There is no doubt Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment is one of the best first class experiences in the sky. On this trip, I was fortunate enough to redeem some American Airlines AAdvantage miles (prior to the devaluation) to book a first class trip from Abu Dhabi to Melbourne on their flagship Airbus A380-800. If you want to book this same trip, I would recommend you doing it soon as Etihad has announced they will be downgrading this route to a Boeing 777-300ER starting October 29, 2017.
This is a shame as their Airbus A380s offer a much superior first class product compared to the rest of their fleet. Etihad’s Boeing 777-300ERs have enclosed, first class suites also but they are nowhere near as private nor as spacious as their A380 First Class Apartments.
One other thing to note, Etihad used to provide complimentary chauffeur service for all premium cabin passengers (even on award flights) but that is now restricted to revenue passengers and award flights booked using Etihad’s own miles. In other words, booking an Etihad Airways award flight using American Airlines miles will not get you chauffeur service to/from the airport anymore. Double whammy.
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments
Etihad First Class Apartments are located on the upper deck of their Airbus A380s. There are nine fully enclosed Apartment suites and one 3-bedroom Residence. But before we even talk about the Apartments, let’s just admire how beautiful this first class cabin is. Etihad really knows how to play with lighting and complementary finishes to create a cabin that is modern and elegant yet calming and relaxing.
Needless to say, each First Class Apartment offers a ridiculous amount of personal space including an armchair measuring almost 30 inches in width and a bench that turns into a 6’ 10’’ flat-bed surface. Six of the Apartments are “interconnected” to offer a sense of shared space if you are traveling with a significant other.
The full-grain, leather armchair is wide, well padded and can be adjusted for dining, working or relaxing. The armchair can be moved forward for passengers to use the fixed bench as an ottoman. The one drawback regarding the armchair is the limited recline for lounging.
Seat and lighting controls, along with the IFE remote, USB ports and universal electrical outlet are located to the side of the seat.
And just like the rest of the cabin, Etihad uses a good mixture of both overhead and ambient lighting to create the perfect mood for whatever environment you are looking for and the two-stage electronic blinds are sexy and functional.
There are no overhead bins but the Apartments have a place for everything you bring on-board. Cabin bags are stored underneath the ottoman/bench and your small personal items including cell phones, tablets and laptops can be stored in the many storage compartments at the seat. There are literally more drawers and storage spaces than you will know what to do with.
Each Apartment also has a personal closet for your clothing.
And a mini-bar with bottles of water and soda.
There’s even a full-on vanity area featuring plenty of mirrors and bright lighting.
The bench is multi-functional. It acts as an ottoman for elevating your feet up, as a guest seat for entertaining others and as your bed for when you need some zzz’s.
For the “interconnected” Apartments, there is a half-length, divider wall that can be lowered between the two suites. The lowered divider wall can allow the two separate guests to sleep next to each other, sort of.
The Etihad A380 first class cabin is configured with two lavatories for the nine first class passengers. There is a smaller lavatory with a shower suite and a larger one without a shower suite. Both lavatories are furnished with Le Labo Bergamonte 22 bath and body products.
Here’s the larger of the two lavatories.
And here’s the smaller one with the shower suite. It’s not as spacious as Emirate’s shower suite.
To the front of the cabin, there is a stairway leading down to the economy class cabin.
And to the rear of cabin, there is a fixed wall and a door (not just a curtain) separating the first class cabin from the rest of the plane. This helps to minimize noise coming from the galley and social area behind it.
Behind the first class galley is “The Lobby,” an open seating area for first and business class passengers to socialize and mingle with each other. There is no “bar” per se but you can order drinks and snacks from any of the flight attendants. I walked back here a couple of times during my flight and not once did I see anyone here.
Etihad First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
At Abu Dhabi International Airport, first class passengers use the flagship Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa. The lounge offers a la carte dining, complimentary spa services, fitness room and a specialty cigar lounge for passengers to use pre-flight. The lounge is beautiful and you can read my full review of the Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa here.
One thing that disappoints me most about Etihad First Class is they don’t provide personal escorts or transport to the aircraft. When boarding is called, first class passengers just leave the lounge and walk to the gates. Is it this the greatest sin in the world? Absolutely not. But would having an escort or ride to the gate make your first class experience exponentially better? Absolutely.
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Melbourne (MEL)
Depart: 10:05 PM on Thursday (10:02 PM actual)
Arrive: 5:43 PM next day (5:30 PM actual)
Duration: 13hr 37mn
Seat: 4K First Class Apartment
I arrived at gate 61 a few minutes past boarding time (after a secondary checkpoint) and got in line with the other passengers. All premium cabin passengers board at the same time. I walked down the jet-bridge, presented my boarding pass to the flight attendant and was escorted to my seat, 4K, a forward facing, window seat on the right side of the aircraft.
Because this was my first time flying Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, the flight attendant introduced herself and spent a few minutes with me, showing me all the seats functions and hidden compartments of the Apartment. Waiting at our suites were a pair of Etihad branded, noise-cancelling headphones, a day blanket, back pillow and amenity kit.
Etihad First Class amenity kits are among the better ones out there. The one picture below is the older generation as newer kits were recently introduced fleet-wide in 2017.
On this flight, there was no one in the Residence and only one other passenger in first class. There were two flight attendants and the in-flight chef working the first class cabin. The main flight attendant working the first class cabin was an adorable Irish girl, Laura. Because there was no one seated in the Apartment connected to mine, Laura proactively lowered the divider between the two Apartments to give me “more room.” Not that it really mattered but it was a nice gesture.
As I got settled into my seat, Laura came back a little later and presented me with a gift bag containing a set of pajamas and slippers.
The other flight attendant then came by with a tray containing a chilled towel, ramekin of dates and a welcome letter. She asked if I preferred a glass of champagne, juice or Arabic coffee to drink and I went with a glass of Rose.
The in-flight chef then came by and presented me with the drink and dinner menus. He informed me the meals were dine-on-demand and said I could order whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I chose to have dinner right after takeoff so I could get right to sleep afterwards.
Once we took off, the in-flight chef came by to take my meal order and Laura came by with another glass of rose and a tray of olives, wasabi flavored snacks and warm nuts.
My table was then set with white linen and I was offered a selection of warm breads. Dinner started with a red onion amuse bouche and an Arabic mezze plate.
The appetizer was followed by an orange flavored palette cleanser and my main meal. I ordered the sea bass, which was served with purple potatoes and asparagus.
For dessert, I got red velvet cake.
Overall, the meal was good but not mind-blowing. The flavors were decent and the items were cooked appropriately but it wasn’t the best meal I’ve ever had on a plane. I did appreciate how beautifully presented everything was but not having a caviar service in first class kind of disappointed me.
After dinner, my plates were cleared and Laura asked if I wanted my bed to be made. She offered to make my bed in an adjacent Apartment so I could relax in one and sleep in the other but I declined because I didn’t want to walk back and forth. I can’t tell you guys how great Laura was. She was proactive and friendly but not overbearing.
Turndown service included a mattress pad, blanket and a full-size pillow. As a bed, I found the bench to be not very wide and a little on the hard side. The white linen was soft and luxurious and the pillow was plush and supportive but the mattress pad did not provide much additional cushioning.
Regarding the privacy of the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, the high walls and the closable doors provided an incredible amount of privacy from your neighbors but they do not provide you with absolute privacy to do whatever you want. The flight attendants can still see over the walls and the doors have decorative holes in them to discourage any mile-high shenanigans.
You will have to entertain yourself in other ways. Luckily, the in-flight entertainment system provided a good selection of new Hollywood movies, TV shows, audio entertainment, video games and live TV programming. But my favorite parts were the live camera views and flight show.
In bed mode, the IFE monitor can be “flipped out” so you can watch TV in bed but unfortunately, neither the monitor nor the bed can be tilted up/down to provide a better viewing position in bed. You will have to plop your head up with a couple of pillows if you want to watch TV in bed comfortably. I ended up watching TV for a bit and then fell asleep. Needless to say, the bed was still comfortable and I was able to sleep for a solid six hours.
With 3 hours remaining the flight, I asked to take a shower. After a few minutes, I was informed my shower suite was ready. Laura escorted me to the shower suite, advised me of my 5-minute limit and showed me how to operate the shower. The shower suite was prepared with towels and a personal Le Labo bath and body shower kit.
I’m not gonna lie. Those five minutes were the best minutes of my life. It’s not like I was overly disgusting or anything but showering on an airplane was one of the most refreshing and relaxing experiences I have ever experienced. I felt completely energized and rejuvenated.
When I returned to my seat, the in-flight chef came by to take my breakfast order. I ordered the English breakfast, which was served with a side of fruit and pastries. Again, it was good but nothing worth writing home about.
Etihad A380 First Class Apartment overall thoughts
Overall, this was an incredible experience and a flight that I will not soon forget. Etihad has done a great job with creating a truly unique and remarkable experience. The Apartments are spacious, incredible private and offer a ton of luxury amenities. The Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is not perfect by any means but it is one of the best first class experiences out there. And if you have some American miles to burn, redeeming them for an Etihad A380 First Class Apartment flight is not a bad way to use them.
What are your thoughts on Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments? Please share your comments with me below. Thanks for reading!
The other trip reports in this series include:
- Qantas oneworld Business Class Lounge
- American Airlines A321T Business Class, Los Angeles to New York
- Etihad Lounge at New York JFK
- Etihad A380 Business Class, New York to Abu Dhabi
- Etihad Arrivals Lounge at Abu Dhabi
- Hilton Abu Dhabi
- Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa
- Etihad A380 First Class Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Melbourne
- Qantas A330 Business Class, Melbourne to Perth to Sydney
- Qantas Business Class Lounge at Perth
- Qantas First Class Lounge and Spa at Sydney
- Qantas A380 First Class, Sydney to Los Angeles