TL;DR – Try it once if you haven’t, but don’t go out of your way a second time.
We flew Etihad Airways First Apartments from Sydney to Abu Dhabi as a couple back in December 2015. This was a 14 hour flight and cost 60K American Airlines miles at the time. You’ve seen lots of reviews online already, so I won’t rehash most of it.
Also, I’m all about perspective. If this was my first and only First Class experience, then you should read the review with a grain of salt, but now that I’ve tried 7 different First Class products, I feel that’s enough to give this review some credibility. Here are the ones I’ve tried:
- Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class LAX-HKG
- Etihad A380 First Apartments SYD-AUH (this review)
- Etihad A340 First class AUH-NRT
- Emirates 777-300ER First Class CPT-DXB
- Emirates A380 First Class DXB-SFO
- Singapore A380 Suites First Class NRT-LAX
- United First NRT-LAX (so old and terrible that I won’t review – think tape deck for movies)
Booking the Flight
I booked this flight nearly 10 months out. It actually wasn’t that difficult to find space on this flight since how many people in Australia have 60K AA miles per person? By the way, when I booked SYD-AUH-NRT, I was charged 60K + 45K = 105K per person for First Class since it was booked as 2 separate awards even though it was on one ticket.
Where to sit
We chose to sit in 3A and 4A so that my wife and I could sorta lay next to each other (see highlighted). You could have done the same with 3K and 4K. So here’s my one piece of advice – DO NOT PICK ROWS 2 OR 4. The reason for that is because when I was sleeping on the bed, I kept having the sensation like I was going to roll off the bed. It kept waking me up. I think if you pick the odd-numbered rows, your body will sorta roll towards the divider and you won’t feel like you’re falling off. I don’t know; I didn’t try to trade beds with my wife, but I would NOT pick rows 2 or 4 in the future.
Image courtesy of Seatguru.com
The seat was fine. I don’t remember too much about it. When you ate, you could dine with your companion. After that, the butler put a mattress cover on my ‘bench’ and I went to sleep on my bed. The TV swivels towards you so that you could watch TV while laying down. The divider went down, so I could talk to my wife laying next to me.
The champagne they served was the 2005 Bollinger La Grande Annee. While it wasn’t bad, I still preferred Krug.
I don’t remember too much, but it wasn’t bad. There was WiFi and it cost something like $15 for the 14 hour flight. There were places that we flew over that had no WiFi signal, but for the most part, it worked and was reasonably fast. I was mostly checking on my fantasy football playoffs and checking Facebook. Nothing too data intensive.
I know Lucky had some catering issues with EY (maybe not on the A380,) but we didn’t seem to have food issues. We didn’t go overboard; just stuck to the usual 4-5 course meal.
Service was a bit….odd. We had a flight attendant and apparently a butler who also served as the cook or something. I remember waking up for breakfast and asking the FA that I’d like to order breakfast, and he told me to hold on while he grabbed the guy wearing the white apron (our butler/cook?) It’s odd because the butler was the one who was folding the mattress pads. So it wasn’t clear to me the division of labor between the two.
Like Emirates’ A380 shower, you get 5 minutes of water. I thought the shower was okay. The novelty wore off after I took my first shower in EK. This shower was more like, “Okay, fine, I’ll shower just so I can be clean when I get to AUH” whereas when I did EK’s shower for the first time, it was, “Oooh I can’t wait to take a shower so I can say I took a shower on an airplane and make all my friends jealous.” So the novelty runs out pretty fast.
I much prefer Emirate’s shower because a) EK’s bathroom is a LOT BIGGER (a good 2-3X bigger) and for some reason, I felt the EY bathroom was darker (light-wise). Maybe others can comment. I also like how EK has dedicated bathroom attendants outside the bathroom, constantly cleaning it. While EY’s shower wasn’t “dirty,” it would have been nice knowing it had been cleaned each time.
Did I enjoy the flight? Yes! Do I recommend it? YES! Would I fly 14 hours out of my way for it again? NO! If I could do it again, would I still fly 14 hours out of my way to experience it for the first time? Yes! To be fair, I wouldn’t go out of my way to that extent ever again for a flight. I think I would fly to Chicago to connect to Tokyo for ANA First for instance, but not more than 4 hours out of the way. I can make do in business class from now on if I get more time at the destination.