Introduction: Etihad First Apartments And Park Hyatt Mideast Suites Trip Report

Back in July, when Etihad loaded the return of their Airbus A380 to the London – Abu Dhabi route, there was wide open award space for First Apartment award seats.

In some cases the entire cabin was available as an award. Many of those who booked with Air Canada Aeroplan miles had their awards cancelled, though Air Canada was very generous basically refunding miles and covering the cost of a replacement set of flights.

I booked through American AAdvantage, even though it wasn’t really the most efficient means of doing so.

  • I could flying U.S. to London in first class, connecting to Abu Dhabi, for 115,000 miles. I paid that 115,000 miles but flew British Airways business class to Europe because they (1) fly non-stop from Austin to London and I value the non-stop when traveling with my 5 year old daughter and connecting between two long haul flights, and (2) had availability that paired with my Etihad flights.

    People booking with Etihad miles would have been eligible for a paid upgrade to The Residence. $2,500 is too rich for me, and three of us were traveling making this not super practical (compared to travel for two).

  • Flying British Airways means paying fuel surcharges. I wanted to keep it all on one ticket for the outbound, so I was willing to pay the higher surcharges American imposes compared to programs like Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

British Airways Business Class

Etihad First Apartment

What I wound up with was Austin – London Heathrow (BA Business) – Abu Dhabi (Etihad First Apartment) booked with 115,000 AAdvantage miles apiece, and then Abu Dhabi – London Heathrow (Etihad First Apartment) booked with 62,500 miles miles apiece. We stopped for a few days in London and booked the BA non-stop home separately.

For hotels we booked,

  • Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi for two nights using Hyatt 21,000 points per night with confirmed suite upgrade
  • Park Hyatt Dubai for four nights using 23,000 Hyatt points per night with confirmed suite upgrade
  • Hyatt Regency The Churchill for three nights using 25,000 Hyatt points per night with confirmed suite upgrade

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Suite, Outdoor Deck

Park Hyatt Dubai, View From Suite

Hyatt Regency The Churchill, Executive Suite Bedroom

The two Park Hyatts were available immediately. I had the Hyatt twitter team confirm the suite upgrades from my account after making redemptions for the free night awards online.

London was a bit trickier. Rates for our nights were pricey for our dates. The Churchill was asking around US$750 per night. And none of the Hyatts I was potentially interested in staying at were available on points. I set award alerts using Max My Point and when standard rooms and suites opened at Hyatt Regency The Churchill I grabbed them. Availability came and went at both the Churchill and Andaz Liverpool Street between the time I made my booking and the time of my stay.

For my particular use case The Churchill was perfectly located, a quick walk to the Winter Wonderland park which was a lot of fun for my daughter with rides and games.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

And I was happiest sticking with Hyatt traveling with my family because I can confirm suites at booking for the cost of a standard award room. I don’t mind regular rooms when traveling solo, but for three people the extra room of the suite is really nice.

The trip was spectacular, with BA as mediocre as I remember (though with a solid business class hard product); changing terminals at Heathrow as miserable as I remember; and Etihad much better in the air than I’d remembered (less impressive on the ground). The trip meant my first visit to the impressive new Abu Dhabi terminal, and their new first class lounge.

Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi, Dining Room

The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi was much better than the last time I’d visited about a decade ago. The Park Hyatt Dubai, while still nice, was far more in need of renovation than it was a decade ago. And the Hyatt Regency The Churchill pretty good for what it is.

Ultimately, when first class awards are available on the Etihad A380 for the family, you take them. The service was top notch, the food really good (though the wine cellar could be a bit more first class), and it was really something to take a shower in the sky again. While I concede that their bed is a bit firm, I will offer the (perhaps controversial) contention that the Etihad A380 First Class Apartment is the third best hard product in the sky.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. While I value your work, you are really starting to sound entitled and pompous in your reviews. Show some appreciation, man.

  2. I’m interested to hear more here. This was an AMAZING trip. It was very special, a great time with my wife and daughter and getting to experience Etihad’s A380 first class. We had spectacular suites using points and my Hyatt status. Is your reaction because I called British Airways mediocre? Look, I’m going to be honest about my experiences. BA is… mediocre.

    It’s business class, and that’s better than coach. Am I fortunate to be traveling business class? Absolutely. But *comparing* products is a part of what I do, and I think it’s more useful to readers to give them an unvarnished view of what to expect. There are too many sponsored trips, often undisclosed, and folks promoting this-and-that incredible luxury which I think mislead their audience. This isn’t that.

  3. @Lawrence I think it’s ok to be honest when reviewing products that some people may pay $5-10K for. Good intro and nice to read about travel experience and not all the other junk.

  4. Yes, PH Abu Dhabi is one of the best properties under the PH banner. I have always had good stays, easy upgrades, good redemption value, and excellent service throughout. It’s a bit crazy with Euro Kinders around holidays but other than that usually quite peaceful. Agree as well that PH Dubai is really becoming a dump.

    Hyatt Churchill has been way overpriced as of late (since Covid) for what you get. It’s an O.K. property but NOT a $750 a night property. There are much better hotels for the same, or less, though not points hotels. The rooms, even the suites I have been in, are pretty dismal.

    But I’m curious, you said you wanted to upgrade to Residence on Etihad for the $2500 offer everyone is talking about. But how? I have read that it is NOT applicable to ANY redemptions. Only paid F. I’m especially curious as I am looking for a cheap ex CMB or BKK to LHR this winter and doing the paid to finally get an av-geek wish completed.

  5. Ah, I’m confused, it seemed to me that you said you could upgrade from Etihad issued awards. That’s what I was confused about.

  6. Thanks, Gary, for bringing back trip reports. I miss them as you used to “file” them regularly before Covid.

  7. @Engadine – I often feel repetitive in the reports, though that’s probably more my own sense than for readers, so I don’t often write them. But this trip I was genuinely excited about!

  8. I’ve not flown the Etihad A380 apartments or residence, but having flow Singapore Suites, I’d still give that the top stop for the best hard product, especially when flying as a couple, and with adjoining suites. The seat positioning for take-off & landing is a bit odd, but otherwise, the suite, the food and (especially) the flight attendants are amazing. Flew them in 2021 on a (cash) ticket paid during Covid, doubt I’ll ever get that kind of deal again. The only downside was having to fly Lufthansa Business on the A340 to FRA to pick up the SIA flight.

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