And you thought the Singapore Airlines double bed suites were nice. Etihad has just unveiled the most luxurious seat in all of commercial aviation, aptly named "The Residence", to be found on their brand new A380s. With 125 square feet of space spread out between a living/dining room, bedroom, and private bathroom, Etihad apparently plans to give private jets a run for their money.
The living room includes a Poltrona Frau leather sofa with an ottoman, two dining tables, a chilled drink cabinet, and a 32-inch flat screen TV with HDMI inputs. The ensuite bathroom has (what else?) its own shower, along with exclusive toiletries and bathrobes, and the bedroom features a real double bed and a 27-inch flat screen TV.
The Residence living room
The Residence private bathroom and shower
The Residence bedroom
In addition to the hard product, guests booking The Residence will have access to their VIP Travel Concierge Service, which will take care of every aspect of the reservation, including luxury chauffeurs, private check-in, and lounge access at the airport. Onboard, your own personal Etihad Butler will cater to your every whim, while an in-flight chef can prepare your favorite dishes.
All of this sound too good to be true? Let's just say nothing is impossible for the right price. Since the first Etihad A380 is scheduled to begin service starting on December 27, 2014 for their London to Abu Dhabi route, bookings are already available online for The Residence, and prices are apparently around $43,000 roundtrip. Keep in mind that flight only lasts about seven hours each way!
While they were at it, Etihad decided to up the ante on their First Class Suite product as well, creating what they call the "First Apartment". Approximately 74% more spacious than their existing design, the nine suites will be arranged in a 1-1 configuration on the A380. Each will contain a reclining lounge chair and a full-length ottoman that transforms into an 81-inch long bed. There will be a 24-inch flat screen TV, a vanity, a chilled drinks cabinet, and wardrobe. A privacy divider can even be lowered to join two apartments for couples traveling together. And of course, the shared bathroom has a shower.
First Apartments Aisle
First Apartment seat and bed
First Apartment sleep
First Apartment vanity
First Apartment bathroom
Business class has been redesigned as well, even though it looks more like the standard (as if anything can be called standard on Etihad now) products we've seen on other airlines. Their "Business Studio" cabin will be in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration with alternating rows in reverse. This design will be featured in both their brand new A380 and the 787. First class on the new 787s, however, will remain similar to their current suite offering.
Business Studio sleep
Business Studio dining
Etihad has seriously taken the first class concept to a whole new level with their A380 layout. The Residence Cabin is after the private jet market, but it remains to be seen if the mega-rich will actually choose to fly commercial, even with the added space and privacy. At the end of the day, this is perhaps just another sign of the Gulf carriers' willingness to go bigger and flashier at any cost.
The Lobby onboard lounge
And good luck trying to locate award seats in either The Residence or the First Apartments - not surprisingly, there is zero availability, and it may stay that way for a very long time. Much like how Singapore Airlines kept their suites product away from award redemptions for many years, Etihad will probably choose to maintain the exclusiveness of their new cabins by only allowing access through one means: paying up.
Etihad has 10 A380s on order, with one scheduled to be delivered in 2014, 4 in 2015, 3 in 2016, and 2 in 2017. After London, the next routes to be upgraded will include New York and Sydney. According to the official seat map, the new aircraft will carry 498 passengers, with 2 VIP guests in The Residence, 9 guests in the First Apartments, 70 guests in the Business Studios, and 417 prisoners in The Dungeon... err... I mean Economy Class:
Etihad A380 layout