Review: Etihad First Class Apartment A380 Abu Dhabi to New York JFK
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Hilary Stockton

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Etihad First Class Apartment, A380


This Review of Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380 from Abu Dhabi to New York is from our recent family trip to the Maldives, where we loved our stay at Cheval Blanc Randheli. Departing First Class passengers in Abu Dhabi can enjoy the new Etihad First Class Lounge and Spa. See all our Etihad Airways posts and our First Class airline reviews.

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 Cabin and Seat Selection

Etihad First Class on the A380 consists of 9 Etihad First Class Apartments, 4 on the left side of the aircraft and 5 on the right side. The apartments, apart from Etihad's The Residence (with its own private bathroom and shower) are the largest first class suites on commercial aircraft at present.

My favorite seats in Etihad First Class on the A380 are 4A and 4K, because they are forward facing seats by the window, so you have greater privacy when seated than you do with seats that are right by the aisle, such as 1H, 2C, 2H, 5C and 5H.

We were fortunate enough to be able to book 3 Etihad First Class Apartments for our entire family on our flight from Abu Dhabi to New York JFK, so we selected First Apartments 4A and 4K for my son and husband respectively, and First Apartment 3A for me, since it partially connects with 4A via by lowering the divider.

Etihad First Class Apartment Seat Map


Etihad "The Lobby"

Several airlines feature an onboard bar; Emirates has one behind Business Class on the A380, Korean Air has one, as does Virgin Atlantic. On Etihad, the onboard bar is called "The Lobby" and seats up to 6 passengers. We didn't have occasion to use it, but it's nice to have an additional space to go to as a Business Class passenger, when you want to stretch your legs.

Etihad A380 Lounge Bar: "The Lobby"


Etihad First Class Apartment and Seat 

The Etihad First Class Apartment seat is nicely styled, in Poltrona Frau leather (also used in luxury cars such as Ferrari), but in my view not as comfortable as the less sleek looking but better padded and extra wide Cathay Pacific First Class seats.

Etihad First Class Apartment A380 Review

Etihad First Apartment


You can, however, slightly adjust seat cushion firmness via the touchscreen on the armchair, where you can also control the lights and privacy, via the "Do Not Disturb" sign (although the apartment doors themselves are manual and can't be closed with any of the controls).

Touch Screen Controls

Etihad First Apartment


Just below, on the inside of the arm rest, are manual seat controls, which I always appreciate in case of touch screen malfunction, although fortunately in my three Etihad First Class Apartment flights the touch screen hasn't malfunctioned yet. 

Something to note, if you're similar to us in never checking luggage, is that there's no overhead storage space and your bags need to be placed in the storage areas underneath the bench (awkward to get at once your bed is turned down) or in the very narrow coat closet.

Storage Under Bench, Etihad First Class Apartment Review, A380


A slightly more practical feature of the First Class apartment is the vanity, with mirror. It surprises me how many first class suites don't have a mirror anywhere (perhaps they assume anyone who needs one carries one with them) so anyone needing to insert or remove contact lenses, apply moisturizer, sunscreen or makeup, or otherwise check their appearance has to go to the lavatory. 

Vanity, Etihad First Apartment

Etihad First Apartment

Etihad First Class Pajamas, Amenity Kit and Slippers

The Etihad First Class Christian Lacroix amenity bag is placed inside the vanity, with amenities (Omorovicza products from Hungary) tucked in pockets on either side. I like the purple Christian Lacroix clutch, which I saved as the color goes with one of my evening gowns, although I didn't take any of the Omorovicza amenities with me.

Etihad First Class Amenity Kit


Etihad First Class women's pajamas remain my absolute favorite, even after the switch from the elegant Swarovski and satin pajama tops to simpler cotton pajamas, but still cut with slightly flared sleeves for a more elegant look. I was already comfortably changed into them for our family photo:

Etihad First Apartment


Simple black slippers are provided:



Etihad First Class Menu and Food

As usual, after we chose our pre-flight drink, it was presented with a cool towel and welcome note, as well as some dates:

Etihad First Class A380 Apartment


We boarded early morning Abu Dhabi time, without getting a full night's sleep, so we quickly looked at the menu and ordered just an appetizer and main dish, to try to get to sleep relatively soon. Here are the menus:

Etihad First Class Menu

Etihad First Class Menu-Grilled Items

Etihad First Class Menu

Etihad First Class Lounge and Grill Menu


We started off with a few appetizers and an amuse bouche, none of which were memorable:


Amuse Bouche


The Foie Gras was a cold slab, and not inspiring either:

Foie Gras


I do like that Etihad offers a palate cleanser, although in this case the granita wasn't as nice as the sorbets that have been on other Etihad First Class flights:



The Black Cod was the best dish, although honestly not quite as tasty as that perfectly cooked Grouper we had in Etihad Economy from Male to Abu Dhabi.

Black Cod


Our son had a cheese plate, which was basic, with just two kinds of cheese, a brie and some gruyere, but which he enjoyed:

Cheese Plate


Later on in the flight, instead of breakfast, I tried the Beet Tagliatelle. The pasta and the beet pieces were very dried out and not appetizing, so it wasn't a good choice.

Beet Tagliatelle, Etihad


Far better were these mushroom cannelloni, which were part of the chicken meal but which I requested on their own, without the chicken:

Mushroom Cannelloni


I also tried a dessert, the Chocolate Caramel Pudding, but it wasn't a pudding, just a small rather hard cake with chocolate sauce, and didn't come with the caramel ice cream until I asked about it. Not worth wasting calories on.

Chocolate Caramel "Pudding"


Our son enjoyed his breakfast, and the croissants were fresh and flaky. There was only plain yogurt, so I mixed a bit of jam to make some fruit yogurt. There were no berries available, however.



Etihad First Class Bed and Sleep Quality

Etihad First Apartment beds are made from the bench in each apartment, and while nicely made up (with a Dr. Seuss quote as a cute touch) the mattress pad is quite thin and as a result it's a very firm sleep surface. That may work well for many people, but it's very uncomfortable for my husband and me, as we have pillowtop beds at home. For that reason, as well as the dry cabin air, I didn't sleep well at all, although of course it was good to be able to lie down and close my eyes for a few hours.

Etihad First Class Apartment Bed, A380 Review

Dr. Seuss Quote, Etihad First Class A380 Turndown Service


Here's a brief video from the Etihad First Class cabin on the A380: 


Etihad First Class Shower and Bathroom

It's of course very much a first world problem to have a cramped first class bathroom on a plane, but given that currently only Etihad and Emirates offer a shower to their first class passengers on the A380, the bathrooms do invite comparison. And the Etihad bathroom with the shower is very cramped and nearly as pleasant to change in, compared to Emirates First Class on the A380.

Etihad A380 First Class Shower Review


That said, the shower works similarly, with handy light indicator that changes from green to yellow to red to indicate the remaining time you have for your shower.

Etihad First Class Shower on the A380


The Verdict

The true luxury was being able to all fly together in Etihad First Class Apartments on the A380, since we normally end up taking different flights due to only getting 2 award seats on a given flight. The Etihad First Class hard product remains very good in terms of personal space, closing suite doors (although the walls are too low), the ability to partially connect some adjacent apartments, and the onboard shower. 

On the other hand, the beds are really not comfortable for us, and could really use a better, more comfortable mattress pad, similar to in Singapore Suites and JAL First Class. The other aspects that were disappointing on this particular flight were the catering--the food was significantly poorer quality than on our past flights--and the service, which can best be described as going through the motions. Whereas on a previous flight we were fortunate enough to enjoy the service of one of Etihad's trained butlers (presumably because no one was in The Residence), the staff on this flight were pleasant enough but did not provide service anywhere close to what you could expect at a true 5-star luxury hotel, with things missing from a dessert order, long waits between the courses, and none of the proactive checking in that you receive with more experienced and attentive first class cabin crew.

We had a pleasant and efficient Etihad Chauffeur driver, however:

Etihad Chauffeur


If you've flown in Etihad First Class Apartments recently, what was your experience?

Related Posts

Review: Etihad First Class Apartment A380 Abu Dhabi to New York JFK

Review: Etihad A380 First Apartment Sydney to Abu Dhabi

Review: Etihad First and Business Class Lounge Sydney

Review: Etihad Lounge New York JFK

Etihad A380 The Residence and First Apartments

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Picture?type=large Peter W. commented 14 Jan 2017
"...the food was significantly poorer quality than on our past flights--and the service, which can best be described as going through the motions. " Wow that is not good. There is no excuse for mediocre service in First Class. Based on the reviews I read from other reviewers, I'm wondering if the quality of service given depends on the crew's perception of who you are (race, clothing, age, position etc.). I wonder about this because other reviewers have spoken highly about Qatar's level of service - wonder what it was about them that triggered better service? For me personally, what determines whether something is First Class is the quality of service. For me, quality of service trumps hard product.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Jan 2017
I do believe service can vary significantly from flight to flight, even for first class, on many airlines, including Etihad. I personally don't think that we were treated any worse than any other passenger in First Class on this flight, and to be clear, it wasn't terrible service, just not nearly as good as on our other Etihad First Apartment flights. The airline on which I've experienced the most consistently great service in first class is Singapore Airlines, and I believe this is due to the greater training they receive and their more proactive approach to ensuring guest comfort. Service is a distinguishing factor to me for true luxury, but the hard product is table stakes. And while I love much about the spaciousness and design of the Etihad First Class Apartment, the bed, at least for us, just isn't comfortable enough for a first class bed.
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