.

    I think it is possible to love flying, but not come off as if you are doing PR.

  43. how are you flying back as you mentioned your return ticket is from BKK to Cairo or are you going to ditch the return ticket or just extend the date of it ?

  44. Hi Lucky,

    Say, what about the model A380 airplane that was in your request list? Did they give it to you yet?


  45. Hi Lucky,
    Your flying has not peaked as there are still things to forward to as listed below:
    1. Qantas’ scenic flight over Antarctica.
    2. Flying in a private jet.
    3. Flying in Virgin Galactic for space travel.

  46. Just back from Sydney last week after a trip around Oz in camper with Qatar First class not apartment but damn good sofa style seat:), just go out, and enjoy almost best city in the world, for sure the one with most cleaning sky that sure will help you to relax and enjoy love to fly.
    look forward for Residence report to compare with Qr first class:)

  47. Ben,

    We both knew one day soon you will come to this point of time.

    Now is a good time to explore other areas of the planet, the spirit of the planet, not just the things to look at.

    There is so much more. And there are reasons why we are here, so many of us come to that point in life and ask, why am I here? Is there a God?

    Ben give yourself a pat on the back. This is a similar dilemna for many a rich man. They have it all, but there’s more, how do they find it?

    No problem to communicate by email.


  48. Santastico,…this ia for u..
    Totally agree with your comment sending someone with exact the same request like Lucky. We will see the consistency from here…hehe

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