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During his May trip to the Milan Expo — this year’s version of the World’s Fair, held in Milan, Italy — TPG Contributor Leigh Rowan got to do the next-best thing to flying in the Etihad Residence: He walked through a complete replica. (All photos below are by the author.)

The Etihad Residence
The Etihad Residence’s dining room is as big as the public lounges you’ll find on other planes.

I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some pretty luxurious first-class flights, including a recent jaunt from Bangkok to Dubai in Emirates’ business class. Even so, all those trips suddenly seem a bit underwhelming when compared to the opulent Residence suite aboard Etihad’s A380. At the Milan Expo last month, I got a taste of the very good life in the Alitalia/Etihad lounge, which featured an Etihad Residence along with the airline’s First Apartment and Alitalia’s Magnifica Class seats.

As a SkyTeam Elite Plus member, I was able to access the second floor of the lounge, where all the premium-class seats and suites were on display. (Etihad Guest Gold and Platinum members get access, as well.) Etihad’s First Apartment is plenty impressive in person — and I wouldn’t complain if I ended up in Alitalia’s Magnifica Class — but the Etihad Residence was clearly the star of the show.

My friends and I enjoyed a tour of the three-room suite, and the experience was purely for entertainment; the helpful Etihad flight attendant/tour guide Jason didn’t really give us a sales pitch, he instead toured us through the features of the cabin, showing not telling how the Residence is absolutely worth the thousands upon thousands of dollars it costs to book with cash.

Welcome In!

Welcome to breakfast in bed — on a plane.
Welcome to breakfast in bed — on a plane.

Jason assured us that there is complete privacy in the Residence, from the service (your private butler will serve only you, and he will keep your identity confidential to even the rest of the cabin crew) to the space; the completely enclosed room, featured in-depth below, closes to the outside.

The Residence features its own bathroom, a dining area and a bedroom. To enter, you step through these sliding doors.

Behind these doors, luxury awaits.
Behind these doors, luxury awaits.

The Etihad Residence doesn’t just have a private bathroom; it has a huge private bathroom. And it’s fancy, too: Rolled hand towels and Acqua di Parma toiletries line the shelves. Jason noted that if Residence customers prefer a different brand, say, Prada or Gucci or Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries, you can request it from your VIP Concierge member who will have the items stocked on your flight for you. Fancy!

Fancy Aqua di Parma amenities in the Residence
You’ll find fancy Acqua di Parma amenities in the Residence’s private bathroom.

The shower was large enough to fit three people. (In case you like that sort of thing.)

Yes, that
Yes, that’s the Residence’s shower — with three adult humans inside.

The bedroom, separated from the rest of the Residence by a door, is even more awe-inspiring; walking in feels like you’ve somehow ended up on an even more posh version of Air Force One.

The posh sleeping quarters are set behind a full-size door.

The bed is probably the widest you’ll find on a commercial airline, and it looks mighty comfortable.

etihad-residence-bed-milan-expo
A bed on a commercial aircraft: wonders never cease.

Bottom Line

If you don’t have a bottomless budget — or haven’t redeemed the obscene number of miles or points to book Etihad’s most luxurious in-flight product — visiting the Residence at the Milan Expo might just be worth your while. If you plan to head to Italy for the event, know that it ends on October 31, 2015. And don’t forget to book your trip with a credit card that earns you bonus points for travel, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred!

Know before you go.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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