I am most envious of those who got to fly to Abu Dhabi to see the launch of flag-carrier Etihad’s A380 last week!
The 11 square metre (125 sq ft) Residence will be located at the front of the Upper deck and consists of three rooms: a living room, bedroom with double bed, and private bathroom with shower. Both living room and bedroom feature LCD television screens for inflight entertainment. Service will be provided by a Savoy Hotel trained private butler. The target market are people who want a private jet experience.
A maximum of two people can be accommodated in the residence. Pricing is anticipated to be around $20, 000 from Abu Dhabi to London and $40, 000 from Sydney to London. Etihad have said that passengers will not be able to upgrade into them and staff will not be able to access them using staff rates. Hogan was quoted as saying: “we want to keep the pricing pure on them“
Behind the Residence are “The Apartments”, nine First Class spaces that give customers 74 per cent more space than Etihad’s existing First Class product. Entry to each 39 square foot space is via a sliding door from the aisle. The Apartment includes a reclining lounge chair and an expanding ottoman that turns into a bed. Six of the apartments are adjoining and the beds can become double beds (up to now a Singapore Airlines exclusive). Each apartment includes a 24″ TV Screen, chilled drinks fridge and vanity unit with lighted mirrors.
“The Apartment” customers can access a bathroom with shower which up to now Emirates has been the only one to feature. Danni Minogue (again) on The Apartment:
Between First Class and Business is ‘The Lobby’, which again continues the hotel theme. It has a semi-circular leather couch.and a bar area for first and business customers. I would be curious to see how much use it actually gets. The bars on my Virgin flights are usually deserted.
70 Business Class take up the rest of the upper deck arranged in a 1-2-1 “dovetail configuration“. Every passenger has direct aisle access (YES!). For people travelling together, the centre seats mean you can chat together easily, although there is a privacy screen if you get sick of them!
Each 79″ long seat is 22″ wide and comes with a separate ottoman. Combined they turn into a 80.5″ fully-flat bed. The seat includes an in built massager. Flat screen TV, side table and carry on storage plus a top-loading cupboard are all included. There seems to be full laptop connectivity with wifi.
Danni again on The Studios:
The Business Studios will be retrofitted to current Etihad 777s over a four year cycle and added to all new 777s delivered from 2015.
Downstairs, Etihad squeezes 417 passengers into Economy Class. I notice they have not kept the hotel theme here . Maybe they could call it “The Backpackers”. Seat layout is 3-4-3 with seats a touch under 19 inches wide and having a 31-32 inch pitch. That’s not bad for a Backoacker section! The seats recline six inches and have adjustable lumbar support. Each “Smart Seat” has a camel leather “fixed wing” headrest which aims to simulate the experience of leaning against the cabin wall or your neighbour’s shoulder!
The airline will include some features that many airlines barely offer in Business Class: a fleece blanket and pillow on every seat, an 11.1 inch touchscreen monitor and noise-cancelling headsets. Again, good for a backpackers-almost Flashpackers! This video is (mercifully) sans Danni:
The A380 will also feature curtained off prayer areas for Muslim guests showing the real-time direction of Mecca based on the plane’s geographical position.
Etihad’s first A380 destination will be a London Heathrow daily from December 2014, followed by Sydney and New York JFK in mid 2015. This makes London, the airline with the most A380 services in the world.
Etihad has ten A380s on firm order to be delivered as follows: The delivery schedule for these planes is as follows:
- 2014: One
- 2015: Four
- 2016: Three
- 2017: Two
There are two other airlines taking delivery of their first A380s in 2014: Korea’s Asiana, and Qatar Airways. This will mean that all three of the dominant middle eastern carriers: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar will have the super jumbo. Emirates with 140 will have almost half of the world’s A380 fleet based on current orders for 324 units. Singapore Airlines is currently the second largest operator of the A380 followed by Qantas, Lufthansa, Air France, Korean, Malaysia, Thai, British Airways and China Southern.
After 2014, there are only three airlines left to receive A380s: Reunion’s Air Austral, Russia’s Transaero and Virgin Atlantic. Will any other operators step forward?
Back to Etihad. Are the suite, the First Class rooms and the bar going to stick or will they go the same way as the early bars and massive space on the first 747s of the 1970s? Surely having so much of the aircraft dedicated to First Class relies on filling the seats? After all, the airline will have ten of these residences in the air. How many passengers will fill those minimum $20k a pop seats? Mr Hogan, Etihad CEO confidently says: “There is a market for this type of product.” We shall see if it lasts or becomes an airline norm or quietly gets dropped in the future deliveries of the 380!
In the meantime, I cannot wait to fly the Etihad 380! Check out my A380 Board on Pinterest for more Etihad photos!
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