Nov 20, 2016
Excuse me, this flight is too short
Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to not just spend a few days in Abu Dhabi, but to fly there in the Etihad First Class apartment on the Airbus A380 from JFK. I had seen the initial promo videos about the Apartment and Residence, but never imagined I’d experience it myself. I’ve logged quite a few miles in the past 3 years (somewhere over 300k if we’re counting), and I’ve always peeked into the first class area when exiting planes, but no one redefines the first class experience like Etihad does. They are truly an innovator in this space. I felt a sense of discovery like no other from the moment I checked in to the moment I stepped off the plane – and I felt like a giddy schoolgirl the entire time.
First, the Etihad lounge in JFK is just lovely. It’s bright and airy with plenty of seating and no shortage of delicious food. There’s a buffet service (with killer chicken tikka masala), as well as a menu with even more options. I was almost reluctant to leave the lounge when it was time to head to the plane. I was able to get on the plane before boarding began in order to take some photos, so I got to scope out the infamous Residence with its adjoining bedroom and private shower. Unreal!
I’m not going to do a comprehensive review, as many others have covered this flight experience in precise detail. I’ll let the photos do the talking, as I usually do. There were so many highlights that I can still recount them clearly, even months after taking the flight. One standout was the level of service I received. I felt like I could have asked for a Shake Shack burger, and somehow they would have made one appear – on a silver platter if I wanted. The food was so excellent that it was hard to believe that it came from an airplane kitchen. The wines were so great that I didn’t even sleep very much because I wanted to try so many of them! (True story.)
Another highlight was the design of the cabin itself and the privacy I had when I shut the doors. After the flight, I joked to friends that I could “walk around in my hallway and change into pajamas right there in my room!” That’s not an exaggeration – that’s exactly what I did. I also took advantage of the shower, because why the hell not? I was just as giddy and excited to tell my friends about the turndown service. I repeat, turndown service. Etihad really spared no details here. They even left a little bookmark by the pillow with a quote by Rumi.
I decided to have a snack in the bar/lounge that connects the first class cabin to the business class cabin. If you're traveling with friends, this would be a fun hangout spot for sure. Endless food and drink, and a big screen TV - you can't really ask for more than that.
When we started our descent, I was nowhere near ready to leave the plane. "This flight is too short!", I thought. "It's going to ruin all of my future flight experiences!", I thought. (It's actually about 13 hours, which normally would be a dreadful ordeal, but I was so excited the whole time that it went by in a blur.) Etihad really transformed the flying experience for me, and although it may be a long long time before I get to experience something like it again, the impression it made on me will last longer than that. And maybe someday flying can be more like this for everybody... one can dream.
Touchdown. I was eager to explore Abu Dhabi and its surrounding areas as its skyline and landscape were completely new to me. Below are some of the sights I saw. Some of it felt like I was dreaming, as they were truly spectacular.
Thank you to Etihad Airways for partnering on this post.