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Earlier today, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig flew Etihad’s new A380 first-class product, The Apartment, from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. The experience was even more fantastic than expected.
There’s first class — and then there’s this. Etihad’s A380 is absolutely over the top, but in a tasteful, luxurious kind of way. From a marketing perspective, The Residence is the star of the show, but a one-way flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in that three-room mini-complex will run you a cool $20,000, or over a million miles. Instead, the highlight for me is The Apartment, a first-class experience that far exceeds that of any other airline. And I only redeemed 60,000 American AAdvantage miles — less than the sign-up bonus from a single credit card for this flight.
Here’s my list of 10 things that make The Apartment so special:
1. It’s HUGE
You can fit four people in an Apartment — comfortably. I never shared mine with more than one person, but with a super-wide sofa, you could easily host a small business meeting at 38,000 feet.
2. There’s phenomenal privacy
Other airlines have sliding doors, such as Asiana, Singapore and Emirates, but with tall partitions and just nine Apartments in a relatively large space on the A380’s upper deck, you can completely avoid seeing any other passengers if you wish.
3. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you want
On-demand dining isn’t a new concept in commercial aviation, but on Etihad, you can choose from dozens of items to eat at any time during the flight. If you want to eat right away, that’s fine, or you can choose to sleep for 10 hours before your first meal. There’s a limited supply, of course, so if there’s something in particular you’d like to have, be sure to make a request just after boarding.
4. Set a table for two
If you’re traveling with a companion, you can join them for a meal. The retractable table is large enough to accommodate multiple entrees, glasses and bread plates, and the sofa is perfectly positioned to face a friend during mealtime.
5. Sleep side-by-side
When you’re ready to sleep, the sofa folds flat into a bed, and the sofas in rows 3 and 4 are positioned side-by-side, so you can sleep next to a partner after lowering the partition.
6. There’s a shower on board
Emirates pioneered the in-flight shower concept, but Etihad’s made the feature available, too. You can book a time to shower, at which point you’ll have five minutes of hot water to use as you wish, with individual Le Labo shower amenities.
7. This is the bathroom
There are two lavatories accessible to Apartment passengers, including a smaller one with the shower and this larger lav just behind. It’s clean and spacious, and stocked with Le Labo amenities and cloth towels.
8. You can watch live TV
The state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system lets you watch two programs at once — one on the large main screen, and a second on the smaller handset. You can even stream several channels of live TV, including CNBC and CNN.
9. Each Apartment has a mini-bar
You can order anything you’d like to drink and have it appear in just a minute or two, but if you just want a sip of cold water or soda, it’s there when you need it.
10. There’s a gorgeous lounge
Many A380s have public lounges for premium passengers, but Etihad’s is quite possibly the most tastefully designed. It’s small, with just six seats, but it was always quiet during my flight. I spent hours hanging out there — eating, working and chatting with both business and first-class passengers.
Stay tuned for my full review of The Apartment, coming next week.