Middle Eastern air carrier Etihad launched on Monday a new service in Abu Dhabi, The Residence, which offers a 11.6-square metre 3-room upper deck cabin on its Etihad A380 jet. It has a living room, separate double bedroom, ensuite shower room and even an academy-trained personal butler, travel concierge and chef.
The luxury flat on air is a level higher for the United Arab Emirates flag carrier compared to its other private suites, the First Apartment. It is 74 per cent larger than current suites, features leather reclining armchair, swivel TV, mini bar, a personal vanity unit and wardrobe hidden behind a sliding door.
But it isn't just suite flyers who would enjoy these luxuries on air. First Class passengers on Etihad also enjoy a show room, while all passengers on Etihad A380s have mobile and Wi-fi connections.
Initially, The Residence will be available only in the Abu Dhabi-London route for $20,000 - whether there is one or there are two passengers using the unit. However, by June 2015, wealthy Australian passengers could avail of the service, beginning with Sydney and to be followed by Melbourne.
There is no pricing yet for the Australia-London route, but Etihad Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner hinted that based on the $20,000 ticket price for the Abu Dhabi-London route, it would likely cost $40,000 for the Sydney/Melbourne-London leg.
As part of its upgrade of services, Etihad also increased by 20 per cent the space in business class studio units for its A380 and B787 aircraft, while first and business class passengers would have a joint area, The Lobby, which is a bar and lounge with a semi-circular leather sofa, table and large TV screen.
While Baumgartner said the new service raises the bar, economy or first-class ticket holders, including Etihad employees, should not expect an upgrade. "We are going to be very pure on the pricing of the residence. It's something exclusive. We want people to aspire to it," he stressed.