After a long wait, my time finally came to fly Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartment. I vividly remember booking one of the first few flights when the Airbus A380 was introduced and started flying from Abu Dhabi to Sydney and then shortly I was notified that there was an equipment swap that ruined one of the best travel routings I had planned, but since it’s the past – lets not talk about that. Earlier in the year, I was able to fly the new route from New York to Abu Dhabi as Etihad Airways 102. Just a few days before departure I was booked on their Business Studio because First Class was not available at the time, after obsessing myself by checking Etihad Airways system more than I can count, ONE first class seat opened up and I phoned up American Airlines AAdvantage to upgrade myself from Business to First and to say I was happy, was simply an understatement. Prior to the award devaluation of American Airlines miles, a one way first class award ticket aboard Etihad First Class was 90,000 so it was an incredible value, though after the devaluation that value has now gone up from 90,000 miles to 115,000 miles.
Prior to departure, I headed out to the new and stunning Etihad Airways Lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport and I was truly speechless when walking in. Truth be told, I truly love flying Etihad Airways, from their ground crew, service, lounge amenities and installations to their incredible on board experience and service. I have flown Etihad Airways on long hauls of 16+ hours and as the flight comes to an end, I truly don’t want to leave the aircraft and I knew that flying the First Class apartment I was going to experience the same feeling since this is their Flagship carrier. Anyway, moving on to the lounge, the facility was incredible. From a buffet menu, to a la carte, to an open bar, to dates and arabic coffee, to shower rooms, and much more. Can’t it get any better than that? I don’t think so ;).
ETIHAD AIRWAYS LOUNGE – JFK.
The bar of the lounge featured directed views of the runway where you could see some heavies take off and land. The staff on duty was exceptional and they told me that they were flown to Abu Dhabi to get trained and it shows. The service was top notch and they are there to truly maximize the guest experience and make the start of your journey an unforgettable one. I skipped on the alcoholic beverages and the great bartender made me some tasty virgin mojitos along with some almonds and nuts to wash it down.
Within the a la carte menu, you will be able to find some incredible dishes. As per usual, you will be able to select your starter, main course and finish up with your dessert. In my case, I went straight to my main course and ordered the filet mignon and it was truly out of this world. Meanwhile, I ordered a virgin mojito to quench the thirst.
One of my favorite touches of the lounge, prior to heading to the gate about one hour before – The lounge staff walks around the lounge offering each guest some dates and arabic coffee. You can’t go wrong with some delicious arabic coffee and dates. It is such a nice touch and send off to the guest prior to leaving that it made me want to stay in the lounge a bit longer to soak in the vibe and atmosphere. The attention to detail from the staff was perfect.
As a premium cabin flyer with Etihad Airways you’re allowed to board the aircraft at any given time, wether you would like to be first or last, that is your call. Of course, as soon as I was told that boarding has started, I rushed to the gate with excitement to board the aircraft and get settled in my First Class apartment, seat 4k which is considered one of the best seats in the house. Keep in mind, first and business is located in the upper deck of the A380.
ETIHAD FIRST CLASS APARTMENT
Within your seat you will find a compartment where the controls are located and some of the features are the following:
- Do not disturb
- Cushion Firmness
- Reclining your seat
- Moving up your seat
- Setting up your seat for the meal
You will also find the following remote next to your seat to control the entertainment screen, along with charging ports and headphone jack. Within the remote you will also be able to see the airshow just as I had set up during my flight from New York to Abu Dhabi.
Upon boarding I was greeted by the friendly cabin crew and escorted to my seat where shortly the Cabin Manager Mrs.Ondine came by to welcome me aboard and offer me a glass of champagne, where I happily accepted. The Welcome Aboard amenity by Etihad has to be one of the greatest out there. A chilled glass of champagne, a hot towel, dates and a letter to you, the passenger. It feels like home when I am back on an Etihad Airways flight and I was smiling from ear to ear.
Shortly after, the chef started walking through the cabin to introduce himself and letting us know about the menu. One of the greatest concepts its the dining on the demand that Etihad offers, where you can eat at any given time throughout the flight and knowing how exhausted I was, shortly after take off I knew I was going to bed so I told the chef, mid flight, I will get back to you with my order and he happily said: “Not a problem Mr.Carter”.
The flight didn’t seem to be too full as the boarding process ended fairly quickly, though the First Class cabin was checked in full and The Residence was unoccupied on this flight. Shortly after all passengers were aboard, the captain came on the PA to introduce himself, welcome us aboard and let us know that our flight time would be about 12 hours once airborne, expecting a smooth ride across the atlantic with a few minor bumps and chops. The weather was beautiful departing John F.Kennedy as we began our journey to Abu Dhabi and here was the start to one of the flights I have been looking forward to for a really long time. Let me address that there is no other airline out there in the industry that offers the type of seat that Etihad Airways has and by that, they have been the game changer within Air travel.
Shortly after take off, the cabin crew started their service. I was offered another glass of champagne and I accepted, this time by the lovely Food & Beverage manager who happens to be one of the second batch butlers for Etihad Airways who went to Savoy to get trained. To say she was incredible, it would be an understatement. Friendly, attentive, caring and truly shows that she loves what she does, Mrs.Anne was truly special. This time I requested one of my favorites, the Rose champagne and along with that you get some olives, chips and nuts to wash the tasty champagne and as per usual, the presentation is great.
FIRST CLASS APARTMENT – BEDDING
As I previously stated, Etihad Airways currently has the best first class product in my opinion, an apartment in the sky with some of the best amenities you can possibly think of. Not only do you have your own seat, but also the ottoman in front of you turns into a full size bed and it was truly comfortable and one of the best sleeps I’ve had on a plane. The screen can be positioned so you’re watching a movie or the airshow while laying down. Along side you will also find a remote where you can control the screen and browse around, the entertainment aboard was extensive and offers pretty much everything you can think off. From live TV, to all kinds of movies, music and much more. For a 12 hour flight once airborne, you won’t have a problem finding something to watch ;).
The lobby lounge aboard Etihad Airways is simply beautiful and one of my favorite features aboard the Airbus A380. It is located between the First and Business Class cabin. Throughout my flight barely anyone came to sit by so I was able to truly maximize my experience at the lounge throughout the flight. Within the lounge you will find a screen to watch the news or anything else you would like. Once you’re seated, one of the cabin crews will come by and offer you something to drink or eat. I requested my favorite drink, which is the lemon mint juice along with some almonds and nuts. Within the seats, you will find charging ports to connect your devices. You will also see a find a section within the lounge where the wine and champagne is kept incase you will like something from it, simply ask one of the cabin crew members to pour you a glass.
Etihad Airways has en extensive menu for First Class passengers and the options on this sector were great – I will not be spoiling the menu and all the offerings but do keep in mind, some of the best dishes aboard are on this sector. Keep in mind, menu are subject to change at any given time since I know Etihad is always looking to continue to innovate and improve their on board experience for their guest.
I have a tendency to always selecting the chef special rather than getting something from the menu, I find it unique when I get something custom made by the chef and it always end up being delicious and it truly adds a unique touch to the journey and overall on board experience. Some things are standard like the palette cleanser and the dessert trio but everything else can be made for you as far as main course, starter, etc.
DESSERT TRIO – MY FAVORITE
Throughout dessert, I went ahead to also do some wine sampling courtesy of the chef and his recommendations. All were very very good.
SHOWERING AT 40,000 FEET?
The highlight of the flight or should I say, the biggest highlight was showering at 40,000 feet. How does it work? Simply let one of the cabin crews know you would like to take a shower at a certain time of the flight and they will have the shower ready for you. I requested mine about 2 hours from touch down and it worked perfectly. They had the shower ready and set up for me. I took advantage of it for 5 glorious minutes and it was truly an experience that I will never forget. The toiletries offered are some of my favorite as well and the quality is top notch.
CHEF FINAL SEND OFF PRIOR TO ARRIVAL
If the journey couldn’t have gotten any better – About 20 minutes from landing the food and beverage manager Mrs.Anne comes by the cabin to pass a courtesy chef special. The chef special was some yogurt, granola and fruits. Each first class passenger was offered one of this and it was super tasty. Along with the treat, a hot towel was also placed on the tray.
ETIHAD FIRST CLASS APARTMENT BOTTOM LINE
Without a doubt, The Etihad First Class apartment experience is one that I will never forget. The on board experience is something that I haven’t had before in any of the previews first class flights I’ve taken in the past and theres no carrier at the moment that offers what Etihad has. By no means I am saying other carriers aren’t as good but each carrier has something that makes them special and the first class apartment separates Etihad from the rest with this flagship cabin and aircraft. It’s like many other flyers have been saying: Once you fly the Etihad First Class apartment, it will be hard flying something else.
The attention to detail from the staff was spot on and they are truly there to maximize the guest experience, specially the cabin manager who walked by each seat to introduce herself and make herself available for anything we needed throughout the flight.
The airbus A380 is an incredible aircraft and a joy to fly and after flying the boeing 777-300ER a handful of times, it cannot compare. For those looking to fly the first class apartment, be ready for a life changing experience. I also flew the Business studio from Abu Dhabi to Sydney, so I will be sharing my experience on an upcoming post.
If you have flown the First Class apartment, how was your experience?