Is This The World’s Most Expensive Airline Ticket?

Filed Under: Etihad

Earlier today I posted about how Etihad plans to launch A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and New York as of December 1, 2015.

While I’ve flown the incredible A380 First Class Apartment, there’s no arguing that the most hyped up aspect of the plane is The Residence, which is a three room suite with private butler service. There’s simply nothing else like it in commercial aviation.

Etihad A380 The Residence, living room

Etihad A380 The Residence, bedroom

Etihad A380 The Residence, bathroom & shower

And for that matter there’s simply nothing like the pricetag of it either. 😉

I’ve written in the past about Etihad’s The Residence fares from Abu Dhabi to London and Sydney.

Etihad charges ~$21,000 one-way for The Residence from Abu Dhabi to London, which sure stings for a sub-eight hour flight.


By comparison, Abu Dhabi to Sydney costs ~$25,000 one-way, which is almost a bargain by comparison. For an extra six hours of flying I’d say that’s almost marginally worth it. 😉


So now that Etihad has announced A380 service to New York, what’s the fare for The Residence? Well, it’s significantly more expensive than Sydney, at ~$32,000 one-way.


Yep, so a roundtrip between Abu Dhabi and New York will set you back ~$64,000.


If it’s any consolation, the fare is the same regardless of whether one or two people are traveling.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this is the most expensive nonstop airline ticket in the world.

As I’ve explained in the past, I really do think the First Class Apartment is the show stopper on the A380, and not The Residence. I don’t see the benefit of having a separate bedroom (which feels sort of claustrophobic) when you have a comfortable bed at your seat. So whether using miles or cash, I really do think First Apartments represent a better value.

So, can anyone find a more expensive nonstop flight than $32,000 one-way? 😉

  1. If two fly on one ticket they’re going to have trouble getting through TSA in NY.

    As for the apartments, half don’t have a window at the seat and half of those that do face backwards. That’s not a premium product.

    Three minutes on Kayak produces a price of $40388 for two one-way tickets on UA in first leaving HKG today for CDG. I expect you could find lots of more expensive tickets than that.

  2. So you confirm my tought that the residence bedroom feels a little bit claustrophobic with his curved low ceiling and the complete lack of windows…

    I wonder if a sheet with the sizes of the residence exists publicly available on the internet, from the videos and the pictures i can’t understand how much big the bed actually is, if it’s long enough for a 1.85m adult and if it’s wide enough for 2 people.

  3. 1. If you used your Amex Premier Rewards Gold card to book the flight, you would earn over 190,000 points…
    2. SFO-DXB on Emirates one way is $23,375.20 for March. It’s not $32,000, but it’s a lot.

  4. But seriously how many people could possibly exist out there where they could afford this price but couldn’t afford a private jet?

  5. A private jet from New York to Abu Dhabi would be more than $100k each way. So this is a bargain for the price-conscious billionaire.

  6. @snic

    You know, this is kinda funny. For a single person, these kinds of things are most cost effective than flying a private jet. For $100k each way, you’re probably in a Gulfstream V, which by biz jet standards is quite big and nice. But it’s really a very small metal tube, just marginally larger than a CRJ. (The CRJ is actually a stretched version of a corporate jet.) I’m not sure if I’d like to be in one for a 12+ hour flight. By comparison, a 777 or A380 provide you with much more space.

    To get into something that truly exudes luxury and is somewhat available on the charter market, you’re looking at a BBJ (modified 737-700) that would likely cost around $180k each way. Commercial is much, much more cost effective at that price point for one person.

    Now, that BBJ seats around 19 people, so if you fill it up, you’re talking ~$11k pp each way. At that price, biz jet travel is getting more cost effective, particularly when you consider that you’re dealing with 19 VIP’s time, and that no airline actually has that many F seats on a given plane.

    The best value for corporate jet travel is when you’re flying multiple people around on flights <2-3 hours with multiple destinations in a day, between cities that don't have good airline service.

    I worked with biz jets a lot in a prior lifetime, and many people would fly in from overseas on a commercial airline, and make a "connection" to their smaller private jet.

  7. I just flew yesterday from AUH-LHR in the Etihad (EY) First Apartments.

    A few notes:

    a) The shower was inoperable. They said that their system showed “low water” to that part of the plane so I couldn’t use the shower.

    b) I asked if I could have a tour of The Residence and was told by the cabin service director that as of 2 weeks ago they are not allowing tours on-board, even when it was empty and even to First Class passengers. I suggested that the best marketing for it would be to show it to the First Class passengers, who may potentially book it in the future. She agreed, but it wasn’t her decision.

    c) I found the bed in the Apartments to be a bit hard. I think they could improve the mattress pad.

    d) As it was a 2:35am departure, it was a more limited menu than on a day time flight. But the chef did his best with what he had available. Also, they are missing things that Emirates offers in First like caviar, Dom Perignon, and super premium spirits (Hennessy Paradis, etc.).

    But overall, the First Apartments crew was fantastic and I really enjoyed the flight.

    I fly next week on the Emirates (EK) A380 from ZRH-DXB-LAX in First. Given the choice in the future of EK or EY on a long haul, I think EK wins due to the food and drinks. I have also found that on EK they will set up a separate empty seat for you as a bed, so if the flight isn’t full you can spread out.

  8. As many have said cheaper than a 737 based BBJ which is the size you need to get a bed and a shower on private plane.

    Suspect that a lot of the use will be as a honeymoon suite as once in a life time experience.

  9. It’s a very small market I believe, and mostly is a marketing exercise(point of difference)/idea to make novel use of the rather constrained space.

    I think it’s target market is really once in a lifetime special events for couples (or bragging singles) and the the odd solo rich/high status person. In most cases, the elite wealthy travel with family or entourage which makes charter more appealing/sensible.

    I’d like to fly it once, but I’d never buy it myself even if I was a multi-millionaire (because it is hideously overpriced for what it is). The First Apartments are the best part, the Residence is just a curiosity (so I’d rather have more First Apartment bookings than just one Residence booking).

    Just because I like the Residence existing doesn’t mean I think it’s needed or all that useful. But as a marketing tactic it’s great, although perhaps it’d be better as kitchen/pantry space to avoid catering fail 🙂

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