Rewind the clock a few years and we have the race by the big airlines in the UAE, Emirates and Etihad, to introduce the premier first class cabin and experience. Both airlines pulled out all the stops to do so and they didn’t care how glitzy it looked. That was Emirates’ path while Etihad went for a slightly more muted appearance with space – a lot of space. Enter the Etihad First Apartment. But, it may now be gone for good.
The Etihad First Apartments – Gone for Good?
I had the privilege to fly in the First Apartments a few different times and though it did not have the bling of Emirates, I genuinely loved the experience. The food was great and the space in a single first class seat area was just crazy. Sure, the seat didn’t recline that far and yes the shower compartment wasn’t as big as Emirates shower on the A380 but, we are talking about something called an “Apartment” on an airplane!
Etihad rolled out their First Apartment on their Airbus A380 aircrafts as their first class cabin with the ultra-luxurious Residence cabin just at the front of the Apartment cabin. I had been in it before but not actually as a paying customer. 🙂
And that was ok because the First Apartment was really a different kind of first class experience. You had Cathay Pacific with a spacious first class seat/area, Emirates with luxuriously appointed everything, Singapore with an understated but classy first class seat that was a bit like a train compartment and then Etihad with a seat made from the same leather as is in Ferrari cars – plus a couch that converted to a bed.
Will the A380 Be Gone for Good with Etihad?
But, with the coronavirus completing wrecking international travel last year, Etihad, like many airliners, grounded some of their larger aircraft in favor of smaller planes that cost less to operate. The double-decker A380 is definitely a big airplane and for that reason, it saw itself grounded for a while.
In an article published last week (which I saw courtesy of Spencer Howard), the Etihad CEO said this, “We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again.”
Etihad has 10 of these jumbo airplanes and with Etihad’s goal to operate more of their smaller aircraft (like the Boeing 787 now and the Airbus A350 in the future), there is just not a path for the A380s to come back into service in the Etihad network.
Will Etihad install a similar first class cabin on any future aircraft? It won’t happen with their aircraft now and would definitely not be something they would do in the next 5 years as they try to turnaround from the crushing results of Covid-19.
If not, I am glad I got to enjoy it the few times I did and even managed to bring my daughter on one of those flights (she was 8 at the time). She loved the whole experience of showering on board, playing Angry Birds on the 24″ touchscreen TV in her apartment, getting the pajamas on, having dinner with Dad, etc. Even now she is a bit sad that that could have been her first and last flight in these cabins.
Have you had a chance to experience the First Apartment, or even the Residence? Will you miss it?