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Flying the First Apartment on the Inaugural Etihad A380 JFK-AUH Flight

a bed with pillows and a tv on the side

It only took 90,000 American Airline miles to have a once in a lifetime experience. I couldn’t believe it when I was able to book a First Class award for Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi.

Because in-flight shower!

And a host of other thrills including checking out the new First Apartments and getting to fly in an A380 for longer than a few hours. Yesterday morning I found myself ridiculously excited. Like enthusiastically describing the A380 to anyone who asked where I was flying and wanting to post EEEEEEEEE to my social media feeds incessently (I refrained).

I arrived at JFK from DCA with 3 hours to boarding time and took the skytrain from Terminal 8 to Terminal 4. This time I had no trouble finding the Etihad First Class checkin desk at the far left end.

a sign with text and people in the background

a sign on the floor

There were banners announcing the flight, but otherwise no big presence. Check in was quick and I made my way to the premium security line which wound up being no advantage over the normal line. All the lines were backed up and moving slowly, not what I expected at 1PM on a Monday.

Once through I took a left out of security and checked out the brand new Etihad lounge that had just opened the day before.

a wall with a logo on it

I hung out for an hour and then made my way to the gate for boarding. There was a quite a buzz and everyone was getting a swag bag with a New York MLS scarf, A380 pin, Abu Dhabi guidebook, and a neat book of stylized Etihad postcards.

a group of black shopping bags

a book and a book on a rug

And a certificate of authenticity.

a certificate of flight with a picture of an airplane

I had read reviews of the First Apartment but I still wasn’t prepared for how spacious and awesome it was. The main seat is large and comfy and faces the “bench” which has seat belts for two other people. I as in 2C which is directly behind the Residence. (I will also apologize in advance for the photos, the lighting was dim and my hands were shaky)

a seat in a plane

a brown leather chair with a pillow and a suitcase

a screenshot of a computer

a device with a screen on it
Plenty of places to plug in, the power outlet was around the corner
a screen with icons on it
Fancy touch screen controls
a group of cans in a drawer
Non-alcoholic minibar

Nifty closet to hang jackets and clothing.

a coat in a closet

The amenity kit is in the vanity which makes getting ready in the morning easier.

a mirror with a purse and a tassel

I loved the ceiling decorations which use the Etihad pattern.

a ceiling with holes in the ceiling

They also gave us 24 hours of free wifi. Not sure if that’s a perk for First Class or just for the inaugural flight, but it was awesome.

a blue and white card next to a blue and white card

Richard, one of the butlers for the First Apartments came by with some Bollinger champagne and my welcome tray with dates, note, and warm towel.

a glass of champagne and a plate of food

a man in a suit pouring a champagne bottle into a mirror

And I discovered the inflight chef was my friend Enrico from my last Etihad flight back in February!

a man and woman posing for a picture

There is one downside to the First Apartment, your view out the windows is pretty much blocked sitting in the main seat so you don’t see much at take off and landing.

After take off I switched to the Duval Leroy Rose champagne to go with my nuts, olives, and dried veggies.

a glass of champagne next to bowls of food

I looked over the menu but wouldn’t be doing the usual dinner service.

The Points Guy, Brian, was in The Residence on this flight and invited me to share a Thanksgiving themed meal with him. I’ll post more on that later, but it was tons of fun and involved a blind wine tasting of all the wines on the list. 🙂

a man and woman smiling at the camera

We actually got to eat in the little “living room” in between business and first class which seats about six people and has a cool drink display.

a table with glasses and utensils on it

And I was glad, because for all its hype, the Residence wasn’t quite what I was expecting (Brian let me check it out) and dining there together might have been a trifle cramped (I know, I know, it is an airplane 🙂 ). I’d assumed that The Residence was completely separate from First Class, but it’s actually part of it.

The sitting area is the first seat in the First Apartments with partitions  only head high and then there’s an alley with a bathroom and shower and a sleeping cave with a super comfy bed. For some reason I’d pictured it being larger and more private. Still impressive but not worth 3x the cost of First Class.

a bed under a locker

I found my bed in the First Apartment also spacious and comfortable and morning came all too soon. I really liked the bench format which left room for me to move around in my suite without having to crawl over the bed.

a bed with pillows and a tv on the side

And then it was time for the absolute highlight of my trip. Something I’ve wanted to do for years ever since I found out it was possible. Shower on a plane!!

a black and silver object with a black handle

a woman taking a selfie

The water wasn’t particularly hot, but the pressure was decent and I had enough time to wash and rinse my hair. And they even have a hair dryer.

a hair dryer in a cabinet

I was still pretty full from the Thanksgiving meal but I couldn’t resist the chance to have their signature steak sandwich with fries before we landed.

a plate of food on a table

And all too soon the flight was touching down in Abu Dhabi. 13 hours is just not long enough!

More from this trip

Etihad First Class Checkin & the New Etihad Lounge at JFK
Thanksgiving Dinner 40,000 Feet Above the Atlantic
First Impressions of Dubai in Pictures
Sunset Camel Treks & Champagne Toasts
Riding Arabians and Dune Bashing in the Desert


Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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    1. Omg! So glad tpg mentioned you blog. Can I follow you and find out where deals are like your ethiad trip? I agree TPG in residences not a good value. Just came back on asiana r/t to Seoul and found the biggest in-air bathroom ever. No shower though. I liked the bowing before boarding and i had to buy one of their cute red aprons the attendants use in flight. Cannot believe AA cut out duty free! So, used sapphire points to book this. Used my points r/T left from LA and used points on southwest to LA and it for Unesco. So all good

  1. That’s the first wet shower photo I’ve seen on a plane. Good job that much more complete that the standard photo of the stal.

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