Travel blogger

Sam Huang has a penchant for outrageously luxurious flights, but he recently got to sample perhaps the most opulent commercial experience in the skies: the Etihad Residence.

The Residence comes with a full bed, a butler, and a private bathroom.

“Everything about the space is simply brilliant,” he wrote on his travel-deals blog, TopMiles.

Huang got to check out the Residence on a flight from Sydney to Dubai, which would have cost $23,000 one way.

Huang’s ticket was actually for another part of the plane, in a luxury “apartment” that retails for $6,500. Huang got it for $108 dollars and 60,000 AAdvantage miles, he says. Business Insider has previously confirmed with airlines that his booking methods are legitimate.

But The Residence was empty that flight, so the crew let him spend some time in it. Here’s what the whole experience was like, in Huang’s own words.

The Etihad lounging area was beautifully furnished.
I especially liked the wooden bookshelf, which gave the area a bit of a home-away-from-home feeling.

The apartment was huge, with enough space for a lounging area with a convertible sofa and a separate reclining chair. Lengthwise, I’d say the apartment is equivalent to at least 4 economy seats side by side. The apartment seats are so big that only one seat can fit on each side of the plane.

Unlike the small mirrors found on Emirates, the one in the Etihad Apartment is as big as the ones found in your typical bathroom. Except this is not your ordinary mirror, as this one is fit with automatic lights that turn on whenever you open the closet, making you look like a million bucks.

Two flight attendants cater to the passengers on the first apartments, with additional service from the butler that usually serves the residence. That means even though my flight was nearly full with 6 out of 8 seats occupied, service was excellent throughout the flight. The butler introduced himself and asked if I would like something to drink, so naturally I asked for some champagne.

Because Etihad takes service very seriously for its first class passengers, its butlers are trained at the world-famous Savoy Hotel. Attention to detail is paramount, and I was thoroughly impressed by my butler’s attentiveness and professionalism throughout the flight. Etihad doesn’t serve Dom Pérignon or Krug. It serves Bollinger Grande Annee 2005 instead, which retails for around $100 a bottle.

I wanted to be surprised and earlier told the onboard chef to make whatever dish he could come up with. The chef then personally delivered the dish, which was a mixture of different types of grilled meat. I was extremely amazed of how tender the meat was — this definitely tasted better than any of the dishes I had on the ground.

At this point I was completely stuffed and had to decline dessert. After dinner, I decided to change into something more comfortable. Etihad provides complimentary cotton pajamas for first class passengers.

Etihad has two bathrooms for its first class apartment passengers: one has a shower, while the other one, located at the tip of the nose, is a bit longer and more spacious (similar to Emirates).

The Etihad Residence is made up of three separate spaces: the living room, an in-suite bathroom, and a private bedroom. The living room is where guests can lounge around, have a meal, and enjoy the view from the windows. It’s around the same size as a standard apartment seat.

After a brief overview of the living room, the butler unlocked the door and we walked into the private area of The Residence. Instead of having a sofa that converts into a bed, The Residence is furnished with an actual full double-sized bed. This is a first among all airlines.

In the Etihad onboard lounge I ordered “breakfast,” which is essentially anything in the a la carte menu.

I ordered some hot tea while I waited for my food to be prepared.

After watching a few TV episodes, the captain informed us that we were set to arrive in Abu Dhabi. Since we were flying against turbulence almost the whole time, the flight time ended up being around 15 hours, which was more than enough time to enjoy the Etihad Apartment.

Source: Business Insider     Photos: Business Insider