The most anticipated and final flight of this around-the-world trip was my flight from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to New York (JFK) on the Etihad A380 with in-flight showers and the luxurious First Class Apartments.
Etihad Flight 103 AUH – JFK
Etihad flight 103 was an A380. It left AUH at 4:07 a.m. local and arrived at JFK at 9:25 a.m. local, 13 hours and 18 minutes later. The trip covered 6,862 miles as the great circle crow flies. This was more than enough time to soak up the luxuries that the First Class Apartments offered.
Etihad First Class Apartments
Etihad only offers First Class Apartments on its A380, and Etihad has only six A380s. There are nine apartments on the A380. They are enclosed suites located on the upper deck at the front of the plane. There are two seats on each side of a center aisle. All of the apartments have private, direct aisle access.
The Apartment Features
The Apartment is unique in the spaciousness of the suite and the fact that the bed and seat are separate. The seat has 80 inches of pitch and is 29.5 inches wide. The bed is fully flat and 80 inches long. It doubles as a couch/sitting area until it is expanded to a bed. I did not measure the width of the bed but it is certainly wider than the seat.
Only four of the nine Apartments have seats that face forward and only two of those four are window seats. On this flight I had reserved seat 4K, one of the two Apartments with a forward facing window seat.
I knew what to expect but was still blown away by the size and elegance. The Apartment has a very clean design. All of the gizmos and gadgets are hidden away. The leather had the sumptuous feel of the seats in the massive Lincoln Continentals my father was fond of driving back in the day. The couch has a seat belt. A travelling companion in first class can join you for a meal or conversation.
The seat reclines but not to a great degree. I found it extremely comfortable in a semi-reclined position with my feet on the couch.
Seat controls are under the left armrest next to a storage compartment.
There is another storage compartment under the right armrest. These are ideal for glasses, wallet, phone etc.
The seat has its own chilled minibar with soft drinks.
There is a compartment for shoes.
The video remote and electrical outlets for the seat are mounted on the wall above the armrest on the left side.
Each suite has a closet for your clothes after you change into pjs.
Below the bed is a pull out storage space where I stowed my carry on and backpack.
Close the doors for privacy.
Etihad provides high-quality amenities to match the elegance of the Apartment suites.
Etihad gift bag with slippers and pjs.
The pjs are some of the nicest I’ve seen. They fit perfectly. I used to pooh pooh those who talked about first class pjs like they were a necessity. Not anymore. The first class pjs I got on Korean Air and Etihad on this trip both added greatly to my comfort and ability to sleep well. They also keep your clothes fresh for arrival and are great for lounging at home.
The Etihad pjs have a pull-over top. I prefer these over the ones that button up. Some airlines are now giving out pjs in business class on their longest or most profitable international routes. Delta, which has no international first class, is doing this as a way of trying to fool folks into thinking that its business class is as good as other airline’s first class. Not.
Etihad has one of the softest and comfiest blankets in the business. It is perfect for snuggling in the seat. There is also a small pillow to supplement the adjustable headrest. Flight attendants bring additional bedding when you want to make the bed.
And of course there is the Etihad first class amenity kit. The amenity kit is in a large compartment in the wall on the left side of the seat. The compartment opens to reveal vanity mirrors, pockets with personal hygiene items, and the amenity kit.
The kit comes in a pouch with a woven pattern based on a traditional Emirati Sadou design. The kit overflows with Le Labo products and other goodies. Between the items in the compartment and the amenity kit, there’s a plethora of personal items to make a flight comfortable including a vanity kit, razor (a good one) and shaving cream, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, facial moisturizer, lip balm, hand lotion, mints, ear plugs, pillow mist, mouth wash, and pulse point oil, whatever that is.
Etihad supplies noise-cancelling headsets. These provide great audio for the extensive library of audio and video selections.
Since the upper deck on the A380 is very quiet compared to other commercial aircraft and there can’t be more than eight other passengers in individual suites, there ain’t much noise to cancel. Wearing the headset is unnecessary unless listening to audio or watching video.
In-flight Entertainment (IFE)
The Etihad IFE offers a large selection of movies and TV shows from Hollywood, Bollywood and around the globe. Live TV is also available as well as games and a very nice flight-following system.
The flight following system provides a lot of interesting information and keeps passengers up to date on the plane’s progress.
External cameras are mounted on the tail and under the fuselage for great views of takeoff and landing.
Service and Food
The service and food in Etihad’s First Class Apartments is amazing. To start, there is the letter signed by the Cabin Manager pledging the dedication of her team to your comfort and relaxation. The letter explains that the on-board chef is available to discuss the menu and any personal requests.
A flight attendant offers a pre-departure glass of champagne or other beverage.
After takeoff, drinks are offered before the first meal.
The menus are distributed right after boarding.
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Etihad has a top-shelf selection of alcoholic beverages.
As explained above, first class passengers are not limited to the menu, they can ask the chef to prepare a made-to-order meal.
The First Meal Service
I had a conference with the chef but decided to order from the menu. The first meal service, which is usually the most elaborate one, began 90 minutes after takeoff.
The flight attendants do a great job of serving the meal and keeping wine glasses full. The chef prepares everything perfectly. The food was five-star quality.
The Lobby is the lounge on the Etihad A380. It is located on the upper deck between first and business class.
The Lobby has a small seating area in a circular seating arrangement. No attendant is assigned to the Lobby. You must wait until one walks by or use a call button to request one.
Having power outlets at the seating area is a nice touch. Normally after takeoff a table is placed in the center of the seating area. On this flight the table was missing because the mechanism to secure it to the floor malfunctioned. Without a table there wasn’t much room to put drinks and snacks.
I much prefer the arrangement in the business class lounge on the Korean Air A380 where a flight attendant is on duty to serve drinks and snacks.
After dinner I watched a movie before asking the flight attendant to make the bed while I changed into the pjs.
There is a remote control beside the bed and a place to plug in the headset. The video screen swings out over the bed for watching in-flight entertainment. Another feature of the bed is that one panel of the wall between the the bed and the bed on the other side of the wall can be partially removed. This is great for couples who can slide the panel back and sleep side by side from the torso up.
After putting on the pjs, stretching out on the soft mattress, and covering up with the quilt, sound sleep is a breeze.
The Second Meal Service
After waking, I had the second meal service in my pjs. I ordered from the Lounge and Grill menu.
Then I took a shower and changed back into my clothes.
Bathroom and shower
The two bathrooms in first class are impressive. They are large enough to easily change clothes in, and the flight attendants keep them clean.
The larger of the two bathrooms has a shower! Five minutes of water is the standard allotment. The attendant said I could have an additional five minutes if I wanted. Five minutes was enough.
The shower pressure was good, and it was easy to get the right temperature. I never thought I’d take a shower on a plane.
The bathroom with the shower has a hairdryer.
I have had many great experiences in international first class on a variety of highly rated airlines including Cathay Pacific, Japan Air Lines, Korean Air and Etihad. The size of the Apartment, the quality of the bed, and the ability to shower on the plane made this flight the best of all.
Anyone can take a trip in an Etihad Apartment. The typical one-way advance-purchase price is about $10,000. It cost me 90,000 American Airlines miles. Those miles can be acquired easily with credit card sign up bonuses and transfers from other points cards like the Starwood Amex cards.
The prior posts on this around-the-world trip: