Etihad A380 Apartment In 10 Pictures

Hello from Abu Dhabi! Yesterday I flew from London to Abu Dhabi in Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment. I’ve reviewed Etihad’s A380 first class many times before, so won’t be writing a full review. If you want a super thorough review, check out my posts about my past flights from Abu Dhabi to London, Abu Dhabi to New York, New York to Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

In this case I took the 2PM flight from London to Abu Dhabi, which is perfect in terms of enjoying the short flight, since you can have a nice lunch or dinner service, and then get some rest.

Etihad’s A380 first class cabin is stunning — it’s hands down the most visually stunning cabin on a commercial plane, in my opinion. It’s also the only single-aisle cabin on a widebody commercial aircraft.

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I was in Apartment 1H, which is the rear facing seat in the first row, across from the Residence. Generally I prefer being in one of the “true” window seats, where you’re closer to the window than the aisle, but that wasn’t available.

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In addition to a comfortable lounging chair, there’s a separate bed.

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It’s really a bench that can be used as a buddy seat for dining, but can then be converted into a bed.

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If you select one of the sets of two seats behind one another (rows one and two, or rows three and four), you can actually convert the seats into quasi-double beds. It’s not really a double bed since there’s still a partition, but at least you can sleep face to face, which is pretty cool.

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I’ve heard rumors of Etihad cutting their soft product a bit, and I’d say that’s somewhat true. I love the fact that they have a highly customizable menu, in the sense that you can choose your protein, sauce, and sides. But I feel like the quality has suffered a bit. Or perhaps I just had a bad flight.

I “just” had a three course meal, which started with an amuse bouche.

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Then for the starter I had the mezze, which was even worse than in the past. Perhaps the worst part is that they ran out — they only cater three for the entire first class cabin, so two of my travel companions weren’t able to order it. Meanwhile Ford had the chickpea soup, which he enjoyed.

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For my main course I had seabass with risotto. The risotto and veggies were good, though the seabass was chewy.

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For dessert I had the chocolate and pistachio sphere with mascarpone and orange. It was alright. It wasn’t as flavorful as I would have expected based on the dish’s description and appearance.

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So overall it was a perfectly fine meal, though I wasn’t impressed by the quality. It’s also disappointing that they ran out of mezze even before takeoff. How expensive can one portion of mezze really be?

As far as drinks go, Etihad serves Billecart-Salmon champagne in first class. That’s the same champagne many other airlines serve in business class.

The service on this flight was also just okay. The crew was friendly enough, but not especially refined or attentive. I’ve found Etihad crews to be hit or miss, with some being excellent, and others being not-so-great. This crew fell in the latter category. Often it was 20 minutes after I finished a course before my plate was cleared.

In terms of amenities, I was offered pajamas, slippers, and an amenity kit. I quite like Etihad’s pajamas, as well as their amenity kit.

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Etihad’s entertainment selection is excellent, as is their wifi. For ~$21 you can get a wifi pass that lasts the entire length of the flight without data caps, and the speeds are generally quite good.

So overall Etihad’s A380 first class continues to be one of the best in the world. The hard product is simply unrivaled in terms of the amount of personal space. There’s also an onboard shower and lounge, etc.

However, service and food on Etihad is hit or miss. Sometimes you get a great crew, and sometimes they’re just okay. This crew was just okay. While Etihad’s dining concept is great, they need to get better about not running out of food. It’s also clear they’re doing some general cost cutting. I know it sounds minor, but for example, they don’t have well known water brands (ie, Evian or Fiji), but instead use Al Ain water. That’s not a huge deal, but there are plenty of airlines that have a better water selection in business class, let alone first class.

So the negatives listed are ultimately very minor, but when we’re talking about international first class, it’s the little details that count.

If you’ve flown Etihad’s A380 first class lately, what was your experience like?

Comments

  1. They used to serve my favorite Acqua Panna until last year 🙁

    It’s a shame they still aren’t able to get their catering right after years of complaints. I think there should be a coordinated effort of complaints – maybe they’d get a hint.

  2. I hope you got a chance to see and/or use the VIP Terminal in Abu Dhabi! Even if the cost is kinda high for a single use.

  3. 777 > than A380 in my opinion. I like to lounge and look out the window. A380 seat it not great since it barely reclines. Shower = very cool unnecessary feature but I would not pick an airplane because of that neither will anyone who is paying for 1st class.

  4. Does anyone else agree with Ryan? I’m concerned with the lack of recline in the A380, as I often lounge in the seat half way between sitting and sleeping on the 77.

    And yes the food has gone quite downhill, Nor bad but not better than AA on a 77w except for more options.

  5. Are you sure the champagne was not Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois? That is very different from normal non-vintage Billecart-Salmon, like comparing Dom Perignon to basic Moet et Chandon.

    There was a lot of talk last autumn that Etihad was going to switch to Billecart-Salmon in all classes and lounges (Cuvee Nicolas Francois in F). However this seemed to be delayed and had not happened by late October when I last flew F or mid Dcember when I was last in F lounge.

  6. I doubt this is a one-off but more like a downward trend toward nickle and diming the heck out of everything. Case in point: Reissuing partner awards due to minor scheduling changes the day after cutting the chauffeur benefit for partner awards. Nice.

  7. The F class dedicated cook sent you overcooked fish and dessert. Wouldn’t it make more sense to explain the dish wasn’t properly catered and offer a substitution or goodwill gesture like a complimentary gift from the duty free cart? That would constitute a service deserving a high score.

  8. You say the mezze were not good, the main was chewy, and the dessert was not tasty… yet you call it “a perfectly fine meal”. If this were on AA, you would have called it a mediocre meal.

    Your reviews tend to sway the opinion of many (casual) flyers, so I suggest you chose your words (and hyperboles) more carefully to accurately describe a product.

  9. I generally agree with this post. I flew the apartment from MEL-AUH in January and I had fantastic service. There were only 4 of 9 seats and the residence wasn’t occupied so I’m sure that had something to do with it. The first apartment is amazing space wise, but I’ll tell you it’s definitely not the most comfortable bed in the sky. I much preferred the bed in Emirates and Qantas F. I was also disappointed in the drink offerings compared to Qantas and Emirates F. Emirates drink menu was amazing.

  10. I can barely stand your articles anymore. you come off as an entitled ass every time you complain about your plate not being removed for 20 minutes. do you realize that you are on a flight thats intended to transport you from point a to b, not to have your ass kissed by the FAs the entire way. WORLD DOESN”T REVOLVE AROUND BEN.

  11. Cream settles? It has long been my speculation that as much as we love the M/E three there is going to be a reality check coming soon. I think Ben is showing us that the start of this is becoming a reality. The business model of the three is not sustainable over time and we will see a shift in the next 3-5 years. I have no idea why the U.S Big Three even bother responding to their growth as in the end it will be an even field.

    But, hey, I am enjoying it now in the dying days like I did with the Concorde.

  12. I’m flying Etihad more than 10 years and did visit the A380 first apartment many times and indeed space is great but food / wine & service is downhill (wine is serviced too late, cold food = what I send back, greasy, not enough vegetables and wine is not first class at all).

  13. @lucky, I’ve generally enjoyed your thorough reviews but when you complain about the brand of water you’re being served or the intolerable 20 minute wait to have a plate cleared, you sound like a petty, spoiled diva. Come on man, you’re better than this.

  14. @Mikael – in Jan traveling CDG-AUH the F champagne was a vintage Billecarte Salmon. Cant remember specifics but think 2008. F lounge AUH was still serving Bollinger 2007.

  15. @Josh – That is the whole point in international A380 first class. The airlines spend fortunes on suites and showers and crystal glasses to impress and win over high spending clients. But it is the small things that annoy people who drop $10 000 on a flight and Lucky is pointing out that those are the things they should correct so that the service and beverage selection matches the rest of the product. In a world of amazing hard products, it is the soft product that will make the difference to an airline’s bottom line.

  16. @Marty/anyone – if my final destination is Abu Dhabi am I able to visit the new F lounge or just the arrivals lounge? (Will be arriving around 1am)

  17. @Shaun – I agree with your sentiment to a point, but as an actual paying int’l F customer I can tell you that obsessing about meaningless stuff like the brand of water I’m being served is simply not on my radar. I value privacy, a seamless transit, a comfortable seat/bed, and a nice food/beverage selection (in that order). Of course if food is not edible, I’ll inform the crew. Same with drinks. But to me, water is water. To each their own I suppose, but my take was that @lucky came off sounding like a new money whiner.

  18. Those of you commenting that Ben is being an “entitled ass” and “petty spoiled diva” for criticizing the small things, I’m starting to feel like you don’t understand Ben’s job or the point of this blog. His job is to REVIEW the airline as honestly as possible. What value would these reviews have if he just said “I’m so lucky to be able to fly in first class. This is great!”

    What you are doing is the same thing as criticizing a restaurant reviewer for mentioning that a Michelin starred fine dining restaurant served cold food or didn’t didn’t bus the tables in a timely manner. Would you call that reviewer a petty spoiled diva for “complaining” about minor things and tell them that they are entitled and should just enjoy their experience? Ridiculous. There’s a difference between complaining and stating shortcomings for the purposes of a review.

  19. @Unmarked your site –

    The whole point of first class is to have THE WORLD REVOLVE AROUND YOU. It is not unreasonable to expect having one’s empty plates promptly cleared.

    @Roberto, on the other hand, makes a very valid point.

  20. I totally see where Ben is coming from, it’s his job to critique the airline the way a restaurant connoisseur would. It’s not so much that Ben felt that the ~inferior~ water brand ruined the flight–how could see how it may come across as snobbish,”Al Ain water? I’d rather drink water from the toilet bowl!”, but rather it’s one of the exhibits showing that Etihad is not as luxurious as it once was.

    For what it’s worth, I flew J from AUH to SFO last month and I was underwhelmed. There wasn’t anything great about the service or the food. I think sometimes we go to extremes in our heads, e.g. expecting United to be abysmal and Singapore to be to-notch… I always find myself to be pleasantly surprised when an AA or UA flight attendant is half as polite as their international counterpart.

  21. Totally agree. Just flew first class Abu Dhabi – Melbourne 2 weeks ago. It is an amazing experience but has flaws. Space is amazing but bed is not the most comfortable when compared to other airlines. Champagne is 2006 vintage billecart salmon. Food can be good and shower is great. Check in at Abu Dhabi is unorganized. Lounge is great with Bollinger Grand Annee 2006.

  22. @Lucky,
    Dude, it’s water, irrespective of the brand it’s mostly going to taste the same. Also, if I’m not wrong it’s all just H2O with added minerals, just that the pH and Minerals might vary a bit.

    And I have to mention the fact that Etihad calls itself the national airline and the reason they offer Al Ain water is because its local, that way they promote a local brand.

  23. @Chandan
    Water most definitely tastes different depending on source/quality.
    It’s great that Etihad supports a local brand; but wouldn’t providing a more mainstream brand like Voss, Perrier or Evian allow the consumer more choices.

  24. Apropos the water sitch, Lucky does come across as slightly entitled / whiny. But only in that regard.
    Expecting a plate to be cleared promptly is fair, though. Can’t blame him for that.

  25. We just did LHR-AUH / AUH-MEL in December and MEL-AUH a week ago. Lucky to have had excellent crew on all flights.

    Discussion about the water is quite funny really. Voss is tap water from southern Norway.

    I like that Etihad supports local products, Middle East needs to do it more. The dates, arabian coffee, local water, etc.

  26. I suppose a review should recognize the amount of time taken to clear dinner service. If it was me I’d use the call button when I was ready for clearing (i suppose Ethiad 1st class has call buttons!). Perhaps it’s the tone of the write up more than anything.

  27. Standards are falling across the Gulf as $$ from energy dries up. I’m at the Al Safwa lounge at DOH. No more Krug. It’s sad. I’m having a nice 2006 Comte’s de Tattinger though. The other day I flew IAD-AUH EY F. Excellent service on board. Fabulous chef who did a great job.

  28. I believe to date that Emirates First Class anywhere in the world is a great experience overall, it would be nice if the meals can change on a quarterly or monthly basis because if you are flying heaps, the meals may get boring, the beverages are always amazing, the shower is the perfect wake up call too.

  29. @Roberto – Completely agree, which is why I now tend to take everything lucky says with a measured pinch of salt.

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