Introduction to The Long Way back to Australia
Bangalore to Mumbai (Jet Airways Business Class Class 737-800)
JW Marriott Sahar (Mumbai)
Mumbai to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi to London (Etihad First Class A380)
Tour of Etihad's The Residence
The Frankfurt Hotel (Frankfurt)
Park Inn by Radisson (Luxembourg 1)
Sofitel Luxembourg Europe (Luxembourg 2)
The Westin Grand (Frankfurt)
Lufthansa First Class Terminal (Frankfurt)
Frankfurt to Seoul (Lufthansa First Class A380)
The Ritz-Carlton (Seoul)
Tokyo to Sydney (Japan Airlines First Class 777-300ER)
Etihad's The Residence Tour - A380
Class: Super First Class?
The Residence (Nicole Kidman Etihad ad anyone?) might just about be the grandest 'seat' on a passenger plane, and there's nothing quite like it - short of a Private Jet - hence the nickname 'Penthouse in the Sky'. When Etihad first announced it, people were both amazed and curious as to how it would be to fly with your own living room, bathroom, and bedroom on a plane, including yours truly (especially when it costs a minimum of $20,000 on long routes, and $5,500 on the upcoming Mumbai route). When I flew Etihad First Class last year, I had asked if I could see The Residence - unfortunately I was shut down because they want to keep the 'allure and prestige of it a mystery'. Alrighty then!
Well that has since changed with fellow travel blogger ThePointsGuys flying The Residence last year, and giving us a very thorough review of it, though there were others as well. However, my curiosity still remained, especially after they turned down my in flight request last year. I reached out to the Etihad PR team to help me out with this (perks of being a travel blogger I suppose!), and it really felt like I was being interviewed for a position at Etihad with the number of questions I was asked before they accepted the request - literally the day before my flight - the price of curiosity I suppose.
However as mentioned in my previous article, having a tour of the Residence got my bumped in status, and got me my own Etihad ground staff member to be my personal assist for the 2 hours I was in Abu Dhabi. To read more on that, click here. Originally I was meant to get The Residence tour while in the air from The Butler, which technically meant I'd be flying 'The Residence' for a portion of the flight (hello Residence bed!), but that all changed when someone actually booked The Residence last minute - so I had to wait till we landed in London so Stephan, the butler, could tidy up for me, and he did so with incredible haste. The only downside was that because British Security boarded the plane to check the plane post landing, I only had 10 minutes in it, but not without getting some great shots.
First, the Lounge, which is essentially two First Apartment seats side by side and also feature's a massive 32" tv screen!
Following the lounge, we moved to to private bathroom, which was rather small, but at least has it's own shower as well!
Then we moved to the bedroom, the coolest feature of them all! This was obviously a feature I was looking forward to most, as it was the most unique feature of any plane out there (again, non Jets). It was quite constricting, so those who are claustrophobic may struggle a little here, but it's definately not as small as I had assumed either! For those who like watching TV before bed, there's also a 24" TV in here as well, so fear not!
One thing that did surprise me was just how small the total area was, when compared to how they market it. Understandable though, as there's only so much spare space on a plane, even as large as the A380.
Of course, Stephan insisted I try the bed out, to see how soft it was. It certainly was comfortable, and the Egyptian Cotton sheets didn't hurt either. Stephan told me the Arabic gentleman who had just flow The Residence had exclaimed it was more comfortable than many private jet's he had flown on, so certainly a compliment on the bedding side.
And a picture, just for proof, complete with Face blur magic!
My thoughts on the Residence? Wow - I can't believe how massive this is, if you were to compare it to an Economy seat. Heck, compare it to any First Class seat in the world, this is massive (though it's smaller than how they market it).
Would this be worth $20,000+? For me, absolutely not, but there are certainly those who would find that fee tolerable for peace of mind on the plane, and more importantly - privacy, because the truth is, you never have to even leave your 'Penthouse' so to speak for the entire flight if you don't want to. The addition of a Butler is fantastic, and he would really add a lot of value, but like I said - it's perspective.
One thing I can say though, is that Etihad has really Re-imagined Flying, and that can only be good for consumers! With the tour done, I thanked Stephan and the rest of the crew, and made my way to baggage collection (even though Etihad had left my bag behind in Abu Dhabi as I found out), and turned back for one last look at this Super Beauty of a plane, the A380, before heading off to start my European leg.