You could already fly as a passenger in suites aboard select aircraft operated by airlines such as Singapore Airlines; and you can already take a shower aboard select aircraft operated by Emirates Airline. Pshaw.
As described in an official press release, Etihad Airways has significantly upped the ante in the luxury cabin wars with The Residence — its new product aboard select Airbus A380, which includes a butler to ensure all arrangements are in place and plan both the inflight and après-flight itinerary according to personal preferences; and a chef at your service who can prepare your favorite meal if you do not prefer the available gourmet offerings. This “apartment in the air” is designed for up to two passengers traveling together — and “it has been created by leading interior designers and hospitality experts who understand the discernment and sophistication expected by the private traveller.”
Each “residence” includes the following rooms:
Living roomincludes a luxurious Poltrona Frau leather double-seat sofa with ottoman, two dining tables, a cabinet filled with chilled drinks, and a 32-inch flat screen television
Ensuite bathroomis accessed through a soft-carpeted hallway and is equipped with a shower — you can supposedly spend up to four minutes in it, unlike the five minutes permitted in the shower aboard aircraft operated by Emirates Airline — as well as exclusive toiletries and bathrobes
Bedroom is decorated with delicate fabrics and furnished with a natural fiber mattress double bed, Egyptian cotton sheets, choice of pillows, and a 27-inch flat screen television
A VIP travel concierge service takes care of guests booked into The Residence from the moment of reservation right through until the end of their stay with Etihad — from a luxury chauffeur to private check-in and lounge.
The first Airbus A380 aircraft with The Residence premium class cabin is expected to be in operation as of December 27, 2014 with service from Abu Dhabi International Airport to London; and to the Australia market sometime in 2015.
Here is a short video which illustrates The Residence experience:
In addition to The Residence, first class “apartments” have also been announced. Nine of them will be installed on the upper deck of Airbus A380 aircraft in a 1-1 configuration — creating the only single aisle first class cabin in the industry, according to the press release from Etihad Airways. Each “First Apartment” — which is equipped with a sliding door 64 inches high — includes a reclining armchair and a full-length ottoman, both upholstered by Poltrona Frau. The ottoman transforms into a separate fully flatbed 80 inches in length. Features also include a chilled mini-bar, a personal vanity unit, and a swiveling television monitor for viewing from either the seat or the bed. Passengers assigned to seats in this cabin will have access to a fully-equipped shower room.
In addition to chauffeur service, you will be greeted at Abu Dhabi International Airport at curbside by a porter and concierge before being escorted to a dedicated first class check-in reception. You can relax in the exclusive Etihad First Class Lounge, with five-star dining featuring the Chef’s Table. You can enjoy pre-flight pampering with a range of complimentary treatments in the Six Senses Spa.
Many FlyerTalk members are amazed, excited and speechless, calling the products epic, jawdropping and sensational. According to FlyerTalk member h1ghfly3r, “‘The residence’ flights are now in the system. found Dec-Jan LHR-AUH flights for $42.000 (GBP 25.200)-(return)” $42,000.00?!? I could not even think of paying half of that for the experience — but then again, I am certainly not the target customer for this product. I would rather spend that money on a luxury experience on the ground — which would last longer than any flight…
…not that I would not want to experience the services which Etihad Airways is offering — but that is simply not worth it to me, in my opinion. I can think of many, many other ways to spend $42,000.00 — like perhaps adding more luxury products to my home which I can enjoy for years, for example.
I prefer to take long showers, so a four-minute shower aboard an airplane is useless to me. I certainly would try it once just for the sake of saying that I did it — but that would be all. Additionally, I would be happy with a comfortable flat surface on which I can sleep and plenty of good food — not necessarily gourmet — and my personal electronic device has plenty of games, music and reading material to keep my mind occupied.
I am also a person who eventually feels uncomfortable with people doting on me for service, as I usually prefer to do things myself. Again — that is just me.
If The Residence and the First Class Apartment are beyond your reach in terms of cost, service or luxury, Etihad Airways will also offer their “reimagined” experience in the First Class Suite; as well as their Business Studio and Economy Smart Seat.
One person commented to me that she would rather spend the money to fly as a passenger on Concorde rather than on these services — and Concorde flights were significantly less expensive. Unfortunately, supersonic travel is no longer an option at this time; so certain airlines are attempting to have the time aboard their aircraft well-spent by their passengers who are willing to pay for their upscale products.
I highly doubt that you will be able to purchase a seat in The Residence cabin with frequent flier loyalty program miles.
Would you pay to experience either The Residence or the First Class Apartment — or are these products too opulent for your preferences?