Hello from London, as I’m reaching the tail end of my wild review trip. I just flew Etihad’s Airbus A380 first class from Abu Dhabi to London. Etihad recently put its A380s back into service, after grounding them for several years, and what a treat it was to fly this plane again.
While I’ll have a full trip report soon, in this post I wanted to share my initial impressions of the experience on this seven hour afternoon flight. In my opinion, Etihad is really in a groove, and is as good as ever. This flight was incredibly all-around, with an amazing suite, tasty food and drinks, and some of the best service I’ve had on Etihad.
In this post:
Etihad’s A380 first class seats are massive
Etihad’s first class cabin is at the front of the upper deck, and consists of nine First Class Apartments, plus The Residence. There’s such a “wow” factor when you walk into this cabin, thanks to the single aisle, with a suite on each side. Along with Singapore’s A380 Suites, this is the only product in the world to offer a layout like this.
This product is impressive, with each passenger getting an “Apartment,” consisting of a huge seat, plus a long bench (which can double as a buddy seat) that turns into the bed when you’re ready to sleep. The suite has a large entertainment screen that can swivel, a vanity area, a minibar, and more.
This is a super cool seat, and it’s easy to get comfortable whether you’re looking to just lounge or rest. Now, I will say that I think the airline could have done a bit more with this product in terms of maximizing comfort given the amount of space. So much space is allocated to each first class passenger, yet the bed is quite narrow and hard.
It’s too late to change this, of course, but I wish we had seen the airline create a product where the bed would be much larger. That’s a minor point of feedback in the scheme of things, though, and this really is an incredible product. Interestingly the same applies for Singapore’s A380s, which is the other product with the biggest footprint.
Etihad’s first class food and drinks are very good
Etihad has an extensive menu in first class, and I also appreciate the flexible dining concept. Even though the airline no longer has an inflight chef or a food & beverage manager, I haven’t found that this has caused any decrease in terms of quality and flexibility (which I guess shows you how much those concepts are about marketing).
You could enjoy what you wanted when you wanted. After takeoff, drinks were served, with snacks consisting of feta cheese, olives, and warm mixed nuts.
Etihad offers caviar on all first class flights, so I of course had to indulge in that.
I then had the mezze, which was very good, and different than on past flights.
For the main course, I selected the red grouper, which not only tasted great, but had presentation that rivals what you’ll find in top restaurants.
I was so full at this point that I skipped dessert for the time being, and instead had it as a pre-landing snack. Several hours later, I ordered the rainbow chiffon cake, fresh fruit, and an iced latte.
It was a fantastic meal. One thing I find a bit strange, though, is how Etihad now offers great Armani / Casa amenities in business class, but these haven’t been rolled out in first class. Etihad’s service items in first class are still very nice, but I do prefer the Armani / Casa ones.
Etihad’s A380s have great amenities & entertainment
Flying in first class is always like Christmas in terms of the number of gifts you receive, and this flight was no exception. On this flight I received Etihad’s new limited edition 20th anniversary amenity kit, which was pretty cool. It was well stocked with products from ESPA. I guess Etihad dropped its Acqua Di Parma partnership?
There was also loungewear from Emirati brand A Friend Of Mine, and I find this set to be quite comfortable.
Then there were slippers, which are always useful to have.
Etihad’s A380 entertainment selection is also extensive, with hundreds of movies and TV shows, plus the map feature and tail camera.
Etihad also has Panasonic Wi-Fi on its Airbus A380s, and connectivity is free for first class passengers.
Etihad’s first class service was exceptional on this sector
Service on Gulf carriers is inconsistent, and can range from phenomenal to just okay. Lately I’ve had nothing but good service experiences on Etihad, and this flight was no exception.
The crew working this flight couldn’t have been more professional or attentive, and they really seemed to take pride in the A380. I was primarily served by a Lebanese flight attendant, and she had an attention to detail that rivals what you’ll find on Singapore Airlines. She was an absolute superstar, and I hope I get her again on an Etihad flight, because great service can make all the difference.
Etihad’s A380 first class shower & lounge are just “meh”
Etihad’s Airbus A380s have a couple of cool amenities, including a shower for first class passengers, plus a lounge for first and business class passengers. Let’s talk about those in a bit more detail.
Etihad has two lavatories at the front of the first class cabin, and one of them has a shower. Showering in the sky is one of the coolest experiences ever as an avgeek. However, it’s worth noting that Etihad’s A380 shower pales in comparison to Emirates’ A380 shower, which is better in just about every way. The Etihad shower suite is way smaller, doesn’t have as many amenities, and there’s only one (rather than two).
Yes, I totally recognize that critiquing inflight showers is perhaps the most out of touch thing on earth, but I try to be objective, so I think that’s only fair. 😉
Etihad also has The Lobby, which is the lounge area located between first and business class. This essentially consists of a circular seating area with a coffee table, plus a small drink setup. While it’s always nice when an airline has an onboard bar or lounge, once again, this isn’t quite to the level of the Emirates A380 onboard bar, and if anything, feels more like an afterthought.
What a treat it is to see the Etihad Airbus A380 flying again, especially when we thought the plane would be retired. My Etihad A380 flight was possibly my best one ever. The first class cabin was of course impressive as always, and this flight also had excellent food, drinks, amenities, and service.
I can’t wait for the A380 to once again start flying to New York as of April 2024, as that’s a much longer flight on which to enjoy this great experience.
What’s your take on Etihad’s A380 first class?