Airline: Etihad Airways
Service: First Class
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Departure: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AUH) 10:15 AM
Arrival: New York City, New York (JFK) 3:50 PM
Distance: 6,868 miles
If you ask any travel blogger in the industry, they'll all agree Etihad's A380 First Class Apartments are one of the best first class products in the world. So much so, that I booked a trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi just to fly this particular product home.
The best way to redeem points for Etihad First Class is through American Airlines' AAdvantage program. This flight, for example, cost 115,000 AAdvantage miles and $47 in taxes and fees. You can find award space on Etihad Guest's website by searching the route and the day you'd like to fly. Award space will show up under the "Guest Seat" category.
Now the trick to booking your ticket is to call American Airlines' Australia office. For some reason American Airlines' agents in the US can't see the award space. So I loaded a few bucks onto my Skype account and gave them a call to reserve my seats!
The morning of our flight, the taxi dropped Elizabeth and I off at the first class check-in just after 6:00 AM. We made sure to get to the airport extra early to enjoy Etihad's new First Class Lounge. We had a seamless check-in and were through security within a few minutes.
Etihad's First Class Lounge was located directly across from the first class security check point.
Elizabeth and I booked our complimentary spa treatments and then enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the dining room.
After our spa treatments, we had about an hour before we had to head to our gate. Abu Dhabi is one of the few countries that has a US Customs and Border Protection Preclearance facility. So, in a sense, you clear US Customs before you even board the flight.
First class boarding was called shortly after we arrived at the gate. We made our way up the ramp and boarded through the upper level. We were greeted by the flight attendant and pointed left into the first class cabin.
The feeling you get when you walk into an Etihad First Class cabin on their A380 is unmatched. It's one of two commercial airlines with a single aisle way on their A380. The cabin itself had 9 regular apartments and one apartment reserved for The Residence.
Elizabeth and I were seated in apartments 3K & 4K.
Each apartment had a long bench seat, a huge reclining seat, 24-inch television and a vanity.
The seat controls allowed you to adjust almost everything in the apartment. You could control the lights, the window shades, adjust your seat and even call the flight attendant.
Just above the armrest were USB Ports, a headphone jack, remote control and a 110V outlet.
The apartment also had quite a bit of seat storage. The entrance doubled as a wardrobe.
Below the bench seat was storage for a standard carry-on bag and shoes.
Next to the seat was a small slide-out with another drawer below.
Waiting for us at our seats were noise cancelling headphones, blankets, Christian Lacroix amenity kits, a mini bar and pajamas.
After Elizabeth and I got settled into our seats, the purser (cabin manager) came by to introduce herself and welcome us on board. A few minutes later she returned with champagne, arabic dates and warm towels.
Just when I thought I'd seen it all, our inflight chef introduced himself and explained the features of the menu. That's correct, there's an inflight chef to customize the menu and drink selection any way they can throughout the flight. Etihad offers a dine-on-demand menu so you can eat and drink whenever you please. Here's a look at the menu:
At this point I was giddy with excitement. I think Elizabeth and I spent a good twenty minutes just taking photos and exclaiming to each other "Can you believe this?!"
We took off right on schedule and I got an awesome shot of Ferrari World as we ascended out of Abu Dhabi.
After we hit cruising altitude the flight attendant offered us some water and snacks
As you read through this next part you'll probably think that all Elizabeth and I did was eat and drink for 14 straight hours. You're not wrong... our take-off snacks were cleared and the inflight chef came by to take our breakfast order. As he prepped the meal, the flight attendant set up my table for two so we could dine face to face. There's nothing cooler than having three meals face to face with someone on an airplane.
Elizabeth and I both ordered the omelet & fresh fruit platter.
The breakfast was delicious and a great way to start the flight. While the flight attendant cleared our table, I went to the lavatory to change into my pajamas. There are two lavatories located at the front of the cabin. The one closest to the stairs is GIGANTIC for an airline bathroom. The second one is a bit smaller, but it also has a shower in it. I'll go into greater detail about the shower suite later.
For the next couple of hours I settled into my seat and enjoyed some inflight entertainment
Etihad had a great selection of inflight entertainment options. I'm a sucker for Will Ferrell's stupid humor, so I ended up watching The House. Towards the end of the movie I started to get a little tired, so I requested turn down service. Elizabeth and I went to The Lobby to wait while the flight attendant made our beds for us.
The Lobby was a communal area between the first and business class cabin. They offered a wide selection of magazines, drinks, and it even had live television. We hung out for about 10 minutes before our flight attendant informed us our beds were ready.
Let me make this perfectly clear: we're still in an airplane folks. Unreal! Etihad had one of the biggest and most comfortable beds in the sky. If you're traveling with some one, the partition can be lowered so you can sleep side by side. The TV's even rotated away from the wall so you could still watch them while you laid down.
Despite my school girl level of excitement, I still managed to nap for a couple of hours. I woke up somewhere over Russia and decided it was time for another meal. The flight attendants put away our beds and set up the table for lunch.
I started the meal off with the Bordeaux Blend and the salmon. Elizabeth got the Sauvignon Blanc and the spinach and lentil soup.
After our appetizers, we were served a lemon sorbet to cleanse our pallet. I've never been served anything for my pallet before on the ground, let alone in the air! It just tasted like frozen lemonade.
For the main course I ordered the ricotta tortellini. It's normally served plain with an olive oil drizzle, but the chef added a white cream sauce for me. Elizabeth decided to order the chicken biryani.
Elizabeth and I basically split the tortellini because it was so damn good. We both agreed that it was the best meal we've had on an airplane. We finished our lunch with a cheese selection selection and fresh baked cookies.
I was so full of food and wine that I slipped into a food coma for an unknown period of time. The next thing I knew the flight attendant was waking me up for my shower. Elizabeth and I had reserved the last two time slots so we could shower right before our descent into New York.
Each person was allotted a total of 45 minutes in the shower suite. You only got five minutes of running water, but you could pause the time by turning off the shower. The time was tracked by a colored gauge above the controls. They also provided Omorovicza body wash, conditioner & shampoo.
My first shower experience on an airplane was awesome! I was expecting lackluster water pressure and bad temperature control, but it was nothing of the sort. The water pressure was great and I could control the temperature to the degree. I left the shower suite feeling refreshed and revived.
I ordered a coffee and enjoyed the views from my windows while I waited for Elizabeth to finish her shower.
Neither of us were terribly hungry, but we had time for one more meal before we landed. We both ordered the steak and frites just for the sake of maximizing our experience.
The steak was actually cooked great for an airplane and the fries were nice and crispy.
After our table was cleared, it was time to begin our descent into New York. We had a smooth touchdown at JFK and pulled up to the gate just after 3:00 PM.
It was bummer that our flight had finally come to an end. We thanked the flight attendants for such a great flight and exited the plane.
Etihad’s First Class Apartments are all they’re hyped up to be and more. The hard product is top notch, the service was great and the food was restaurant quality. The fact that we did all of this while flying at 40,000 feet still blows my mind. This was the best flight of my life and I can’t wait to get back on Etihad Airways again!
Who else loves Etihad's First Class Apartments?