Etihad Residence Butler Details Revealed

Later this year Etihad will begin service with their Airbus A380. It will be debuting on the Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route as of December 27, 2014. Quite possibly the most innovative aspect of the product is The Residence, which is a three room, 125 square foot suite consisting of a private living room, bedroom, and shower.

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The Residence Living Room

THE_RESIDENCE_BEDROOM_HORIZONTAL
The Residence Bedroom

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The Residence Bathroom

Nothing like it has ever been done in commercial aviation before, and as you might expect it’s priced to reflect that.

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One of the unique features of The Residence is that you have a private Savoy trained butler. I was curious what exactly would go into training these butlers and what their backgrounds would be, and it looks like we finally have some new information.

Via Frequent Business Traveler:

The butlers will undergo a three-week course covering food and wine, international protocol and etiquette, VIP guest care, valet skills, and managing travel arrangements.  They will receive instruction for two weeks and spend the third week at the Savoy Hotel in London.

The course is intended to prepare them to cater to the individual tastes and requirements of the Residence cabin’s passengers and “to provide levels of discretion, dedication, and sophistication hitherto not experienced by the modern airline traveller,” the airline said.

The new butlers were previously in-flight chefs or food and beverage managers at the airline.  Etihad’s Airbus A380 inaugural flight will take place on December 27, 2014.

It looks like the whole butler concept isn’t quite as innovative as I had first assumed. The butlers will simply be inflight chefs or onboard food and beverage managers that take a three week course. I haven’t been terribly impressed by the friendliness or attentiveness of the people working those positions, so I’m not sure I’d really expect a more attentive or “refined” experience.

There’s a really delicate balance when you have a private flight attendant, since you want them to be attentive without being overbearing. I’ve had the cabin to myself in first class many times and it can be awkward, though with what they’re charging for The Residence they have to get it right every time.

It’ll be interesting to see if the Savoy trained butlers deliver.

What do you think? Do you think having a “butler” will actually be a different service experience, or just “lipstick on a pig?”

Comments

  1. Ah so this is what they mean by Savoy-trained butlers. Without that explanation I also thought they were actually from Savoy and then hired by Etihad. Well it can be a hit or miss. The in-flight F&B Manager we had on an Abu Dhabi to Dublin flight was really good – both service and safety-wise. He was with the Jumeirah group before and then moved to Etihad as he says the flying benefits are hard to resist. So at least I know those positions, normal cabin-crew cannot be just ‘promoted’ to.

  2. “The butlers will simply be inflight chefs or onboard food and beverage managers”

    Maybe, but

    “valet skills, and managing travel arrangements”

    What would that entail?

  3. At these prices, let’s hope there is segregated catering for the Residence so that they don’t run out of food!

  4. I hardly think a weeks training at the savoy will bring them up to the level you get at the hotel. Quite disappointing. Hopefully they can pull it off.

  5. A butler is something I never think I would miss, until tried one. After a few days thought how can I live without. Ah well, better go make my own blooming drink this evening. Must train wife better.

  6. There was a mockup of the Etihad A380 in LA a few weeks ago and the Savoy-trained butler who was showing the mockup Residence said he’ll be working AUH-LHR starting December.
    I guess Etihad already knows which inflight beverage managers will be getting the extra training skills for the A380!

  7. @wwk5d I spoke with one of the Residence butlers at the LAX Etihad Inaugural party (where they had displays too). He told me that he will arrange to pick you up from wherever to get to the airport and will essentially take care of everything. I suppose that is what valeting and travel arrangements means.

    The butler (I forgot his name now) seemed really excited about the upcoming service and showed me through every aspect of the Residence. He even made sure to say that the shower doesn’t have a time limit (Emirates!).

    I have my doubts but, I guess we’ll find out just how good the 3 week training course will be.

  8. A two-week training course and a one-week apprenticeship don’t seem like enough time to turn someone into a proper butler but we’ll see what the results are going to be soon.

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