The Nicest Commercial Cabin is the Etihad First Class Residence and You Can Book it with Miles

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Etihad has announced that its new A380s, which will begin flying this year, will have a three-room Residence for up to two passengers. This will be the nicest cabin on any commercial airline by quite a bit.

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In addition, the A380 will have nine First Class Apartments, which are about 75% larger than their current First Class Suites.

  • Where will the Etihad A380s fly?
  • What does the First Class Residence look like?
  • What do the First Class Apartments look like?
  • How can you get into the Residence and the Apartments with frequent flyer miles?

Where the Etihad A380s Fly

The first Etihad A380 will fly between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and London (LHR) as Etihad flights 11 and 12, starting December 27, 2014. Unfortunately the flight is only eight hours westbound and seven hours eastbound.

Future A380s will begin service in 2015 and future routes will probably include the much-farther New York and Sydney.

The Residence

The First Class Residence is a living space for one or two people that includes a living room, bedroom, and bathroom spread over 125 square feet at the front of the upper deck.

The living room features two chairs, a table for dining, and a television.

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The bedroom features a double bed.

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The bathroom features a shower just like Emirates’ A380.

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Etihad’s two YouTube videos of the cabin have racked up a half million views in just a few days.

This one gives a quick overview of each room.

This one gives more perspective, since Dannii Minogue is walking through the rooms.

The Apartments

The First Class Apartments are basically what you think of when you think of top-of-the-line international First Class. Or at least what you used to think of until you saw the Residence.

The Apartments feature a 6’8″ fully flat bed, a large chair, a mini bar, a vanity and a television spread over 39 square feet. Passengers in First Class Apartments have access to a shared bathroom with a shower.

Six of the nine Apartments are adjoining, so a divider can be put down and the two Apartments’ beds can become one double bed (kind of, there is still a divider between your and your companion’s feet.)

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Two adjoining apartments with the divider down.

Some will quibble with the fact that some Apartments are rear-facing or that you sleep perpendicular to the direction of travel, but since I don’t feel like I’m in motion on an airplane, the direction of travel is irrelevant to me.

The Apartments are directly behind the Residence and directly in front of the Lobby, a very spacious-looking on board lounge for First and Business Class passengers.

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How to Book These Astounding First Classes with Miles

American Airlines has a partnership with Etihad, so that American Airlines miles can be used to book Etihad flights.

American charges 45k/67.5k/90k miles each way in economy/business/first class between the United States and the Middle East.

This year the Etihad A380 will only fly between Europe and Abu Dhabi. American Airlines charges only 20k/30k/40k miles each way in economy/business/first on this route.

Forty thousand miles for seven or eight hours of Etihad First Class is a steal. For your 40k miles, you’d be booked into the Apartments. American Airlines miles will not have access to the Residence.

Etihad miles can also book Etihad flights. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Etihad miles.

With Etihad miles, the lowest miles price (GuestSeat) between London and Abu Dhabi in First Class is 55,354 miles each way.

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Note that this is NOT on the A380

At the moment, there are no GuestSeat award seats available on the A380 that I’ve seen. Hopefully some are released soon because only GuestSeat seats are bookable with American Airlines miles.

In the meantime, you can still book the Apartments and even the Residences with Etihad miles, but you have to do it at the OpenSeat prices, which give a fixed and terrible value for each Etihad mile.

Currently, the Residence can be booked one way from Abu Dhabi to London for 2.3 million Etihad miles and the Apartments are 521k miles.

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If those miles prices are too steep, you can pay in cash. The Residence is just over $21,000 one way.

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The good news (?) is that it costs only $30 or so more in taxes to add a second passenger. So if you book the Residence, I’d be happy to pay my own way to be your companion.

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How pretty are these cabins? Will we ever get to fly them with miles?


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