Review: Etihad Residence A380 Abu Dhabi To Sydney

Introduction: The Flight Of A Lifetime
Review: Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington Dulles Airport
Review: Etihad Lounge Washington Dulles Airport
Review: Etihad Business Class 787 Washington To Abu Dhabi
Review: Shangri-La Abu Dhabi
Review: Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Residence Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Review: Etihad Residence A380 Abu Dhabi To Sydney
Review: Hyatt Regency Sydney
Review: Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney Airport
Review: Virgin Australia Business Class 737 Sydney To Melbourne
Review: Etihad Lounge Melbourne Airport
Review: Virgin Australia Business Class 777 Melbourne To Los Angeles


Etihad 454
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Sydney (SYD)
Saturday, May 13
Depart: 9:50PM
Arrive: 5:55PM (+1 day)
Duration: 14hr5min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 1A (The Residence)

As I explained at the end of the last installment, Johan, “my” butler, escorted me down the jet bridge and onto the plane, where I was greeted by the cabin manager and first class crew. I can’t even begin to describe how excited I was at this point.

As we walked through the first class cabin I had flashbacks to having sat in every single one of those nine seats over the years. I’ve flown Etihad’s A380 first class many times before, including between Abu Dhabi and London, Abu Dhabi and New York, and Abu Dhabi and Sydney.


Etihad A380 first class cabin

However, today’s experience would be a bit different, as I’d be flying in the Residence. While the doors to all the other suites typically remain open, you’ll notice that the doors to the Residence are (almost) always closed. So as we approached, Johan opened the doors for me, and said “welcome to the Residence.” *deep breath*


Door to the Etihad Residence

The Residence is a three room private suite, and when you enter you’ll first find yourself in the living room. The Residence can accommodate up to two people, so there’s a gorgeous couch that easily seats two.


Etihad Residence living room


Etihad Residence living room

Across from the couch is a large ottoman, as well as a massive TV.


Etihad Residence living room


Etihad Residence living room

Then there’s a hallway leading to the bedroom, which is probably the coolest part of the Residence. After all, who gets a private bedroom on a plane?!


Hall leading to the Etihad Residence bedroom


Hall leading to the Etihad Residence living room

I had been inside the Residence before, but this time around it felt very different. In the past I sort of had a “meh” reaction, but when I realized that I’d actually get to sleep in this space, I was grinning from ear to ear.


Etihad Residence bedroom

The bedroom also has a large TV screen.


Etihad Residence bedroom

Between the living room and bedroom is a private bathroom with shower. This is very similar to the bathroom that other first class passengers have access to, except this one is private.


Etihad Residence private bathroom


Etihad Residence private shower


Etihad Residence private bathroom

From the moment I met Johan, I could tell he would be incredible. Johan (pronounced “you-one,” or at least that’s how he explained it to me) is from South Africa, though has lived in Abu Dhabi for years. I tend to think you can tell within minutes of boarding how good a crew will be, and in this case I could immediately tell that Johan would be exceptional.

Prior to the flight, this was my biggest “fear” about flying the Residence. If I didn’t find the service to be good, I’d feel pretty bad writing a negative review about one person’s service specifically. It’s one thing if I just generically refer to “the first class crew,” but I’d feel horribly saying that one specific person wasn’t great at their job.

Fortunately that fear was unfounded, and quite to the contrary, Johan was phenomenal. It’s so great to see people who are passionate about what they do, and I really can’t imagine Etihad has any better butlers than Johan. Keep in mind that if you fly the Residence you can request your butler, and I’d highly recommend requesting Johan.

What made Johan so great? For one, he was genuinely such a nice and sincere guy. Beyond that, the service he provided was incredibly polished. But I think it’s important to draw a distinction between service in the Residence and service in a typical first class product. In a typical first class product you want to constantly be looked after and pampered, while in the Residence service is a bit more nuanced.

In the Residence you don’t constantly want to be looked after. After all, you’re paying for privacy. So you want service to be attentive and proactive, but not overbearing. I pay very close attention to service, and I was very impressed by how deliberate Johan was with everything he did. The service was like a beautifully choreographed performance.

Seriously, this guy is top notch, and Etihad should feel fortunate to have him.

While we’re on the topic, Etihad’s butlers also perform the role of food & beverage managers. So if the Residence is occupied then that’s the butler’s sole job, while if the Residence is empty, the butler will be the food & beverage manager in first class. So if you see Johan ever working first class, that’s why (and be sure to say hi to him).

Anyway, back to the actual flight.

Johan gave me a five minute orientation of the Residence — he explained where everything was located, how the service works, etc. At that point he offered me a pre-departure drink, and proactively suggested champagne. Smart guy. 😉

The default position for the Residence is that the door remains closed at all times, including during boarding, etc. So he’d always close the door as he left, and then would knock when he returned. By the way, notice the ashtray next to the door. Of course smoking isn’t allowed, but I suppose it’s there so that cigarettes can safely be disposed of in the event that someone decides not to follow the policy.


Etihad Residence living room

There was a large ottoman across from the seats, and that created a nice storage area, where I placed all the things I’d need during the flight. My actual bags went underneath the bed.


Etihad Residence living room storage

Then to the left of the storage compartments was a small minibar, with six cans of soda and three bottles of water.


Etihad Residence minibar

Then there were two tray tables. The attention to detail in everything is so impressive — the tray table even had the Residence logo on it.


Etihad Residence living room dining table

Then at the side of the seat were the seat controls — again, both sides of the seat had this.


Etihad Residence seat controls

There was also a small storage compartment, as well as more specific seat controls.


Etihad Residence seat controls

Next to that was one of the two entertainment controllers.


Etihad Residence entertainment controls

There were two light blankets on the ottoman.


Etihad Residence blankets

Within a few minutes, Johan returned with a tray containing a champagne glass, a small ramekin with dates, a warm towel, and a personalized letter.


Etihad Residence pre-departure champagne

He poured me a glass of the lovely 2004 Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs. This was the same champagne I was being served in the lounge, and I really enjoyed it. Johan explained that they had also loaded a bottle of Dom Perignon 2006 for me, but I figured I’d stick with the Billecart-Salmon for now, and tackle the Dom later in the flight.


Etihad Residence Billecart-Salmon Blanc de Blancs 2004 champagne

Inside the envelope was a note from the captain.


Note from the captain in the Etihad Residence

About five minutes later Johan returned with some Arabic coffee.


Etihad Residence Arabic coffee

He also presented me with some Bose headphones. I was actually given two of them to use during the flight — one for the living room, and one for the bedroom.


Etihad Residence Bose headphones

He also presented me with the menu and wine list for the flight, which were in beautiful leather folders with the Residence logo.


Etihad Residence menu & wine list

The coolest part is that the menu was customized. At the front was a page with my name on it, and then the menu itself was customized to include the preferences I shared before my flight.


Etihad Residence personalized menu

Boarding seemed to be finished in no time, though it probably just felt that way because of how excited I was and how many pictures I was taking. By 9:30PM an announcement was made that all passengers were onboard. At that point Captain Roberto added his welcome aboard, on behalf of himself, his co-captain, and the two senior first officers. He informed us of our flight time of 13hr7min, and that we’d be cruising initially at 35,000 feet, and would eventually work our way up to 41,000 feet as we got lighter.

He said that due to congestion it would be a few minutes before we could push back, though we should still arrive on time.


Etihad Residence television screen

By around 9:50PM we began our pushback, at which point the prayer and safety video were screened. While the Residence door otherwise always remains shut, they do have to open it for takeoff and landing.

Our taxi to the runway took about 25 minutes, though that included waiting for about 10 minutes for planes ahead of us to take off.

By 10:15PM we were cleared for takeoff. I of course turned on the tail camera for this. We had a very long takeoff roll, and a smooth climb out.


Taking off from Abu Dhabi

About 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off. Johan’s first order of business was once again closing the door to the Residence. 😉

Shortly thereafter Johan presented me with two codes for free wifi. Etihad’s wifi is already reasonably priced, but this is a nice touch. More than anything I loved the attention to detail, once again — even the little envelope in which the codes were presented had the Residence logo.


Etihad Residence free wifi codes

Johan also asked if he should place the pajamas on the bed. That sounded good to me. Etihad has special pajamas in the Residence.


Etihad Residence pajamas

I was also given a pair of slippers, and was told that I could have shoes shined during the flight if needed.


Etihad Residence slippers

I asked about an amenity kit, more out of curiosity than anything. Johan explained that the Residence is intended to be more like a hotel than a traditional airline product, so rather than having an amenity kit they just have everything when you need it. That’s a good concept, actually, and sure enough, they had everything I asked for.

Johan also mentioned that they had two gifts for me, and asked if I wanted them now. Sure! They came in gold wrapping, as you’d expect from a Gulf carrier.


Etihad Residence gifts

Inside were two Etihad A380 model airplanes (one 1:200 scale, one 1:500 scale), as I had asked about before the flight. WOW!


Etihad Residence gifts — model airplanes

It was time for another glass of champagne.


Etihad Residence after takeoff champagne

That was served with nuts, olives, and stuffed veggies.


Etihad Residence champagne and snacks

Dining in the Residence is on demand, though I figured I’d have dinner after takeoff, since I was hoping to get some rest.

The menu read as follows (notice how they actually customized it for me — I had requested a lobster roll as a snack, and that made it on the printed menu):

The drink list read as follows:

A lot of the menu does overlap with the first class menu, though there are a few distinctions:

  • The champagne is better
  • You get caviar
  • Most importantly, the menu is merely a backup plan, and if you want something else you can request it before the flight, so the menu can be every bit as special as you’d like it to be

To start the meal I was offered an amuse bouche of silken tofu with black and white wasabi with sesame seeds.


Etihad Residence dinner — amuse bouche

It was tasty, and as you’ll see, the Residence plating is very different than in first class.


Etihad Residence dinner — amuse bouche

I was offered a selection of bread as well.


Etihad Residence dinner — bread selection

I know I’ve said this a million times already, but the attention to detail in the Residence is impressive — even the butter has the Residence logo on it.


Etihad Residence dinner — butter and olive oil

Next I ordered some caviar. Etihad serves Abu Dhabi farmed caviar in the Residence, which is the same served on the ground. It’s a bit saltier than some other types of caviar I’ve had, though also much more delicate. The caviar presentation was gorgeous, I thought.


Etihad Residence dinner — caviar service


Etihad Residence dinner — caviar service


Etihad Residence dinner — caviar service


Etihad Residence dinner — caviar service

Next I decided to order the Canadian lobster, which was exceptional. My gosh, this was my second lobster and caviar dish over the course of a few hours.


Etihad Residence dinner — Canadian lobster

I was stuffed at this point, so couldn’t bear the thought of having a main. This is one of the problems when they feed you well both in the air and on the ground.

However, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to have some dessert. The banana and chocolate pudding with vanilla ice cream was both stunningly beautiful and delicious.


Etihad Residence dessert — banana & chocolate pudding

The meal service was done about two hours into the flight, and Johan struck a fantastic balance of being attentive without being overbearing. The meal was excellent, though I really wasn’t that hungry after how much they fed me in the lounge.

By the time the meal was done we were just over 11 hours from Sydney, just west of Bengaluru.


Airshow enroute to Sydney


Airshow enroute to Sydney


Airshow enroute to Sydney

Speaking of proactive service, during the dessert course Johan asked if he could go ahead and turn down my bed, so that it was ready for me when the meal was done. I of course took him up on that.

After dinner I stepped into my bedroom, closed the door, and giggled. As someone who has tried just about every first class product in the world, I was still in disbelief. I was on a plane (the world’s biggest, to be specific), in the sky, in a private bedroom. What the hell?!?

The bed looked extremely comfortable, though I almost didn’t want to get in it. It was that beautiful.


Etihad Residence bed turndown service

The bed had four pillows, which were just perfect. They were plush without being too soft, and being able to create a little pillow fortress on a plane made for a great night of sleep.


Etihad Residence bed turndown service

Now, here’s one thing to be aware of. This is marketed as a “double bed,” though there’s no way it’s the same width as a standard double bed. I’d say the bed is somewhere between a twin and a double in terms of size. This is of course not a problem when traveling alone, but I do think this would be a tight squeeze if two people were traveling together.

The living room doesn’t convert into a bed, so this isn’t a product you’d probably find especially comfortable if traveling with a friend and you both wanted to sleep.

On the plus side, the bed was oh-so-comfortable. The bed had a legitimate mattress, so this isn’t just the case of them placing a thin sheet on a hard bench and calling it a bed. The Residence bed is every bit as comfortable as any bed you’d find on the ground. I also didn’t find the room to be the least bit claustrophobic.


Etihad Residence bed width

Next to the bed was an entertainment controller as well as a whole bunch of buttons and outlets. There was even an emergency button.


Etihad Residence bedroom outlets and entertainment controllers


Etihad Residence bedroom emergency button

Fun fact — the Residence has a peephole, though I’m told it’s not used when the Residence is occupied. Instead it’s intended so the crew can look inside in the event that someone tries to sneak in there. If the seatbelt sign goes on during the night they seem to use the honor system for the Residence. You’re told to fasten your seatbelt when you go to bed, and that’s that.


Etihad Residence bedroom peephole 

I was already on cloud nine when I saw the bed, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw what they placed next to the bed — A SIGNED SHAWN MENDES PICTURE.


SHAWN MENDES in the Etihad Residence (sort of)

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3


!!!!

After I managed to catch my breath and let the fact that I was flying the Residence sink in, it was time to get some sleep. We had about 10 hours left to Sydney at this point, and I decided to set an alarm so that I wouldn’t sleep for the entire flight, because I could have easily done so with how comfortable the bed was. So I set an alarm for six hours before landing. I fell asleep almost immediately, and woke up feeling refreshed as the alarm went off, as we were approaching the west coast of Australia.


Airshow enroute to Sydney after waking up


Airshow enroute to Sydney after waking up

When I went to bed, Johan explained that he would also take his rest while I sleep. Obviously the butler needs rest like the rest of the crew, and the butler apparently schedules his or her rest around that of the Residence passenger. He had introduced me to the cabin manager before I went to bed, and said that if I needed anything he’d take care of me.

When I woke up I pushed the call button, and sure enough, Johan was already awake from his rest as well.

I asked for an iced double espresso. And of course I asked to have it delivered to bed, because when you’re on a plane and have a private bedroom, you’re damn well going to take advantage of that. The iced double espresso was served on a beautiful tray, with a warm chocolate cookie.


Iced double espresso in the Etihad Residence

After I woke up I decided to briefly walk around the cabin.


Etihad A380 first class cabin

Then I walked back to the Lobby, located behind the first class cabin. This is a social area shared between first and business class passengers. However, I quickly reminded myself that I was flying the Residence, and that I should spend every minute possible inside of it, as I can visit the Lobby anytime.


Etihad A380 lobby


Etihad A380 lobby

In the very short time that I visited the Lobby, Johan provided a turndown service of my bed.


Constant bed turndown service

I decided to get back in bed, and figured I might as well order breakfast in bed. Yep, Etihad will even serve you a meal in bed. I wasn’t that hungry, so just asked for scrambled eggs well done, and a cappuccino and orange juice.

I was offered a selection of bread to start, including croissants, cinnamon rolls, chocolate pastries, etc.


Etihad Residence breakfast service — bread selection

I selected a croissant, and was served everything on a single, gorgeous tray.


Etihad Residence breakfast in bed

The eggs were perfectly prepared, and came with spinach and hash browns.


Etihad Residence breakfast in bed

After breakfast I asked Johan if it was possible to shower, so he went ahead and prepared the shower for me.


Showering in the Etihad Residence

The number of amenities inside the Residence bathroom is impressive — in addition to a shaving kit, toothbrush, etc., there was a full set of Acqua Di Parma toiletries, and even a loofah!


Showering in the Etihad Residence


Etihad Residence toiletries


Etihad Residence Acqua Di Parma toiletries


Etihad Residence Acqua Di Parma toiletries


Etihad Residence loofah

There were towels by the shower, and even the towels had the Residence logo on them.


Etihad Residence towels


Etihad Residence towels

However, what got me most excited was the Residence bathrobe. They always have one of these in the Residence, which is just so cool — who else gets to wear a bathrobe on a plane without looking like an idiot (well in this case you probably still look like one, but there’s no one around to see you, so it doesn’t count)? 😉


Etihad Residence bathrobe

I squealed when I saw that mine was even monogrammed (yes, my initials are BJS…).


Etihad Residence monogrammed bathrobe

After taking it all in, it was time to shower. I discovered that I had been given up to 10 minutes of water, rather than the normal allotment of five minutes.


Etihad Residence shower


Etihad Residence shower

I only ended up using about five minutes of water. Once I was done with my shower, I emerged to once again find that my bed had been turned down. The never ending attention to detail was so impressive. Similarly, throughout the flight I washed my hands and used the towels, though they were constantly replaced.


Etihad Residence turndown service (again)

At this point we were just about two hours from landing in Sydney, which made me sad.


Airshow enroute to Sydney


Airshow enroute to Sydney


Airshow enroute to Sydney

I asked to have a double shot cappuccino after my shower, and sure enough, that was served within minutes.


A cappuccino in the Etihad Residence

Finally about an hour before landing I decided to have my last meal of the flight. I had special ordered a lobster roll before the flight, so was curious to see how they did with it. Little did I know that this would be my third lobster dish in just over 12 hours. Oops. The lobster roll was incredible, and I asked for it to be served with pommes frites. It can be tough to make a good lobster roll on the ground, let alone in the air. Kudos to the chef.

The portion was huge, though, so I only finished about half of it.


Lobster roll and pommes frites in the Etihad Residence

Lastly, I had requested Laduree macarons before the flight. I was so full at this point that I just had one, and asked that the crew eat the rest of them (I couldn’t take them with me due to Australian law on bringing food into the country).


Macarons in the Etihad Residence

Oh, and I also did what I could to polish off the bottle of Dom that had just been opened to me. I love the 2006 vintage.


Dom Perignon 2006 in the Etihad Residence

As we slowly began our descent, Johan brought me a deck of Etihad playing cards, a landing card for Australia, a pen, and a fast track card, though he explained that I shouldn’t need the card, since I’d be escorted through immigration.


Landing card for Sydney and playing cards

As we descended towards Sydney it started to dawn on me that this whole experience was over as quickly as it started.


Approaching Sydney


Approaching Sydney

The cabin manager came by to ask how my experience was. Johan bid me farewell, and explained that I should stay in the Residence when we landed, and he’d get me as soon as the door opened.

There was a breathtaking sunset as we approached Sydney.


View on descent into Sydney


View on descent into Sydney

We had a smooth touchdown at 5:30PM, and from there it was just a short five minute taxi to the gate.


View on descent into Sydney

I was so sad to bid farewell to Johan and leave the Residence, but alas, all good things must come to an end.

Fortunately the experience wasn’t quite over. As I got out of the plane I was greeted by Susan and Maddie, who would be escorting me through immigration. There was a golf cart waiting for me, which I hopped in for the quick ride to immigration.


Being driven to immigration in Sydney

They took me through a special immigration checkpoint, and then rather than being picked up in the normal arrivals area, they brought me to some side lot, where my car was waiting for me, with the door and trunk already opened. Less than five minutes after getting off the plane I was in a car headed to my hotel.


Etihad Residence transfer to my hotel

AMAZING!!!!

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Comments

  1. Let me be the first to say, thank you for posting this! This is definitely the most hotly anticipated post in the blog’s history.

  2. I really wish you paid the trip to a non-famous blogger to have his/her review since I guarantee you, most airlines read your blog today (which is a feat and speaks a lot about the quality of your blog).

  3. OMG!
    Thank you Lucky for an incredible report! It must’ve been amazing as it is reading it…

  4. @Lucky, how many seatbelts on the bed? Two for two passengers, or is it configurable based on whether flying alone vs. with someone? Also, does the living room sofa turn into a bed (in case two passengers aren’t a couple)?

  5. Lucky, I appreciate the thought and detail you put into your reviews. This one lives up to the hype for sure. I’m flying CX F to Hong Kong in a few weeks, and that’s thanks to the tips you’ve given over the years. Rock on, bro. And thanks, again.

  6. Ok, after googling, I recognize the dude’s songs.

    That said, I do agree, Etihad clearly pulled out all the stops for this trip, probably getting their best butler, paying more attention than usual to your requests, etc because they know you are a famous blogger. While this product is obviously not really accessible to the “general public,” it would be great to see a review from a normal customer who would be booking this product as part of his or her normal travel patterns.

  7. @ Frank — Thanks for the kind words! Enjoy Cathay Pacific first class, another great product. 🙂

  8. @ RS — Surprisingly the living room doesn’t turn into a bed. I find that to be strange. I believe there was just one big seatbelt that could go around both people in bed.

  9. Hi Lucky, I am so glad I read through this entire review – so detailed and long, but so worth it. I enjoyed this whole series. Thanks for covering it so thoroughly! As someone who probably will never step foot in the Residence, this is the next best thing!! I can almost feel your enthusiasm through the words! 🙂

  10. @ Anthony — It’s a fair point, though I think what I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as a “normal” Residence passenger. I had a detailed conversation with Johan about this, and he explained how varied the guests in the Residence are. He said he has had guests who just wanted to be left alone and sleep the entire way, and they didn’t want any service whatsoever.

    So I have no doubt that they knew “who I was” (which feels weird saying, because I’m no one), though at the same time I’m sure they also saw my enthusiasm for the product.

    The point is, I think this is an experience anyone could more or less replicate. You can choose your butlers (if you have Amal and Johan I promise your experience will be just as good), you can request the food and drinks you want, etc.

    However, I agree that some of the surprises were likely special, like the bathrobe, signed Shawn Mendes picture, etc. But aside from that, I don’t think this is any different than the experience anyone else would have.

  11. Finally the review we’ve been waiting for!
    I really enjoyed your review of the Residence, it truly looks like a phenomenal product.
    I’ll definitely say hi to Johan if I run into him on an EY flight. 🙂

  12. Wonderful review! Makes me want to splurge on it too, someday. The amount of views and clicks this will get will certainly pay for the cost of the experience 😉

  13. That was the first airline review i read all the way through. Really did feel like I was there myself. Very well done!

  14. If you get 10 minutes of shower time, could you take two 5 minute showers? Also, did they let you keep the bathrobe?

  15. @ Mo — I’m sure two five minute showers could be arranged. And yep, they let me keep the bathrobe. 🙂

  16. Wow! Simply incredible! I’m glad we were able to live vicariously through you and experience something most of us would never get to do!

  17. I’ve toured The Residence as an agent, its amazing, I can’t yet see any chance of taking a flight in it! The food looks divine, those lobster rolls!! And what a prefect butler Johan seemed. Great report!

  18. Wow! Thanks for sharing that experience with us! I’m amazed by all the small details they put into the product / the experience.

    Awesome report Ben! Thanks!

  19. Ben – does the partition separating the living room of the Residence from the rest of the aircraft go up to the ceiling (a real “wall”)? From the photo it looks like it does not. How high is that privacy partition in the Residence versus The Apartments (versus business)? Thanks

  20. @Lucky Great review.

    I’m curious: does the wall between the living room and the First Class cabin not go all the way to the ceiling? Could someone come along and peer over?

  21. @ BC — It doesn’t go all the way up, though keep in mind that there’s a door between the living room and bedroom. The partition is a bit higher around the Residence than the rest of the Apartments, and I’d say it goes up maybe six feet.

  22. @ Dt — I usually get accused of being too tip-happy, but the thought never crossed my mind. I don’t think it’s expected in the slightest.

  23. Is there a seatbelt in the bed itself?

    You had a super-fast arrival process in Sydney. Did that include checked bags or they brought them later? I wonder if they put Residence checked bags separately in the hold for quick access.

  24. @ Jim — There is a seatbelt in the bed, yep. I didn’t have a checked bag, but it’s my understanding that checked bags for Residence passengers come out lightning fast.

  25. Nice review. Sounds like you had a great flight!

    I like how they used “textures” as a subheading on the dessert menu haha

  26. Incredible … one of the best if not the best review I’ve read! Thanks also for the great pictures … none was blurred … 🙂

  27. Wow – this is really the pinnacle of commercial aviation. The only way from here is private jet!

    Im interested in what you consider the success/point of the residence to be. The fact that they have only 2 residence lounges in AUH despite what, 6 or 7 A380 flights a day shows it is rarely booked.
    So is it a success? I always thought it existed purely to have a halo effect for the airline – surely it doesn’t actually make money?!

  28. YAY! THE DAY HAS ARRIVED!!!!! 🙂

    “While we’re on the topic, Etihad’s butlers also perform the role of food & beverage managers. So if the Residence is occupied then that’s the butler’s sole job, while if the Residence is empty, the butler will be the food & beverage manager in first class.”

    Apologies if I’m missing something, but I’m wondering, if someone is in the residence on a flight, does EY also staff a separate food and beverage manager for that flight? Or does that flight not have a food and beverage manager since the food and beverage manager becomes the butler taking care of the residence?

  29. @ TravelinWilly — Yep, there are actually two flight attendants who are food & beverage managers on A380s, so they’ll trade off on who performs that function, rather than just the function of an “ordinary” first class flight attendant. At least that’s my understanding.

  30. What did you get to keep from the experience, apart from a belly full of lobster? The signed Sean Mendes? The personalized bathrobe?

  31. Awesome, really enjoyed the trip report, I had one leg in the apartments from London to Au Dhabi on April and really enjoyed it, this though seems to be well over the top on a really good “normal” Etihad First class experience which i think stil is really really good.

    Thanks for sharing

  32. Hey Ben…

    I (as have been scores of others) been waiting for this review since the last installment came out. i would have accused you of having delayed my wedding, rather Honeymoon plans, as I wanted to read your review and then book the Residence for my Honeymoon. I am sure, the experience in the Residence will be as good as the 14 day long trip we are planning to Australia. With all the extras that the Residence comes with (Abu Dhabi stopover, hotels, chauffeured cars, Butler, personalization , etc, etc.), i do not mind paying for the Residence experience as well as the extra hours flying from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi to Sydney.

    Anyways, thank you for the wonderful review, the pictures, the tips and living this extraordinary experience for all lesser mortals like me.

    This wait is well worth it.

    thanks again 🙂

  33. Amazing review. Worth to wait. Many thanks to you for sharing this with us. If I may suggest, you might want to consider a soft filter for the blitz on your camera, to avoid reflection in some of your pictures.

  34. “After all, who gets a private bedroom on a plane?!” Well, aside from yourself, POTUS does, that’s who.

    Great review Lucky man!

  35. Oh my gosh – I was so enjoying reading (and mentally escaping on the journey) your review until….. like a lead balloon – Shawn Mendes. Seriously?? You went from mature adult to teenage girl in less than 2 seconds. Totally ruined everything for me. I understand it was part of your overall experience and felt obligated to include in your review. Oh well…………………………..

    Maybe you can put the pic next to your Justin Beiber pic on your nightstand. Just saying.

  36. @ RAL — It’s Bernardaud cutlery, exclusively for Etihad Airways. I imagine you could buy similar cutlery, but I think this exact one is exclusively for Etihad.

  37. Was the SM picture personally signed, or printed initials? Would have been nice if he’d written a message…

  38. Hey, I love your blog! And yes, that is why we have ashtrays on planes! In case you don’t follow the rules.

  39. Lucky – thank goodness your not a Belieber!! There is hope for you. LOL. Thanks for the humorous reply.

    In all honesty, fantastic review and something most of us can only dream about.

  40. Awesome!
    Could you please share a picture of how much the seat in the living room reclines? And maybe i have missed it, but how comfortable was this seat, and can you compare it with others.

  41. I really enjoyed that read, and more than anything, it makes me want to travel in The Residence myself! A great advert for Etihad.

  42. Wow. We’re drooling with jealousy. Wonderful report. Glad you had a great time. I can see how it will be hard travelling in mere first class now. LOL.

  43. Was Johan singing, “I know I can treat you better, than he can..” while he was laying out that photo?

    I can’t help but picture what happens in the background to all of this. Johan asleep in a little plastic cubicle in the crew rest and one of the staff walks by….

    “Yo, you-one.” *bangs cubicle* “Wake up buddy, Schlapigs up”

    “F**k me, already? Get that lobster ready.”

  44. This is amazing!
    Do you know how full the flight was in F and J? would be intersting to see because etihad is adding the 2nd daily A380 to Sydney.

  45. Great Review,

    question though about the dual role of the Butler, so if there is no Residence passenger then the Butler/Johan will serve as food and bev manager for 1st class. IF their is a residence passenger does that mean that first class will get a slightly worse experience without said manager/Johan?

  46. Loved this! And how openly warm you are – squealing with delight re the monogrammed bathrobe. Great review, thanks Lucky.

  47. Lucky,
    Great review of a fantastic product. I’d do this any day over a private jet!

    It’s a shame you didn’t take Ford with you. It would have made a wonderful opportunity to propose (if you’re so inclined!)

  48. Brings back great memories of my Residence trip last year. Other than the picture of Shawn and the extras you requested, my experience was exactly how you described it. I’ve had a couple of LH F flights where I was the only guest and with a great crew that’s a real treat (life is like a box of chocolates), but the Residence was a notch above. And to be honest, I prefer the Residence over long haul private

  49. FINALLY! LOVED this review….as usual. SO GOOD! Thanks Lucky. As always, living vicariously through your travels #WorthTheWait Now im craving lobster rolls, thank you sir 😉

  50. That’s a very mediocre wine list for the best airline product in the world. Shame, given that they’ve obviously tried to mark The Residence out as being distinctive in other areas of the product.

  51. Ben, this was perfect. I can not wait to see you next time (whenever that is) and ask you a few questions 1-on-1.

    Well done my friend – just well done!

  52. Thanks for sharing, Ben! It’s good to read the excitement in your writing, and that you’re not jaded even after all the first class experiences you’ve had.

    I would love to do this trip one day!

  53. I didn’t read this. I was so excited for your trip; I could feel how excited you were and I really had fun with imagining what you could request, would you get the walk-around, how might the butler be etc.

    Then once you had that fun, I as a reader was forgotten. When I asked politely about when we might hear something about this trip, I was ignored. When I asked again, I was told off.

    Now I just feel like you’re showing off while asking me to click something to fund your next trip. I don’t count much, and you probably don’t give a shit about me, but you lost someone who used to be on your side.

  54. @ William Y. — First of all, I don’t like losing anyone as a reader, and certainly don’t want anyone to feel that way. That’s your prerogative, and if you choose not to read a report you’ve been constantly asking about, I respect that. However, I’d like to address some of the points you make, maybe to shed a bit of light on my perspective.

    I’m sorry you feel like you were forgotten as a reader, because of how long you perceive it took me to write this report. The reality is that I published this review more quickly than most reviews. This post was published less than three weeks after the trip, which is actually faster than average for my trip reports. I had published my earlier impressions shortly after the flight, which were much more detailed than usual.

    For a bit of context of my other most recent mega trip reports:
    — I published my Singapore Airlines HKG-SFO trip report a month after the trip
    — I published my Kuwait Airways business class KWI-SNN-JFK trip report a bit over a month after the trip

    That’s just the normal speed with which I publish trip reports, quite intentionally. I always write a short summary after the trip, and I find that it works best to leave a bit of a gap between that and when the actual report is published.

    As far as you “politely asking about when we might hear something about the trip,” I’m not sure if you’re referring to this comment, which was left just 12 days after the actual flight?

    “I remember last year when you flew The Residence. Or was it this year? In any case, there was snow on the ground.”

    Or this comment?

    “Seriously, my GOD. This review has drawn out what? FOUR weeks now? Thursday or something there’ll be a lounge review and then … around June 15, the Residence review?”

    Again, I began publishing the trip report days after I returned to the US, and this was published less than three weeks after the flight. For what it’s worth, during that time I had a terrible cold (which I got the day I returned to the US), I took my parents to New York for my nephew’s birthday, and I got engaged. So I’m sorry, but it has been a crazy few weeks, though I don’t think that has impacted my posting schedule all that much.

    If you really feel like I’m just “showing off” and “asking [you] to click something to fund [my] next trip,” then there’s not a whole lot I can do. This is my single greatest passion in life, and I think that shows. That’s why I’ve been doing this for the past decade. That’s why I blogged for years without making a dime. Because I genuinely love this. Yes, I’m lucky that I’ve also been able to make a job out of this, but first and foremost this is my passion.

    So I really am sorry for how you feel, because I don’t want anyone to feel that way. However, this trip report has been published faster than virtually all of my other trip reports. And I’m sorry, because I did get engaged and tried to get away from my computer for more than an hour on some days, which is rare for me. This is what I do all day every day.

    It’s sad that you were so excited about this but now aren’t even bothering to read it…

  55. I read your blog for tips on mileage accumulation and on aspirational travel. Loved QF A380F, the CX F. I guess this is the next challenge to conquer. But if the bed is really I tight squeeze my wife might kick me out and take all the hot water! Great review!

  56. Reading your Etihad Residence review was the most fun travel I have ever experienced without actually going anywhere. (William Y. really missed out on something special.) I love all your reviews. Your joy and appreciation for what you get to do is clearly evident in your writing. I enjoy your perspective. You know you are Lucky.

    I have to travel sardine can class most of the time. Unless Ed McMann comes back from the dead, and shows up with that Publisher’s Clearing House prize, I will probably never get to even see the Residence. Seeing it through your eyes made me feel I was almost there myself. Thank you so much for generously sharing your amazing experience with the hoi polloi. We love you.

  57. @William Y – you don’t feel important anymore? Oh, poor you. Best off then to find a blogger that fits their work into your time frame.

    Thanks for the great trip report Lucky – I thought it was worth waiting for.

  58. Hi Ben,

    I’ve been a reader of your blogs for a few years now and was really looking forward to your review of this! I could really feel the excitement you had in this review. I was excited and happy just reading! Thank you so much as always for the detailed review and pictures. I will probably never get to try The Residence myself but this is definitely the next best thing!!

  59. @lucky . First off, thank you for this. I was worried I had missed this particular TR. The only issues I have are fairly pedantic. Namely, you said, and I paraphrase, “This is the second lobster & caviar dish…..”. Well, it would actually be the second time you have had lobster and caviar in a short time frame, as the lobster & caviar appear to have been served as separate courses on the aircraft

  60. While I understand and agree that this is the ultimate in commercial air travel, I’m having a slightly different reaction — the service reminds me of the service one often can get on a private railway car and in a suite on an ocean liner. And the advantage is that that you get to enjoy the service over a much longer time. Other forms of luxury travel are better suited for this type of service.

    On something else, I love (and I mean love in the way you love SM) your photo of Sydney harbour — one of the most beautiful urban places in the world. You can barely make out the Opera house. The view is stunning.

    Neil

  61. Folks:

    Did I miss something in a previous post or comments?
    Lucky states in his long response a few hours ago
    “and I got engaged.”

    @Lucky : Congrats — That’s the best part of this whole review

  62. I worked for Panasonic Avionics for a couple years on their in-flight entertainment systems, with Etihad as one of their star customers. It’s a bit strange developing on the huge screens with remote controls, knowing that it was highly unlikely I’d ever get to see one in use.

    I can’t say I’ve sought out reviews of the Residence, but going through this one is the first time I’ve actually seen the product in its environment. Kind of a weird perspective for me, but really enjoyed reading through the whole thing!

    Hopefully the IFE was up to the standard!

  63. Thanks for the great review! Now that you’ve experienced the pinnacle of commercial aviation what next?

  64. I didn’t know you got engaged!!?? Congratulations ! Ford is one lucky guy!

  65. Congratulations on your engagement, Lucky! What lovely news.

    Thanks for such a detailed report – your enthusiasm and excitement for this product is so obvious, it was a joy to read. The Residence is on my bucket list for sure.

  66. You are engaged? I think you buried the lede there.

    Your comment deserves it’s own post. Congrats.

    Also, that thing you did with an airplane… it sounds really awesome too.

  67. I have been following this site for years and this has been a most vicariously satisfying report I’ve read. I hope to one day be able to experience it first hand, but thanks for telling us about how you maximized your travel on the ground and in the air.

    I feel like I need a cigarette

  68. this post red like an mix of a rollercoaster and a disney story, what an amazing post.
    well done and now how will you beat this one…

  69. @Lucky great review and a great website. I love to read all of your trip reports because they show how much you love to travel, and this one was certainly no exception.

    Ignore William Y and be happy you have a job you are so great at and a new fiance!!

  70. Lucky, thank you for a wonderful and informative review. Do you know whether the airline has a policy on allowing gay couples to travel in the Residence (given the sleeping arrangements). Obviously within Abu Dhabi I am happy to respect the law and ask for an additional suite at the hotel on stopover (we’d be using the Residence London to Sydney), but don’t know the rules whilst up in the air!

  71. @ Nigel — That’s not a problem at all, and even in Abu Dhabi you won’t have a problem sharing a bed as a gay couple. 🙂

  72. I add my praise for this review as well. What an excellent piece?! It does make me want to take a loan out on my 401k and book a ticket lol. I whoheartedly agree with your “there isn’t a typical residence passenger” comment Lucky. That’s what I think people don’t get. Gary at VFTW wrote about this regarding First Apartment dining. The experience can be EXACTLY what you want it to be. I’m sure if ordinary travelers were concerned they wouldn’t get the attention Lucky received they could request everything specifically in this review, and it would be accommodated. I think people who make the blogger status, preferential treatment comment think of the airline as dictating the service such that it is at the airline’s disgression to treat passengers differently. They need to recondition their perception to understand that the passenger has the ability and the responsibility to dictate their own service.

  73. Lucky,

    That was an amazing review and it made my weekend reading it. Thank you for doing such a marvellous job on it and the others. Keep flying and keep writing because I intend to keep reading your awesome blog

  74. LucUky:

    I was so interested, and a bit excited to finally read your posting about your hallmark flight on Ethiad between ABU/SYD. What a thrilling adventure it had to have been. I especially like, that you giggled on at least two occasions…..so honest, and an emotion hardly any of us alive could haves quelched…. I have been a fan of yours ever since hearing about your blog from a friend.

    I am now buying many lottery tickets to plop down whatever the charges might be for this once in a lifetime mega experience. Can we say adding this one to my bucket list…..????

    Keep up the superlative work and travel experiences….I am a fan for life for all you do for your many thousands of blog followers
    Best
    Michael

  75. Thanks for the review
    @farhan ni orang pasti coli pake foto itu deh, sama butlernya pasti dia tusbol.

  76. @ Andrew — I credited it to American AAdvantage and earned 400% miles for that segment. 🙂

  77. Johan could perhaps give his colleagues in Economy some training.

    I know it’s only economy, but I’ve flown Etihad a few times in the past couple of years and the level of service each time has been beyond poor.

  78. Over the years, your blog has inspired and enabled me to fly in F in LH, CX, SQ, EY – many times over. I now have something new to aspire to! Simply Amazing!! Awesome job Lucky!!

  79. Hi Lucky!
    Thanks so much for the wonderful and beautifully written review! I’ve been waiting for this weeks ever since you announced your adventure! Jsut as you mentioned before, i was sad when they didn’t let you do the aircraft inspection with the pilot. Looking forward to reading your future adventures especially with all the new products being released soon.

  80. Lucky, great work as always. I’m glad you got to experience this and take us along for the ride! I really enjoyed your breathlessly excited, slightly drunk Instagramming :-D.

  81. Well, I watched the video and I didn’t think there would be much new content in the review post but happily, I was wrong. Great post, great detail and your enthusiasm shines through in your writing (as always).

    I agree with you, I don’t think you received any special treatment because you’re someone who reviews products, I think that everyone is treated as a VIP when they fly The Residence (otherwise what would be the point?)

    Last, congratulations on getting engaged! If you feel like sharing please let us know when and how that happened. I think we must all be a bit fond of romance since we are all after the romance of flying in the sky.

    xoxo

  82. you got engaged and you just post that almost as an hidden sentence? you are just aweful!
    Gratuliere und viel gluck zusammen !

  83. Omg congratulations on your engagement Lucky!!

    I am sorry you had to reveal that in the comments due to some troll (though I imagine you wouldn’t have revealed it that way if you didn’t want to – I assume you did to prevent trolls like William Y making snarky comments had you shared a separate post about it).

    Anyway, I share the overwhelmingly positive consensus as the rest of the commenters – excellent review and congratulations on finally getting to experience the residence, but mostly congratulations on your engagement!!

  84. First, major congrats to both of you.

    Second…amazing review and so glad you got to take it after all this time.

  85. 5 minutes from plane to car is actually amazing. The ground experience is neglected by way too many airlines. Btw I must admit the first thing that caught my eye was the lighted Audi logo on the ground next to the car… seriously???

  86. maybe the us can learn something from your experience with a real airline. Maybe not most likely. Onward and downward!

  87. Lucky, very nice job with this review. I can imagine how difficult it would be to maximize enjoyment of a trip like this, while simultaneously taking notes and photos, but you nailed it. Just like you were, I was also sad when you were only 2 hours out from Sydney.

  88. Thank You for the fascinating report with all the nice photos- (great photo of Sydney harbour at dusk!). I enjoy your detailed post with your personal reflections! Nice to see the airline playing cards (I collect them yet fewer airlines seem to offer them recently). Your travel adventures inspire me.

    It was interesting to read this Residences report then read both your previous report on Etihad “First Class” from about a year ago (Abu Dhabi to Australia too) and, your Garuda First report too.

    cheers from Shanghai!

  89. Hi Ben, How fortunate you were to experience the ultimate in commercial air travel! The fact that Etihad obviously researched your likes and had the signed picture of Shawn Mendes for you blew me away. I was tearfully giddy for you. As always your trip report was expertly documented. You are without question the best at what you do. I am a relatively new follower of OMAAT and look forward to your emails each day. Best wishes for your continued safe travel. ~Scotty

  90. @Lucky Hey Ben ,

    Loved the review, definitely the best Residence review out there and glad you finally got to try it!

    I used your tip to book flights from Cairo and found some great priced round trip flights from CAI-AUH-JFK. I could get an Apartment ticket for $5k and a Residence ticket for $10k. This will likely be a one time experience for me so, given that you’ve flown both the Apartment and the Residence, would you say the extra $5k is worth it? Thanks so much!!

    Best,

    Peter

  91. Awesome review! Love the details, and so many great pictures.

    So much lobster, I’m a little jealous! So lush! Though you lost me a bit at well done scrambled egg. 😛

    I’m also jealous you got to sleep with Shawn Mendes. Where did that little detail come from? Was it on your preference sheet?

    And wait, you got engaged??? Congratulations!!!! To Shawn? LOL

  92. Terrific review, thanks Ben!
    Was there any “Residence recognition” already on the incoming F-leg CAI-AUH as it was on one ticket?

    Sounds good also that you get the full stopover benefits at the Emirates Palace even though you have a First – Residence connection and not require a Residence – Residence connection in AUH.

  93. Ben,

    Great review. Must be wonderful to have travelled in the Residence.

    Question;

    Did you cover the expense by cash or by points?

    Keep up the great reviews.

    Sean

  94. @Lucky – This is actually the second time I am reading this as it is just such a good review though after reading it the second time around I am interesting to know if two people (friends family etc) were travelling in the residence and didn’t want to share the small double bed (and wanted to sleep at the same time) could they use a first class apartment or even a business class seat to sleep in (if there were some free obviously)

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