In this trip report, I flew in the Etihad First Class Apartment from London Heathrow Airport to Male International Airport (Maldives) via a stopover in Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi. The flight from London to Abu Dhabi in Feb 2016, was operated by Etihad Airways Airbus A380.
Etihad Airways have launched the First Apartment which I previously photographed on its A380 superjumbos. The First Apartment is a room with a large leather armchair and a separate bed of more than 6 feet. I will share what it feels like to travel on board Etihad’s Airbus A380 in First Class in the trip report below.
Etihad Airways features in my top 10 best list of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class and I have also compared Etihad First Class to British Airways, Emirates and Qatar in First.
You can read my review of the Etihad Business & First Class airport lounge at Heathrow terminal 4.
The First Class Cabin
The First Class cabin is located on the forward upper deck of the A380. The First Class cabin on Etihad’s A380 is stylish with two beautifully crafted walls frame a small corridor leading to the forward staircase and contains the sliding entrance doors of the Apartments. The lighting patterns in the ceiling projects Arabian mosaic-like figures on the walls and floor, adding to the relaxing atmosphere.
Etihad Airways’ A380 First Class cabin is the industry’s first-ever single-aisle cabin and there are only nine First Apartments on the plane. There are 5 First Apartments on the right side of the cabin (with 2 toilets in the front), while the left side features 4 First Apartments. This asymmetry is explained by the fact that the missing 5th First Apartment and lavatories on the left side of the cabin are replaced by the Residence (featuring a private living room, separate en-suite shower room, and a bedroom with a double bed).
If First Class is too pricy for you, the other cabins on Etihad Airways’ A380 are very comfortable as well. The 70 Business Class Studios which I have also reviewed are set in a 1-2-1 configuration, are located on the upper deck of the A380, behind First Class, while 415 Economy seats are located on the main deck. See seat map or plan of this Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380.
The First Class cabin has 9 First Apartments in total: 5 with a rear-facing seat (1H, 3A, 3K, 5C & 5H) and 4 with a forward-facing seat (2C, 2H, 4A & 4K). The Apartments 3A, 4A, 3K and 4K have their seats located next to the window, while in the other Apartments, the seats are located close to the aisle away from the window, making it more difficult to enjoy the views during take-off and landing. Six of the First Apartments (3A & 4A, 3K & 4K, and 1H & 2H) are interconnecting, with a divider that can be lowered to join rooms.
Each First Apartment has the same amount of space and an identical layout. It features a wide armchair in addition to a separate ottoman, both upholstered with the finest Poltrona Frau leather. Carry-on luggage needs to be stored in the space below the ottoman.
Seat In Your First Class Apartment
The very comfortable recliner seat is equipped with an in-seat massage and a pneumatic cushion control system. The seat has two armrests: one holds the tray table, while the other holds the Apartment and inflight entertainment system controls. By pressing a button, you can change the position of both the ottoman, raise or lower the window blinds, and control the light settings for a variety of lamps situated within the Apartment. Next to the seat, there’s a minibar, stocked with a premium selection of beverages, as well as a cabinet that holds the noise-canceling headsets.
In front of the seat, you find the Apartment-wide ottoman. You can use it as a footrest when watching TV, or it can be used as an additional chair when you want to dine with a companion. The ottoman can also be opened up to become a separate 80.5 inches (205 cm) long fully flatbed. When you want to sleep, flight attendants will offer a turn-down service: the ottoman will be flattened out into a bed, and the flight attendant will cover it with a decent mattress, duvet, cotton sheets and two pillows. If you are traveling in one of the interconnecting Apartments, then you can lower the divider and enjoy the comfort of a double bed.
Each First Class Apartment has a 24-inch (60 cm) flat-screen, which features hundreds of hours of on-demand entertainment. You can watch more than 300 TV shows as well as more than 100 movies, ranging from blockbusters to timeless classics and representing all corners from the world (Hollywood, Arabic, European, Indian and Asian Cinemas). Etihad Airways’ inflight entertainment system also features live TV channels (e.g. BBC, CNN). The flat-screen can be tilted so you can still watch TV when you are lying in your bed.
What are the best First Class seats on Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380?
If you are traveling with a partner, then choose 2 adjoining Apartments that can become one space when lowering the divider in between them: 3A & 4A, 3K & 4K, or 1H & 2H. If you like to look out of the window, then choose one of the Apartments where the seat is located right next to the window: 3A, 3K, 4A or 4K.
What are the worst First Class seats on Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380?
If you don’t like to be seated in a rear-facing seat then avoid Apartments H1, 3A, 3K, 5C and 5 H.
Etihad’s First Class amenity kits are inspired by the rich heritage and artistry of the Emirati people. The bag itself is empty as all the toiletries are already placed in small cabinets alongside the lit make-up mirror. Here, you will find fragrances from New York brand Le Labo – Bergamote 22, including hand balm, lip balm, facial moisturizer, and a refreshing towelette. Dental kits, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, mints, pillow mist, and pulse point oil are also provided. First Class passengers also get a black pajama and slippers.
Food In Your First Class Apartment
Etihad has real-life onboard chefs (recruited from Michelin-starred restaurants around the world). The food is an exquisite seven-course tasting menu with amuse-bouche, granita, and pre-dessert tasters. The Mezoon Grille menu is available to Etihad’s First Class customers only, featured a variety of premium produce, including beef, chicken, lamb, and seafood, along with a range of delicate sauces, sides, and delicious desserts, all of which were prepared to order. Everything is served on fine bone chinaware, cutlery and crystal glassware.
I choose the following items from the menu:
- Amuse bouche: Middle Eastern style chicken salad
- Chickpea Soup, with Arabic spiced ratatouille
- Starter: marinated prawns, with Quinoa and wake salad, and red pepper sauce
- Grapefruit sorbet
- Entree: US rib-eye steak, with steamed green beans, creamy mashed potatoes, and garlic and herb butter
- Pre-dessert mini-choclate mousse
- Dessert trio of berry and cinnamon frangipani, apricot cheesecake, with passion fruit meringue, chocolate mousse
Before landing in Abu Dhabi (at 4.30 am local time), I also ordered some fresh fruits and cereals.
Etihad Airways’ First Class cabin on the A380 has 2 toilets in the front of the plane. Both have a lovely design and feature Le Labo Begamote 22 toiletries. One of the toilets also features a fully equipped shower room. Each First Class passenger has access to 5 minutes of running water in the shower, although you can turn on and off the water supply as many time as you want. Emirates First Class on the A380 also offers a shower suite which I photographed here.
Etihad Airways has installed a lounge on the upper deck of the A380 between First and Business Class, designated ‘The Lobby’. The latter is an intimate space that is more resemblant of a lounge in a boutique hotel than an airplane cabin. It seats up to six guests and has a widescreen TV so you can watch live sports with other passengers.
One of the great things about flying Business or First Class with Etihad is the complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers. Chauffeur-drive must be requested online, up to 24 hours prior to your flight.
Read all my other Etihad long haul Business Class flight reviews.
Review by my friends at Luxury Travel Expert