We’ll Probably Never See The Etihad Residence Or First Apartment Again

It appears that Etihad is very likely not to ever fly its Airbus A380s again, according to the airline’s CEO. And that means they’ll no longer offer the First Apartment product or The Residence which is the most luxurious seat in commercial aviation.

Of its 10 Airbus A380 superjumbos, Mr Douglas said: “We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again.”

I’ve flown Etihad’s First Apartment almost as much as Cathay Pacific first class over the years. It’s been my favorite use of American AAdvantage miles, and of course Etihad is both an American Express and Citibank transfer partner.

It’s been my go-to for trips to the Maldives (5 of my last 6 were on Etihad). I’ve visited the Mideast many times, alternating between Etihad and Emirates. And I’ve even chosen Middle East stops enroute to Australia because First Apartment redemptions for both long haul segments made the journey so easy.

Etihad introduced its ‘Apartment’ – really a room that has a separate seat and bed, and of course a shower available in the cabin for first class passengers – when they took delivery of their first Airbus A380. At the time it was arguably the best first class in the world, though now some prefer Emirates new first suite, the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites, or ANA’s new first class.

Part of the divider between adjoining Apartments slides down, and passengers traveling together could this ‘be in bed beside each other’ which was special.

Despite advances at other airlines it remained a top 5 product in the world and it was regularly available using miles for routes like New York JFK – Abu Dhabi, Paris – Abu Dhabi, and Abu Dhabi to Sydney and Melbourne. Using American miles you did have to know a booking trick, and availability often only showed for flights to the U.S. when searching roundtrip awards originating in Abu Dhabi on the Etihad website (but you’d book by phone anyway).

What’s nuts is that the First Apartment wasn’t even Etihad’s best product. The ‘Apartment’ in the first row on the left side of the cabin was turned into “The Residence” by combining it with what some A880 operators used as a dead space or lounge space, giving it not just a sitting area but also its own bathroom/shower and separate bedroom.

Residence guests had their own butler, who was Savoy Hotel-trained in the U.K. and had to wear butler attire when serving the Residence. Etihad would customize what they would have on board for a Residence guest based on advance requests. When no passengers were booked into the Residence the butler acted as a flight attendant on board.

Now, just because the First Apartment may depart as a redemption option doesn’t mean there’s no longer a luxurious Etihad product to use miles for. They may have eliminated first class chefs but their first class suites remain fairly spectacular.

(HT: @spencerformiles via One Mile at a Time)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Etihad is in great danger of slipping below the standards of its competitors if it dumbs down the very things which currently set it apart. I can’t think of anything else Etihad offers which makes it a standout airline.
    Someone in management hasn’t thought things through I feel. Having no sensible plan for a post Covid future is a recipe for disaster.

  2. It is a sad day but only for our hobby. I’ve enjoyed row 4 several times. Using AA miles. Sydney Abu Dhabi but shower seemed cramped, the lounge was bogus. I do love the 1st in the Dreamliners 🙂 and enjoy The Louvre & the Andaz hotel

    Glad I did it when I could 😉

  3. Oops. The on board lounge was not worthwhile. But the AUH 1st class Lounge was Great. Food Ambiance spa. 1 layout I paid $100us for the Residence private lounge for several hours. Sweet. Plus clearing us customs.

  4. It will be nice not to see the multi blogger brag posts anymore about a product that most of us neither need nor desire. I have no reason to ever connect thru AD or most of the mideast for that matter.

  5. I never got to try it but I did love the forward facing business class seats which felt like little cabins.

    Also I disagree with others about the lounge. Yes it was really just a big round table but it was such a pleasure to sit there, meet interesting people and be positively pampered by the exceptional FAs.

  6. I made one trip on Etihad and it was in a First Apartment. We enjoyed the JFK ground experience, which at the time included a really nice lounge with free food.

    I’ve been trying to save points for another one of those flights. Guess I’ll have to start looking at other opportunities now (e.g. Singapore F or Qatar Qsuites). RIP Etihad. You were once a truly unique and premium flying experience.

  7. That’s right we won’t.. but we will see a better first class product offered by QR soon

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