Hello From Etihad’s First A380 Flight To The US!

Hello live from 40,000 feet, just off the coast of Canada on Etihad’s very first A380 flight to the US!

Etihad-Route
Approaching the US!

I got a great ~8 hours of sleep in my First Class Apartment, then I had an amazing shower (yes, on a plane — it never gets old!), then I caught up on some work thanks to the onboard wifi, then I chatted with some friends in The Lobby, and now the onboard chef is preparing my cooked to order eggs for breakfast.

Does flying/life get better than this?

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My First Class Apartment on the Etihad A380

For those of you not familiar, late last year Etihad took delivery of their first Airbus A380, which they began flying between Abu Dhabi and London on December 27, 2014. I was lucky enough to be on the first ever flight, and was absolutely blown away. I had high hopes based on the pictures I had seen, but it exceeded my expectations. I’ve flown every A380 first class product in service, and this was by far the best first class hard product I had ever experienced.

Etihad’s slogan is “Flying Reimagined,” and as much as that might sound like a cheesy marketing line, it’s 100% true on the A380. With their First Class Apartments they didn’t evolve first class, but rather really did reinvent it.

For the past many months Etihad has been flying the A380s exclusively to London and Sydney, though as of today (November 23, 2015), Etihad is launching daily A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and New York. This is super exciting news, as it marks the introduction of what I consider to be the world’s best first class product to the US.

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Apartment 5H on the Etihad A380

What makes Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments so special? For one, the seat itself. It’s by far the most spacious and comfortable in the sky. I remember being in shock the first time I boarded the Etihad A380. I actually couldn’t come to terms with how gorgeous the cabin is.

The First Class Apartments are on the upper deck of the A380, and feature a single aisle, which is the first time that has ever been done on the A380.

Etihad-A380-First-Class
The gorgeous aisle on the Etihad A380 

There’s only one Apartment on each side of the aisle, and it couldn’t be more spacious. There’s a seat, and then a nicely padded bench which turns into a bed. In terms of capacity you could also just about host an house apartment party in your suite. 😉

Etihad-A380-First-Class-5
Bed mode in the First Class Apartment

Etihad has both an onboard chef and food & beverage manager responsible for first class, and they did a fantastic job. The menu was varied and on demand, so you could have what you want when you want. For dinner I had an arabic mezze to start, followed by a fantastic salmon biryani, followed by a dessert taster.

Etihad-A380-First-Class-4
Salmon biryani for dinner!

And then later on after a nap I had afternoon tea in The Lobby…

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The Lobby (shared communal space for first & business class passengers)

…because who doesn’t have afternoon tea at 6AM somewhere over Europe?

Etihad-A380-First-10
Afternoon tea in the middle of the night

And that quickly turned into royal tea (in other words, we added champagne to the mix)… because why not.

Etihad-A380-First-11
Champagne party in The Lobby!

The crew on this sector was fantastic as well. The cabin manager, food & beverage manager, chef, and two first class flight attendants couldn’t have been more attentive. It was truly Etihad at its finest. They were attentive throughout the service, and every time I headed to the restroom or The Lobby, I’d return to find my bed had been tidied again.

The service was flawless, the best I’ve had on Etihad.

Etihad-A380-Shower
Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment shower

Bottom line

In my opinion Etihad’s A380 is the most gorgeous commercial aircraft in the sky. While it’s beautiful in all cabins, the First Class Apartments are such a stand-out, and in my opinion hands down the best first class hard product out there. I’m so excited to see Etihad expanding their A380 flights to the US, and hope that they’ll fly them to more US destinations soon!

Have you flown Etihad’s A380 yet, or do you have plans to?

Comments

  1. Hi,

    That sounds just amazing. I have the miles for a trip but can’t find anything available in apartments for 2 at the moment.

    Have they gone stingy on awards at the moment? I really want to book a trip in apartments before the award devaluation but they aren’t making it easy.

    Dale.

  2. This piece exemplifies Lucky’s aggressive commitment to bring it home. Firsts, Exclusives, increasing variety (did he hint recently that he might someday fly a SkyTeam carrier and actually write about it?)…

    OMAAT is the best “soft product” in the travel blogosphere.

  3. So they haven’t run out of food yet? I keep expecting EY to show up like one of those Ethiopian famine telethons from the 1980s: “First class pax are starving right now over Greenland and only you can help…”

  4. Also concerned with the food. Thanks to your online advice, my family is flying Etihad business and then first returning, to AUH from IAD over Christmas. Can I relax about taking food with me on board? Seriously, I have a teenager and I have been debating it!!

  5. @Kate- I’ve taken the IAD-AUH on the 787 multiple times in J and F this year. no problems with food any time – they seem to have fixed that problem.

  6. Does flying/life get better than this? Well, The Points Guy is apparently flying in the Residence on your plane’s return flight to AUH, so yes! Time to step up your game!

  7. Sure sounds wonderful, and, ot would be great to book it using AA miles before they get devaluated. That would be great, if there was actually any award space available. There seems to be nothing available from January to July.

  8. Does anyone still believe that was booked using miles? ROTFL
    TPG admitted to have spent $30K for the residence, maybe Ben will stop pretending as well…

    “miles and points” bloggers :)))

  9. Oops, didn’t realize that the first flight was on Dec 27, 2014. My next Etihad A380 F (AUH->LHR) happens to be on Dec 27, 2015 but am considering to change the reservation to next Spring due to current situation in Europe. Sad. I could have been on the 1st anniversary flight. 🙁 I took Etihad A380 F (LHR->AUH) this summer, flight itself was very comfortable and beautiful, but check-in process or lounge situation in LHR was quite disappointing. As for shower, not enough water for my long long Asiatic hair. lol. Hope Etihad changes amenity kit contents (except ethnic design pouch itself) which is seriously inferior to that of QR A380 F.

  10. @ Andy — TPG paid for the Residence which isn’t available on miles. The First Apartments are — why wouldn’t we use miles?

  11. Tom, agreed. There should be absolutely great detail on how this (all) flight reservation was booked….miles, money, miles & money, which airlines FF program, etc. That would be a true service to the people that have the same aspirations to fly Etihad.

  12. TPG wrote that he paid like $32,000 for his flight in the residence. Check his twitter or blog.

    I do agree for every flight review that the cost be disclosed (like my blog does). Generally Ben does that but im not sure this was meant to be a full flight review?

  13. By flying Etihad you are supporting slavery, human trafficking, and torture. I hope you enjoyed your flight…

  14. Jonathan,

    I speak for myself and, I think, and ever-increasing number of people who are weary of weighing every buying decision based on the current politics of the producing country’s government. To paraphrase Dan, give it a rest.

  15. Thank you Tiffany. You’re the best. I imagine that a award level is going to go away early next year when advantage institutes their changes?

  16. Does lucky ever respond to these comments anymore? I just seem to read replies from Tiffany. Has he made Tiffany his secretary now? Her posts are far more interesting than his anyway – but I do find it hypocritical that Lucky goes on about how he like to interact with the readers while getting his employees to do all the talking

  17. One last thing to add- how come Lucky didn’t even mention that Tiffany was on this flight, yet she is the one answering all the queries. it seems as though lucky is trying to put himself on a pedestal above everyone else

  18. “Does flying/life get better than this?”

    Flying? Unless you’re in a private jet or the Residence, probably not. Life? Hopefully, because if the yardstick you are using…

    @Jonathan people will always justify choices like that but bitch about the countries anyway. Especially people in “the hobby”.

  19. Yes, it was possible to book it 8 months ago, one small detail – it supposed to fly starting December.
    Also there was a short window to book it, so no possibility of changing the date of your award.
    So did you book EVERY possible day for a potential reschedule? Did you put 180,000 for every single
    day starting what, October till the end of the year? That’s what, just 20 million miles?
    Sorry, your amazing luck to book everything with miles and the amount of miles needed
    to do it just simply doesn’t make any sense…

  20. Aaron,

    Please spare us the sanctimony. Have you put any gas in your car which came from crude produced in Saudi Arabia?

    I believe Costa Rica is the only country in the world without some type of standing army. I love visiting Costa Rica but it I’ve yet to fly Costa Rica airlines or find any products produced by that country. My point is, if you look hard enough, you can find warts with every single country in the world, including the good old USA.

  21. @RoloT I wasn’t being sanctimonious, I was just telling it like it is. The fact that people need to justify it by occasionally making statements along the lines “I know this country has the following problems, but…”, and the follow-up to the but is usually Krug! First Class! Bling! I crossed a velvet rope! Follow me on instagram! Bling! etc. Just own it and quit making passive aggressive justifications for doing something. If something bugs you that much, don’t do it, and stop making excuses for it.

  22. 2 F award seats opened up last min for the JFK-AUH tomorrow. Changed my SFO-AUH flight to the JFK-AUH flight. Even with a redeye in coach tonight to get to JFK, it should be worth it!

    Can’t wait.

  23. Can we be honest Tiffany? Everyone knows Lucky buys his miles at 0.02 CPM, there’s no chance he earns enough miles to keep flying first class through credit cards.

    So he paid effectively $1800 OW or $3600 RT for his trip. Not bad, but out of most people’s budget. The internet is well saturated with trip reports from Etihad F and Emirates F. I swear if I see another FB post about the “$60,000 trip around the world” I’m going to go crazy.

    And there’s no way without a bunch of media “help” that you were able to get the seats via miles on the inagural. I guarantee they opened award space manually for the PR. Doubt you’ll make this comment visible, but if you do thanks for hearing me out. I haven’t seen award space on Etihad open for months now.

    -One time regular OMAAT reader

  24. @jonathan You know what Jonathan – I really do enjoy every flight I’ve taken with Etihad and Qatar. Even if, according to you, by flying with them I’ll be supporting human trafficking, slavery and whatever else you want to add, I’m still going to fly with them and I’ll still enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, I’ll be chilling on a great flight somewhere while you take a handmade raft across the ocean (that’s pretty much the only form of transportation not linked to anything bad). It’s not your problem what I do, grow up and open your eyes to the real world

  25. Guys stop raining on the parade will ya?
    I booked DOH-AUH-LHR-BRU for 40k + pocket change and the miles comes from USDM share campaign (40k bought for 450USD) which I reckon Ben maximized as well.
    I will enjoy 16hrs in Al Safwa, and 787 Dreamliner QR Regional F and EY to London and the BA C to Bru.
    And that comes down to about 500USD. A nice b-day gift from me to me.

  26. @ Arcanum – A review of the Residence in a points and miles blog would be fun to read but otherwise useless. Anyone who could afford the cash fare or the millions of Etihad miles needed to book the Residence wouldn’t be seeking the opinions of bloggers.

  27. @ Legoboyvdlp – The only people I expect would try to join the mile high club in an Etihad Apartment are those who think that it’s an actual apartment. Apartments have walls that reach the ceilings (conveniently preventing strangers from peering inside) and the front doors don’t usually have large cutouts to give peeping toms an easy time.

  28. As much as I enjoy reading this blog and will look forward to reading this trip report, as others have said, could you please review some other airlines that you haven’t flown before? I think we are all aware of the products at the pointy end that Emirates, Etihad, American, Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa offer. It starts to get a bit boring and monotonous if you keep reviewing the same airlines and products over and over again.

  29. You all have to realize something that I have always expected, but TPG finally confirmed – most of these expenses are business expenses and thus tax-advantaged. I would imagine that the miles/flights/etc purchases by writers on this blog are almost entirely coded as “business expenses.” This is a life that no one can reasonably live if you have a full-time office job simply because you cannot afford it; the bloggers can afford it because they are not truly spending their own money.

    Given that, I am not surprised to see so many reviews of the same thing over and over again – it’s what they like and how they can get away with it.

  30. @Nick – Lucky is spending his own money. But yes….2 cents a mile is really closer to 1 cent when you consider marginal tax rates for non dividend income since he can declare it a business expense. TPG on the other hand…well that’s a Bankrate corp expense.

  31. Enjoyed this post in particular since I was lucky enough to book 2 F award seats for AUH-JFK next March. Sorry the comment section has turned somewhat negative but that’s fair game when blogging I suppose. My only real problem is that it seems to leave the impression that A380 seats on this route are available. I booked in J 11 months out (which WAS readily available). For some reason EY made lots of F seats available a few months later; it lasted a couple days before they were all snatched up – or removed from inventory. I haven’t seen any since, except for some when EY moved up the start date of their JFK service.

  32. @Greg – That’s all well and good. It doesn’t bother me particularly much either way, I will still patronize the site, write comments where warranted, and enjoy the reviews; I just was pointing out they are not true costs, they are tax-advantaged whether it is his own money or PointsPro, Inc’s money.

  33. Ben,

    How does Etihad’s A380 First Class compare to their 777 First Class service from Los Angeles? I arranged for my parents to fly Eithad in First from LAX [no A380 available] [then on to AMM to see Petra…]. I have not found a good recent review of the Eithad 777 from LAX? Also, any chance they could substitute a A380 [wishful thinking as they are going in March 2016]. Thanks in advance!

  34. I managed to grab 2xF + 4xY (for the kids) AUH-JFK just before Xmas after Lucky posted it in May. My wife isn’t the greatest traveler and but her excitement is now at fever pitch. Christmas in NYC seeing the Rockettes and Michael Flatley on Xmas day. She is in heaven. I don’t even get to show her your reports because she has already read them on her phone before I even see them. Thanks Lucky. Keep em coming.

  35. Not going to jump into the $$ arguments, but as far as those who are questioning whether or not Lucky (and Tiffany ) really book award seats that no one else can find, you realize they do this FOR A LIVING, right?
    All day, every day, they use time, staff, and software to find these deals. If you dedicated that sort of time and resources to the project, you’d score too.(And you can pay them to work their magic for you, too.)

  36. Ben,

    Any idea why there are ZERO business saver awards on the Etihad A380 from JFK to Abu Dhabi? I’ve noticed this for the past week now. It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find any all year. I’ve been checking often for several months now, and business was always no problem. There were always at least 2 every day. Now they’re all gone…

  37. Tiffany. You just can’t please some people huh? Jealous, envy, etc while sitting at home complaining while doing nothing to improve.

  38. Oh Lord not the jealousy argument…can people please come up with a more original and accurate counter-argument please…

  39. I have booked F Melbourne to Abu Dhabi mid July return Mid August, and I see their is still F available in July & August.

  40. @ Brent — Nope? I think Gary’s post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Using ~2.3 million miles for an award doesn’t really count, in my book.

  41. I have booked EY 102 F early dec, using AA miles. I will not be able to take that flight, so will cancel it next week. Hope they will put it back into stock and someone can snap it 🙂

  42. @Aaron, ITA. It’s rather annoying to read cries of “jealousy” or “hater” at even the slightest hint of legitimate criticism, but what can you do.

    Ex-USA guest award space in F and C has been gone from the Etihad site since last Monday (probably to prevent a barrage of bookings due to the AA devaluation) but they have been putting up spaces at the last minute. There’s one space in F on this afternoon’s A380 flight out of JFK.

  43. @chancer, I do not follow your meaning. I just asked whether Ford experienced Ethiad for the forst time. I was not talking about the MHC, and it wouldn’t be right to poke my nose into things like that. (Sorry, couldn’t resist talking like my mother in that last sentence 😉 :P)
    And no, I’ not interested to hear if F and L got up to anything fancy’ in the air.
    I just want to know what he thought of it compared to Emirates.
    It looks like he did not go! Maybe next time….

    By the way, @Tiffany, here is a little suggestion for the next trip:
    New York to Barbados for $233 return.
    It’s cold in America these days, so why not get some sun?
    It is in Coach…. whoops, maybe not,
    http://www.secretflying.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/nycbgi223.png

    Hmm, there is PTY-LIM for $136 return on avianca via bogota, coach.
    You could visit macchu picchu
    Or $3 (!!!!!!!!) Interasia fares on airasia.

  44. I’ve been away the past few weeks and just catching up on reading some of your posts.
    First off, How was the US preclearance facility compared to your previous visits? I think it improved (just flew on EY103.)
    Secondly, it is technically possible to redeem miles for the Residence — but only using Etihad Guest miles and for an outrageous price. I forget the formula but it’s revenue-based so it’ll definitely be in the millions range! I think the Apts is definitely the way to go for 90k AAdvantage miles from Middle East/south Asia to the usa!!!

  45. I have my trip booked for early Spring which includes AUH-JFK A380 F (using miles), and I want so badly to switch the trip to later in the year but I don’t think I’ll be able to get those F seats for miles ever again. I originally booked AUH-LHR but after AUH-JFK availability opened up I switched to it …. and just in the nick of time too because shortly after I booked there was no availability on any date. Seeing the photos gets me fired up, I need to go even if the trip timing isn’t optimal.

  46. I flew AUH-SYD recently using AA miles and it was nothing short of a dream. From the Chauffeur service to the Premium Lounge, to the extremely attentive Flight Attendants, a 14-hour flight never felt so good.

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