Virgin Australia partner Etihad kicks off its Airbus A380 Sydney flights today, connecting Aussie travellers to Abu Dhabi and beyond to destinations such as London Heathrow.
Even if you’ve flown on the superjumbo before, here are 10 things you need to know about Etihad’s take on the A380, and what it brings to the table to rival Qantas, Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
1. You can book a three-room VIP suite for $87k
Nestled at the very front of Etihad's A380, The Residence affords the ultimate in space, luxury and comfort.
It's comprised of three separate rooms – a lounge and dining area…
… a bedroom…
… and a private bathroom and shower…
Guests enjoy unparalleled privacy in what must feel like your own private jet. The return ticket price from Sydney to London? $87,000 – yes, eighty-seven thousand – for a wealthy couple.
2. You get a Savoy-trained butler
Tending solely to passengers in The Residence, a Savoy-trained butler takes care of everything – whether that’s having your favourite drink waiting as you board, serving your favourite cuisine in the sky or escorting you to your complimentary chauffeur-driven transfer upon arrival.
Need a reservation for dinner at an exclusive restaurant on the ground? No problem. Just realised you’ll be away for Valentine’s Day or your anniversary and forgot to order flowers for your partner? Consider it done.
3. First class: your own Apartment in the sky
In what is arguably the world’s best first class product, Etihad replaces its simple suites of yesteryear with a whole 'Apartment'.
This includes a plush reclining lounge chair……and a separate ottoman that converts into a fully-flat bed.
Even with the bed in place, you can still walk around in your Apartment and can dine on meals prepared on-board by an experienced chef... and there's a full vanity mirror too.
Read more: Up close with Etihad's new A380 Apartments
4. Plus an all-new business class
Etihad’s existing Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 business class seats already offered fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for every passenger, considered by many as the pinnacle of business class.
The award-winning Business Studio, on the other hand, surpasses that with lie-flat beds that are even longer, offer travellers even more privacy and are simply more elegant than their predecessors.
Read more: Inside Etihad's Airbus A380 Business Studios
5. Relax at the on-board bar and lounge
Reminiscent of a five-star hotel, guests staying in the Business Studios, the First Apartments and The Residence can visit The Lobby – an on-board bar and lounge space to rival that of competitor Emirates.
If you'd rather stand, there's plenty of bench space on which to rest your cold drink or Arabic tea, and to check the progress of the flight…
… which you can fix from the adjacent bar or can simply ask one of the flight attendants to pour or mix it for you.
6. Stay in touch with inflight Wi-Fi
Need to keep in touch with the office back home, keep up-to-date with the stock market or simply exchange emails with a loved one on the other side of the world?
That’s easily done using Etihad’s ‘Wi-Fly’ inflight Internet service, where you’ll pay just US$21.95 (A$28.68) to remain connected throughout the flight – regardless of how much you download or how long you surf.
7. You can fly Etihad’s A380 all the way to London
Etihad’s Sydney-Abu Dhabi A380 service EY455 pairs perfectly with EY19 onwards from Abu Dhabi to London – also served by the A380.
It’s the same story on the return: EY12 from London to Abu Dhabi lines up with EY454 beyond to Sydney, allowing you to experience the same seats and service on the full Kangaroo Route.
8. A new plane means new uniforms
Etihad’s crew now don striking threads by designer Ettore Bilotta, with a skirt suit for the ladies accessorised with fitted gloves, a belt, scarf and a 'retro' hat which inspired by the sweeping lines of the Emirati desert sand dunes…
… while the gents dress in three-piece suit topped by an optional lightweight trench coat.
Browse our photos: Etihad reveals striking new uniforms
9. Economy gets new Smart Seats
Travellers down the back – or more accurately, on the A380’s lower deck – aren’t forgotten, with new Economy Smart Seats to make the journey a little more comfortable.
Rather than an adjustable headrest that ‘loses’ space as you fold it inwards, Etihad’s A380 economy seats instead provide a ‘fixed wing’ headrest, giving travellers all the convenience of a bendy headrest but without being restrained to the centre of the seat.
Read more: Etihad's new A380 Economy Smart Seats
10. There’s a flying nanny
Also available to every flying family is Etihad’s ‘flying nanny’ service, taking some of the stress out of travelling with small children.
While the nanny won’t babysit your child for the entire flight, they have a goody bag filled with things to keep young ones entertained such as arts and crafts and origami, and are also trained in performing basic magic tricks, face-painting and the operation of hand puppets.
They can also hold drawing competitions between the children on board, can assist with getting your child settled for bed or can simply provide an extra pair of hands during meal times to make things a little easier.
Still want to see more of the Etihad A380? Take a virtual tour by watching this 1.5-minute video.
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