Parents’ Review: Etihad First Class Apartment Abu Dhabi to London

a seat in a plane
Apartment 5H

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Parents’ Review: Etihad First Class Apartment Abu Dhabi to London

If you’re just tuning in…welcome! You’re amidst the journey of a lifetime, one that is taking my family around the world on a surprise trip for my mom’s 75th birthday. I wanted both my mom and dad to be able to experience as many first class products as they could. So far…they’d flown Cathay First Boston to Hong Kong, Singapore Suites from Beijing to Singapore, Singapore First from Singapore to Dubai, and now…they’d get to fly the Apartment. I was obviously SUPER excited for them to fly the Apartment. I was originally booked on another flight to London, but a couple days before we were scheduled to fly a Business Studio seat opened and I was able to switch into it. Here’s what my parents thought of the Etihad First Class Apartment Abu Dhabi to London – it wasn’t shooting stars and glitter.

It’s a 1-1 Cabin on an A380. That’s pretty ridics.

a row of chairs on an airplane

The Deets:

  • When: April 2017
  • Where: Abu Dhabi to London
  • Cabin: First Apartment
  • Loyalty: American Airlines Advantage
  • Cost: 62,500 + $90
  • Flight: EY 19
  • Duration: 7 hours 40 mins

My parents were across the aisle from one another in 5C and 5H

Booking these tickets:

These were originally booked in mid 2016 when the calendar opened up. My mom and I booked the 2:35am flight, both in apts, and my dad took was going to take an 8:10. The hope was that the 1:50pm flight would open with 3 seats and we would all move into that one. As time went on, we figured it would be best to try and get everyone on the 8:10am flight as we would continue on to Nice, France and preferred to arrive in the evening rather than late at night. Roughly a month before departure an additional seat opened up on the 8:10am flight and I moved my mom to it so she could fly with my dad. Business Studios were fully booked across the board. I kept my 2:35m apartment until a couple days before we were scheduled to fly when a business studio opened up on EY19 at 8:10am and I snagged it. Luckily I also managed to snag a seat directly next to the Business/First Lounge which meant my parents could come say hi without much effort.

Visiting them in First. Where the staff got salty.

People have varying opinions about this.  When we flew Cathay from Boston to Hong Kong I was in Business Class while folks flew first. We had planned a birthday cake to be delivered for her, and I was in contact with the Service Manager of the flight. I was not only welcomed to come up and celebrate with them, but later in the flight I was invited to come up and share another piece of cake with my mom. The staff on that flight could not have been warmer or more welcoming – they even took lots of pictures for us. I maybe spent 10-15 minutes each visit.

My mom asked if I could come up and visit her in the apartment. The response from the flight attendant was starkly different than on Cathay. She firmly told my mom that this was against policy but would talk to her boss – who said it was fine. When she came back to get me she approached my seat as if I’d done something wrong and told me that my mom had requested to have a glass of champagne with me. When I got to my  mom’s apartment the service felt cold and stuck up, akin to walking into a Gucci store with old clothes on. While the flight attendant still poured me a glass of champagne and had a smile…it was kind of like this…

a woman with blonde hair

My mom wasn’t impressed:

I loved the configuration of The Apartment.   You could sit and watch TV and still have your bed made up!  There was a door to close for privacy!!   There was a make=up mirror to enable me to freshen up after resting, there was a private shower!!  The food was good, but the attitude of the staff was a little “snooty,” and minimal!!   I loved the experience, but the staff did leave a negative impression!!!  However, I would go this way again in a heartbeat!!!!  Wouldn’t you????

The Product

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My Dad’s thoughts:

I was intrigued to fly The Apartment because of all the coverage it gets in the travel media.  I must admit that the view down the aisle is a much cleaner look than that of Singapore Suites, but that’s the only area where I would give The Apartment the edge.  I don’t like to lie completely flat so I found much of the space in the roomier Apartment to be wasted.  In regard to the food, the menu was good but the preparation was poor.  But the most serious and lasting impression I have of this flight is the poor attitude of the cabin staff.  I thought both the purser and the attendant assigned to us lacking in warmth and the attendant came across with a snobbish air. The service she provided was marginal at best….easily the worst we experienced on our trip. Etihad has obviously spent a lot of money on the cabin, but it appears they have some work to do on the people side of things.



Neither of my parents used this feature.

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The Bed.

As you can see the long portion of the Apartment gets made up into a bed. My mom ended up sleeping for two or three hours. You can see across from the TV that the Seat is still in position. Both of my parents really liked this set up.

a bed in a plane

Overall – ONE BIG MEH!

I’m really happy that my folks were able to experience the Apartment and I thought my dad did a great job of photographing everything. The biggest drawback was the flight attedant’s attitude towards my mom’s request. I can understand if they have a policy and hold that policy. I’m even sensitive to guests in first class not being cool, but if you’re going to bend the rule, don’t don’t it with an attitude. This is supposed to be an uber premium experience and there is nothing that ruins a dinner party quicker than sour wine.

To juxtapose this…I was tended to by the food and beverage manager of the flight. He could not have been nicer. Too bad the rolls weren’t reversed. I’d much have preferred to have had to deal with a snooty flight attendant and let my parents have the F&B manager who was excellent.

We are looking to do a trip to Israel next year and both my folks want to give the Apartment another go…so hopefully we have a better experience service wise. Overall…I think their impression was MEH!

You don’t have to stop here. Check out how we paid $5k and took a $125k Surprise trip Around The World to celebrate my Mom’s 75th

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Afternoon Tea


Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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  • Hilary Wills January 12, 2018

    I just Flew 1st Class Etihad apt from London to Abu D and on to Sydney. The thing that made it for me was the astonishingly helpful kind and charming cabin crew. Nothing was too much trouble! I think other airlines (eg Qantas and Brit Airways) should send their surly cabin crews on this flight so they can learn the true meaning of service. The food was amazing, the apt comfortable. The best thing for me was closing the doors on my fellow travellers! My only nitpick with Etihad was that they allow babies and small kids in 1st. Most people in this part of the plane want a quiet journey many of them to work. I had an infant on all four my Etihad flights. Noisy and annoying.

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  • Evan July 10, 2017

    Did your fare class (possibly) indicate you were all on redemption flights?

    • Miles July 10, 2017

      Evan – possibly, but is that an excuse? All our flights but one were redemptions and Singapore and Cathay bent over backwards.Also my experience in biz was quite good

  • John July 9, 2017

    I had the complete opposite experience. I recently flew on Singapore Suites (a month ago). I was really excited about this as I have heard rave reviews about it. Compared to my experience with Etihad apartments, Singapore Suites was MEH! From check-in to on-board service to food. It felt average. Etihad was more spacious, our flight attendants were the most sincere airline professionals we’ve ever encountered and the food was much better than Singapore suites. I pre-ordered food with Singapore (I.e. book the chef) and to my surprise, the flight attendants didn’t have what I ordered. With Etihad, we were done eating and the flight attendant said WAIT, PLEASE ALLOW US TO GIVE YOU A SURPRISE. They gave us a nice dessert platter with caffeine free dessert so we can sleep. I can’t wait to fly on Etihad apartments again.

    • Miles July 10, 2017

      Crazy! Sounds like we each need to fly Suites and Apartments again for research… 🙂

  • Kai July 9, 2017

    I had a very crappy under whelming service for my apartment ride. Let’s just say when I hit the service button,it is as if it did NOT work. Took them like 5min+ each time for my 14 ride to come after pressing it multiple times. For my shower. They claimed to have a medical.emergency and completely missed me; no courtesy heads up on the delay. Everyone went awol from the galley. It wasniuntil I complained where the head purser started apologizing and service started acting like how first class should be.
    My flight in apartment JFK to Auh was full but that doesn’t excuse them of the crappy service. I have ridden all and they were the crappiest. CX sq ek lh nh tg nh qr qf. The Auh lounge was underwhelming compared to the me3 airline lounges.

  • James July 9, 2017

    Lol. On cathay, you ordered a birthday cake. The crew already know the occasion and prepared that a bussines passenger shall go to first cabin to celebrate it. On etihad, they might just viewed you as too cheap to get a first for yourself also and just a bussines class wants to enjoy the first class perks for free. Another possibility is that she is afraid another bussines passanger might try to force him/herself to first class on the basis, “he (you) can, why I cannot?”

    I’m not saying you are wrong or unethical. I’m just trying to read the minds of the FA and purser.

    On the other hand, asian crew were generally more friendly than others. Take example ANA, JAL, SQ, etc. Garuda even got best cabin crew by skytrax consecutively.

    • Miles July 10, 2017

      James – I’m pretty sure we were treated like that’s what they thought, lol. She could have easily said there was a policy against it and invited us all to the Bar and served us there. I think in an uber premium cabin there should be every effort made to make the passenger feel at ease and not a burden or beneath the staff. That was our complaint – staff wielding the status of the brand and treating passengers as if they aren’t worthy.

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