Imagine you’ve reserved your next long-haul flight. Your VIP travel concierge service, short of packing your bags, takes care of the rest of your flight-related needs. A luxury chauffer collects you to take you to the airport; you’re escorted to a private check in and lounge for discreet check in. Once onboard in the upper deck of the Etihad A380, your personal, Savoy-trained butler, dressed in a couture-designed uniform by Italian couturier Ettore Bilotta, hands you a glass of champagne and leads you to your fully private and personal living room, separate bedroom and ensuite bathroom – all styled by leading interior designers. All that’s left to do is sit back on your luxurious Poltrona Frau leather sofa; consider your menu options to be prepared by your personal in-flight chef; get stuck into your inflight entertainment on a 32-inch flat screen TV; or head straight in for a nap on your Egyptian cotton sheets.
This, according to Etihad Airways, is “flying reimagined” with the introduction of a world-first, three-room suite in the sky with overall size of 125 square feet. It’s the most luxurious commercial flying experience Etihad Airways has launched since the airline’s foundation in 2003.
I flew to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the national carrier’s official worldwide launch of The Residence by Etihad – as well as the unveiling of its new aircraft livery on the A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, new designer uniforms and its ultra luxurious The Apartment.
The airline’s flagship aircraft, the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner were revealed with new cabin interiors. At the launch, 22 cabin staff rather than models paraded the new uniforms on a specially designed catwalk inside the Etihad Airways hangar which resembled a gathering more commonly associated with something like New York Fashion Week. The new-look aircraft were revealed dramatically from behind black curtains and I stepped onboard for a look within.
As well as The Residence by Etihad, the A380 also features the First Apartment with a complete living space with reclining lounge chair and ottoman that opens to become a separate 80.5-inch fully-flat bed. It’s not quite the ‘grand-daddy’ experience of The Residence by Etihad, but in its own right, it’s highly luxurious and still offers a good deal of privacy with little sliding apartment doors allowing you to effectively shut out the rest of the cabin. There are nine first class Apartments on the A380, as well as the more traditional 70 business studios or pod seats.
A designated bar and lounge area onboard for first class guests is called The Lobby, where you can enjoy food and beverages, conversation or reading materials.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner includes The First Suite with a mini bar and centre seats that join to form a double bed. There are 28 business studios on the 787 which all offer aisle access, flat bedding and an increase of personal space by 20 per cent.