In the day and age of airlines constantly cutting costs to lure customers with discounted pricing, the new Etihad A380 which was introduced a few years ago has turned the aviation industry upside down.
Instead of reducing pricing, Etihad went back to the drawing board to create two new innovative products: Etihad Apartment and Etihad Residence. In comparison to the traditional convertible first-class suites offered even by stalwarts like Singapore Airlines and Emirates, Etihad’s world-first separate seat and convertible sofa for sleeping in the First Apartment stands out paling everyone else in comparison. With a 27-inch LCD TV and innovations never seen before in any luxury commercial flights, the First Apartment is already a noteworthy innovation. However, with the launch of the Residence, it takes this even one step further.
What makes the Residence stand apart?
A private three-room suite, located at the front of the first-class cabin, it features a living room, bedroom, and even a private bathroom with a shower. Residence passengers are treated to amenities like private butler services, customised menus and exclusive airport lounges that they don’t have to share with anyone.
The Residence experience starts even before you board your flight however, as a private concierge meets you after check-in to assist you with your carry-on baggage and guide you through the services provided by the private lounge. With beautifully furnished interiors, the lounge has everything from an entertainment system to a fully-equipped bookshelf to keep you busy while you wait for the boarding. The lounge further has a self-serve buffet and an a-la-carte menu featuring an extensive menu of dishes. It also offers well-designed showers in the bathrooms to freshen up before your flight.
Upon boarding your flight, a private butler guides you through everything available on the flight. Taking their attention to detail very seriously, all onboard butlers for the Residence are trained by the highly acknowledged Savoy Academy in London to ensure that you get only the best for all your service needs.
The residence bedroom features a double bed, joining the living room with a short corridor. The living room features a leather couch, a dining table and a minibar with LCD television screens in both the rooms. An onboard chef introduces himself during the flight to make sure you have freshly made food catering to your taste.
Apart from luxury, the airline has also formed prayer areas with curtains for its Muslim passengers to create a space equipped with a real-time electronic screen that display’s the exact direction of Mecca depending on the aircraft’s position.
Booking on the flight
Pushing luxury to a new level, the prices are as expected much higher than any other airline ticket you would have heard of. A flight from Abu Dhabi to London one-way in the Residence class can cost up to $20,000 or higher(Rs.15,60,000).
The space covering almost 12 square metres on the aircraft is unprecedented in commercial airline travel. So even if the price sounds extremely extravagant, this service aims to provide an experience more like flying in a private jet than flying in first class. While the Residence is available only on limited routes, it flies to popular destinations like New York and London. While there is no such thing as a discounted ticket for this category, you can redeem your miles or transfer points from its partners such as American Express or Citibank for it. The only catch is that you would need millions of points to spare, although it still beats shelling out thousands of dollars each way.
If you are expecting to book for a First-Class ticket and then be upgraded, you are in for a disappointment though, as the airline has strictly ruled out any upgrades for the Residence, keeping it completely exclusive for its passengers.
The amount of money that you would spend on this is undoubtedly high. However, unless you have a private jet of your own someday, Etihad’s Residence is probably the nicest way to fly. If you have Etihad Guest award points or even points to spare from its partners, it could be a worthwhile redemption for this once in a lifetime experience.
‘Curated by Neha Bhise’