Anytime someone says to me that the glory days of flying are long gone, I quickly take out my Iphone and show them the hundreds of pictures I snapped away from inside my Etihad First Class Apartment Suite. Sure, domestic travel may not be as glamorous as it once was but long haul travel has never been as exciting, luxurious, and over the top as it is in it’s current state.
Today, we’ll review Etihad’s signature Apartment product and I’ll share some insightful ways of how even you could find yourself inside this amazing suite without shelling over $12,000 or more.
So what is Etihad Airways? Well, it’s the other airline of the United Arab Emirates that while it doesn’t get as much publicity as Emirates Airlines, might actually be the more luxurious and grander of the two.
Having had the pleasure to fly in the Emirates first class suite, I couldn’t imagine that I would ever get a better flying experience without flying in a private jet. That was until Etihad announced the groundbreaking Residence and Apartment products aboard its fleet of A-380’s and I just knew that I had to try this product. As luck would have it I was going to be in Etihad’s home city of Abu Dhabi in which I had a flight on British Airways to London. My mission, if I chose to accept it was to cancel my British Airways flight and replace it with an entire room on the top floor of an Etihad Airbus 380. Mission accepted!!!
How’d I do it?
Although I love finding good deals to buy business and first class flights, what I love even more is using miles to book these flights, a task that’s not always easy. It just so happened that I had over 300k miles sitting in my American Airlines frequent flyer account. Now, if you understand how frequent flyers mile work, you would know that it’s sometimes better using the miles of one airline to book a flight on their partner airline . Since American Airlines and Etihad are partner airlines I started googling to see if I could find an award chart for Etihad flights using American Airline miles. To my surprise it only took 62,500 miles each way to fly from Abu Dhabi to London in first class. So now all I had to do was find availability on a flight operated by an Airbus A-380 since the only first class seat on that aircraft is the Apartment. As it turns out there was a seat available on the same day as my original British Airways flight. A short call over to American Airlines reservation department and I had a seat (apartment) aboard Etihad’s A-380 from Abu Dhabi to London booked and ready for my arrival.
I received a phone call from Etihad a day before my flight to ask me where I wanted my chauffeur to pick me up from. A little confused, I asked them to explain and apparently when you fly first class with Etihad you don’t need to travel to the airport in a shabby taxi. They sent me a shiny new Mercedes S class equipped with a chauffeur in an all black suit included hat and white gloves. Keep in mind that my hotel was in Dubai, about an hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi so the chauffeured ride probably saved me a good stack of coins. When we arrived to Abu Dhabi airport I was driven to the first class terminal, yes they have an entire terminal dedicated to first and business class passengers. I was greeted by three gentleman that kindly took my bags and escorted me to the check in area. You won’t find counters at the first class check in area, instead there are desks with bright white elegant leather chairs for you to sit comfortably in while the check in agent prints your boarding pass and tags your bags.
First Class Check-in
After check in I breezed by security and headed to the Etihad lounge to catch a bite before I boarded my flight. Unfortunately the first class lounge was under renovation so I had to tough it out with all the business class passengers (what a travesty). In all reality, their business class lounge makes most airport lounges in the US seem like soup kitchens for the homeless. The buffet was lined with hot fresh food that you would find at a 4 star hotel and they even had a dining area complete with waiters and waitresses. After a quick bite I decided to walk to the spa within the lounge to see if I could get a free massage but unfortunately the wait-list was too long for my boarding time so I instead opted to get a nice straight razor shave with hot towel, oooh. All relaxed I decided to make my way to the A-380 with my new Apartment on board.
Boarding was relatively easy and before I knew it I was greeted at the door of my Apartment 4k and given a quick tour MTV cribs style. Pictures do this suite no justice, it is absolutely massive. The seat itself doesn’t recline all the way but that’s because it doesn’t need to as there is both a seat and a full bed within the suite. I settled in and got ready for dinner. When the flight attendant came to take my order I told her that I was a vegetarian so she suggested it might be better to speak to the chef. A short five minutes later a gentleman came to my suite and introduced himself as the chef, he asked me a few questions and asked if it was okay for him to prepare something special for me, how could I refuse. When my food arrived, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what it was but it was probably the most delicious meal I had ever had both on land and up in the sky. After dinner I wanted to roam around a bit to check out the business class seats and maybe take a peek into economy too. Heck, I figured if I made some friends in economy I could bring them into my suite as there is enough space for four to five adults to have a good old fashioned house party.
The Apartment Suite
Bed Inside Suite
As if the suite is not cozy enough, Etihad has a first and business class lounge where you can order drinks at the bar, sit down and converse with fellow passengers about the latest billion dollar deal you just closed on. So after I wandered around a bit, I did just that minus the billion dollar deals. After a couple drinks at the bar I felt it was time to take a nap but how could I do that before taking a shower, yes, shower!!!
In-Flight Lounge Area
The shower attendant got the shower ready for me and handed me a gown, towel and pajamas. The bathroom itself is pretty spacious and to my surprise the shower is actually a decent size. To make sure that they preserve water, there is a timer in the shower and once pressed it runs for 5 minutes. Having never had a shower a few thousand feet in the sky I was tempted to press the button a few times and spend hours in the shower but I figured I should get back to my Apartment just in case I left a window cracked or the stove on 🙂
When I got back to my suite, my bed was made and ready for me to dive in. I spent the next hour watching random videos on the IFE system before I dozed off. About 2 hours before arrival I was awakened for a pre-arrival meal. Once again the chef had made something special for me although this time I could kind of make out what it was, a sandwich but what was in the sandwich was another mystery. A mystery worth eating over and over again.
After my meal I kept looking at my watch with the realization that this amazing experience was about to be over. In closing, the Etihad Apartment is without a doubt the best first class product in the sky, the privacy, space, comfort, food quality, and service make it second to non in my experience. So, how can you fly in it without selling a kidney or two? Read below.
How To Fly In The Apartment
If you have $10k-$12k to spare than this is easy for you but for the other 99% of the public the best way is through American Airlines Aadvantage Miles. If you already have at least 62,500 miles than you would simply have to find an apartment that is available to book using miles. You can either call American Airlines Aadvantage department to have them check availability for you but that all depends on the person you get on the phone so I recommend that you instead search the Etihad website to find availability. Search your dates and if you find anything under the “Guest” column than that seat is bookable using American Airlines miles.
At that point you would simply need to call American Airlines Advantage department and give them the date and flight number and they will be able to make the booking for you.
How To Get American Airline Miles
If you don’t already have the miles in your American Airlines account you have a few ways of getting the miles.
- FLY: The first is by flying, this will take some time but if you already have flights scheduled make sure that you are getting credit for your miles by inserting your frequent flyer account number into the booking. Making mileage runs is also an option.
- CREDIT CARD: The second is probably the fastest way but you will need to have decent credit. Citi offers an array of American Airlines branded credit cards and they currently have an offer of 50,000 points for signing up and spending $3k within the first three months of account opening. Click this link to apply (I do not get any kind of compensation from Citi or American Airlines)
- PURCHASED MILES: The other way is by simply buying the miles. American Airlines currently has an offer that they will give you a bonus for buying miles. It’s a staggered bonus but for example if you purchased 50,000 miles they will give you a bonus of 22,500 miles to make your total 72,500 which is more than enough to book a trip in the Apartment. The cost of the 72,500 miles would be $1,615.63. Not cheap but still a huge discount from the actual price of the Apartment if you booked it without using miles. If you decide to go this route make sure to first find the availability and then call American Airlines to put a courtesy hold on the reservation before you plunge to buy the miles. Click this link to purchase American Airlines miles under the promo
Whatever option you choose, you will not be disappointed taking a trip in this gorgeous first class suite. Please visit the American Airlines award chart website to see how many miles it will cost for your desired travel destination by clicking here