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Etihad’s A380 Residence may be the best way to travel on a commercial plane. The Points Guy was the first Residence passenger on Etihad’s inaugural flight from New York’s JFK to Abu Dhabi (AUH). With three rooms — including a shower and a full sized bed — and a private butler, The Residence is certainly an over-the-top experience:

However, since Etihad’s grand introduction of the product, the airline has learned that there aren’t that many passengers willing to shell out the $32,000 price to book the experience. And, once it opened the Residence to mileage booking, it also found there are not enough mileage collectors with over 2 million Etihad miles available to book it.

Generally, Etihad bet big on premium passengers, a strategy that it might be revisiting now, amid some notable cutbacks to premium services. The airline lost $2 billion in 2016.

Now it seems that Etihad is trying to score a little bit of revenue wherever it can. After cutting Residence service to Melbourne, the airline started offering access to its Residence lounge there for just A$40 (US$32). Now, Etihad is doing the same  at JFK.

The newly renovated Etihad lounge at JFK for business-and first-class passengers – including The Residence.
The Etihad lounge at JFK for business-and first-class passengers.

When Etihad doesn’t have a Residence passenger, the private Etihad Residence Lounge becomes a “VIP Room” available for purchase. The purchase price? Just $40! According to a statement obtained by View From The Wing — but not yet reflected on Etihad’s website — here’s how it’s going to work:

You can also upgrade to our VIP Room for an additional $40 for you and your family. This is a completely private area, where you can have a bite to eat, rest or simply enjoy time together before your flight. Our New York lounge opens three hours prior to flight departures. Lounge access and use of the VIP Room are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You can pay at the lounge on the day by using credit card or Etihad Guest Miles.

That’s right, the VIP Room will be available on a “first-come, first-served basis” with the lounge opening three hours to departure. Considering the cheap price, I assume that Etihad will be able to fill this room at three hours prior to departure most days it doesn’t have a Residence passenger. Before you schedule your airport arrival too early for the chance at getting access, you’re obviously going to want to make sure that the Residence hasn’t already been sold.

The $40 payment will score you and your traveling companions a private space, which includes a restroom and shower as well as a private prayer room.

Unfortunately, the experience won’t come with the special menu — which included black caviar during TPG’s experience — that’s normally prepared for a Residence guest.

H/T: View From the Wing

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