Etihad Airways first class: everything you need to know

Living the suite life is easy on Gulf carrier Etihad Airways.

By Staff Writers, May 3 2024
Etihad Airways first class: everything you need to know

Have a taste for Persian caviar or Dom Pérignon when you fly? You’ll want to book a seat in Etihad Airways’ lavish first class, which takes wing on the carrier’s flagship Airbus A380s, along with its Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners.

And though slightly different across all three aircraft, there are unifying threads tying them all together, from exclusive lounges and chauffeur service in Abu Dhabi to amenity kits designed by Giorgio Armani.

With the A380 returning to more cities around the globe, including the recently-restarted Abu Dhabi to New York, now’s a perfect time to reacquaint yourself with the sky high retreat. 


Etiha first class vs business class

Business class travellers on Etihad Airways enjoy a host of notable perks – premium airport lounge access, a fully-flat bed in the sky and elevated inflight dining, to name a few.

Naturally, first class takes this to another level. In Abu Dhabi, this takes the form of a new Terminal A first class lounge, where travellers can indulge with an à la carte menu and fine wines, freshen up with a shower or relax in a semi-private pod.

And on the plane, you’ll experience a more personalised level of service – plus a private suite behind sliding doors, which makes it feel almost like it’s you and you alone in the sky.

Cabin crew can make up your bed when needed.
Cabin crew can make up your bed when needed.

You have the freedom to dine at any time, with a friend if you like, or ask for a second glass of that Dom Pérignon. 

Etihad first class: the suites

As with many airlines, Etihad flies a range of aircraft, and they don’t all carry the same seats: but one thing for sure, when flying Etihad first class, is you'll always get a private suite, replete with closing doors.

The best of these is found on Etihad’s A380s, which carry first class ‘Apartments’ offering a separate chair and bed and space to walk around. Plus, many of the Apartments can be adjoined to the suite next door, with space enough for a companion to join you, too.

There's plenty of room to stretch out.
There's plenty of room to stretch out.

First class on Etihad’s Boeing 787s and 777s adopt a more traditional layout, being a seat that can transform into a bed, rather than separating the two functions.

There's plenty to smile about in this first class.
There's plenty to smile about in this first class.

And when it’s time to sleep, you can change into your complimentary pyjamas.

Feeling social? Etihad’s Airbus A380s are also home to an exclusive lounge known as The Lobby, which welcomes both first and business class passengers.

It’s not a bar per se, but rather a place where you can mingle and socialise.

Visiting the staffed lounge is a perfect way to break up your trip.
Visiting the staffed lounge is a perfect way to break up your trip.

You can help yourself to a drink and order a snack, or simply enjoy the change of scenery from the otherwise-luxurious surroundings of your A380 first class Apartment.

Etihad first class: chauffeur service

It’s no secret Etihad has peeled back some of the chauffeur inclusions for both first class and business class passengers over the years, but the service is appreciatedly still available when arriving into or departing from Etihad’s hub of Abu Dhabi.

Provided Abu Dhabi is your final destination or you’re booked on a stopover – rather than connecting through – the chauffeur service can ferry you between Zayed International Airport and your home or hotel (of which there are some very fine options)

This service is available on all paid first class tickets, so long as you’ve booked directly with Etihad Airways or a travel agent. Sadly, Etihad Guest mile upgrade and reward tickets are ineligible.

Etihad first class: lounge access

Naturally, having a seat in first class means you’re entitled to visit the first class lounge of the port you’re departing from, or one of the airline’s partners.

Abu Dhabi is home to Etihad’s flagship first and business lounge, with first class and The Residence passengers treated to an exclusive lounge within a lounge experience. 

The entrance to Etihad's Terminal A Abu Dhabi first class lounge.
The entrance to Etihad's Terminal A Abu Dhabi first class lounge.

Among its features are a First Lounge Dining Room plating up à la carte fare alongside a selection of sommelier-selected fine wines, plus a patisserie dubbed The Parlour for those with a sweet tooth.

Guests are of course allowed to make use of the wider business class lounge offering also, including Constellation Bar, private Armani Casa suites with day beds, a games room and even a smoking lounge with Chesterfield sofas.

Etihad first class: exclusive check-in

Flying in a premium cabin generally unlocks priority check-in. But in Abu Dhabi, this is taken to the next level with a dedicated Etihad first class check-in area.

Travellers can recline in comfort while staff take care of the finer details, after which the refined ambience continues in the first class lounge. 

Business class also has its own check-in area, though not as luxe as this.
Business class also has its own check-in area, though not as luxe as this.

And at the other end of your journey, your bags will be among the first unloaded as part of Etihad’s ‘Priority Access’ offering. The service is free if you’re flying in First or Business Class, or you can pay to use the service for US $40 each way worldwide. 

Etihad first class FAQs

Can you upgrade to Etihad first class?

Yes. If you’re flying on a paid Etihad Airways business class ticket, you may be able to upgrade to the even more comfortable surroundings of first class by using Etihad Guest frequent flyer miles, bidding for an upgrade, or purchasing an Instant Airport Upgrade.

There are a few hoops to jump through – for instance, flights booked using miles/points, or on the lowest-cost paid business class tickets, aren’t eligible for an upgrade: and in any case, these are subject to availability.

Does Etihad first class have WiFi?

Internet is available on most Etihad Airways flights. You can access this free of charge in first class, with unlimited data allowing you to browse and catch up on emails.

Does Etihad first class have showers?

Yes. Etihad’s Airbus A380 does have a shower, with one suite shared by all first class passengers. Unfortunately, you won’t find this feature on the Boeing 787 or 777.

The Residence also has its own shower suite inside, though only the passenger booked into that three-room suite can take advantage of it (for obvious reasons).

03 May 2024

Total posts 1

This article needs work: Dom Perignon is an Emeriates exclusive for over a year now… Something Etihad can’t pour.

UA *Gold Lifetime

18 Dec 2015

Total posts 10

Also, how about telling us where the A380 flies?? 

16 Feb 2024

Total posts 3

We flew from Sydney to London on Etihad last year. When I stepped into the cabin and saw the huge space available I thought this was for both my wife and I. We were both very impressed with the layout, the service and the dining, in fact my wife commented that she ate the best piece of fish that was specially prepared for her at 35,000 feet! Being able to have a shower was an added luxury.

Etihad also provided a complimentary chauffeur service in both Sydney and London.

Could not fault this incredible service.

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