Etihad A380 First Class Apartments Review

How I booked everything
American Airlines Flagship Dining Room DFW
Etihad First & Business Class Lounge LHR
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments LHR-AUH (Video)
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH (Video)
Qatar A380 First Class DOH-BKK
Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge (Video)
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class HKG-LAX

The Middle East Three (Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar) all boast of their amazing planes, lounges, and airports.  Emirates, in particular, prides itself on its A380 First Class cabin.  You’ve probably seen it, with its bling and gold finish.  Not just content to have a shiny cabin, Emirates stepped it up a notch and was the first commercial airline to provide showers for its First Class guests!  It seemed Emirates gave itself a commanding lead in the Middle East Three arms race.  In May 2014 Etihad rearranged the competitive landscape with an announcement: they had 10 A380s on order and unveiled the most luxurious-looking First Class (and, yes, showers) in the sky.  In addition to their new First Class “Apartment” offering, they’d also be introducing a private Super-First Class called “The Residence” with Savoy-trained butlers and 3 “rooms” for the passenger.  I was lucky enough to find seat availability and booked it, so let’s kick off my Featured Week on BoardingArea with a wonderful Etihad A380 First Class review.

We pick up our trip report having arrived at London Heathrow from an American Airlines flight in Economy (ew).  I was tired, having not slept much, and stopped by the lounge in Terminal 4 at Heathrow.  Once I had a refreshing massage and got the pictures I needed it was time to head to Gate 10 to begin my journey.

The Plane

I arrived at Gate 10 (really two gates, 10a and 10b) and was greeted with: a wall.  Don’t worry, I found a window to get my first glimpse of Etihad’s beautiful A380.

Etihad A380

Etihad A380

I lingered around the gate area for a while (there was a brief delay) and eventually we were invited to board.  We boarded through Gate 10a, designated for First and Business Class passengers.

After what seemed like a 3km walk on the jetbridge I made it to the immense A380.  I was welcomed aboard and invited to make the oh-so-coveted left turn into one of the most beautiful cabins I’ve ever seen.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad A380 First Class Cabin

A380 First Class Cabin

A380 First Class Cabin

Most First Class cabins will have two aisles on the A380, but Etihad’s product features fully-enclosed suites that are so wide there’s only one aisle.  It doesn’t seem like the most spacious environment but that’s fine, the individual Apartments are plenty big!

I found my Apartment, 5C, and was greeted with champagne (Bollinger), Arabic coffee, and some dates.

etihad a380 first class review trip report

Champagne in my Apartment

etihad a380 first class review

Champagne

The Apartment is MASSIVE.  The actual seat is huge and then there’s a long padded bench (which folds out into a bed) where you could easily seat 2-3 other people.

etihad a380 first class review

Apartment 5C seat

I noticed that the passenger for The Residence had yet to arrive, so I poked my camera into the living room and bedroom and was able to get off a few snaps.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad Residence Living Room

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad Residence Bedroom

Emirates has a great bar on its A380s.  Etihad countered with a Lounge, which basically amounts to two big semi-circular booths facing each other.  I stopped by quickly as boarding finished up so we could depart.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad A380 Lounge

Before we started our taxi to the runway I also stopped by the restrooms, which were absolutely beautiful (for airplane restrooms of course).

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class restroom

I took a peek inside the shower suite, which I’d use later during my flight.  It was similarly furnished, with a variety of Bergamote gels and sprays available.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class Shower Suite

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class shower stall

The Flight

We had a smooth takeoff through the clouds above London and set our course for Abu Dhabi.  My champagne flute was refilled for me and I went to see the Lounge set up for flights.  I always end up with stuff all over the place in my seating area (which leads to cluttered pictures), so I set up my tripod in an empty Apartment to get some really clean pictures.

etihad a380 first class review

Apartment 3C seat

etihad a380 first class review

Apartment 3C bench

I then wanted to see if the in-flight setup was different for the Lounge than I saw before and indeed it was.  That said, it wasn’t really the most useful space.  A man and his wife were sharing a champagne toast on the seat to the left of my camera and it didn’t seem like a good time for chit-chatting so I went back to my seat.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class Lounge

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class Lounge drink display

The Food

I had the option of eating whenever I would like (which is a great touch of Etihad) and decided to dine shortly after takeoff.  Etihad has a designated onboard Chef, who came to discuss the various menu items with me and make recommendations where helpful.  The inflight manager also stopped by and told me all manner of things about the crew, specifically that the plating of this particular Chef was some of the greatest in the airline, which made me excited (I love good plating).

I took my seat and my flight attendants made my table for me.  Had I been traveling with someone there would have been plenty of room for them to join me during the meal service, and even enough room further down the bench for some random person to sit there and creepily watch me and my travel companion eat.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class Apartment Dinner table

The Bordeaux the chef recommended was beautiful and accompanied the meal perfectly.

etihad a380 first class review

My wine accompaniment, La Croix de Beaucaillou 2011 Bordeaux

The meal began with a prawn starter

etihad a380 first class review

Prawn starter

etihad a380 first class review

Prawn starter

The plating was indeed amazing, just like the inflight manager promised.  I decided to skip the salad, because why salad, and went right for the steak!

etihad a380 first class review

Steak and fries

The steak was cooked incredibly well, the fries and potatoes were perfect.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad steak

They asked what I’d like for dessert and must’ve noticed the crazy look in my eye when they suggested that they could bring out a dessert sampler for me.  I accepted their offer and also asked for a Dragonslayer to drink.  They were unaware of what a Dragonslayer was (a Bailey’s on the rocks, called a Dragonslayer because I’m a fairly manly dude with a beard and don’t want to be caught ordering Bailey’s on the rocks) but we got it sorted and shortly afterward an amazing dessert sampler appeared.

etihad a380 first class review

Dessert sampler

etihad a380 first class review

Dessert sampler

I finished my dessert and the Dragonslayer and was greeted by a trippy bottom of the glass reflecting Top Gear playing on the TV.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad glass

Ahhh.  What a meal.  Great plating, wonderful taste, and diverse flavors.  As they cleaned up my table one of my flight attendants (a Dutch guy who was fantastic) came over and asked if I’d like to sleep.  Honestly I didn’t but asked if he wouldn’t mind making up the bed anyway so I could get some pictures.  He suggested I stand with my camera as he was making the bed so I could get some pictures of the process.  Gotta love it when flight attendants help with the blog!

The bed layout is where the First Class Apartment concept shines.  I still felt like I had plenty of room had I wanted to use the seat.  The enclosed suite helped everything feel private and roomy.  The bed itself wasn’t the most comfortable airplane bed I’ve ever slept on (that title probably goes to Cathay Pacific) but would’ve been perfectly fine had I wanted to sleep.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class Bed

etihad a380 first class review

First Class Bed

etihad a380 first class review

First Class Bed

etihad a380 first class review

First Class Bed

As we came closer to initial descent I requested a shower.  My flight attendant made the shower suite ready for me and I went into the suite.  As a reminder, here’s what it looks like.

etihad a380 first class review

Etihad First Class shower stall

The shower head is in the top left of the picture and the control console is on the wall to the right.  There’s a timer there because you’re limited to five minutes of water.  The good news is it doesn’t have to be five consecutive minutes of water so you can turn the water off to apply shampoo/conditioner and soap, then turn it on again to rinse.

The sensation of taking a shower had to be kind of overrated, right?  No, it was freaking awesome.  Even the momentary turbulence was kind of fun.  Being limited to only five minutes was actually really interesting, I ended up with plenty of time left over, which makes me wonder how much water I/we waste during our showers.  I dried off, got dressed, felt about 1 million times better (having been awake for like 30 hours at this point) and made my way back to my seat as we began our descent into Abu Dhabi.

We landed smoothly and I bade a fond farewell to the crew of the flight.  It was a wonderful flight in every sense of the word.

The Service

The Middle East Three are frequently criticized for their service.  Not that it’s bad, it’s just seen as being a bit inconsistent sometimes.  In fact, I think that’s the general conclusion I came to last year when I flew Etihad’s A340 First Class to Washington.  I was curious how the service would stack up here, especially since I’d be flying Qatar the next day.  I can confidently say that the Dutch flight attendant I had was one of the top 2-3 flight attendants I’ve ever had.  He addressed me by name, saw that I was an Excited Photographer Passenger and went with it, and made some great recommendations to me.  I told him about the blog and gave him my card, I really hope he reads this!  On the other hand, though, the lady who assisted him couldn’t have been more indifferent.  She did everything to the standard she was required to but it took the entire flight to even get a smile out of her.  That said, the Dutch guy did such a great job that I barely noticed.

As long as Etihad service looks more like the Dutch guy than the other girl they’ll be successful for a long time.  The cabin was amazing, the A380 flies smoothly and quietly, and the food was excellent.  Etihad set a high standard for Qatar to meet on my flight with them the next day!

Have you flown The Apartments?  What did you think compared to the A340/777-300ER First product?

98 Comments

  1. Nice shots! What camera/lens are you using?

    Reply
    • Thank you! I’m using the Sony a7rII and most of these shots are with the 16-35mm lens at f4 and ISO from 100 to 1600.

      Reply
  2. Great review with great pictures. Can’t wait to see the rest of the trip report.

    Reply
    • Thank you! Lots more to come 🙂

      Reply
  3. Andy, the picture through the Etihad glass is pretty awesome. It has to be my favorite because I think it incorporates the feel of a flight between London and the UAE, with the top gear playing, the trippy colors and then ofcourse the refined and focused Etihad logo. It’s really perfect and I’m glad you chose to share!

    Reply
  4. Champers in your apartment is a great shot.

    Reply
  5. I think my favorite picture is the one of the single aisle. Very unique and I’m more excited to see it in person.

    So excited for the rest of the trip report as well, great work!

    Reply
  6. I don’t normally get into the photography as much as I do your writing (odd to you, I know), but I love that shot of the bottom of the Dragonslayer glass.

    Reply
  7. I loved the shot of the bed with the windows in the background. It looks so inviting!

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  8. My favorite picture is the stunning dessert sampler….because dessert.

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  9. Didn’t realize you were running a giveaway. I vote for the aisle shot, it’s just fun to tell someone you flew in a single aisle cabin with that picture.

    Reply
  10. I like the floor shot the most actually.

    Reply
  11. Favorite picture is definitely that first shot of champagne–nothing like that first glass of bubbly to get you settled in for your flight!

    Reply
  12. Nice review! Favorite photo is the last one of the bed.

    Reply
  13. Killer post and review, Andy. Thanks for sharing.

    My favorite picture is of the 7 bottles of alcohol. Love that symmetry, and the Glenlivet is calling my name! I can’t wait to experience this product in September of 2016. Ahhh!!

    Reply
  14. The last picture of the first class bed is my favorite shot.

    Reply
  15. First time reader of your blog, Andy, though I’ve been reading BoardingArea (appears that it’s your week to be featured) for over a year now. Your photography is top-notch. Certainly among the best photos of any of the blogs I usually read. The photos of the prawn appetizer are especially mesmerizing. The concentric circles on the plate draw your eye to the center where the shrimp, seaweed salad, and yellow sauce (I would guess a sweet chili sauce of some sort?) really pop.

    Great stuff. I’ll be sure to bookmark your blog

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for your comments James, welcome to the blog!

      Reply
  16. Awesome review! I need to go on this one day! My favorite picture is the picture of the glass. I love the colors and the angle you took the shot.

    Reply
  17. The First Class bed shot is absolutely amazing! Great angle and looks cozy and private. Sign me up to sleep there!

    Reply
  18. great review. great pics. The pillow is my favourite.

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  19. Wow the Etihad Residence Bedroom is amazing. Nice shot !!

    Reply
  20. It’s gonna have to be the Etihad First Class Lounge pic, as I’m thinking that’s where I’ll spend most of the time at on my next trip!

    Reply
  21. hey Andy — these are all nice photos! great camera+lens. I like the bokeh and focus on the “prawn starter” [closeup] picture! that’s a good one

    Reply
  22. Awesome apt. Better than my place

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  23. I also think that the last picture of the First Class Bed is the most useful for those of us wanting to dream about travelling in Etihad’s First Class Apartments – it gives the best idea of the space available.

    Reply
  24. My favorite picture 4th. Nothing better than to see yourself being poured fine champagne on one of the most luxurious flights.

    Reply
  25. The “Etihad Residence Living Room” photo was breathtaking.
    They should let the whole family fly together in there.

    Reply
  26. Love the first class cabin picture from floor level (3rd pic in the review).

    Reply
  27. Picture 4 & 5.. Champagne pictures are always good

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  28. I’ve read other reviews of the Apartments, but none, of course, with photos like this. My favorite is the one through the bottom of the glass.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jeff!

      Reply
  29. I love the photo of the lounge!

    Reply
  30. Great review Andy, after seeing the Instagram pics have been waiting for this!

    Reply
  31. Great report, I agree with everyone else that you take great photos! My favorite photo is the one where Bollinger Champagne is being poured for you in your apartment!

    Reply
    • Thank you!

      Reply
  32. I can’t pick just one photo. I like them ALL!!!

    Reply
  33. Favorite picture is of the bed… shows how big the apartment is.

    Reply
  34. Hey Andy,

    Some great amazing pictures of Etihad first class 🙂 Really envious and hope I can pull it off next year.

    My favorite pictures without out a doubt is of the food. Just looking at the steak and fries is making me hungry at work 🙂

    Glad you had a blast.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, stay tuned for more!

      Reply
  35. The food pictures are my favorite.

    Reply
  36. Definitely the shot of the bottom of the Etihad glassware! Elegant & unique! But you have very good composition for your photos – these can be used for an Etihad ad campaign!

    Reply
  37. I like the lounge shot!

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  38. Favorite picture is the steak and fries. Also Etihad glass one, very artistic.

    Reply
  39. Favorite photo is of the shower suite- looks awesome!

    Reply
  40. I really like the shot of the the Residence Bedroom, it’s from a vantage point that gives you glimpse of what the room is like. Somehow, it has a different feel to the rest of the pictures we have seen of the room. In this one — it does feel like a bed on a plane (as oppose to a hotel room on a plane). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  41. I liked the pour of the champagne picture 😉

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  42. I liked Dessert sampler picture 😀

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  43. My favorite picture is the one of the steak- best airplane meal I’ve ever seen!

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  44. I prefer the champagne pour photo.

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  45. Apartment 3C bench
    that just looks so comfy…i wanna fly in that seat one day!

    Reply
  46. Etihad First Class Apartment Dinner table has got to be my favorite picture. With the couch in the background, it looks like it could be someone’s house.

    Reply
  47. Too many great interior shots to pick from, so I’ll go with the exterior shot. I love that new livery!

    Reply
  48. Maybe you should change the title of your “giveaway” post, to be more truthful. Having it say that you’re giving away the apartment class makes it sound like you’re paying for someone’s flight. I’m sure you did this on purpose as click bait. Giving away your stupid amenity kit and unused pajamas is BS.

    Reply
    • John,

      I appreciate your feedback. The giveaway is directly related to my flight on Etihad’s First Class Apartment, which is why I felt the title was appropriate.

      Reply
  49. Oh, come on…my favorite picture is the juicy steak. Now if only it had been topped with bleu cheese crumbles!

    Reply
  50. Very nice photos in general, but I think my favorite is the aisle shot. It has a great architectural feel to it.

    Reply
  51. Ahhh, amaze! the Etihad Residence Bedroom is my fave photo!!

    Reply
  52. I love the picture of the wine pour. With the TV in the background the wine pour you know its luxury, yet without context you wouldn’t think you are on a plane.

    Reply
  53. I’m hoping to enjoy the 380 First class apartment product in 2017 when we fly to catch a cruise. I’m sure it will be well worth it.

    Reply
  54. I liked the last bed pic; looks so great (and on a plane!)

    Reply
  55. loving the shot of the onboard lounge. Very cool.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Congratulations Phill, you’ve won! Stay tuned to your email for further instructions.

      Reply
  56. I love the photo of the first class lounge. Looks fun, comfortable and decadent!

    Reply
  57. My favorite shot is the one of the Residence bedroom. Someday!

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  58. Like the first class bed shot from above

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  59. Love the shot of the bed.

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  60. The Sony camera took great pictures of the meal. Now, I am hungry for surf & turf.

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  61. The Etihad glass shot is really cool!

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  62. My favorite is the picture of the bed!

    Reply
  63. Hi Andy,

    Wonderful blog, been a fan for the past year having been alerted to your great blog from the debacle of Singapore Plagiarism-gate.

    What is that wonderful sauce on the delish looking steak? Do you happen to have the menu from the flight? thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Sunita! Thanks for following. It’s a bearnaise sauce, and yes I have the menu, any other questions about it?

      Reply
      • Wow Andy

        With bloggers these days almost reaching celeb status I didn’t expect an answer, you are so gracious! Just wondering about menu because my parents are traveling in First in few weeks and they are vegetarian, you think they would need to special meal it? I eat everything! Thank you

        Reply
        • I’ll take a look at the menu tonight and let you know!

          Reply
  64. My favorite pic is the dessert sampler because it looks so beautiful and too pretty to eat! almost right?

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  65. Nice review! I like the photo of the lounge. 🙂

    Reply
  66. my favorite picture is the first class bed, right before the picture of the shower.

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  67. The dessert sampler is my favorite photo!

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  68. I love the shot of the shower suite.

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  69. The residence picture is my favorite

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  70. Great review Andy – good to see another solid flight review. First class looks good.

    Reply
  71. I love the residence picture.

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  72. The first class cabin picture is stunning.

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  73. The close up of the dessert sampler is a great photo! It makes my sweet tooth hurt! (In a good way)

    Reply
  74. That dessert sampler photo is so great! Yum!

    Reply
  75. Really like the glass picture. I can imagine finishing off a drink and looking through it, amazed at the amenities around me

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  76. My favorite picture is the residence bedroom, that would be nice.

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  77. The shot you snuck of the Etihad Residence Bedroom was awesome 🙂

    Reply
  78. i like the Apartment 3C Seat picture because it is nice…

    Reply
  79. Love the Apartment 5C seat picture! The colors are beautiful, especially the cushion! Not sure when I can accumulate enough miles to get a seat there!

    By the way, you should consider opening up the contest to international readers 🙂

    Reply
  80. All of the shots were amazing, but I loved the prawn starter. Thanks for sharing your pictures. I really enjoyed viewing them.

    Reply
  81. They are all ‘suite’ shots Andy 😉 But the mouth-watering candy shot is the dessert sampler with the Dragonslayer!! Beautiful work Etihad.

    Reply
  82. I love the Steak photo, looks yummy.

    Reply
  83. Good reports. Taking economy before one’s F class flights makes them that much more enjoyable. It’s good to stay in touch with the proles so as not to get too jaded with luxury.

    Reply
  84. Flew A380 First Syd to Abu Dhabi.

    My experience was dreadful. No matched wine for the menu
    Challenging cabin staff
    No staff introduction or introduction from the nanny
    Lights off
    No first name intoduction
    Dreadful food. Prawn was still frozen the rare steak was well dne.
    Overall rotten service and flight.

    Reply
    • That sounds terrible! I hope you contacted Etihad

      Reply
  85. I like the prawn starter image. Nice to see the muted whites, and not blown out. And glad to see that the lens allows ample soft focus in the background. Great post!

    Reply
  86. I think they’re planning on making that change for the 777X coming out in a few years

    Reply

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