The Ultimate Guide to the Etihad A380 Residence

Sep 20, 2018

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Etihad stunned #avgeeks and casual travelers alike when it unveiled its unprecedented three-room Residence aboard the Airbus A380 back in 2014, blowing previous best-in-class suites like the old Singapore Suites and Emirates first-class suites out of the skies.

The Residence by Etihad Airways.
Flying Etihad’s Residence was one of TPG’s most memorable flights.

Along with a bedroom, living room and lavatory (with shower!) all to themselves, Residence passengers are treated to amenities like private butler service, customized menus by onboard chefs and exclusive airport lounges they don’t have to share with anyone else. No wonder TPG had such a phenomenal time flying it on its inaugural flight from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) late in 2015.

The Residence's bedroom has a slanted ceiling.
Where else will you find a private bedroom with a double bed in the sky?

While the Residence is only available on a limited number of Etihad aircraft and routes, it flies to popular destinations like New York and London. The bad news is, there’s no such thing as saver-level awards for the Residence, so you can expect to redeem millions of miles, literally, for an award. On the plus side, though, awards are available almost every day on all four routes currently offering the Residence. And if you have the points to spare, it beats shelling out tens of thousands of dollars each way.

Aircraft and Routes

Like Etihad’s First Class Apartments, the Residence is only found aboard the airline’s Airbus A380s. Etihad currently has 10 of these aircraft in its fleet and has winnowed down the list of destinations it flies them to in recent years, discontinuing service to cities like Melbourne (MEL) and Mumbai (BOM). Currently, Etihad flies A380s with the Residence on the following routes with the corresponding flight numbers.

Some of these routes, notably New York, are or will be flown by other aircraft as well, so it is important to keep specific flight numbers in mind. Also note that flight times on all these routes will change slightly in October and New York is losing a frequency in October 2018, too.

Here are the current flight schedules for Etihad’s A380s.

Abu Dhabi (AUH) to/from New York (JFK)

Viator Photo ID: 366587 / Orig name: Viator_Getty_349186.jpg / Source Type: Getty / Source ID: 349186 / Desc: USA, New York State, New York City, Aerial view of city with Statue of Liberty at sunset / / Notes: Getty Images/Tetra images RF / This content is subject to copyright. / Tetra Images / Tags: Viator, Aerial View, Statue Of Liberty, ellis island, liberty island, new york city, usa, united states, north america, NYC, New York / Photographer: Tetra Images / Uploaded by: acruz / Edited by: egonzales /
Eithad flies the Residence to New York. Image via Getty Images.

The airline recently announced it would be cutting one of its daily A380 flights between the two cities and flying the remaining flight 6x weekly with an A380 and once weekly with a Boeing 777.

  • EY101 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 9:55 am departure → New York (JFK) 4:10 pm
  • EY103 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 2:50 am departure → New York (JFK) 9:10 am*
  • EY100 New York (JFK) → 10:55 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 8:05 pm +1
  • EY102 New York (JFK) → 2:40 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 11:50 am +1*

*Until September 30.

Abu Dhabi (AUH) to/from London Heathrow (LHR)

Etihad flies the Residence on up to three flights to London daily. Image via Getty Images.

The first route operated by Etihad’s A380s with the Residence and the Apartment, it is flown by up to three A380s a day in each direction.

  • EY11 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 2:40 am departure → London (LHR) 7:30 am
  • EY19 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 8:10 am departure → London (LHR) 1:00 pm
  • EY17 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 1:55 pm departure → London (LHR) 6:45 pm
  • EY12 London (LHR) → 9:35 am departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 7:50 pm
  • EY20 London (LHR) → 3:00 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 1:10 am
  • EY18 London (LHR) → 8:45 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 7:00 am

Abu Dhabi (AUH) to/from Paris (CDG)

The sunset view of Paris with the Eiffel tower
Arrive in style in the City of Light.

This route seems to be the one benefiting from JFK losing an A380 flight, as it will go from having one daily A380 and one daily 777 flight to both being operated by A380s starting October 1.

  • EY31 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 2:15 am departure → Paris (CDG) 7:40 am
  • EY37 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 9:05 am departure → Paris (CDG) 2:20 pm
  • EY32 Paris (CDG) → 10:35 am departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 7:25 pm
  • EY38 Paris (CDG) → 9:55 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 6:40 am +1

Abu Dhabi (AUH) to/from Sydney (SYD)

Sydney Opera House and waterfront, Sydney, Austrailia
Sydney welcomes two daily Etihad A380 flights.

Another flagship route for Etihad and the A380, this one is flown twice daily with an A380 in each direction.

  • EY450 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 10:35 am departure → Sydney (SYD) 6:30 am +1
  • EY454 Abu Dhabi (AUH) → 9:50 pm departure → Sydney (SYD) 5:50 pm +1
  • EY451 Sydney (SYD) → 3:15 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 12:05 am +1
  • EY455 Sydney (SYD) → 8:55 pm departure → Abu Dhabi (AUH) 5:40 am +1

While the list of destinations to which Etihad flies the A380 is limited, at least they are popular cities. Unfortunately for US-based flyers, opportunities to book awards on the New York route are being halved in October, but as you’ll see below, there are at least still some awards to be booked.

The Residence Experience

Passengers who book the Residence enjoy pre-flight concierge service to customize their experience, and have access to Residence-only sections of Etihad’s lounges in Abu Dhabi, London Heathrow and New York-JFK.

The VIP room at JFK was so secret, even TPG had trouble locating it.
The VIP room at JFK was so secret, even TPG had trouble locating it.

They can also order bespoke menus ahead of time if they want something truly unique, or craft their menu once aboard with the in-flight chef.

Hanging with my butler in the living room.
TPG enjoying personalized butler service in the Residence.

The Residence aboard Etihad’s A380 is located at the very front of the plane’s top deck on the left side of the aircraft. Though you will find nine First Class Apartments up here, too, the Residence is like its own little world.

The Residence features tons of privacy thanks to closing doors.

Entering via a door you can slide open and shut, you first come into the Living Room portion of the suite. It contains a Poltrona Frau leather sofa and bench along with a 32-inch HDTV screen.

I'm looking forward to lounging in the Residence's living room.
The living room has one of two 32-inch HDTVs.

The sofa has two dining tables that fold away when not in use and the bench has a storage cubby within it.

Inside Etihad's The Residence.

Like in the Apartments, the Residence has its own minibar.

The Bedroom has a double bed made up with Italian linens and its own in-flight entertainment system.

The Residence's bed.
The Residence’s bed.

As mentioned earlier, Residence passengers get their own dedicated lavatory, complete with heated floors, a shower and Acqua di Parma amenities.

Booking Awards

Now for the fun/gobsmacking part. You can actually book awards in the Residence using Etihad Guest Miles and awards are plentiful. But it’ll cost you around 1.5 – 2 million miles each way, no matter which route you’re on. The good news is, taxes and fees are actually quite low.

Just a note here based on some reader comments. Back in 2015/2016, you could occasionally book the Etihad Residence comparatively cheaply — less than $5,000 each way — by booking it on the short route from Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Mumbai (BOM). The A380 has long since been taken off that route, though, and those types of fares have not been available for a while. You could also score some relatively inexpensive deals by originating in Colombo (CMB) or Cairo (CAI) and flying to Sydney (SYD) for around $13,000 round-trip. Those types of airfares seem to be gone, in part because the routes on which the A380 operates are so few.

At this point, even originating in Cairo or Colombo, the two proven gateways for discounted airfares, they still price out at around $15,000-$21,000 one-way, and $19,000-$32,000 round-trip. Overall, the best deals I could find at the moment were one-ways from Colombo (CMB) to Paris (CDG) for 2,650,386 Sri Lankan Rupees ($15,694).

Or from Cairo (CAI) to Paris (CDG) for 272,396 Egyptian Pounds ($15,189) each way.

That’s a lot of cash, so if you want to use miles instead, you have options. Granted, it’s going to be a lot of miles, too.

To book a Residence award, you’re going to need Etihad Guest miles since these awards are not open to partners programs like American Airlines AAdvantage or Korean Air SkyPass. The good news is, you can transfer points from either American Express Membership Rewards, or Citi ThankYou Rewards, so there are easy ways to top up your mileage balance quickly without actually flying the airline. However, you’ve got to have millions of miles to spare. That said, this might actually be worth it considering even one-way flights on these routes can cost $20,000-$30,000.

To search for saver-level awards on Etihad that are bookable with partner miles, use Etihad’s own award search. You can search one-way or round-trip, and you don’t need to log in with an Etihad Guest account to see awards.

The redemption values might seem strange given that other programs charge in increments of 500s and 1,000s while Etihad Guest’s award redemption values can go down to the mile. They also change over time, so the ones I’ve listed were in effect at time of writing.

Here are one-way redemption values for each of the routes, along with the taxes and fees you can expect to pay.

Route Miles and Fees
Abu Dhabi – New York 1,914,675 + $74
New York – Abu Dhabi 1,914,675 + $43
Abu Dhabi – London 1,538,880 + $33
London – Abu Dhabi 1,538,880 + $266
Abu Dhabi – Paris 1,284,115 + $33
Paris – Abu Dhabi 1,284,115 + $119
Abu Dhabi – Sydney 1,510,136 + $57
Sydney – Abu Dhabi 1,510,136 + $70

Here’s a sample day where awards on both Etihad’s A380 flights from Abu Dhabi to New York were available.

And a return itinerary with both A380 flights showing Residence award availability.

Here’s a day where all three A380 flights to London Heathrow are available.

And a day when all three return flights are as well.

Now a day in October when both flights to Paris will be operated by A380s, and both of which have award availability.

There is plenty of award availability on both A380 flights on the way back, too.

Award availability to Sydney is also quite good.

As it is on the return, too.

Bottom Line

Etihad’s Residence is probably the nicest way to fly unless you have your own private jet. Not only do you have your own private suite, but it also includes a living room, a separate bedroom and its own bathroom, complete with shower, not to mention a dedicated butler. You also enjoy ground services like a private lounge at some destinations.

While the cost of booking an award ticket in the Residence is high at 1.5 – 2 million miles each way, it might be worth it when you consider that paid tickets are $20,000-$30,000 in each direction. And if you have the points to spare from Amex or Citi, this could well be a worthwhile redemption considering it’s an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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