6 Reasons Etihad’s A380 First Class Isn’t The World’s Best

I consider Gary Leff to be a good friend, and a vast majority of the time agree with what he has to say. However, when it comes to onboard product offerings, there’s one claim he frequently makes that I have to disagree with, and I figured that would be a fun topic to address in a post. View from the Wing constantly makes the claim that the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is the world’s best first class product.

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Last April he wrote a post sharing what he considers to be the top three first class products in the world. When talking about Etihad he notes the following, which seems to be the basis of him ranking them above Emirates and Singapore:

The scarcest resource on a plane is square footage. Every inch counts. The greatest luxury, therefore, is space and privacy. And Etihad offers that in a way that no other carrier can come close to.

Gary notes that the shower and bar on Etihad aren’t as good as on Emirates, and that their alcohol selection isn’t as high end as on some airlines, but is “thoughtful.”

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I’ll also admit that when I first flew the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment I was blown away. The product is stunning in a way we haven’t before seen in commercial aviation. I wholeheartedly agree that Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment is the world’s most gorgeous first class product.

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But the more I’ve flown it, the more I find that the other aspects of the experience just don’t come close to putting Etihad in the number one spot. So here are six reasons that Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment isn’t the world’s best first class product:

Huge variability in service

Across the board I’ve found service on Etihad to be highly inconsistent. In general this is a challenge for Gulf carriers, as the crews don’t have the cultural cohesiveness you get on some other airlines. I’ve had good service on Etihad, though I’ve also had lousy service. And I’ve had lousy service to a much higher degree than I’ve had on any other “top” carrier in first class.

A good first class product should offer consistently excellent service, and that’s an area where Etihad doesn’t deliver. In first class on Air France, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Singapore Airlines, etc., you’ll almost always get excellent service (of course there are always some “bad apples,” but they’re extremely rare).

Lots of personal space, but poorly designed

I totally agree with Gary that the single most scarce resource on a plane is square footage, and that’s something that Etihad offers more of in first class than any other airline. But there’s more to it than that. It’s not just how much space you have, but how it’s designed. Let me once again emphasize that Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments are stunningly gorgeous. But if we’re talking about seat comfort, what really mattes to me? I’d say the comfort of the bed, the number of positions in which I can sit comfortably, privacy, etc.

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On the Etihad A380 you have a seat that barely reclines, and then a bench that turns into a bed. The seat barely reclined, so while it’s comfortable in the upright position, you can’t recline it back 45 degrees, or anything.

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Meanwhile I find that the bed is too hard, and certainly not as comfortable as the bed on Cathay Pacific and Qatar. It’s also not terribly wide. There are more comfortable beds in the sky, and also if you’re like me and like to recline your seat and watch TV, you don’t have much of an option.

So yes, you have more personal space than on any other airline, but it’s not especially functional.

Non-existent ground services

Etihad’s new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi is solid, and globally competitive. However, that’s about all Etihad offers in the way of ground services. Abu Dhabi Airport is a mess, and they don’t escort you to the plane, etc.

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At a minimum, Air France, Garuda Indonesia, and Thai Airways will escort you just about every step of the way of your journey. Also, Gary noted that Etihad offers chauffeur service, but let’s keep in mind that they no longer offer that for partner award tickets, so that’s not much of an advantage anymore, at least not across the board.

Is the food really that great?

Gary notes that Etihad has an onboard chef, who can customize meals onboard. It’s true, sometimes the chefs are great. Once on a Seoul to Abu Dhabi flight I had a fantastic, creative onboard chef. The flight was catered to serve breakfast, but due to a massive delay I instead wanted lunch or dinner, and the chef did an amazing job customizing that.

However, there’s big variability in terms of the quality of the onboard chef, and to me, international first class is all about consistency. Over my couple of dozen flights in Etihad first class, I’ve had a handful of great onboard chefs, which isn’t very good odds.

Furthermore, I actually find Etihad’s catering sort of boring. Yes, you can choose your protein and sides, and that’s cool, but otherwise I find the creativity to be limited. So I don’t think Etihad offers the world’s best first class catering. Also, for those who care, there’s no caviar, and for that matter not much in terms of the quality that differentiates it in a substantial way from business class.

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Gary acknowledges that sometimes they even run out of biryani before takeoff, which is mind blowing to me. I haven’t taken that many Etihad flights, but I’ve seen it happen several times (well, and they ran out of food altogether on more than one occasion). Given that the protein can be customized, how the hell is it that an airline consistently runs out of biryani, which is essentially rice? It’s ridiculous. The same is true of the mezze, which is probably the cheapest thing they cater, but somehow it’s often not available.

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The drinks aren’t great either…

Personally this isn’t something I care about all that much, but for many, the sign of a great first class product is a top notch beverage selection. Etihad’s first class drink selection is a notch below other top carriers. They serve 2006 Billecart-Salmon in first class, and the rest of their wine and liquor selection isn’t amazing either.

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You’re a second class citizen

This is totally minor, but in the context of first class, I do think it’s worth noting. When you’re flying the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment you’re actually a “second” class passenger. Assuming The Residence is occupied, there’s a butler who constantly walks between the rear galley and The Residence, and they won’t help you. It’s a bit odd to stop a crew member in first class to ask for something, only to have them say “sorry, I can’t help you, but I’ll call over a colleague.”

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Bottom line

Don’t get me wrong, Etihad has a fantastic first class product. I appreciate the reasonably priced wifi, the amount of personal space, the great coffee-based drinks, the stunning design, etc. Overall I think the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is in the top five first class products. However, it definitely isn’t in my number one spot.

The personal space is great, though it’s not that functionally designed. The soft product is just too inconsistent to rank this the best product in the world. They frequently run out of basic things, the service can be great or terrible, etc.

If anyone is flying the Etihad A380 soon, please don’t take this the wrong way — this really is a fantastic product. The purpose of this post is just to provide some balance, and to say that I think the soft product is lacking somewhat.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think — does the Etihad A380 have the world’s best first class product, or where does it rank on your list?

Comments

  1. “Overall I think the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is in the top five first class products. …

    The personal space is … not that functionally designed. The soft product is just too inconsistent to rank this the best product in the world. They frequently run out of basic things, the service can be great or terrible, etc.”

    How can that possibly describe one of the world’s “top five 1st class products”?

  2. I think that Lufthansa’s new first class on 747-400 was the best in the world (I for one was really sad to see it go). Lots of space, granted there was not total privacy but it was fine. But show me any other airline that has a nice seat AND a real bed, in first class.

  3. @Lucky, you’re wrong on this one. And I’ll back that up by saying it’s quite easy for anyone to poke holes in any airlines’s F offering. Far more difficult would be to build a strong case for why another product IS superior to EY’s apartments. Give that a go, and any reader or frequent flier will be able to easily contradict you. Far easier to critique than to praise…

  4. well then can you please just write what you think the best First all round products are?
    surely all that is left to review is Air France’s new F ?

    unless you want to personally fly F on china eastern, china airways, cathay dragon, el al and kuwait and the others before making it, though i doubt any of those will make the top 5 list 😉

  5. Honestly the new Swiss F Suites on their 777’s is by far the best F product out there and it is couple with incredible service in the air, an incredible lounge in ZRH and excellent ground services.

  6. @ Jake P — Fair enough, and happy to hear other perspectives on this! Personally I think AF and GA F are better, though I haven’t tried AF’s new F seat (though I’ve done their old F and the incredible ground experience). Personally I’ll also take Emirates first over Etihad’s first any day.

  7. One thing I found nice about the layout is that they were able to make my bed before takeoff on a redeye flight where I wanted to go straight to sleep. Aside from the brief appearance of a separate bed on Lufthansa 747-400s and cases where empty seats can be made into beds (hit or miss), this is the only case where that can be reliably done, correct?

    Also, I really enjoy the foie gras starter – I’d say even more than I would enjoy` caviar. However, on that same redeye flight I was very disappointed to see the breakfast menu, which was – all things considered – pretty boring.

  8. You’ve nailed it. for me, consistency is the key, and EY F can either be really good or really bad, but most of the time just okay and nothing special (in terms of service and food).

    For me, LH F is the gold standard.

  9. @Lucky– appreciate the perspective! Once again, I’d bring it back to “for whom is it the world’s best first class product?” (I was the commenter, a few months ago, who suggested that your love for GA F was likely due to how incredibly much you travel and experience some of the other flight luxuries, so things like a shower, double bed, lounge area, etc. are somewhat lost on you, whereas personalized ground service and the littler things make your life so much easier).

    For the (absurdly) frequent first class flier, perhaps the ground services of GA and AF as well as the consistency on board can compensate for their otherwise typical offerings. But for me, and as a recommendation to friends, family, and colleagues, the over-the-top insanity and luxury of the three products mentioned by Gary (SQ a380, EK a380, and EY a380) have a massive edge because of the double bed, showers, lounge areas, etc.

    For 99.99% of Americans, getting to fly an F product where you can do jumping jacks and push ups inside your apartment, or hang out in the lounge area with a few other F passengers, or shower a few hours before landing (or better yet, all three of those!) has the “wow” and “pizazz” factor that I think AF and GA F are lacking.

    Just my two cents. Curious to hear what other readers think!

  10. It’s all about consistency, I’d rather have a consitently good business class (for me Qatar) than a first class that is sometimes great and sometimes bad. I’ll pocket the miles/cash saved.

  11. @ Jake P — Largely agree with what you say and your perspective. I’d note that this is why I prefer Emirates first class to Etihad first class. For the pizzaz and wow factor, Emirates beats Etihad, in my opinion. This includes the caviar, the Dom Perignon, the Polaroid camera, the minibar and snacks, the incredible onboard lounge, the massive onboard showers, etc. On Etihad, the shower is almost uncomfortably small (I know, truly a first world problem on a plane), and the onboard lounge feels to me like a wasted space.

    The reason I partly prefer Emirates is because I also find they’re more consistent. There’s still variability in service, but in general I’ve found it to be better. More importantly, though, they have an extensive menu, and you know exactly what you’ll get. Meanwhile on Etihad the quality is highly dependent on the chef and crew.

    I’m curious — do you think there’s more of a wow factor to Etihad’s product than Emirates’? It’s an interesting topic, I think…

  12. I think we can all agree EY A380 F is probably the best F ‘hard’ product as there is nothing else like it, but certainly not the best F soft product (SQ or AF would probably hold that title).

    Agree the chef is highly variable – I invited the chef to create anything they wanted for me on my flight and they simply brought me 3 standard menu items. Creative is not a word I would use.

    I think I worked out why the EY F service often fails. On my (day) flight all Apartments were occupied and the crew all worked very hard but EY have designed such a ridiculously complicated and time-consuming service model that the crew cannot keep up with a full cabin. Everything is so time and labour intensive. Order a drink and they’ll bring you a tray with some snacks.
    Then an empty glass.
    Then a bottle to show you.
    Then they’ll pour a taste.
    Then they’ll wait.
    Then you have a chat about it.
    Then they pour you a full glass.

    Most airlines would just bring you a drink (perhaps pouring it in front of you).

    Times this by the 1,000 different little tasks F crew have to do during every flight and you see how much time they waste and how much it’s impossible to deliver. There’s no room for more staff in the aisles of galleys so for the sake of the soft product I think EY should actually streamline their service model to ensure the crew can actually deliver it. I would rather just get my drink quickly than wait around for an empty glass to arrive.

  13. I totally agree. The three EY F segments I’ve flown were not consistent. The food wasn’t consistent. I also don’t particularly like the A380 seating for the exact reasons you’ve laid out. I’d much rather take a CX F seat over an EY A380 F seat any day.

  14. I, too, was a little disappointed at EY Apartments when I flew it 2 months ago. It certainly has the wow factor and makes for good photos, but the thing that really bothered me is the lack of seat recline. I like to fall asleep watching movies and it was hard doing so here.

  15. I would really care less if the FA’s pamper me. With my hectic life schedule, the only thing I want when flying is peace and quiet. Give me a good space to stretch out, and I won’t be hitting the call button every second asking for Dom and Krug.

    That’s why EY’s Apartments are still the best.

  16. @Lucky — Fantastic responses in defense of EK F, all of which are valid! I think that if anyone wants to “dethrone” the apartments as the world’s best, it would HAVE to be with a product that can match its exclusivity and pizzaz. EK has a shot at accomplishing this, but GA and AF don’t quite fit the bill, IMO.

    For reference, your original comment was that AF and GA are better. I starkly disagree with this, and think the only comparable products are SQ (due to the incredible service of literally every single SQ FA I’ve ever interacted with, in addition to a solid hard product offering, phenomenal catering/alcohol, etc.) and EK (due to the reasons mentioned above).

    Personally, I put EK a step behind EY based on real estate and how much you can interact with your flying partner (Yes, I’m biased. I have a beautiful wife that I love to dine with and sleep next to!). Emirates’ bling is like no other, the bar is the best (or second to QR, perhaps?) in the world, and the shower spa is in a class of its own. But even as a huge fan of single malts and high quality champagne, EK’s catering can’t make up for its seat offering.

    Just my thoughts! I would probably rank the the top three as EY, EK, and then SQ. I fully expect SQ to jump to the top of the list with the roll out of its new a380 F offering in the near future.

  17. Lucky, I’m with you on this one. I think for the target market for paying First Class customers (ie not mileage gamers) then Service is right up there with one of the things they value in First Class.

    EY F just isn’t good enough on that front. Mind you, as someone who flies SQ F most months, I find their service increasingly inconsistent. I’d still take it any day over EY.

  18. EY Apartments are the best hard product (seating area) in the sky. Period. However, I agree that EK’s shower and bar appear much better. Moreover, EY’s ground game is not very inspiring. EY Apartments have the “wow” factor. The photos are amazing. The soft product simply doesn’t translate into photos.

  19. I will be flying the Etihad Apartment on July 1st from LHR to AUH. I will then be flying the SQ Suities from SIN to SYD on July 6th. Should be interesting to compare both products based on everything that is being pointed out here…. My first time flying on both products.

  20. Just did a RTW in first class Emirates , ethiad , Thai and Singapore air. And I agree that between these 4 ethiad has a wow factor but it stops there. On my flight to Melbourne the bed was too hard and did not sleep comfortably. Abu Dhabi airport boarding was a mess with many coach passengers going to upper deck because there was no gate personnel directing them. No caviar and also no billecart salmon champagne. Service on board was fine but not as polished as Singapore and Thai. Even had one of my best first class flights on Thai between Sydney and Bangkok on this trip in the old 747. With only 5 people in first the service was outstanding and the food amazing but in all fairness it is hit and miss. I still find Singapore the most consistent.

  21. I agree with most of your points except the last one – I’ve yet to see the Residence being occupied on an EY A380 flight, but I’ve never felt like a second class citizen in the Apartments.
    However, overall, EY’s Apartment product didn’t leave a big impression to me, and I think the non-existing ground service and disappointing food/wine selection contributed to it.

  22. I did my ME3 A380 first class trip back in February, and I agree. Etihad was hands down the worst of the three, and I personally experienced every point you made (except the last one… whoever the butler was, it was never obvious to me).

    Whenever we were sitting in the “lounge” it took 10-15 minutes to get a drink. Once the flight attendant poured me the champagne and said “just so you know sir, this is technically for first class, so you can’t get a refill… this is a favor.” I looked at her and point at the pajamas I was wearing saying “aren’t these technically for first class, too?”

    Food was just OK. Emirates was way tastier. Shower malfunctioned with 45 seconds left (fortunately after I had fully rinsed). And I absolutely agree about the seat comfort which is a gripe of mine in regards to SQ as well. My favorite seat for what it’s worth: JL.

  23. I just flew EY from Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-JFK and the only thing I can say about EY is that you can clear U.S.Customs and Immigration at Abu Dhabi and walk out with your luggage at JFK without any wait! I had a Driver waiting for me(A very pleasant person) and reached Home in New Jersey very comfortably!
    Other than the above,I did not care for EY as an airline for a long haul A380 flight.

  24. I have to say the same in J on EY, inconsistent. I flew to AUH, twice the same leg, the same amount of hours. One of the flights the mattress way laid and I had a bed, the second same flight, same direction was told that this length of flight, 14 hours; a mattress is not supplied. Service reform Cabin crew, 50/50 bad on one sector, return sector it was great. Ground service too as well as lounge. Perhaps when they get their Airport sorted it’ll be set.

    In saying that, I cannot wait to fly CDG to SIN via CGK with Garuda in F!!!

  25. I did LHR-AUH-LHR in F. They ran out of food both times. What I got was adequate but not extraordinary. The lack of Krug was disappointing. I would settle for Veuve…
    I really enjoyed the seat and the bed. I got excellent crew both times.
    Ground service is nonexistent.

    I did DOH-BKK-DOH on the same trip on QR A380 in F. The bar is amazing. Seats are good. Ran out of Krug shortly after reaching cruising altitude.
    The Sawa lounge is the nicest in the world for me (Comparing to FCT in FRA and F lounge in HKG). EY lounge doesn’t come close to QR.
    I was met by QR staff in DOH who took me to the lounge. The nap rooms are excellent.

  26. I agree with you, Ben. If the lounge is crap and I have to go through security with the masses, it’s not the best first class out there. Before I read the post my thought was “it’s gotta be AF or GA.” I haven’t flown either (have flown UA, LH 2x, SQ Suites, and NH in F), but from reviews I would argue the quality of catering and lounge will put AF ahead. AF routinely serves Cristal in F. No other airline does that! And the rest of their wine list and catering is impeccable as well. Plus, the food they serve at the lounge is some of the same food Alain Ducasse serves at his 3 Michelin star restaurants. I had that same baba (with same presentation of choosing your rum and same serving ware) at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in London, and I believe the pasta with ham and black truffle is served at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee in Paris and Alain Ducasse Louis XV in Monaco. GA has some work to do with its lounges.

  27. First I ever heard of the on board polaroid camera. Does one have to ask for a pic? I have been on north of half a dozen EK F flights, and never seen or heard of its existence.

  28. I have to agree, it’s a fancy hard class product with little substance. Flew Emirates F multiple times and always found it to be a better experience in comparison to Etihad F, where the service left much to be desired.

  29. I largely agree with your impressions. I found the F cabin on their 787 much more comfortable. The thing that amazed me was how rock hard the bed was. How did that happen? It is just plain not comfortable at all. You would think they would at least have traded out the bedding for some with more cushion as the bed hardness is a common complaint. And dinner for two feels like sitting on a park bench (only with less back support) and being slowly tortured with a two hour dinner production. Having finished my first world whining I would fly them again on either aircraft in a heartbeat given the opportunity.

  30. “Gary acknowledges that sometimes they even run out of biryani before takeoff”

    How do you run out of food before takeoff?

  31. @lucky, if I am correct, you only flew garuda once on a return. So if consistency is such a big thing for you, I would say you can’t consider garuda in your rating. As you would need to experience their product at least a couple of times being able to rate the consistency. Jm2c

    I personally flew 1st class only once in my life. It was on EY from LHR to MEL and for me it was just an incredible experience. It certainly helped being the only two passengers in first from AUH to MEL 🙂

  32. I study all comments with interest,as I plan a , first class/business trip from Portugal to Australia next year,but ask,
    Why are most comments from those using air miles ?
    Why are so many comments written in ‘in a language that does not make sense to any other than those involved in some form of airline ‘nerd’ language ?
    e.g. F is the best ‘hard product’ F ‘soft product’ SQ/AF,
    J on EY inconsistant ?
    Why is it impossible to find ,on line ,answers to straight questions with regard to requesting details of flights,from those willing to pay the correct price for the service requested ?
    Every entry is about cheaper prices.
    Why is there so few comments from those who pay the full fare,no air miles. ?? Telling !!
    I realise that most comments are from the USA and abbreviated language is normal.
    I will,as a result rely on my travel agent to agree with me the most conveient way of completing my planned trip,at whatever cost.
    I believe that you get what you are prepared to pay for and the airlines know that there are passengers who wish to discreetly,enjoy their service.
    These comments are made by a frequent traveller,in Europe,where sadly there is no choice,cattle truck or do not travel.
    Wake up airlines,allow your prices to show,without regard to those using airmiles,to critisise you.
    Your pictorials are great,make sure that your inflight and ground services live up to your reputation.

  33. I’ve been on etihad 787 and a380 first class, 777 first and business, Qatar 777 & 787 business, emirates 777 business (3hrs only), and overall Qatar 777 business has by far exceeded all expectations in terms of leg space when lying flat and seat padding. Etihad A380 was one experience I can never forget however. I agree the seats are not that comfortable, tv viewing angles that you did not mention are also an issue, but I was served with blue label in first. Beer selection was bad. Very bad in my opinion when Heineken is the best you have to offer. And Stella! But the feeling of that owning the whole space was amazing! It beats everything honestly.

  34. My EY Apartment flight was very good, but as lucky pints out, there is a lack of proper ground service.

  35. Agree, heck, Etihad’s business seems better than its First, oddly shaped “apartment”.

    also first time I hear about this polaroid thing-what exactly is that?

    Emirates over Etihad all day, any day, everyday.

  36. I’ve flown the most current First Class configuration on the vast majority of major airlines, including all the ME3 in their various configurations, and had decent stops in their flagship First Class lounges, and I can hand on heart say that none of them are the best. Even flying Air France’s new La Premiere was pretty underwhelming.

    Each airline will tend to have one or two strong points, but will have weaknesses in comparison to other carriers. So none of them have a consistently good, all round level of delight providing experience. It’s all a series of trade-offs. Travelling in First Class will not prevent bad experiences unfortunately – I’ve had terrible food, terrible wine and drinks menus, terrible service, and terrible seats and amenities – which is pretty terrible when you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for these experiences.

    But I live in hope one day, one airline will offer the holy grail of “the best First Class” where they just get everything right.

    I do like Air France’s La Premiere seat and curtain – I think that combo works well, and I like a small First cabin (but service, catering and the lounge are well overhyped – even the vaunted escort service only delivers in certain places, and can be disappointing at times)

    Air France and Cathay Pacific offer some of the nicest First PJs (Cathay is best for offering lightweight ones, Air France for mid-weight).

    Catering I feel that I have yet to be wowed consistently – it’s where disappointment can be felt most. At best, a reasonably decent bistro meal at most of the time, with occasionally better individual courses, but rarely are all courses of a high standard (and I have had some truly uneatable meals in First – included well over cooked rubbery pork). Quite a lot of First Classes also have very limited menus really, which is disappointing at this end of the market.

    For drinks I respect those carriers that offer a wide range of juices and other drinks, and that serve proper premium wines (but again it can be very hit and miss, frequently will vary widely even by route, and even if they do have premium offerings, they might only have one bottle or two for the whole cabin). If they serve Krug, or Comtes de Champagne, I’ll generally rate.

    Service wise again too much variability – I guess a common criticism is that they often try to shape you to fit them, than the other way around. A good crew anticipates you, without disturbing you.

    Etihad occasionally has some good points, but often lacks finesse, however it does have a decent 787-9 First Class.

  37. Oh, and best bathrooms for First are EK’s A380 – so spacious, just a pity the First cabin is too large. I really look forward to EK’s pending First product, which sounds like it’ll make the First cabin more intimate.

  38. I’ve flown Etihad twice in first, twice in business. Excellent every time, although my wife complained that the seat was too hard. I didn’t agree, but that doesn’t make her wrong.

    The best first class I’ve ever experienced aboard an airplane was with Korean Air. Perfect service and attention to detail. My next flight with them will be in J, because of a post by Lucky about the Apex suites. I’m excited to give them a shot.

    I have never flown in the Singapore suites, but that’s about to change. I found no availability from New York or L.A. on the a380, all the way through the end of their schedule. So I booked it from Zurich to Singapore, and availability was wide open. This is for next February, and now I find out I may wind up in their new configuration! Lucky, since they’re going from 12 first class seats to 6, is there any possibility they could bump me?

  39. i can only add my experience on our recent business class trip: very inconsistent service very poor on return flight where they ran out of two of our food selections, ran out of ice cream after askng us if we wanted any, had no amenity kits left and no more small package for kids…maybe because we flew on miles we were considered second class passengers? Anyone thinks it’s worth complaining to the airline?

  40. The times I’ve seen the Polaroid camera used on EK flights (have flown a ton of them in Y, J, and F) is with little kids/families and for special occasions. EK even provides a little mini frame for the photograph to give to families as a special souvenir. You don’t have to be in F or J for the cabin crew to use it and I’d find it odd to specifically ask for it. All the times I’ve seen it done it’s the cabin crew member who opted to use it (i.e. first flight for a little kid; birthday; anniversary, etc.)

  41. Totally agree Inconsistent service Mel-Auh-Jfk Zero ground services Auh is a disaster bad food and no lockers for carryon Just squeeze it in anywhere you can I particularly like Lufthansa F for great food exoteric service n professionalism on board and on ground The best F lounges/F terminal

  42. Ben, I think your post is a bit sensationalist. I’m sure you fly F far more than I do, but I’ve done a few flights in F on EY, EK, QF, SQ, BA and TG.

    Here’s how I’d rate them:

    Before airport ground services: EY [I’ve generally had better chauffeur cars from EY than EK]
    Airport ground services: TG [Great being picked up by a buggy at the gate, even when arriving in F, then escorted back to the gate again]
    Outstation lounges: EY [A la carte dining and a fully serviced bar, as well as pretty class leading decor]
    Home F lounge: EY [Great F&B experience that beats QF which was my previous benchmark. Short spa treatments are nice and the experience is far more intimate than EK’s behemoth]
    In-flight wine list: EK [SQ wins for champagne but EK’s wine list is much more balanced and comprehensive]
    In-flight catering: EY [I haven’t found it dull, and for choice and a cohesive dining experience, EY wins out for me]
    A380 First Class product: EY [I think the Apartment leads everything. Design, layout, quality of finishes are spectacular. To me it’s a much more inviting space for a long time than SQ’s rather hard suites and the EK suite is much more compact.
    A380 onboard facilities: EK [EK showers and the bar beat everything else in the sky]
    Amenities: EK [great pyjamas, quality Bvlgari amenity kit. Quality all round, really!]
    Entertainment: EK [ICE is vast, and slightly ahead of SQ for breadth of choice]
    Quality of sleep experience: QF [Quality of padding and bedding leads the pack. SQ’s is comfortable, but the bed is too narrow]
    Comfort in seat mode: QF [By far the best padding for a long-haul
    Service: SQ [Once upon a time they’d have won this by a margin, but I find SQ service patchy at best nowadays. One Suites flight I took from MEL to SIN is among the worst premium-class experiences but I’ll still assume they have the capability to get it right more than the competition. EK service is informal and fun, EK service generally quite reserved and formal]

    So to me, I think EY is pretty well up there despite not leading in all product areas.

  43. Yes, the beds in the EY “Apartment” are rock hard and narrow. Supposedly they have thicker mattress pads now, but still it wasn’t very comfortable on the various flights I’ve taken. Food and service on my flights at least have been excellent, with all kinds of special effort made to make up interesting meals. On Christmas Day from AUH SFO, the chef made me a special cake!

    Of course, after traveling in the Apartment, a trip in “regular:” EY first class suites, to say nothing of the very tight EK suites, is a bit of a letdown.

    EY is definitely a more formal service, which is my preference.

  44. @Nicholas Bedworth: I’d totally agree about the hard beds on the EY Apartments. Whilst they’ve made efforts elsewhere to improve the fundamental fact is the ‘padding’ itself is still there and is as hard as ever.

    @Anthony: There’s nothing sensationalist here and it’s unnecessarily arrogant to call it out like that.

    As for the Etihad Apartment hard product, it’s definitely stylish and is an industry stand-out but as Lucky and others have pointed out, there are major flaws. Whilst the space may be “inviting”, passengers still would expect a comfortable, fully-functional seat and good sleep which sadly is not the case. Also, Singapore’s padding (memory foam?) and the bedding beat Qantas in my view. Emirates’ First provides a pretty decent sleep experience.

    On the more secondary aspects, I prefer Singapore’s inflight entertainment for their movie, comedy and documentary selection although I acknowledge this is very subjective. You say the Emirates’ wine list is more comprehensive than the other airlines but when you have stand out wines (take Singapore’s Cos d’Estournel as just one example) you really don’t need a list ten wines long.

    We agree on the service though (Singapore’s cabin crew are consistently and exceptionally first class) and the champagne.

    I haven’t experienced Air France’s ground service but Lucky’s coverage makes me want to!

    @Dcaguy: Running out of Krug mid-flight has also happened on one of my AUH-LHR sectors (maybe they were keeping some for the return?)

    Does anyone remember the temporary Lufthansa 747-400 First Class product with the separate bed? Sad demise.

  45. I agree with you Lucky.
    Flew with them in the apartment to Sydney, the food was just OK, service was not attentive (we were just 3 people in First…) and the bed is not comfortable at all!!!
    The chair does not recline like you said.
    Amenity kit is basic.
    Just came back from Qatar Business class and it is much better!

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