Magic in the Middle East: Etihad’s First Class Apartments

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Trip Index:

Introduction
Getting there – Etihad First Apartments
Hotel Review: St Regis Abu Dhabi
Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Dubai
Day in Dubai

I was thrilled when my husband found award space in the Etihad Airways First Class Apartments from London to Abu Dhabi, and couldn’t wait to try it out!

It cost just 40,000 miles plus $104.90 for the both of us (edit: my originating flight was from Oslo so I was exempt from the London luxury tax).

Before the flight I stopped by the Etihad lounge to have a quick breakfast. Walking down the stairs to the lounge I was full of excitement about my flight, and also to see the lounge for the first time.

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Stairs leading down to lounge

IMG_1827Seating in lounge

IMG_1832Bar

To me there was nothing that made the lounge outstanding, but I did appreciate the fact that breakfast menus were given out so I could order what I liked.

IMG_1830Breakfast menu

I chose Eggs Florentine and my husband went with the banana oatmeal, both of which were very good.

IMG_1834Banana Oatmeal

IMG_1835Eggs Florentine

The spa offered a complimentary 15 minute treatment so of course I didn’t turn that down! Going with their “back distress” chair massage was an excellent way to relax right before the flight.

Getting on the plane shortly thereafter, I walked down the aisle to my seat with eager anticipation. I’d read One Mile at a Time’s review of the First Class Apartments, and wondered if my experience would live up to his.

Immediately I could see what he was on about, when it came to the décor. The details of the cabin were gorgeous, from the lattice work on the sliding doors to the delicate light pattern shining on the wall.

IMG_1847Cabin Aisle

IMG_1849Light pattern

I took my seat in Apartment 2H, and my husband was right in front of me in 1H.

IMG_1858Apartment 2H

My “apartment” was huge! I had my own large plush seat along with a huge bench that turned into a bed, which could have easily accommodated 5 of my closest friends (when in bench mode). There were closing doors to the Apartment to offer privacy, two large TV’s, a vanity area, several windows, a super soft throw and pillows. It really was like an apartment minus the kitchen which I didn’t need since I had something even better – made to order meals!

IMG_1848Luxurious seat

IMG_1985Couch

The leather was of the finest quality, by Poltrona Frau.

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When booking, I had tried to get seats 3H and 4H since the layout is a bit more ideal for passengers traveling together, but they had been taken. In fact, the entire cabin was full with the exception of The Residence in 1A. This meant that my husband’s seat of 1H was ideal since there would be no movement at all in the suite across from him during the flight.

Shortly after taking my seat I was greeted by a gentleman who offered me champagne. I accepted the glass of bubbly and took it with me on a giddy little walk around the cabin.

IMG_1863Champagne? Yes, please!

When I returned I found a chilled lemon-scented towel, some fresh dates and a letter from the cabin manager welcoming me onboard. How lovely!

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IMG_1870Welcome letter

Menus were distributed along with the wine list, and I requested to have the partition between the two seats put down.

IMG_1882Menus

IMG_1864Partition between 1H and 2H removed

Pajamas and amenity kits were soon handed out.

IMG_1895Pajamas

I was glad when slippers were offered next, especially because the first thing that the guest in the apartment next to me did when he sat down was to kick off his shoes and prop his bare feet onto the couch in front of him. Yuck. I snickered a bit when I saw that the flight attendant actually kneeled down when offering him the slippers and helped him get them on. A subtle hint, perhaps? The passenger kept them on after that, for the most part. Gary in his infinite wisdom via View from the Wing has said that bare feet (especially men’s) are not attractive in an airplane cabin, and I agree. Wear some socks, slippers, or at least cover them with something, people!

IMG_1883Keep the slippers on, please!

Picking up the pajamas and slippers I went to the restroom to change. There were two of them at the front of the aircraft that all First Class passengers can use, and the third restroom is inside of The Residence.

One of the two has a shower in it which diminishes the restroom space outside the shower, so the best one with the largest space to change in is the one furthest to the front.

IMG_1983Restroom

IMG_1982Restroom

Once I was all kitted out and back in my seat, I played around with the fun seat and video functions and then it was time to take-off.

IMG_1885Vanity area

IMG_1897Digital panel

IMG_1898Seat controls

As soon as we were up in the air I was served a snack while the cabin attendants fixed up the table in my husband’s apartment for us to dine together. The attendants were awesome. They were in a great mood, more than happy to assist with anything, and were neither too in-your-face nor too aloof. They seemed to genuinely enjoy being there.

IMG_1909Light snack

Once they gave the signal, I moved over to occupy the couch in my husband’s apartment. It was a large table with ample space for both of us to enjoy the meal. I found it more comfortable than Cathay 1st because one person there always ends up a little squished in the corner while eating.

The meal was outstanding, and to me there wasn’t even a little hint that we were on an airplane. I could have been fooled into thinking we were dining at a very nice restaurant (in my pajamas!), that’s how great it was. The meal was even served on fine bone china. The biryani was especially flavorful, and the only thing that was sad was how quickly I got full after the meal.

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After dinner service I walked back past my seat, through the galley and to the lounge which is shared between Business and First passengers. It was empty, and I watched as flight attendants rushed through the lounge on their way to the Business cabin and then forward again to the galley. One of the flight attendants offered me a snack or drink, and we got to talking. He said it was a convenient set up to have one galley for both classes, but he agreed that the Lounge itself was in a bit of an awkward spot.

IMG_1929Shared Lounge

IMG_1930Lounge

I asked him if it was possible to see one of the seats in Business, and he graciously obliged. The business cabin was not full, so my interest went unnoticed amongst the other passengers. Here are some quick pics of the business business seat –

IMG_1942Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

IMG_1943Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

IMG_1944Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

IMG_1945Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

IMG_1948Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

IMG_1950Etihad A380 Business Class Seat

Before heading to the lounge I had asked the flight attendant to make up my bed so when I arrived back at my seat, there it was, laid out and ready. It looked so comfortable!
IMG_1952Bed

The super-soft throw had been folded and laid at the foot of the bed, and there was yet another amenity kit. This one had a colorful turquoise tassel.

IMG_1956Amenity kit

On the pillow was a card wishing me a good rest and a duo of sleepytime ointments; one to roll on your pressure points and the other to spritz the pillow with. I looked for a small indentation where the package opened and turned it all around but didn’t find any. I used a small nail cutter to get the package open and found the scent to be light and relaxing.

IMG_1957Sleepytime

Of course, the beauty of traveling with someone meant that both of our beds connected at the top end. I felt like the open partition could have been a little bit bigger, but still loved it. Also, there was no cover on the duvet or sheets but I figure there will be on the longer routes.

IMG_1964Beds together

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Since this was the London-Abu Dhabi route there really wasn’t a ton of time for sleeping but I wanted to experience a little bit of everything. Climbing into bed I decided to watch a movie…and eat dessert! The TV screen swiveled so that it could be watched from the seat or from the couch in bed position. The cabin was pretty dark, but it seems there is always one chump who insists on keeping their window shade open instead of using the interior lights.

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IMG_1968Marzipan dessert

After the dessert I drifted off to sleep. Sometime later I awoke to one of the flight attendants gently letting me know it was time for my shower. Whoo hoo!

After meeting the cabin attendant in front of the restroom he explained the features of the shower and set me up with towels and more toiletries. Basically, I’d have 5 minutes of water but he said if I needed more to just let him know and it wouldn’t be a problem. There was a large button that showed the amount of time left with lights that started out green and slowly disappeared, leaving yellow and then red. At any time I could stop the water by hitting the big button, taking as much time as I needed to lather or whatnot and then hit the button again to re-start the water.

IMG_1972Button for shower water

I couldn’t remember the last time I was so excited about a 5 minute shower. In fact, almost as soon as I turned on the water I was so excited I got shampoo in my eyes and spent the first minute with my head buried in a towel trying to see again.

IMG_1975Shower

You can even blow dry your hair afterwards, with a hairdryer that is hidden behind a panel just to the right of the sink.

IMG_1976Hair Dryer

The flight was over way too quickly, but it was awesome to arrive refreshed after the shower.

Once on the ground I had checked a bag, and it took a while for it to come out. I don’t check bags often but it seemed a while for anything to come out other than crew bags which I can’t recall seeing come down the chute first before.

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Once I picked up my bag I went out front and was met by the hotel driver ready to take us to the St. Regis Abu Dhabi.

Next up – Hotel Review: St Regis Abu Dhabi

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  1. Kevin
    Reply

    Thank you for the excellent review. I too seem to be a magnet for the idiot with his/her open window shade!

    • Melinda
      Reply

      Kevin, also annoying to me are those who leave their window shade open and then promptly fall asleep. I was on a flight recently where that happened and the flight attendant closed the shade since the rest of the cabin was trying to sleep. He woke up, opened up the shade and then fell into a slumber again. :p

  2. Kevinz
    Reply

    “It cost just 40,000 miles plus $104.90 for the both of us”? R

    Really? Surely the UK APD alone is more than $160

    • Melinda
      Reply

      Kevinz, my originating flight was in Oslo Norway and the London to Abu Dhabi was on the same award redemption. This way I was exempt from the hefty London luxury tax. I’m sorry I didn’t mention that in the review. Thanks for reading!

  3. Scott
    Reply

    The letter isn’t from the Captain. It is from the Cabin Manager.

    • Melinda
      Reply

      Good catch Scott, I’ve made the correction. Thanks for reading!

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