First Look: Etihad’s New Apartment In The Sky

Filed Under: Etihad

Earlier today I took the Etihad Airways inaugural A380 flight from Abu Dhabi to London.

Etihad A380 inaugural flight certificate

I’ve been so excited by the Etihad A380 ever since the interiors were revealed in May of this year, given that it was truly revolutionary, with the introduction of three new products: The Residence, First Apartments, and Business Studios.

To my knowledge I’m the only person who has reviewed first class on every airline that operates the A380, which up until now included Air France, British Airways, China Southern, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

We’ve seen some airlines innovate with the A380 — Singapore Airlines was the first to take delivery of the A380, and they added double beds in Suites Class.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class

Meanwhile Emirates, being the second airline to take delivery of the A380, added onboard showers and a bar. But innovation with the next nine airlines was lacking, in my opinion.

Emirates A380 shower

In May Etihad’s new cabins went viral. They were all over the news, even outside of aviation circles. You didn’t see that kind of fanfare for Qatar Airways and Asiana, for example, both of which also took delivery of their first A380s this year. That’s because Etihad thought outside the box with their new A380s.

Despite them releasing all kinds of amazing marketing materials surrounding the A380, I couldn’t actually conceptualize what the cabins would be like. I get what The Residence and the First Apartment seats will look like, but what will the cabin as a whole look and feel like?

While I’ll have a separate post about the inaugural flight as such, I wanted to first share my thoughts on the hard product. What do The Residence and First Apartments actually look like when you’re flying them as a passenger? I was lucky enough to book a ticket on the inaugural flight.

With all that out of the way…

Etihad’s A380 First Apartment

Etihad’s The Residence and First Apartment cabins are at the front of the upper deck. I boarded through the upper deck door, and was in complete disbelief for the first 30 minutes. While every other airline has two aisles on the upper deck, Etihad has one aisle in first class on the A380.

The cabin was indescribably gorgeous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a luxuriously understated cabin before.

Etihad A380 First Apartment & The Residence cabin

There are just two seats per row. Rows two through five are all First Apartments, while in row one The Residence is on the left, and a First Apartment is on the right.

Etihad First Apartment A380

There were a total of 10 seats, and nine of us were geeks that had specifically sought out the inaugural flight. And we were all blown away. Most of us had flown several other A380s before, and we all agreed this was simply the classiest and most innovative hard product we had ever seen before.

It didn’t actually feel like a commercial plane anymore. It felt like a private jet.

I wish I could succinctly sum up my thoughts on the cabin. Let me simply say that I was cussing for the first 30 minutes I was on the plane. I was that impressed.

I was booked in a First Apartment, seat 4K. Each First Apartment consists of a long leather couch, which converts into a bed.

Etihad First Apartment A380

Then across from that is a super-comfortable chair, which reclines a good amount.

Etihad First Apartment seat A380

Etihad First Apartment seat A380

The layout of the cabin is interesting, in that the “direction” of each First Apartment differs. In row five you have rear facing aisle seats.

Etihad First Apartment A380

In row four you have forward facing window seats. In row three you have rear facing window seats. In row two you have forward facing aisle seats. So it really is cool how each row has a different configuration.

Etihad First Apartment cabin

Here’s something else that’s brilliant about the seats. There’s a partition between them, so if you’re traveling with someone you can lower it. The seats are designed so that if you lower the partition in some rows the beds will be right next to one another (thanks to the alternating forward and rear facing seats).

Etihad First Apartment bed A380

Speaking of beds, Etihad takes home all the prizes when it comes to their bed. The bed is so long that a basketball player could sleep on it with room to spare.

Etihad First Apartment bed A380

The privacy is also unparalleled.

Etihad First Apartment bed A380

Find me another airline where you can actually close your suite door and walk around while the seat is in bed mode. Etihad’s A380 First Apartment is the first time I’ve seen that!

Etihad First Apartment bed A380

Etihad First Apartment bed A380

While I think the “core” of the seat is brilliant, the attention to detail is fantastic as well. There’s a fairly large storage compartment.

Etihad First Apartment storage A380

Next to that is a minibar and a table that folds out, where you can place a drink while the seat is in bed mode.

Etihad First Apartment minibar A380

Next to that is another storage compartment, where the bedding is located.

Etihad First Apartment storage A380

Then across from the bed and next to the seat is a vanity which “pops out.” That’s where the amenity kit is located during boarding.

Etihad First Apartment vanity A380

Then underneath the bench/bed is an area where you can store bags. There’s a small barrier which prevents items stored there from falling out, though it can be lowered.

Etihad First Apartment storage A380

Then right next to the seat are the seating controls, which are extremely intuitive.

Etihad First Apartment seat controls A380

Then at the edge of the seat is a closet.

Etihad First Apartment closet A380

The seat is just brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Brilliant. I’ve never in my life seen an airplane suite even approaching such spaciousness.

During the flight we had six people comfortably seated in one First Apartment. That’s how wide the bench is, and it’s actually quite comfortable as well.

Etihad’s A380 First Apartment lavatory & shower

In the front right of the cabin, Etihad has a shower with a toilet, and then a separate lavatory.

The shower room itself isn’t huge, though the shower felt larger than Emirates’. It had the same technology as Emirates, whereby you receive five minutes of water.

Etihad First Apartment shower

Etihad First Apartment shower

Etihad First Apartment shower

Etihad has Le Labo Bergamote 22 toiletries in the lavatory — snazzy! The excitement of showering at 35,000 feet never gets old. Ever.

Etihad First Apartment toiletries

Then in front of that is a fairly large lavatory.

Etihad First Apartment lavatory

Etihad First Apartment lavatory

Etihad’s A380 Lobby

Between first and business class, Etihad has what they call The Lobby. It seats six people and is a great place to talk (naturally we took it over for much of the flight). 😉

Etihad’s A380 Lobby

There’s also a bar display, and on top of that flight attendants stop by to see if you want anything.

Etihad’s A380 Lobby

Etihad’s A380 The Residence

The most talked about cabin of Etihad’s new A380 is The Residence, which is a three room, 125 square foot cabin with private butler service.

Gino, the first Residence passenger, meeting Georgina, the first Residence butler!

Part of what makes The Residence so brilliant is that it takes up space on the plane that would otherwise be somewhat wasted. That’s because it’s at the very top of the upper deck, where you couldn’t otherwise fit seats.

So The Residence is in row one on the left side, and features a massive couch. The couch can comfortably seat two, so they can dine together, either next to one another or across from one another. What’s funny is that The Residence actually has a higher partition around it than the rest of the First Apartments, for added privacy.

Etihad The Residence living room

Then there’s a door which leads to the bedroom, which looks super plush. It’s not a huge space, but getting a “real” bed on a plane is pretty special.

Etihad The Residence bedroom

In bed with Gino at 2AM

There’s also a TV in bed, and then between the bedroom and living room is the private bathroom, which is basically like the shower suite that’s shared among first class passengers.

Etihad The Residence bedroom

What really shocked me about Etihad’s new cabins

I had assumed that The Residence would be the show stopper, and that it would by far be the greatest innovation on the plane. While there’s no doubt it’s a great product, it’s off limits to 99.9999% of us.

The First Apartment, however, was what really pleasantly surprised me. Etihad has single-handedly raised the bar for international first class. There’s simply not a hard product in the world which can compete with Etihad’s First Apartment. Nothing. And I say that as someone that has tried them all.

In fairness, the hard product is only one aspect of the experience, and I’ll have a separate post about the food/service/actual flight. But since this is “exciting” today, I wanted to publish a post about these new cabins same day.

Bottom line

Kudos to Etihad for reimagining first class. I don’t think there has ever been a product I’ve been this impressed by.

If anyone has any questions about the product, let me know! I’ll have a much more detailed post soon, though if there’s something you’re especially curious about, let me know. I spent about half my flight asking questions, so… 😀

  1. lucky,

    I followed you through as much of this as I could these past few days….Congratulations!

    I wonder, what was the actual flight like? I wonder if it was just an open party for everyone, or did people close their apartment doors and keep to themselves?

    Did Gino keep his Residence open for visitors?

    How did you spend your time?

  2. It looks absolutely stunning! I love the brown/beige color scheme.
    How many staff do they have working the first class cabin?
    On which routes do Etihad intend on using the A380?

  3. @ Shariq — It should hopefully be flying to New York by the end of 2015, though it’s not on the schedule yet. Can’t wait for that to happen, as this product will really shine on an ultra longhaul.

  4. @ John DELTA — Since nine of the ten Apartment/Residence passengers were on the flight specifically to be on the inaugural, it was basically one big party. Some people napped for a bit, but for the most part we were up and socializing. Gino was very generous in letting us visit The Residence before takeoff, and hung out with us during the flight as well. It was an awesome time!

  5. This might be the post that forever changes how I look at flying first class. The pictures and your description of it is quite incredible and i’m salivating at the chance to try it out for myself. well done Ben. and safe travels back here to LA.

  6. @ ba001 — Right now it’s only flying to London, and soon it should be flying to Sydney and New York. I think they’re keeping it exclusively on those routes. Etihad has a lot of different “job titles” among crew, so I wasn’t sure how many crew there were. There was the butler for The Residence, and then there were at least two flight attendants working the first class aisle, in addition to the onboard chef and cabin manager.

  7. That is pretty awesome!
    Is there any on board bar social area other than the small Lobby”, such as EK or QR?

  8. Hey, I’m so glad you were able to make the flight…..!!! Can’t wait to hear the story of dropping the first segment!
    Anyway, a small detail: Bergamote 22 is a just a (very nice) smell…. the products are from
    Le Labo…..

    I look forward to your blog every day! Thanks for it!!!!!!

  9. Attended the launch event in Beverly Hills earlier this year and they had the mock-ups there. Met the butlers and team working on the launch. Having been spoiled with flying privately few things compare but I have now flown EY many times and they have hands down one of the BEST commercial products in the world. Unfortunately call center service is still behind. Don’t change anything and you are fine! 😉

  10. Great photos! Really getting me excited for my trip on that bird!
    Did you get a chance to look at business? I was just curious what they may (or may not) have done with that.
    How was the crew for the first flight? It seems there is a lot going on in the First Class area and wondering if they had any snafus or if everything just went smoothly.

  11. Did you get a chance to check out the Business Class cabin? If I recall those were pretty innovative as well.

  12. @ Charlie — Yep, business looked great as well, and will have more on that in a follow up post. Not quite as revolutionary as the First Apartment, but still excellent. The crew was friendly, though there was definitely a learning curve in terms of service speed with the new aircraft. They tried hard, though!

  13. Wow Ben, your passion shines thru such an awesome review on your part…and that’s just the hard product and an intro!

    As an ex airline pilot turned FF enthusiast, I’m sometimes jaded after so much elite flying, but reading this, truly I was excited for Etihad, yourself, the other pax, and myself if I ever get to enjoy it! CAN’T WAIT FOR MORE.

    Congrats and if you are staying, I hope my old home town treats you well, and you stay warm in London!

  14. WOW, very cool! Thanks for this.

    What did Gino say about the Residence? Did it meet the high expectations he was talking about in the Etihad trailer?

  15. Thank you so much for providing so much detail in your photos and descriptions! My husband and I will be flying in First Apartments in 2015, and I’m even more excited now than I was before thanks to your report. We booked 3K/4K which have multiple windows in each Apartment and can be joined together as you describe. It’s a daytime flight but we might camp out in bed for a few hours since we won’t be making much of an effort to adjust to Abu Dhabi’s time while we’re there. I assume we can have the beds made up at any time. Love all of the storage, the mini-bar, the closet, the lavatories and shower, and the tasteful décor So happy that you were able to experience such a rare event, including hanging out in The Residence! Did you take a shower?? I’m tempted to do it just because it’s there, but my water-conserving side says “don’t do it”. lol

  16. @ John DELTA — He didn’t have a guest. So the butler put a piece of paper in a hat with every first class seat number, and the person that was drawn got to eat with him. Cool is that? 🙂

  17. To me, it just doesn’t look like a commercial aircraft, or any type of aircraft! I’m amazed at how wide the First Apartment is. Just a question though, if it’s not already going to be covered in your full flight review. Is there sufficient leg room when sitting in the the “normal” seat? In the picture, it looks like the bench blocks any room to stretch out you legs? Was this an issue for you?

  18. @ Jesse — Exactly the feeling I had, re: not feeling like a commercial aircraft. There was plenty of legroom when seated, but at the same time the couch was close enough so that it could be used as an ottoman. Ideal setup, in my opinion.

  19. @lucky –

    Very cool I’d say.

    btw does the butler serve the entire cabin or just attend to the needs of the Residence?

  20. When I toutrd the mock ups at the launch party in San Francisco the guide said the apartment’s seat didn’t recline much. Did you take a picture of the recline?

    Sadly I’m not surprised to see such a glowing review. I’m being more cynical than normal but seeing as they let you on this flight, as we read about in a post that’s main purpose seemed to be to beg your case to etihad hence going against your independence that so many of us like about you, I’m not surprised it’s the greatest ever. Maybe it is but I can’t see this without thinking of how you got there. Sorry.

  21. I have been waiting for this post for months! 🙂 The only thing that i don’t like about the Residence is that it lacks of windows. Overall, only 2 windows in the sitting area, even one less than in the Apartments. Am i right? I’m not sure why the Residence bedroom couldn’t have 2-3 windows… it feels a little bit claustrophobic like this!

  22. Nemme, you dismiss Ben’s report because you think he’s repaying Etihad. But what if it’s a legit review and exactly what he would have written if everything had gone perfectly in the days leading up to this flight? You’ll have to take the flight yourself then, because you cannot trust any other person’s report (since you have no idea what favors they might have received from Etihad).

    Regarding seat recline, does it need to recline much when you have a separate bed at your dispoosal?

  23. Emirates and Qatar must be pissed that Ethiad just humiliated them. In the first apartment – is the seat located closer to the window or aisle? In one of the pictures it looked like it was closed to aisle but is it like that for all of them?
    Also please review the business class studio on their A380! I think that’s the cabin I could realistically see myself on, and it also looked really awesome!

  24. Awesome review, Lucky! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos. Truly looks amazing.

    Now, I’m trying to figure out how I can get a chance to fly in that!

  25. I also notice in the article it states “He and a guest were seated comfortably in the three-room Residence suite”

  26. Love it! The design language is sooooo much better than that awful Emirates bling. Can’t wait for them to start flying this bird longhaul.

  27. @ John DELTA — Yes, the “guest” was another First Apartment passenger, who was invited to have dinner with him based on the raffle. 🙂

  28. @ Abs — They alternate, there are four types of configurations. You have both forward and rear facing seats, and seats that are closer to the windows and seats that are closer to the aisle. So for example the seats in row four are forwarding facing and close to the window, which is my preference.

  29. @ Nemme — Sure, and you’re entitled to that belief. But have you bothered actually looking at the cabin? Is there any other that comes close in terms of hard product?

  30. This should remain the top first class cabin available for a long time. There aren’t new carriers to fly the A380 (and it may be discontinued). A single deck plane wouldn’t fit the apartments (it would, but taking so much space that sounds unreasonable. And a shower? Forget about). Unless EK starts a retrofit on theirs A380 (for pride and market), this will be the holy grail. Life long to EY partnership with AA.

  31. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the awesome review. Really, really nice!

    So 3k an 4k would be perfect honeymoon seats right?
    And if I book the residence, i could just book it and bring a guest for free?

    Thanks again and hope to see the flight review soon!!!

  32. Lucky, since the First Apt. is so large, can you invite friends from business or economy class to come sit w/ you in your apartment??

  33. I njoyed the review thx. Hope one day I will be able to sample the apartment but than to Sydney. Have some saving to do. I think LH 744 first comes close to the bed and seat combo but no privacy and space. Hands down Etihad have set the bar.

  34. If you travel with a friend and book 1 first class ticket and 1 economy ticket, could your friend just come sit with you in your first class apartment for basically the entire length of the flight? I’m assuming that there is plenty of room.


  35. Glad you sorted out that. missed conection ! It’s been great following your festive travels. Wow great Trip report well worth. $2600 and the PJs? Amenity kiit ? how much on e bay? :). Please tells about Departure lounge?and arrivals lounge for maxing the F class experience ?

  36. Lucky,

    What an amazing preview of this inaugural. I can’t wait to read the full report of this flight! Keep up the good work!

    On a side note, (when) will we see the trip reports from the world trip with your vather? I thoroughly enjoyed reading the updates you gave us!

  37. Nice photos, thanks for the review. But if the ticket ex-CMB was $2,600, why didn’t you just do a ticket exchange in Bahrain for the fare difference once you blew your positioning flight, was that not an option? It would have been another $2k or so based on Etihad’s published F fare BAH-LHR?

    You already pay top dollar for luxury hotels and this would have saved you the grief of worrying if you were going to make the flight in Abu Dhabi, plus the albeit small mileage award from BAH-AUH.

  38. Congratulations on making history!

    Just a quick question, did they run out of food or did His Majesty catered enough meals for the inaugural?

  39. Is the mini bar refrigerated?

    Thanks for sharing your experience. This was so fun to read! I’m looking forward to the follow-up reports.

  40. Along with Craig U’s question, I was wondering is the mini-bar pre-filled? and if so, do you order that ahead of time…or how do you get beverages stocked in there if it is empty?

  41. I’ve never been a believer in first class, really. The bed’s not much of a step up from business, and the food is hit or miss. Not that I would know from any personal experience, of course.

    But this? This is different. I’m a believer now. This is the modern equivalent of the upstairs bar on an early 747-100 — a real game changer that I’m old enough to remember.

    People are going to climb over themselves to book this thing.

    Goodness only knows how the economics are all going to work out even with indirect subsidies and a third-world cost structure.

  42. I’ve been following your success, then worries & travails, and ultimate success to be aboard the flight. CONGRATS !!!!!



  43. I’m very impressed – I still love Emirates first – I love the treatment I got and I don’t mind the bling at all. Nevertheless, the apartment is definitely a step up. Maybe I missed it, but how do you select which seat you got (can you go to Etidad’s website to do so?) Which apartments do you think are the best as far as positioning, etc? I look forward to an in-depth report on this and I am impressed how quickly you already put a report out on this flight.

  44. I have to agree with others here, that this is comparable to what the first B747 lounge was to commericial flight at that time. It seems to me that the First Apartments are the real game changer here IMO. Yes, the Residence is amazing, but the truly innovative product is the railway sleeper like compartment style of the apartments. This interior oozes “class”, whereas Emirates now looks a bit too Las Vegas, and the rest are not even close! And that is the amazing thing. If EY can bring the service levels to match the hard product this will truly be the Holy Grail of commercial flight experiences.

  45. On Etihad’s web site they say this about the First Suite on the 787: “Each First Suite has a personal wardrobe, chilled drinks cabinet and space that allows you to entertain another guest.” They don’t say anything like that about the First Apartment on the A380. The Residence on the A380 is designed to carry one or two passengers. I’m sure they want to avoid the situation where someone from coach or business spends most of their time with a passenger in first, and I doubt that the other passengers in first would want that either. I know I wouldn’t. I actually hope they have a trans-cabin ban so to visit a passenger in first you have to be a passenger in first.

  46. Hey Lucky, i got myself a ticket on Etihad’s A380 and am now having a problem deciding if I want a rear facing window seat or not. Should I take it or just pick the forward facing seat?

  47. How did you manage to grab a First residence ticket for just $2600?
    Seems like an amazing deal, even more so it being the inaugural flight.

  48. seatguru’s map of the first class cabin on the Etihad A380 matches the one on Etihad’s web site. It shows the different orientations of the seats and how the Apartments are all positioned. You can see that 3A/4A, 3K/4K, and 1H/2H are the Apartments that can be joined together. It’s nice that there is some variety so that you can pick the Apartment(s) that work best for you.

    (I’d like to add that seatguru’s Etihad 787 map is NOT correct, it shows all first class seats facing forward when in fact half of them face backward.)

  49. Is it just me or others also think it’s funny Ben put the caption under the picture of the hot Italian daddy Gino ” In bad with Gion at 2 am!”

  50. Looks beautiful! Now that you describe it – I read it to meant that there is only One Residence and the other 9 seats are First Apartments. Do the First Apartments have there own restroom (and then a shared bath)?

    I guess the Residence uses the space to the side of the stairs for the bedroom and the bathroom is in the middle. That makes sense. When first announced I thought it had 10 Residences and the First seats were in the middle section. If the Residence uses the one side – what is on the other side? Qantas uses if for a lounge, and I think Emirates for its shower rooms.

    So these 10 suites occupy the forward top deck section before the exit doors? Doesn’t seem like it is enough space? But maybe the galley is behind the upper deck exit door. And I guess the lobby is behind the exit doors as well.

  51. BREAKING NEWS!!.Just today morning,an AirAsia Airbus A320 Flight 8501 from Indonesia to Singapore was lost contact with Air Traffic Controller in Indonesia

  52. Randy, check out the seat map on seatguru or on Etihad’s web site. There are two lavatories for the nine Apartments, one of them has a shower in it. (The Residence has it’s own lavatory with shower.) The Apartment lavatories utilize the space on the right hand side of the plane that the Residence utilizes on the left, if that makes sense. It will be clear if you look at the seat map.

  53. wow this looks amazing ben. did you like the lobby as much as Qatars onboard lounge?? Also was etihads business class nice ???

  54. Let me begin by saying wow. Your blog is amazing, Your travels are so interesting and exciting especially with the live insta pics. Your living the dream haha. In this next year I would LOVE if you could potentially do a review on Virgin Australia’s new business class cabin onboard the 777-3. That’ll be an awesome review and I believe a new airline for you!!

    Happy new year!
    Kyle f

  55. With modern business and first class products so closely mimicking each other these days, it appears Ethiad is truly taking a big step to re-invent first class. Very impressive!

  56. Okay, the First Apartments look amazing…although I’d probably never be able to afford flying in one. Did economy seats look nice?

  57. Great report as always, Lucky! Looking forward to the full one…

    Quick question, can you watch TV from the bed? It looks like not from the pictures?

  58. Great first look.

    Must admit all the bad press about the A380 lately, its going to be discontinued etc etc this is just what it needed. An innovative use of the space to prove you can use the big bird and make serious money with lower passenger count.

    Hope it makes the others do something as equally cool with big bird moving forward 🙂

  59. @ Sheena — Didn’t get a chance to check out the economy seats. Wanted to go look at them, but the flight attendant told me I had to stay on the upper deck for “security reasons” (first time I’ve heard that on a non-US airline).

  60. @ john — The business class cabin looked great as well. In terms of onboard social areas, I’d say my preference is Qatar > Emirates> Korean Air > Etihad.

  61. @ tara — I assume “entertaining another guest” refers to another first class passenger, and not a passenger from another cabin.

  62. Great photos. Thanks for posting this so quickly after flight. Looks awesome. Good to get your reply to @john with regards to the on board lounge in comparison to other A380. Was exactly what I wanted to ask until I saw Johns question and your reply.

  63. @ pointie — I was very happy with row four, for what it’s worth. My travel agent that booked the ticket selected the seat for me.

  64. @ Mike — There are two seatbelts on the “couch,” so presumably you can have guests. That being said, they’d also have to be in first class. You can’t bring up someone from another cabin.

  65. @ John DELTA — It is pre-filled. More style over substance, since you should always be able to get a drink from the crew whenever you’d like.

  66. @ MFR — Hah, they didn’t run out of food. Much less of an issue on a seven hour redeye as opposed to a 16 hour daytime flight, I think.

  67. @ Tim — Hope to get to it as soon as possible. This has just been a CRAZY month for me on the travel front. :-/

  68. @ David LloydHughes — No arrivals lounge, but very nice departures lounge, amenity kit, and pajamas. 🙂

  69. @ harry — Well there was the inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to London (the first flight), and then I suppose technically there was also an inaugural flight in the other direction (the first time the A380 operated from the UK to the UAE for Etihad).

  70. @ Ivo — 3K & 4K are great options if traveling together. And yes, the fare is the same for The Residence regardless of whether you book one or two people. You just pay the taxes for the second person.

  71. Did you book the chauffeur? My award itinerary contains EY11 but it shows “Not eligible” when I tried to book online. Do I have to call EY to book? Thanks.

  72. @ matty — I didn’t use it this time because I was connecting. But you should be eligible. Has your ticket already been issued? I’d call them — they should be able to assist by phone.

  73. Personally I think the hard product looks good in comparison to conventional “First Class” on other airlines, but honestly kind of dull compared to what I originally envisioned when I first read about Residences and Apartments in the Sky. I do find it rather interesting how many people compared this development to the bars and lounges of the early 747 introductions. I wonder if these folks remember that 99% of those special 747 offerings were gone only a few short years later? Over a long enough timeline more room almost always leads to more seats.

  74. Great job with the review Mr. Ben!!!

    If anyone is wondering what seat to choose. I was in Seat 1H and it is a rear facing “aisle” which means you are very far from your own window for takeoff and landing. The other downside is that you have to stare at the next class of service as the residence is next to you 🙂

  75. What about the air-con? I have read several times that Etihad planes the cabins are often very hot – which lead me to hesitate in booking a first class ticket with them in the past and I have yet to try them. And with the very high partition, did the cabin on this A380 feel at a cool and comfortable temperature? Where there individual air nozzles in the Apartment? Would be interesting to know.

  76. Thanks tara, I had been looking at seatguru earlier but it was not posted at that time for A380.

    I agree with Dax – I was thinking 10 Residences running to the mid cabin section. Basically 10 seats in the forward upper deck cabin. By contrast – LH only has 8 F seats in this same space, but the galley is included in this forward section. Emirates has 14 seats in this same space – pretty dense in my view. QF has 18 J seats in this space with a lounge on one side of the stairs.

    I think the innovation here is the use of a single aisle to add more space to the F cabins (the work apartment is a bit of a stretch). The Residence makes use of the other half of the space by the stairs – so no windows.

    I do like the lounge – do J passengers have access (I assume so). While novel use of space, it is basically 2 x 2 seating (versus LH’s 1 x 2 x 1 seating) and not as extreme as I had thought from the original hype.

  77. I might add – 8 across in J in the upper deck is real tight. Most airlines have 6 across in J in the same space.

  78. Lucky, it’s ticketed and there are fights of BA, LA and IB subsequent to EY11. I suppose the ineligible message has nothing to do with these flights, right? Thanks.

  79. I too would like to know about the cabin temperature! (Maybe if it’s hot it can be my excuse to use the shower.)

    Randy, totally agree about business class. I think Emirates’ A380 business class configuration is superior, 1+2+1 (just like first) with all seats facing forward. I’m not a rear-facing fan. In Etihad’s first class I totally understand why its necessary, plus the sheer luxury of all of the space and a bed separate from the seat more than makes up for it.

  80. @ BHill @ tara — No individual air nozzles as far as I know (as is the case on most non-US airlines), but the temperature was perfectly pleasant.

  81. @ Randy — Yes, business class passengers have access to The Lobby. But it really is 1×1 seating, it doesn’t feel like 2×2 and in practice isn’t 2×2.

    Taking up half of a deck with nine first class seats simply wouldn’t be sustainable. This is such a massive evolution of first class, in my opinion.

  82. Well, that’s as enthusiastic as I’ve ever heard you. Sounds truly amazing. But in checking out the plan on SeatGuru, I was struck when I scrolled down to Business Class. 8 seats across??!! Reminds me of BA – seats may be comfortable but all I could think of was a sardine can! I guess the good news, for those who are interested in the destinations, is that it could mean more award seats will be available. Just did a number of legs on Cathay Pacific in a 777 and an A 330. Four across. Works for me!

  83. Hey Lucky, I have two questions, firstly why is the butler not the guy from the video in your earlier post?? And also am I right in thinking that you only get 2 minutes of water on Emirates but you get 5 minutes here? If so that is quite a large increase! I’m so glad you sorted out all of your issues getting on the flight and am happy it was a great flight, I’m really looking forward to seeing the trip report and the trip report from your dads birthday! Keep up the great work, Oliver

  84. @ Steven S — In practice the seats are staggered so that it’s not really eight seats per row. For example, Emirates has 76 seats in upper deck business class, while Etihad has 70, and their footprint is roughly the same.

  85. @ Oliver — You actually get five minutes of water on both Emirates and Etihad. I believe the butler in the video may have been working the London to Abu Dhabi flight.

  86. @ Lucky – I was unsure about the product going be EY’s videos but your review and Q&A helped a lot. FYI, I was checking out award space for October 2015 (when I should be in AUH on their mistake fare) and looks like EY will have A380s on all 3 of their AUHLHR flights (no Guest award space though).

  87. is this the airline that u did the charity thing for? kickstarter or crowdfunder or whatever it is called? and can i book the same 2,600 us dollar ticket that u did and fly in the same area, first class? etc… ty

  88. Both the seat and your review are amazing! look forward to your next post on the same and am speculating on what your Dad will make of this!

    Any thoughts on award/ upgrade strategies?

  89. Hi Lucky,

    Good review!! You made it to Etihad FB page 😛

    One question, who’s your travel agent in Colombo? thanks,


  90. Why do you think they don’t build complete compartments with the apartments? Why not extend the walls/doors to the ceiling for complete privacy? Is it a safety thing?

  91. @ paul — Hah, I wouldn’t call it “charity thing,” but I did a Kickstarter for The Residence (I flew in First Apartment). The fare I booked is still available.

  92. “I wouldn’t call it “charity thing,” but I did a Kickstarter for The Residence (I flew in First Apartment).”

    You shook a digital cup and asked for handouts. What else would you call it?

  93. The Residence looks great and if you fly two people in the apartment it is expensive but not that crazy. The First Class also looks good but it would take a lot to beat the Upper deck on the LH 747 across the Atlantic. That is a superb all round product, from the lounge at FRA through the exquisite on board catering to the amazingly efficient crew.

  94. Well I’ve flown the upper deck first class (which is on its way out anyway) on the LH 747 and while I loved it, the amount of privacy and personal space in this new Etihad product alone makes it superior for me. I’m looking forward to trying it whenever they start the JFK route.

  95. Hi Lucky
    I am wondering, can two pax book themselves into the Residence? It’s big enough plus it seems to be designed for couple to share (couch, double bed etc).?

  96. @ Jake — Yes, The Residence is the same price for one or two passengers. You just have to pay taxes for the second passenger.

  97. Gabbai, I really cannot imagine how you could consider Lufthana’s 747 first class configuration to be in the same league as Etihad’s A380 apartments. The privacy offered by the surrounding walls is the height of luxury. Also clever, the bench in the apartment which provides extra seating until you’re ready to sleep, and the ability to lie side-by-side with your travel partner if you choose apartments which join together. And the closet, which I don’t think LH has. Does LH have the mini-bar cooler thing? Or a lighted mirror dressing area?

  98. Well done. This is what premium cabin should look like. While you’re right that a majority of public won’t be able to afford to fly in first cabin, the hype surrounding The Residence has made me consider flying (in business) through AUH instead of DXB or DOH in the future–and when EY expands it’s network.

    BTW, while a majority can’t afford haute couture, they’ll gladly pay a few hundred dollars for perfume, bags or shoes from that design house. By hyping The Residence and The Apartment, EY may lure some pax away from EK or QR.

    p.s. EY should have silk dressing gowns instead of terry robes in The Residence.

  99. What are the brands they use on-board for instance the amenity kit, the pyjama or the EDT and lotion they use in their washroom.

    Can you post the a picture of their on-board lounge?

  100. My wife’s first question when I showed her the photos of how big the bed was– “Is it comfortable?” And I realized there was nothing in your post about that! Did you actually get a chance to try it?

  101. Hey Lucky – do you get a full meal on that 220am flight?
    What about PJs 🙂

    I’m trying to decide if I should grab a seat in a couple of weeks or wait until later in the year when they have day time A380s on that route. So I can make the most of the full meal..

    Funnily enough I cant find award seats in Oct/Nov.


  102. @ chi — You get pajamas. As far as food goes, they have a light meal after takeoff, and then a full breakfast before landing. Quite a good meal service, actually.

  103. Ben, first of all, thanks for this post and all the detailed information. I just booked my buddy and me LHR-AUH in the First Apartment two weeks from now.
    Question on the seating. I understand the alternating forward and rearward facing config., but wondering how many window the aisle seats offer. I saw from the comments the window seats are closer to the window, but what’s the window situation in the aisle seats? Same number just further away?
    Trying to decide on best seats for my friend and me. We both like to look out the window, but also may like to have seats where we could put down the partition to visit.

  104. @ lsbuffs — Enjoy the trip and stay tuned. I have a post about Etihad’s First Apartment seating tomorrow, which I think will answer your question in more detail than you could ever want. 🙂

  105. Ben thanks so much for this posting, and for the guidance on booking it with AA miles. I just booked LHR-AUH-LHR (First Apartment A380) for Nov 18-21 2015 for a mere 80K AA miles plus $309 in taxes!! I was literally JUMPING ON MY COUCH when the unusually nice and helpful AA cust svc agent said wiht gusto: “YEP, I found 1 space for both directions!” (of course I did my homework on and spoon fed the AA agent so he did not have to work so hard). I feel like I owe you one. THANK YOU!!!!!!! Keep up your amazing blog!

  106. @ NatesMom — Wow, congrats! I’d suggest just making sure the reservation actually tickets, because it should cost 100K, since you’re technically not supposed to be able to route from Europe to Australia through the Middle East. Enjoy the trip!!

  107. Hello Lucky, how are you? when you post full report about this flight, i’m waiting it every day. Thanks very much.

  108. @ Juan Pablo — I’m still posting the trip report about the big trip I took with my dad. Once that’s complete I’ll be posting about the Etihad trip.

  109. Can I ask why you are still holding on to that full trip report, is it because the first report is still generating a lot of traffic? I can understand that but also please think of your core audience and people that follow your posts every day. It’s been almost two months since the first post, it’s enough already… you need to balance it out 😉

  110. Thanks for the detailed write-up, Lucky—awesome notes and photos! My fiancée and I would love to experience the First Apartments, and it would be ideal to only have to book one First ticket for us both to experience it for the majority of the flight. How do you think Etihad’s crew would react to a Coach passenger coming up to First to join their significant other? What provisions, if any, do they have in place to restrict or stop Coach passengers from coming to “visit” their travel companion in the First Apartments?

  111. @ Luke — You’re not allowed visitors in premium cabins. You can visit them in a lower cabin, though.

  112. @ Lucky — Thanks for the quick reply. It would be awesome to make this work. Does the crew block lower cabin passengers from entering premium cabins? What if a premium cabin passenger was “escorting” a lower cabin passenger to their First Apartment? Alternatively, can a Business Class passenger visit a First Apartment passenger (or can the First Apartment passenger escort the Business passenger to their First Apartment)?

  113. @ Luke — Nope, you can’t visit from a lower cabin to a First Apartment. The only guest you can have in your “Apartment” is another first class passenger.

  114. @ Lucky- I’m planning on flying The Residence to New York with my mom next March, but I’m not sure how the sleeping arrangement is supposed to work though, since there’s only 1 double bed. It’d be nice if you could help me with that, thanks.

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