Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Thailand (home to my favorite hotel in the world: Soneva Kiri) and the Kingdom of Cambodia. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Etihad Airways Airbus A380 First Class Apartment from Paris to Abu Dhabi (today)
- Review: Etihad Airways Dreamliner B787 Business Class from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok
- Review: Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, Thailand
- Review: Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang, Cambodia
- Review: A visit to Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Review: Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia
- Review: Shinta Mani Wild by Bensley Collection, Cambodia
- Review: Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Business Class from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong
- Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Boeing 777 from Hong Kong to Frankfurt
Today (29 April, 2020): Etihad Airways A380 First Class from Paris to Abu Dhabi.
I recently flew First Class with Etihad Airways from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (France) to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (Thailand) via a stopover in Etihad’s hub in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). The flight from Paris to Abu Dhabi was operated by Etihad Airways’ flagship plane, the double-decker Airbus A380. The carrier has ten A380s in its fleet, deploying them on routes from Abu Dhabi to New York, London, Melbourne, Seoul and Sydney. Etihad Airways pushed luxury to a sky-high new level and revolutionized First Class with the introduction of the ‘Apartment’ concept on its A380 superjumbos in 2014. More than just a seat, the Apartment has a large leather armchair and separate bed. There is even space to walk around after closing the privacy doors. As you can imagine, the experience was mind-blowing, and I will try to describe the journey as detailed as possible so that you get an idea of what it feels like to travel onboard Etihad’s A380 in First Class.
Have you ever flown with Etihad Airways? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Paris (CDG) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
- Airline: Etihad Airways
- Aircraft type: Airbus A380
- Aircraft registration number: A6-APB (delivered to Etihad in 2015)
- Flight number: EY32
- On time departure: Yes (10 am)
- On time arrival: Yes (8 pm)
- Miles: 3260
- Flight time: 6 hours
- Seat: 4K
- Class: First Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- Etihad Airways lounge at Paris CDG Airport
- First Class cabin
- First Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (lounge, shower, crew, views)
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
I paid this one-way First Class ticket from Paris to Abu Dhabi with miles & cash: $150 USD + 62,500 miles. The ticket was booked via American Airlines’ frequent flyer program AAdvantage (Etihad Airways is a partner airline of American Airlines). Read my review of AAdvantage (with pros, cons, & tips) here.
2. ETIHAD AIRWAYS LOUNGE AT PARIS CDG AIRPORT
Etihad Airways has its own lounge at Paris CDG Airport, located one floor above the main concourse of Terminal 2C. The lounge is a combined Business & First Class lounge, and is basically a large space divided in separate seating areas by stylish bookcases and partitions. The chic decor is similar to that of Etihad’s flagship lounge in Abu Dhabi. The lounge also features an exquisite collection of original artworks, including art by Iraqi calligrapher Massoudy and vases & sculptures by French glass blower Jean-Claude Novaro.
The lounge features an elegant dining room and bar, with several dining tables for two as well as high-top seating along the windows. A small buffet station is located in the dining room, and although the selection of food is rather limited, it is high quality nonetheless. Hot and cold dishes are offered, and include salads, mezze, cheese, cold cuts, salmon, fruits, grilled salmon, and roasted chicken. A menu is also available in addition to the buffet, with dishes made from locally-sourced, seasonal produce. There are always several servers walking around in the lounge, so guests never have to get up to get a drink.
Other lounge facilities include showers, a small business center, and a play area for children.
3. FIRST CLASS CABIN
First Class on Etihad’s A380 is located on the plane’s forward upper deck. The cabin has a genuinely residential feel and looks amazingly stylish in a neutral color palette of soothing beige tones and some dark wood touches. Two beautifully crafted walls frame the aisle (which leads to the forward staircase) and hold the sliding entrance doors of the Apartments. Lighting patterns in the ceiling projects Arabian motifs on the walls and floor, adding to the chic ambiance.
Etihad Airways’ A380 First Class cabin is the industry’s first ever single aisle cabin on a wide body aircraft, and it features nine Apartments in total. There are five Apartments on the right side of the cabin (with two lavatories in the front), while the left side features only four Apartments. This asymmetry is explained by the fact that the missing 5th Apartment and lavatories on the left side of the cabin are replaced by the Residence. The latter is the world’s most exclusive airline ‘seat’ and features a private living room, separate en-suite shower room, and a bedroom with a double bed.
If First Class is out of your range, the other cabins on Etihad Airways’ A380 are very comfortable as well. The 70 Business Class Studios, arranged in a 1-2-1 layout, are located on the upper deck of the A380, behind First Class, while 415 Economy Class seats are located on the lower deck .
Click here for the seat map of this Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380.
4. FIRST CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
The A380 First Class cabin has nine Apartments in total: five with a rear-facing seat (1H, 3A, 3K, 5C & 5H) and four with a forward-facing seat (2C, 2H, 4A & 4K). The Apartments 3A, 4A, 3K and 4K have their seats located next to the window, while in the other Apartments, the seats are located close to the aisle away from the window, making it more difficult to enjoy the views during the flight. Six of the Apartments (3A & 4A, 3K & 4K, and 1H & 2H) are interconnecting, with a divider that can be lowered to join rooms, which is perfect for couples or friends traveling together.
Each Apartment has the same amount of space and an identical layout. It features a comfortable armchair and a separate Apartment-wide bench, both upholstered with fine Poltrona Frau leather. At first, I was puzzled as where to store my carry-on luggage, since the Apartment does not have overhead bins nor clearly visible storage areas. It turned out your carry-on luggage needs to be stored in the space below the bench.
The very comfortable recliner seat has a pitch of 80 inches (203 cm) and is 29.5 inches (75 cm) wide. It is equipped with in-seat massage and a pneumatic cushion control system. The seat has two arm rests: one holds the bifold tray table, while the other holds the Apartment and inflight entertainment system controls. With the push of just a button, you can change the position of the seat, raise or lower of the window blinds, and control the light settings for a variety of lamps situated within the Apartment. Next to the seat is a large vanity unit with a lit make-up mirror, with below this cabinet a small storage box, a minibar (sticked with Coke, Sprite and water) and a drawer for blanket staowage.
In front of the seat is an Apartment-wide ottoman, which is multifunctional. It can be used as a footrest when watching TV, or it can be used as an additional seat for “buddy dining’. The bench can also be flattened out into a fully flat bed that is 80.5 inches (205 cm) long. The flight attendants provide luxurious turn-down service, and cover the bed with a decent mattress, duvet, cotton sheets and two pillows. Passengers traveling in one of the interconnecting Apartments can lower a divider to enjoy the comfort of a semi-double bed.
What are the best First Class seats on Etihad Airways’ A380? Click here for a seat map.
- Travel partners should choose a duo of interconnecting Apartments that can become one space when lowering a divider (3A & 4A, 3K & 4K, or 1H & 2H).
- If you like to look out of the window, choose one of the Apartments where the seat is located right next to the window (3A, 3K, 4A or 4K).
What are the worst First Class seats on Etihad Airways’A380? Click here for a seat map.
- If you don’t like to be seated in a rear facing seat, avoid Apartments H1, 3A, 3K, 5C and 5 H.
First Class passengers on one of Etihad Airways’ longhaul flights receive the following amenities:
- A First Class amenity kit, designed by Italian luxury brand Acqua Di Parma. The kit is presented as a black pouch and contains socks, eyeshades, toothpaste, toothbrush and Acqua Di Parma skincare products (e.g. lipbalm, body lotion, and fragrance).
- High-quality pajamas and slippers designed by “A Friend Of Mine By Xpoze,” an Emirati fashion brand.
- Phitek branded noise-cancelling headphones, for effectively suppressing cabin noise and engine drone.
- Sleeping amenities, which comprise a stylish blanket, quilted mattress, and two pillows (turn down service is provided upon request).
During this flight, a multi-course lunch was served after takeoff, although First Class passengers could also order other meals later in the flight. The stylish menu card featured a special grill section, available to Etihad’s First Class customers only, with signature dishes prepared to order (e.g. black cod, beef tenderloin, and chicken breast) and a range of delicate sauces and sides.
I choose the following selection from the stylish menu card:
- Welcome drink, served with olives, cashews, and wasabi edamame
- Signature caviar service: Russian oscietra with traditional garnishes
- Starter: seared scallops, served with prawn, baby fennel, grapefruit, and salsa verde
- Main course: lamb shank Mandi, served with aromatic rice, mint yoghurt, and dakous sauce
- Dessert: Apricot cake with crème Anglaise
Food was ok and the fine bone chinaware, cutlery and crystal glassware completed the fine dining experience at 40,000 feet. That said, I was not blown away by what I was served, but maybe that’s because I was a bit unlucky with my meal choices. While I love Etihad Airways, I find their meals repetitively to be one of their weaker points and not as sophisticated as compared to the food served by its Asian competitors (e.g. Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Singapore Airlines).
Prior to landing, I ordered Etihad’s signature steak sandwich, with red onion marmalade, cheese mayonnaise, and wholegrain mustard (which tasted great).
Each First Class Apartment has a swiveling 24-inch (60 cm) flat-screen, which can be tilted so passengers can still watch TV when they are lying in their bed. The inflight entertainment features hundreds of hours of on-demand entertainment, with more than 300 TV shows as well as more than 100 movies, ranging from blockbusters to timeless classics and representing all corners from the world (Hollywood, Arabic, European, Indian and Asian Cinemas). Etihad Airways’ inflight entertainment system also features live TV channels (e.g. BBC, CNN).
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
All of Etihad Airways’ A380s are equipped with WiFi, and First Class passengers get a voucher for 90 MB of complimentary data.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# LOUNGE: Etihad Airways has installed a lounge on the upper deck of the A380 between First and Business Class, designated ‘The Lobby’. The latter is an intimate space that is more resemblant of a lounge in a boutique hotel than an airplane cabin, and it is the perfect spot to relax or socialize with other passengers. It seats up to six guests and is fitted with seatbelts, power supply, connectivity ports, and a widescreen TV (so you can watch a live game or sporting event with other guests).
# CREW: The international cabin crew on this flight was professional and friendly (e.g. addressing me by name and presenting themselves individually before take-off). All requests were dealt with promptly and cordially.
# CREW UNIFORM: Etihad Airways’ cabin crew wears very stylish uniforms by Italian designer Ettore Bilotta. The chocolate-brown, purple and orange colors reflect the brand of Etihad Airways, which is headed by Australian James Hogan.
# LAVATORY: Etihad Airways’ First Class cabin on the A380 has two lavatories in the front. Both lavatories have a lovely design and are stocked with Acqua di Parma toiletries. One of the lavatories also features a fully equipped shower room. Each First Class passenger has access to 5 minutes of running water in the shower, although you can turn on and off the water supply as many time as you want.
# VIEWS: the windows on the upper deck of the A380 are rather small, but nonetheless, there were some nice views to be enjoyed along the way.
10. MY VERDICT
- Etihad Airways Class lounge at Paris: 8/10
- Cabin design: 10/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 10/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 9/10
- Food (quality): 8/10
- Food (quantity): 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,5/10
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Delightful video ! This is more than a moment of pure elation : this is a whole world of bliss …
I’m deeply moved dear our Great Luxury Travel Expert ! Thank You so much for Your golden hands ! I take off my hat…
The most detailed and comprehensive review, have you try out Etihad Airways’ First Class cabins shower? compared with Emirates which one better? great video.Thanks for sharing.
@ Thuan Hoa Huynh: the showers are similar in concept but Emirates’ lavatories are much larger and more comfortable to move around