Since July 1st 2019 Etihad Airways began using their largest aircraft, The A380, on a route from Abu Dhabi to Seoul Incheon. I was the first guest in The Residence!
This isn't my first time flying in The Residence; I first flew it in December 2016 from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai (cost was just $2,500 USD one way) I had the honour to fly it again on July 1st, 2017 on the inaugural A380 to Paris from Abu Dhabi (ticket price was $7,000 USD one way) After two years, I was honoured to be the first guest travelling in The Residence on the Etihad A380 to Incheon.
The World's Premiere Flying Experience
There's nothing like The Residence in commercial travel. The Residence is above First Class; with a living room, separate bedroom and en-suite shower room, it is the only three-room suite on a commercial airline in the world. Every aspect of your travel is well taken care of; there are no queues, no hassles and no check-ins, just sit back, relax and enjoy the fine service in the lounge and on-board.
I hadn't flown The Residence in 2 years and I was very keen to re-live this fantastic experience, so I decided to dress up for the occasion (I have never dressed in a tuxedo for a flight before!)
A Mercedes S class limo picked me up at my residence in Dubai, it was sharp on-time to take me to Abu Dhabi Airport. Once I arrived at the airport, I was greeted by the staff and porters (waiting outside in 40 degrees heat!)
The Residence Lounge
There was no check-in, as the staff already had my boarding pass printed. I was escorted straight to immigration, through security and then on to The Residence Lounge.
The Residence Lounge is a separate "hidden" lounge inside the Etihad First Class Lounge.
My Residence Lounge butler, Trisha, was waiting for me at the door.
As soon as I sat down, I was offered a glass of chilled Billecart Salmon Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004 champagne.
The Residence Lounge is totally private, there is a private bathroom and shower room and even a private prayer room for the Muslim faith. I was glad to see my favourite lounge book "Arabian Horses" still on the table!
I was getting quite hungry, so I ordered food not long after settling down. I sat at the dining table, where all the glassware was crystal by Vera Wang and the show plates by Bernardaud.
The items I had for dining included a clear consommé, mini burger sliders and grill cod fish with risotto. The presentation was excellent, all dishes were brought by the waitress from the kitchen one by one.
After the meal I was invited to the Cigar Room in the First Class Lounge, to have a cigar and a cognac. I have to admit that I am not a smoker, so I just took a few pics of it.
After a visit to the Cigar Room, I went to the Six Senses Spa and enjoyed a complimentary foot massage. After my massage, the Etihad attaché came and asked me whether I wanted to board first or last. Although I had purposefully arrived 3 hours ahead of the flight, there was simply not enough time to enjoy all the services The Residence Lounge has to offer.
If you're not in a rush, I recommend to arrive 4-5 hours ahead to relax and pamper yourself in The Residence Lounge
As the excitement of boarding the A380 had built up, I decided to board early this time. I was escorted by my lounge butler and a porter to gate 33 for early boarding; I met with my flight butler, Mr Pratish, at the gate.
Just like in a Hollywood movie, I became the centre of attention at the boarding gate with my large entourage. What an VIP experience!
Welcome to The Residence
To my utter surprise, I found a portrait of myself in The Residence. My butler, Pratish, explained that this is to make me feel at home! He knew I was an AvGeek and brought me some aviation magazines to read as well. I must say the service is really personalised in The Residence.
The cabin manager and the in-flight chef came around to introduce themselves and wished me a good flight ahead. They presented me with an inaugural A380 flight certificate (Every passenger received one of these on this inaugural A380 flight to Incheon)
I also visited the cockpit during boarding. In a cheeky attempt, I asked the captain to slow down the flight so I could enjoy The Residence longer!
The flight time on flight EY876 to Seoul Incheon was just about 8 hours, with a tail wind travelling Eastbound. The aircraft registration was A6-APC.
1 to 1 Service On-Board
After takeoff, I changed into the more comfortable pyjamas. My butler then arrived to discuss my flight with me; I prefer to eat first, then take a shower before finally going to sleep. The next morning, I would like to have breakfast in bed.
The in-flight chef visited me and recommended food and beverages for the flight. I was still quite full but decided to try out an Asian slider starter and a grill steak from the grill menu. There were lot of choices on offer from The Residence menu, including grills (fish, chicken, steak) vegetarian options and Korean selections such as bibimbap.
You can see from this wide angle picture the 3 private rooms of The Residence (lounge, bedroom with bathroom and shower en-suite)
One of the nice features of Etihad The Residence is that you can have both tables set up together, so I could enjoy 2 courses at the same time! I was surely spoiled in The Residence!
After a private shower, it was time to hit the sack. The bed in The Residence is a true double bed, not one of those converted ones. There is also 2nd TV that I could watch from my bed.
I am on cloud nine in my own bedroom with total privacy! There is nothing that comes even close to this in commercial flying!
The Next Morning
Champagne Dreams and Caviar Wishes
I slept about 3 hours in total darkness and quietness, and in total privacy! (the A380 front end is very quiet) I didn't want my Residence experience to end too soon, so I woke up 2 hours before landing. I ordered breakfast in bed; my butler, Pratish, suggested a glass of Rosé champagne with caviar first and a coconut jelly waffle after.
Not long after breakfast, the cabin was prepared for landing. Pratish handed me back my clothes and I changed in my bedroom, in private. I enjoyed some good private moments until I arrived at Incheon in The Residence.
Below are some pictures taken by a Korean photographer Seungho Cha.
Typically The Residence passenger gets to deplane first, but I chose to stay on-board for a photo together with all the crew members as a memento to take home.
After all, there is only one inaugural A380 flight! Everyone wanted a photo!
The Residence passengers are entitled to a free limo transfer. In my case, a local Etihad staff member helped me through the formalities and then whisked me away into the limo. Another perfect Residence flight completed!
Etihad A380 The Residence Verdict
I understand The Residence costs a lot of money to fly; but for those who value their flying experience, I would argue it is worth more than every cent you've paid. Forget the other First Class offerings, save up to fly the best in commercial aviation, at least once!
Above all, it is the experience that I value the most!
Total privacy, 1 to 1 service, amazing fine dining, your own 6'10" double bed, shower in the sky, VIP treatment on the whole journey.....the list goes on..... I think it is a lifetime flying trophy for anyone who enjoys aviation.
Lower Residence Fare?
A one way trip Abu Dhabi to Incheon costs around $15,000 USD. You can combine a round-trip ticket with one way in The Residence and return in First/Business Class to obtain a lower price (from $13,000 USD).
You can find lower price in The Residence from Mumbai. For example Mumbai to Paris via Abu Dhabi one way in The Residence (AUH-CDG) and one way back in First Class can be just under $9,000 (even lower combine it with Business Class!)