Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.
I’ve never been more excited to write about a trip! So here goes.
How did we book this First Class flight?
After a good deal of research, we decided to blow a load of our AA miles before their devaluation and try out something special. When it comes to the ‘best of the best’ First Class cabins, Singapore pioneered the double bed in the sky, Emirates were the first to introduce on-board showers, but Etihad‘s First Class ‘Apartments’ are undoubtedly the best all round hard product out there right now for First Class travel.
If you missed the booking stage of this trip, and how we got each seat for £190 plus miles instead of over £10,000, you can read about how we redeemed our American Airlines miles for the trip here.
EY12 London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi
Sunday 8 May 2016, 9.35am – 8.10pm
We travelled to London the night before and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn near T4. On the day of our flight, we arrived nice and early to check in and were in the Etihad lounge a good couple of hours before take off. The Etihad lounge at LHR (full review here) is mixed First and Business, and has a ‘6 Senses Spa’ with complimentary 15 minute treatments for First Class passengers.
Soon enough it was time to board and we were immediately stunned by the quality of the cabin.
Since we were a couple travelling together, we snagged seats 3K and 4K. This is very important – out of all 9 first class apartments, there are only 2 pairs which back onto one another – 3A/4A, and 3K/4K. So if you’re travelling in a pair, definitely make sure to book one of those pairs.
Here is a seat map of the upper deck:
On our AUH-LHR flight, the most expensive seat on the plane, Etihad’s ‘The Residence’ (explore it with Dannii Minogue here) was empty but the cabin crew are under instructions to keep it a secret and didn’t let us in to take pictures. On our flight from AUH-JFK a couple of days later, The Residence was booked so we caught a couple of glances in as we walked to and from the bathrooms at the front of the cabin. Since it can’t be booked with AA miles, it’s unlikely I’m going to find myself in there any time soon. However I think that despite the privacy and exclusivity of The Residence, I think I would miss the open, spacious feel of the main First Class cabin.
The First Class Apartments are all privately partitioned, but you still see up to the cavernous roof arching over the whole cabin and there’s a huge sense of space. I have a feeling that The Residence may almost feel a bit more closed in. But let me not say too much about a product I haven’t tried!
The menu was excellent and we were impressed by everything we ordered.
After dinner it was time to drop the beds. Again, when travelling together in a row 3/4 combo (as flagged above), your beds lie down side by side:
With a few hours to go, we decided to explore the rest of the cabin a little. Between First and Business class lies a shared lounge area:
Then behind the lounge, the rest of the whole top deck is Business Class, a whopping 70 seats:
We then returned to the front, and down the stairs to have a look at the forward Economy cabin:
An hour or two before landing, it’s time for the single coolest aviation experience out there. Your on-board shower. Amazing. Water temp/pressure was great, you have a limited but adequate time allowance and heck, it’s a 36,000ft, 550mph shower.
Back in the Apartment, there’s a pop-open mirror/cupboard to freshen up before landing:
The final (or first, depending on when you take it) touch of class for Etihad premium cabin passengers is Etihad’s chauffeur service. We didn’t make use of it in London, but we used it to travel from Abu Dhabi airport to our hotel in Dubai, over 1 hour away, then the return journey a couple days later, then another 40 minute journey on arrival in NYC. Swish looking black Audi A4s are the norm in Abu Dhabi, while we were driven in a Suburban from JFK to Brooklyn.
If you are flying out of Abu Dhabi in First Class, you are dropped off by the Chauffeur right outside the First Class check in. If you are on the 3.35am JFK flight, it’s worth knowing that we were able to check our bags in around 6 hours before departure and go and relax in the lounge. So don’t feel like you have to stay out on the town until midnight! Here are a few pictures of the check in process in Abu Dhabi:
Sadly, the First Class lounge at AUH was closed, and is closed until the end of May 2016 for renovations. So First and Business class passengers are currently together in the premium lounge towards gates 55-61. First Class passengers can still take advantage of the complimentary showers and spa treatment in the lounge, and worth mentioning that the food there was fantastic. So although it lacks a sense of exclusivity, it’s not going to ruin the trip!
Overall it’s been a thoroughly breathtaking experience. We can’t wait to help some friends get their points and miles in order to try Etihad’s First Class Product. Our flight attendants, especially Hugo, Ashley and Johann on our first flight from London to Abu Dhabi were extraordinary and really made the experience what it was too. It’s going to be a bumpy step down to whatever we find ourselves flying next.
If you have any questions about booking a seat on Etihad or anything else, comment below – we’d be glad to help out!
It’s fair to say we like Etihad here at InsideFlyer. You can also read our very positive review of Etihad’s Business Class cabin here.
This post was produced in association with Pete’s blog Miles Ahead – give us a like and come along for the ride!