In May Etihad Airways revealed their revolutionary new A380, which really was fantastically innovative and unlike anything we’ve seen from the current A380 operators. Between The Residences, First Class Apartments, Business Class Studios, etc., the branding is just genius, in my opinion.
Etihad will be inaugurating A380 service between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow this December, with the A380 initially operating the EY11/12 flights, with the following schedule:
EY11 Abu Dhabi to London departing 2:35AM arriving 6:35AM
EY12 London to Abu Dhabi departing 9:15AM arriving 8:05PM
Etihad has orders for 10 A380s, with them taking delivery of their first one this year, and four more in 2015. They did announce that by the end of 2015 they hope to also fly them to New York JFK and Sydney.
Not surprisingly, though, Etihad has announced that they’ll operate a second daily A380 flight between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow as of March 1, 2015. The second A380 will operate the EY17/18 flights, with the following schedule:
EY17 Abu Dhabi to London departing 1:25PM arriving 5:30PM
EY18 London to Abu Dhabi departing 8:20PM arriving 7:20AM (+1 day)
They’ve already blocked off all first class award space on the flight, so unless you want to redeem miles directly through the Etihad Guest program at the higher award rate, you’re out of luck. Interestingly enough they’ve been blocking first class award space on EY17/18 for months. I know because I’ve tried to make some speculative bookings over the past couple of months. I was only able to snag first class award space on the other frequency, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. I’m guessing they’ve anticipated this aircraft change for quite a while.
It’ll be cool to see the Etihad A380s at Heathrow Airport, though as a mileage nut this isn’t the most satisfying equipment change. Etihad used to have good award space to London Heathrow, and that seems to be a thing of the past now thanks to the A380s.
Hopefully they eventually take Singapore Airlines’ approach. When Singapore initially introduced Suites Class they didn’t release award space on it, though over time they started opening up award space, and now sometimes even open two seats per flight.