Watch as TPG U.K. reviews all 4 classes on Etihad Airways’ A380
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Etihad is one of the best airlines in the world, and famous for its outrageously luxurious Residence offering. It’s a three-room suite in the sky, unmatched by any other commercial airline. We have also rated its First Class Apartment, business class and economy class very highly. From the front of the plane to the back, you are likely to be in for a comfy ride.
It was only right that we set these four experiences up against each other. So we brought The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, and TPG social media editor Samantha Rosen along for the ride in our latest iteration of a four-class video review. We flew on the A380 from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) in one you certainly should not miss.
As always, we pay for our own flights, so this four-class review is in no way sponsored by Etihad, however, in this case we bought first-class tickets, which were upgraded to the Residence by Etihad. In total, the following classes are available at the following amounts for one-way travel — and we always try to pay with miles, when possible:
- TPG paid: 207,500 Etihad Guest miles + £176 tax – Upgraded from Apartments to the residence by Etihad
- Average cash price: £20,885
- TPG paid: 188,750 Etihad Guest miles + £176 tax
- Average cash price: £12,800
- TPG paid: 172,500 Etihad Guest miles + £138 tax
- Average cash price: £4,916
- TPG paid: 109,350 Etihad Guest miles + £62 tax
- Average cash price: £457
While you may be thinking that Etihad Guest might be strange to use as a U.K.-based traveller, you could be wrong. In fact, the Etihad Guest programme can be incredibly valuable and miles can be easy to come by, as Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express U.K. Membership Rewards. It’s important to note that Etihad has a number of partners, and some partners might lead to better value being extracted from your points. For example, the American Airlines AAdvantage programme charges just 62,500 miles for a first-class ticket from London to Abu Dhabi, and 80,000 miles for a first-class ticket all the way to South Africa. Business class can be had on these routes for 42,500 and 55,000 miles respectively. A true bargain, however, AAdvantage miles are harder to come by for a U.K. miles and points collector.
On this JFK-AUH route, AA would charge 40,000 miles in economy, 70,000 miles in business and 115,000 miles in first class.
In the Residence, Brian experienced the absolute epitome of luxury, privacy and space on a commercial airline. Having a three-room cabin upstairs on an A380 is as outrageous and incredible as it sounds. Brian thought the bed was as comfortable as one might expect in a luxury hotel, and food to be that from a top-quality restaurant. On the ground, the secret doors into the huge residence lounge at JFK was another outrageous perk.
On the downside, however cool the private Residence lounge was, you can’t avoid being spat out into the busy JFK terminal, and whilst the crew escorted Brian from the lounge to the aircraft and allowed him to board either first or last, you still have to march though the airport with the masses.
In the First Class Apartment, I adored the whole experience. The service was exceptional — warm, attentive and fun without being overly stuffy. Having a shower on board is the most incredible experience, and then slipping into cozy pyjamas and slippers and hopping into the bed the crew made up whilst I was in the shower was an unforgettable experience.
One gripe was the flight time, which did not owe itself to fully enjoy and experience the product. There was only a short daytime window as we raced eastbound. The food was also OK, but definitely didn’t blow me away. The strange flight times didn’t lend themselves to eating meals at normal times but this was no fault of Etihad.
In business class, Sam Rosen experienced a very chic cabin without being over the top. The inflight bar was an added plus for a business-class ticket. Sam loved the dine-on-demand service, and thought it really elevated the dining experience, since you’re not tied to eating at a certain time if you’re not hungry or choose to sleep. She found the service to be flawless, both warm and inviting without being fake and pushy.
On the downside, the food itself was not the best, especially compared to other business class options, the IFE system was pretty limited and there was no turndown service or pyjamas.
In economy class, Jean Arnas experienced a fancy cabin, which he said felt like an expensive product even at economy level. The big A380 gave a luxurious space, fresh cabin feel, with a clean and reclining seat. Jean enjoyed the excellent drinks, which were all complimentary. He especially like the Bloody Mary, which was very nicely done, with proper tabasco and big ice cubes. A big blanket, fairly nice pillow, clean and big toilet and nice headphones came together to provide solid amenities for an economy ticket.
Overall, everyone’s thoughts were very positive, and Etihad provided a far better-than-average product and service in each of its four classes.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.