Mercy: Etihad Overdelivers On Special Requests

An alternative title could have been “Something Big: Etihad Treated Me Better. Mercy!” However, I suspect that may have crossed the line for non-Shawn Mendes fans.

The aspect of the Etihad Residence experience that I wrote about most leading up to the flight was the ability to make special requests. There aren’t many experiences in commercial aviation that can be customized, so this is something that makes the Residence unique.

I put a lot of thought into the requests prior to the flight based on the great suggestions you guys provided. I made a total of five requests, and they approved four of them in advance — unfortunately despite their best efforts, a pre-flight walk around of the plane was denied by the airport authority.

With that in mind, how did Etihad do in terms of delivering on my requests? Well, they executed all four brilliantly, and then some. 

The four requests that they nailed

Here’s how well Etihad executed the four requests that I made:

Laduree macarons

I requested Laduree macarons because I was curious how easily they’d be able to source them, as the nearest Laduree is in Dubai. Sure enough, Johan served me some beautiful macarons, I confirmed they were from Laduree, and they were delicious (well, in fairness I just had one because I was stuffed already, but…).

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Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc

My goal wasn’t to request an especially expensive drink, but rather just to request a wine I really liked that isn’t necessarily available everywhere. Not only did they load Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc on the flight, but they also had it for me in the lounge. I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I never got around to drinking it in either place, though. Well done, Etihad!

Etihad model airplanes

As an aviation geek I asked if I could get an Etihad A380 model airplane. Well, on boarding Johan presented me with two beautiful (gold) wrapped presents, and they were both model planes — one was 1:200 scale, while the other 1:500 scale. Above and beyond!

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Lobster roll

Originally I was going to request any lobster dish, but a reader suggested specifically asking for a lobster roll, since they can be tough to make on the ground, let alone in the air.

I had the lobster roll as the pre-landing snack (my third lobster dish in the past 24 hours), and it was phenomenal. The lobster was great, and the roll itself was so fresh. I’m amazed they managed to execute this so well on a plane. It was also massive — I’m not sure the picture fully does justice to that.

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The four surprises that made me squeal

So not only did Etihad deliver on the four requests that I made, but clearly they saw some of the things that I had been joking about, and wanted to go above and beyond. It’s not just about that they went above and beyond, but about how brilliantly they did so. Here are the four surprises they had for me during the flight. Seriously, a couple of these made me squeal.

A SIGNED SHAWN MENDES PICTURE

I don’t remember the last time I’ve simultaneously been so embarrassed and also so giddy. After dinner Johan made my bed, and what was on the table next to it? A signed picture of Shawn Mendes.

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I flipped the hell out when I saw this (as anyone who was watching my Instagram story can confirm).

I mean… just… wow…

As I was photographing the turndown service I noticed that a box of tissues had been placed in the living room. Talk about anticipating needs (air at altitude can be pretty dry, so my nose tends to run).

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A monogrammed bathrobe

One of the coolest things about the Residence is that you have a private bathroom with shower. The number of amenities they have in the shower is incredible, and among these is a bathrobe. Who gets to wear a bathrobe on a plane?!?

Well, not only did I get a bathrobe, but it was monogrammed!!!! A monogrammed bathrobe with the Residence logo? Yes please! I’m going to start wearing this on top of everything.

Naturally I got to take it with me (after all, it was monogrammed). I also got 10 minutes of water, though only used five. Oops!

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A loofah

Jokingly I mentioned how nice a loofah would be, just as a random detail. Well, sure enough there was a loofah waiting for me in the shower.

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Dom Perignon 2006

I actually didn’t request any special champagne, since I was curious to try the Billecart-Salmon 2004 Blanc de Blancs, rather than go with one of my old favorites. Well, not only did they load Billecart-Salmon 2004, but they also loaded a bottle of 2006 Dom Perignon.

Really this whole situation put unfair pressure on me. 😉 I started the flight with the bottle of 2004 Billecart-Salmon, but it’s not like I was going to waste it after just one glass. So I worked on that bottle for the first half of the flight, and then the 2006 Dom Perignon for the second half of the flight.

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Bottom line

To say that Etihad went above and beyond would be the understatement of the year. The entire experience was flawless even without taking the above things into account. But this all goes so far beyond just the actual requests aspect of this.

At every stage of the experience I got the sense that everyone involved in the Residence takes so much pride in the product. From the lounge agents to the airport escorts to the butlers, it’s a point of pride for the airline.

Furthermore, the way Johan delivered all these surprises was brilliant.

Thanks for an unforgettable flight, Etihad!

Comments

  1. Box of tissues in the Shawn Mendes section? Would you have taken a 10 minute shower if you didnt have the box of tissues?

    At least you have the parenthetical “(air at altitude can be pretty dry, so my nose tends to run)” so nobody misinterprets your “needs.”

  2. Hmmm…. I was going to say that perhaps they provided the tissues for the Shawn Mendes picture and associated “activities” that might’ve accompanied it… 😉 😛 But then again, with a private shower, I guess not. 😀

  3. This is pretty remarkable so much so that I am inclined to say your alternative title would have been more fitting for this article. This is great PR for Etihad.

  4. I’m assuming all the swag (robe, model planes) is why you had to check a bag for the flight home?

  5. And I’m assuming these are all standard now for anyone else purchasing the Residence, less Etihad come under scrutiny for providing differential service to customers purchasing the same product. Would hate to see an airline discriminate blatantly.

  6. There’s no denying you received special treatment on this flight (after all, we do know they saw your blog and knew who you were). I just wonder how much better service/amenities you were given versus the average passenger (if any residence pax can be considered “average” lol)

  7. Was the monogrammed robe just for you, or does every Residence flyer get one to take home? I’m curious about that.
    Kinda unfair to be setting up the rest of us if we ever take the flight. I want a personalized bathrobe too!

  8. Despite the fact that I have absolutely no question about The Residence experience, i am a bit concerned that there might be some special effort give the PR that these posts would mean for them. Maybe some others could share if they got similar levels of service and attention to details?

  9. I managed to get us First Class tickets on Emirates A380 service DXB to BOM, but because I used points, I’m hesitant to make any special requests. But damn – this is pretty cool!!

  10. Looks like the Etihad PR department got an “A” on and open book test and even got the extra credit question right too.

  11. Yea this blog has completely deteriorated. Man, I am glad you had a fun trip. Yet really. I don’t think this is something any of your readers will be going for. Should rename the site to “Ben travels the world in style, just come and watch”. Fun. But not quite what ‘traveling cheap on points’ is about.

  12. Ben,

    Given the marginal cost of adding another pax to your Residence flight, why did you ultimately end up deciding to not personally share that experience with someone else? Being that this is potentially a “once in a lifetime” type opportunity, even for yourself, do you feel looking back at the entire experience that it is one that you want to have shared?

    Don’t interpret this is shaming you, I’m genuinely curious as to your decision process with this “event”.

  13. Awesome review.

    I should have recommended a “shower beer” before you took this trip. (I had one on Emirates last year.)

  14. Why don’t you bankroll a ticket for me in the residence. I’ll make some requests and we can validate if they come through like this for everyone or if you got special treatment. Thanks in advance Lucky 🙂

  15. Awesome BUT I am sure you got special treatment. It would be great to have the review of a regular person experience instead of a famous blogger.

  16. Fun to read about you enjoying yourself, even as a seasoned veteran of premium air travel.

  17. What would make more sense to me is that EY using a website called Google to try and find more information about their upcoming Residence pax. I would guess that they are doing this with every Resident to the best of their ability. I would also guess that anyone who can afford the Residence has some sort of national/global presence or recognition in some capacity. Did they perhaps go over the top for Ben, maybe, but I don’t think going over the top is nothing new for EY. I mean come one, they have a commercial plane with 3 rooms…

  18. I thought Shawn Mendes was the name of the butler. Obviously, he has some other claim to fame; though, I have no idea what that may be.

    As much as I enjoy OMAAT, I must concur with others and say that this post did read as if it were an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous–or one of those ghastly Housewives abominations. “For one show only, Ben Schlappig stars as Lisa Vanderpump in ‘Residence!'”

    It’s time for our dear Ben to get back into the trenches and fly some obscure airline to some crap hole of a destination.

  19. @Evan – LMAO!!!! Such a great question/remark.

    In all fairness, Ben is the oldest “young” person alive. Yet when it comes to Shawn Mendes, he’s the the “youngest” teenage girl alive.

    At least it’s not Justin Bieber………..

  20. I hope you pitch your trip report as ‘my special residence experience’ rather than pretending it’s a normal residence pax experience.

  21. This is hilarious, also shows Etihad quality excellently. We’ve had three experiences with them, all first-class and perfect. The signed picture is absolutely hilarious… also shows they have a humorous side!

  22. @ Imperator — Don’t worry, Meridiana, Azores, and Uzbekistan are coming up soon. 😉

  23. @ AB — It’s a good question, and there are two reasons. First of all, for the ticket I booked, an extra passenger would have been about $3,000. That’s not an insignificant amount, but arguably “worth it” for them to have the experience. However, for me this was truly a work trip, and I was spending every single second of the flight (well, with the exception of a four hour nap) capturing the whole flight. I don’t think I would have much of a travel experience for my companion. Also, this would only really work well if it’s someone you’re intimate with, since you have to share a small double bed with them. So in many ways I think the Residence is actually ideal if you’re traveling alone.

  24. Good on ya mate.

    Obviously this is great PR for Etihad, but so what? If I had been gutsy enough to start a travel blog years ago, before it was de rigeur, it might have been my initials on that bathrobe.

    Yes, it raises the question as to what a “normal” person’s experience would be – but I think that’s the case for a lot of flights taken by prominent travel writers or bloggers. And why shouldn’t it be?

    I will say that my one apartment experience on Etihad was stellar beyond belief. The service I received as an unknown entity was every bit as compelling as what Ben describes. Apart from the special requests, but then I was in the lowly Apartments!

  25. To those of you asking if I got “normal” treatment, let me address that.

    First of all, in the context of a product that retails for $20,000+ for a one-way ticket, I don’t think there is such a thing as “normal.” This isn’t an average first class product, but rather I’d sure as heck hope that they Google all guests they have.

    The further issue is what’s really “normal” in the context of a product that’s highly customizable? As I was told at many steps along the process, part of what makes this so special is that you can really customize it how you want.

    Look, I 100% think they read my blog posts, and I 100% think that they wanted to impress me.

    But is there any part of this that couldn’t be repeated? You can always request Amal and Johan to be your butlers, and they’re fantastic. I’d bet absolutely anything that they treat you as well as they treated me (and several readers have already commented about how they’ve had Johan on their flights and he was great). I think any of the things I requested would be reasonable requests to make.

    So I’m not fully sure how to get the “normal” experience here, since the whole selling proposition of the product is that it’s anything but normal, but rather is highly customizable.

    Of course you’re more than welcome to draw whatever conclusions you’d like from the experience.

  26. Seriously undermining your credibility with every passing etihad post.

    You know they bent over backwards for you since the day they realized you were a blogger with a decent following who was making millions of pretty juvenile posts about his upcoming trip (perhaps the same day they changed their mind on not offering you that hotel suite).

    I would be embarrassed with this whole episode and bring it to a quick ending, certainly not revel in it.

  27. Hi Lucky!

    Congrats! I just got off the phone with my friends at the NYC Gay Lesbian Trans center on 13th street and its official – you have been selected as one of the top five gayest events ever to transpire to an American! I am so happy for you.

    It took the lesbians a few minutes to decide if it was the Shawn Mendez picture or the robe but the votes were tallied and the picture one out. In order of the five gayest American events:

    5. Lucky getting a Shawn Mendes autographed picture on Ethiad – delivered by an obviously terrified butler who is now, as we speak, most probably on a plane back to India.

    4. Woman’s Basketball

    3. Ellen coming out on TV

    2. Rue Paul’s Drag Race

    1. Final Scene in John Water’s “Pink Flamingos.”

    I do have to add – on a serious note – that Ford is WAY cuter than Shawn Mendes is. And that is all I will say on the subject.

  28. This is incredible!! The only thing that would have made this better is if they had used one of the shirtless pics of Shawn Mendes from his recent photo shoot with Flaunt. Hope you made use of the tissues for your runny “nose.”

  29. Oh my god! Lucky took an expensive once-in-a-lifetime flight and got special treatment? It isn’t some out of the way random airline that is hardly reviewed? HOW DARE HE!

    Seriously you guys are getting crazy. He provides a ton of insight for his readers in his trip reports and other posts. If one trip upsets you that much then please skip the posts on it.

    I for one will appreciate that someone that seems like such a good guy got to enjoy himself doing something he is extremely passionate about.

  30. For all those saying Lucky received special treatment – of course he did! But the added extras show the people at Etihad have a great sense of humour on the items they chose to provide.
    @CalStanford – bit sad that you can’t take this for what it is, a fun, one-off experience.

  31. @DiscountEconomyFlyer
    Why are you reading this blog?
    @Lucky
    Thank you for all the fun! I’d so love to experience the Residence and without you I wouldn’t even know such a thing existed. Please keep telling us about great things, and helping us figure out how to do them!

  32. Here comes the whining. If you are so curious to see if Lucky got special treatment because of the blog, buy the damn ticket yourself and report back.

    Great post, Lucky. It looks like you really enjoyed the trip.

  33. Is the Shawn Mendes autograph a photocopied autograph type poster, or was it legit signed by him (as in in fresh ink)? Cause if it is the latter, then that really is impressive. 😀

  34. So you ask them to put forth the resources to get you macarons, and you eat one.

    You request a wine that may have been inexpensive, but possibly time-consuming to acquire, and then don’t drink it.

    And assuming you liked the Billecart-Salmon 2004 Blanc de Blancs, instead of finishing it, you open a second bottle of $150+ champagne.

    Glad you got your money’s worth.

  35. Lucky,

    I’m thinking of doing an ex-Cairo flight like yours on the Residences. But I’m almost certain I won’t get the same kind of perks unless I start my own blog and have a following.

  36. While Shawn Mendes has the benefit of being Canadian 😉 I honestly find Ford just as attractive, so you’re lucky, Lucky!.

  37. I laughed out loud about that box of tissues. The picture is a very nice personal touch from Etihad . I loved reading this post. I think even the full flight report won’t match this. Danke Ben.

  38. For the price point I have to think that everybody gets special treatment. But I suspect that may of those who regularly fly the Residence are not phased by special treatment as its the norm for them. I am thoroughly enjoying reading these posts and very happy for you that somebody who appreciates this so much was able to have the experience.

  39. It’d be great to book a ticket and contest the charge if Etihad doesn’t provide similar services as they did Lucky. Point to the blog as evidence.

  40. Lucky, there’s a Laduree in Sydney so that wouldn’t have been too hard for them. The champagne sounds fun though – a challenge to stay hydrated I would think!

  41. Lets remember one thing… most likely, one of the reasons things were ‘over-delivered’ to you is because you have been posting about this trip for weeks at end and, quite honestly, it got very annoying. The fact is that by using your social media and site influences, you got more than you probably got if it was me or John Doe making these outrageous requests. I used to work in a hotel and there are people that are paid to monitor social media and what people say and post about the brand. I bet that the airline has been monitoring your posts since you started posting about this trip. I give you one example: we had a hotel guest who’s checking process went perfectly. In fact, she arrived as early and was given a room right away. She was given the room she booked and was treated properly at check-in; nothing that would have been different to any other hotel. I was the manager on duty. I get a call from our central offices that a guest posted on Twitter (and on to her 100,000+ followers), that her check-in experience was not the best. This is within 10 minutes of her check-in. I was asked by my boss to do something about it. I talked to the front desk agent (who is one of the best ones) and the process was fine. The guest made no special requests and the check-in process was smooth as any other one. I called the guest’s room and in a nice way I asked her: “Good afternoon Ms. Smith. My name is Luis and I am the manager on duty. how was your check-in experience?” to which she replied: “oh yes, everything was fine!” So I told her to contact me if she needed any assistance an hung up. I thought the issue was moot. However, my boss asked me to send a bottle of wine and a cheese platter to her room to keep her happy and in hopes that she makes good tweets about the hotel. I refused and told her that, to me, this is one of those guests looking for freebies. But my boss refused to take my side and I told my boss to order the wine/cheese herself because I was not going to award that kind of behavior. And she did! I thought it was completely unnecessarily and uncalled for. But, because now everything is handled by social media and thanks to reviews sites such as yelp and trip advisor, companies go overboard to ‘please’ the customer. While those sites help in a way, they have been also unfair because everyone it really quick to complaint but very slow to praise. And since most likely the airline knows your background, they are going overboard with pleasing you so they get a good review. Just my opinion. Enjoy our goodies.

  42. I absolutely love this blog. But along the lines of Brenton’s comment above, it also strikes me as kind of douchey that Ben made the special requests of the wine and macarons, ate one macaron and didn’t even touch the wine. I mean, really??

  43. Are you kidding? Ben has put the Q in queen – he has an autographed Shawn Mendes photo. Im surprised he even ate one of those cookies . I woukd have sternly told the Butler that the color choices of the cookies depressed me and told him to take them away.

  44. And compare this to our U.S. airlines. An AA flight attendant once gave me attitude for asking for water on a long haul flight to HK… At the end, I never got the water I asked for.

  45. It worked!!!!! I’m off to book an insanely expensive trip – I am so jealous of your experience that I must try the Residence. I understand you may have received special treatment but you have demonstrated what is possible – a huge thank you for allowing us to share in the fun.

  46. You realize of course that your blog is the reason I’ve been booking premium cabins (ok, just business class) for all vacations for the past 3 – 4 years? Maybe if I pay more attention to the miles and points game it won’t cost me as much, as I’ve been buying these tickets with cash. Although you’ve helped me find some good deals. Thanks for the advice and the entertainment!

  47. Dear Ben, so amazed by this post. I rarely reply but also happy for your experience. My girlfriend will experience the First Apartment on Thursday May 18, 2017 from SYD-AUH-LHR and will do the same flight home on June 6th, 2017. I have shared all your posts so she can customize here entrees and experience.

    Thank you for your excellent work to help all of us. JMP

  48. I’m with Lucky’s response regarding special treatment. We aren’t talking about a first class product he booked for 40,000 miles. We are talking about the world’s most private and luxurious commercial flying experience. The due dillengce could be seen as PR or as Lucky put it, it could be seen as a part of the experience.

  49. Is Shawn Mendes supposed to be famous or something? You keep gushing over his signed photo of his like he’s George Clooney but no one can figure out his significance. I just looked him up, he’s a Viner and barely 18 and his fan base largely comprises of 13 year old girls. Is he the next Justin Bieber or something? Even if it was someone recognizable and famous, why would Etihad have a signed photo of them randomly on board? This is so fn weird. Maybe Shawn is late 20 something men what Kylie Jenner is to late 20 something women

  50. Also, the monogrammed robe is underwhelming aesthetically. I get that it’s cool you can even get an monogrammed robe but why is it so ugly? It looked like it got laid out in Microsoft Paint.

  51. @Lucky, love your blog and I’m really enjoying reading about this trip! But I agree with @Brenton and @Robert D about not consuming the requested wine/macarons. Did the butler give you (or offer to give you) the remaining macarons or unopened bottles to go? Or share them with the Apartment passengers?

  52. Lucky, one of the points of your prior post was that they said that “charges may apply”, and that you would let us know where they drew the line and if they charge you and what for.

    What, if anything, did you pay additionally for? How much did they charge you, in comparison to what it would have cost to get it yourself?

  53. You can purchase a hand signed Shawn Mendez autograph for $50 or less https://m.bonanza.com/listings/sale-shawn-mendes-hand-signed-8×10-photo-coa/418669061?goog_pla=1&gpid=18283950120&keyword=&goog_pla=1&pos=1o4&ad_type=pla&gclid=CjwKEAjwxurIBRDnt7P7rODiq0USJADwjt5D2663UaIg-OuYAQCYpUu-qH_LV7Xf7GsBYzRtYQGzqxoCskfw_wcB

    It is a wonderful gesture and tongue in cheek joke on their part but hardly that special considering the Resisence price point.

    Point is not that they did not do a wonderful job, they did, but rather that I don’t think it is at all above and beyond the “norm” for this product.

  54. Fun trip report. I, like all your readers are envious.

    What I really liked about this trip report was that a company actually over delivered and under promised. All of the loyalty programs that I have so heavily invested in the past couple of years, have done an about face, and only really care about how much I spend with them. In this example, Etihad didn’t deliver much less as you paid half of what most would have for this flight. You made some requests, a model a380, and they didn’t just give you one, but two. This is what customer service is all about. I remember when airlines like the Executive Platinum desk at AA used to go above and beyond for me. Or programs like Hyatt Diamond delivered on what they promised and even gave me more then the program is supposed to deliver.

    Job well done Etihad, and as usual Ben, another great trip report.

  55. Dissapointed. Expecting a through review instead of highlights only. Over the top service is a norm since from the airline view its an effective countermeasures advertising against “prejudiced” US airlines campaigns. Other residences passanger may well be treated excellently also, but not on the same level as you.

    But your comment section is more entertaining than your review this time. Thanks.

  56. “Look, I 100% think they read my blog posts, and I 100% think that they wanted to impress me.”

    Think? Hell I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t the only airline and/or hotel that pay attention to your blog.

    “But is there any part of this that couldn’t be repeated? You can always request Amal and Johan to be your butlers, and they’re fantastic. I’d bet absolutely anything that they treat you as well as they treated me (and several readers have already commented about how they’ve had Johan on their flights and he was great). I think any of the things I requested would be reasonable requests to make.”

    Yes, but not everyone has a blog where they can follow and get hints of things they can also provide without asking (ie, a loofah, the picture, etc).

    I don’t why people get so offended at the mention of special treatment. It probably happened on this trip, and probably on other trips Lucky has taken. The only way to get anymore truly 100% authentic TRs would be Lucky to not announce his future trips in advance.

  57. I will be cancelling my subscription to your blog.
    You have some serious issues about material items and the best term I can think of to describe your recent behaviour on this overblown and overpriced flight on a airplane would be : brat.
    You made a big deal beforehand about ordering cookies and wine that when fulfilled, you did not eat or drink. You really do need some counselling.
    It is shame you cannot use your talents and given wealth and status to hone your views and words to a more refined point.
    I began to feel codependent during the articles in the buildup to this one single flight. Find a higher purpose and wipe the collective snotty nose of many of your readers.

  58. Overall, I have really enjoyed the articles on the Residence experience. However, like a few other readers, I also had assumed that Shawn Mendes was a crew member. Upon googling the name, I learn he is an 18 year old singer. Each to their own, but as an adult, I find it slightly creepy to be publicly crushing on someone so young. :/

  59. Lucky, I’m sure you don’t imagine that etihad would go to the trouble of keeping up with an average residence customer daily on the internets. Certainly, they surely wouldn’t go to the enormous trouble of getting an autographed photo of some scallywag you take apparently take a fancy to but didn’t really tell them about.

    Because your $9k, while admittedly a lot of money for a plane ticket, wouldn’t usually merit such treatment from an airline. I believe the same airline wanted to shunt you into a garden variety hotel room for that layover before they realized what you were. Should tell you how much they value the average 9k residence customer.

    This should really be labeled a series of sponsored posts more than an annoyingly prolonged trip report.

  60. Imagine the fallout if they hadn’t overdelivered on these wishes? Of course they gave you the star treatment! One of the perks of your job. I’m seriously jealous!

  61. I think Ben is releasing these teasers ahead of the masterpost to generate traffic & ad revenue.

    Still, no one’s bothered to tell me why this Justin Bieber knockoff is important or relevant.

  62. I don’t understand why you write “Mercy”. Did they treat you horrible in the past, and you consider them giving you special treatment a gesture of mercy (which is weird ). Are you asking the readers to show you mercy (which you need seem to need given some of the comments 😉 ) ? Any other usage of the word seems weird or over the top here..
    If you meant to say thanks, then it’s “merci”, which seems more appropriate in the context…

  63. “The four surprises that made me squel” LMAO. Well done Etihad. I have to try flying with them soon.

  64. I have never flown the Residence but the apartments a few times. Once with a client in the Residence me in the appartment and a few staff, we worked the entire flight, the Residence was turned into a board room for us. Clients have had coffee blends, wines, chocolates, toiletries, meals from certain restaurants etc.. The fair SYD-LHR is upwards of 45,000 ow. They research all their clients very, very well, one client had the phone handed to her, it was her daughter at school on the other end wishing her happy birthday, Eithiad had initiated the call. This is a blog about using points to fly at the pointy end and maximise your point earn. To that end it does it very well. From clients I think Luckys requests were a little modest. While he may have a blog in aviation and be well known in the user community he is hardly as famous or as wealthy as the majority who book the Residence and over 3 times the price of an apartment you would want special treatment as par for the course. Though not having at least one glass of Cloudy Bay with the lobster is a sin!

  65. Love it Lucky. Who cares if they know who you are. It’s great to hear your experience and truly believe it would’ve been just as easy for Etihad to screw this up or nail it regardless of who you were. This is a unique market for them and negative press travels even faster than good news.

    My only question is did Etihad give you the opportunity to share the experience (or your Cloudy Bay) with another passenger? I’m assuming you were traveling alone…if you befriended someone from one of the other cabins, are they obliged to treat them as your guest? You probably kept to yourself? Not that you’d invite the Sean Mendez lookalike to share the bed but rather share a meal or something else. That would be cool.

  66. Looks nice but the treats are a bit dull: a few lurid hot pink macarons and a signed photo of a kid no one ever heard of? Now Sergio Mendes (and Brasil ’66) , that would be something. But…whatever floats your boat….

  67. This back and forth over “special treatment” seems in a fantasy land of its own.

    Ben stated he didn’t request from Etihad the Shawn Mendez picture or the other joke requests he posted here at OMAAT, as part of the promotional buzz he built up for this trip. Etihad’s PR areas, however, was clearly aware of Ben’s/Lucky’s posts about the upcoming trip though, and made some of these joke requests or suggested requests from readers come true, even though he never directly asked for them via the formal request process for Residence guests.

    So of course Ben/Lucky got special treatment – including the reversal of the decision to not provide free accommodation at the Emirates Palace (which was initially denied, until Ben/Lucky made an issue of it on his blog, fishing).

    Just because the Residence is a very expensive ticket does not at all mean that Etihad are going to comb the social media posts of its upcoming guests, to surprise and delight. Quite the reverse – so let’s not set up false expectations here. We all know Ben/Lucky had a pre-existing relationship with Etihad over his previous trips, particularly its PR area, and they don’t mind working with him to generate some good buzz for themselves, by throwing a few tokens he solicits his way.

    The pictures of the hard product are the most representative of the actual Residence experience, everything else is not really, and was influenced by the pre-existing relationship of PR symbiosis.

    I don’t blame Lucky for working hard at getting himself a little extra, and doing some self promotion, but I think he needs to not misrepresent that his experience here was typical for every Residence guest (because it is not). The PR department does not get involved for every Residence guest – which should go without saying.

    People therefore shouldn’t get misleading expectations – part of Ben’s/Lucky’s rason d’être is selling his “Lucky” story (he’s of the Instagram generation, and working his own personal brand), with the trip report part just of the package. Congrats to him on his successes in developing that personal brand, but it seems silly to not call a spade a spade and acknowledge this is soft PR.

    Of course not every airline gives a hoot who Lucky is, but Etihad seems to care and goes an extra mile for him (if he blogs about it).

  68. Etihad just tweeted about this review so yeah. I’m gonna have to go with those who believe there was special treatment and this level of over delivering shouldn’t be expected for the average joe.

    Bragging about not eating the macaroons or drinking the wine you specially requested is where you completely lost me. I’ve been reading this blog for some time and while you are a bit materialistic, I generally don’t mind it because I am too. This particular review though, and your whole Residence experience as a matter of fact, I’m gonna just pretend I never read. You did not come off well.

  69. Great trip report. Reading through the comments reminds me that it takes a thick skin to be a publicly known blogger.

  70. So what’s the point of requesting macarons and not eating them? This is just a tasteless exercise in American consumerism.

  71. @ Bob — Are you suggesting I eat about a dozen macarons after spending the past 24 hours doing nothing but eating and drinking? After I had one I asked Johan to share them with the crew. So perhaps it’s an exercise in sharing rather than consumerism, then. 😉

  72. @ Michael — They didn’t charge for anything. I suspect charges would apply if you ordered a $10,000 bottle of wine, for example.

  73. @ Tracy T. — I asked the crew to have them, though due to Australian law I couldn’t take them off the plane with me.

  74. On “consumerism” – just because you make a request for something days in advance of travel, doesn’t mean you should be force fed it on the actual day. At the Residence ticket prices, which include a very generous mark-up for Etihad, you won’t cause them pain if you don’t, and it’s not that surprising that you may be more tired, stuffed, ill etc than you expected to be a few days beforehand.

    If you are going to cry “waste” on some macaroons and a cheap bottle of plonk (which, since it was not opened, can be reused), then you seem to be overlooking that on flights aircrew routinely empty bottle of wine and champagne and throw out foodstuff that people only had half a glass of, or just picked at. Lucky’s wastage here is insignificant to the routine wastage on flights every day.

    If you want to be all ecological sensitive, perhaps the only snark you can make about Residence guests is that they notionally contribute more to CO2 given the low density floor space they take up.

    Fair comment needs to be just that.

  75. @Bob calling it “American consumerism” is an unfair characterization. I expect most people calling it out are American, myself included.

    @Lucky maybe it’s that you seem proud of your behavior that so many people here have a problem with. You ask them to go out of their way to do something for you, and then laugh about not consuming the macarons and wine. It’s just rude.

  76. @ Brenton — So would it have not been rude if I ate every single macaron? Instead I “shared” them with the crew. And isn’t it more considerate to leave a bottle of wine closed so it can actually be consumed in the future, rather than thrown out? If I just had one glass then it would have been poured out after the flight, which seems wasteful to me. My goal was actually quite the opposite — I didn’t want to waste the bottles they already opened, and the Dom was a surprise, and I prioritized that ahead of the CLoudy Bay.

  77. Nice post, Lucky. And I’ve gotta say, you’re one thick skinned guy. Congratulations on that – and don’t change; it’s a rare trait, I think. Look forward to more posts.

  78. Ok, you tell yourself whatever you need to, but I’m clearly not the only person saying this. A little self reflection never hurt anyone.

  79. @Lucky Sorry, that totally flew over me ! Even had to check a dictionary, couldn’t figure out that title at all 🙂

  80. Loved this post. Not only are you “Lucky” you must have thick skin. Love your posts. Would love more business class reviews as this is more my “price range”.

  81. Oh my God, people, who cares. 99% of us are never going to fly the Residence. It is a special trip that Lucky took, and we get to read about it. A majority of the content on here is spot on and helpful. To me its like when Brian (TPG) took the Residence flight and has the Centurion Card. They are perks of doing this for a living. Honestly I would have preferred a signed Taylor Swift picture cause she is the best, but its entertainment. People need to realize that some of the post here are for clicks and reads, and heaven forbid some entertainment.

    In other news, @Lucky How was the bed. I know they sell it as a double bed, but I have always thought it looked rather small. Is it closer to a Twin and a half or was it a decent size?

  82. PR. I pity the advertisers on this site where this guy flogs PR stories and the only ones lapping it up are ” fan Girls” – with little or no business influencing power. Aren’t there any true travel review sites aimed at serious travelers who can actually pay for the serveices based on real reviews and hence may be more lucrative to advertisers. Oh well.

  83. I loved every word of this blog, and I’m pretty sure that if you buy a ticket in Residence the experience will be the same.. oh my my what a super story. But I have no idea who Shawn Mendes is..

  84. “This back and forth over “special treatment” seems in a fantasy land of its own.

    Ben stated he didn’t request from Etihad the Shawn Mendez picture or the other joke requests he posted here at OMAAT, as part of the promotional buzz he built up for this trip. Etihad’s PR areas, however, was clearly aware of Ben’s/Lucky’s posts about the upcoming trip though, and made some of these joke requests or suggested requests from readers come true, even though he never directly asked for them via the formal request process for Residence guests.

    So of course Ben/Lucky got special treatment – including the reversal of the decision to not provide free accommodation at the Emirates Palace (which was initially denied, until Ben/Lucky made an issue of it on his blog, fishing).

    Just because the Residence is a very expensive ticket does not at all mean that Etihad are going to comb the social media posts of its upcoming guests, to surprise and delight. Quite the reverse – so let’s not set up false expectations here. We all know Ben/Lucky had a pre-existing relationship with Etihad over his previous trips, particularly its PR area, and they don’t mind working with him to generate some good buzz for themselves, by throwing a few tokens he solicits his way.

    The pictures of the hard product are the most representative of the actual Residence experience, everything else is not really, and was influenced by the pre-existing relationship of PR symbiosis.

    I don’t blame Lucky for working hard at getting himself a little extra, and doing some self promotion, but I think he needs to not misrepresent that his experience here was typical for every Residence guest (because it is not). The PR department does not get involved for every Residence guest – which should go without saying.

    People therefore shouldn’t get misleading expectations – part of Ben’s/Lucky’s rason d’être is selling his “Lucky” story (he’s of the Instagram generation, and working his own personal brand), with the trip report part just of the package. Congrats to him on his successes in developing that personal brand, but it seems silly to not call a spade a spade and acknowledge this is soft PR.

    Of course not every airline gives a hoot who Lucky is, but Etihad seems to care and goes an extra mile for him (if he blogs about it).”

    Preach!

  85. Lucky

    I don’t have time to surf here much nowadays, but it is always worth it. Don’t let the naysayers get you down.

    While this is way way out of my league, I have learnt a lot of good things about Etihad from it (they have a good sense of fun, make an effort etc) and let’s face it if you can afford the Residence you can afford whatever hotel room you want. If I wasn’t happy I would just pay for what I wanted.

    The trouble is Lucky, ever since you posted your private jet report, even first class on the best doesn’t do it for me. Eh I can dream!

    I bet that macaron was good though.

  86. Great trip report and given how much you obviously looked forward to this trip it is nice to read that they exceeded all expectations. I just read all of the comments and wow some of you really need to get a grip on your own lives. But one of them seems fair enough yet deserves perhaps a comment of my own: “But, because now everything is handled by social media and thanks to reviews sites such as yelp and trip advisor, companies go overboard to ‘please’ the customer.” That is technically correct in some cases but quite incorrect for the majority of cases. I do also anonymously review properties on TripAdvisor and recently struggled over giving a nice hotel in the Baltics an average review for what was basically a horrible experience — yet I was polite and fair and spent a considerable amount of time on choosing my words so that it was friendly yet firm enough to state it was a really underwhelming experience.

    As for Ben, they obviously made the effort to please a well-known customer who was by no means a first-time customer who likes their product and seemed to sincerely look forward to this experience. I don’t see the harm in that. And it was certainly easier for them to source these products than it would be for one of those far-flung Maldives resorts who daily deal with impossible-to-please clients.

  87. I’m sure the crew truly enjoys taking care of such high-maintenance customers.
    No doubt their happiness in serving you was sincere.

  88. So shameful that Lucky made several special requests then made no real attempts to actually consume them.

    Only consuming one very specially sourced macaroon. not even making a big deal out of taking the extras as a cherished snack.

    Not having any of the fancy wine or chanpagne that they had to source specifically for you. I get that you were testing them but my God you are just showed us how stuck up and over entitled you were. To somehow justify that it’s ok because it is unopened and reusable is downright sad

    Your special request should have been something like you want them to consider counting the unsold Apartment seating and upgrading the same number of people from economy, in the order of least expesive airfare cost. THEIR stories and blogs would have been more heartfelt and interesting.

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